La Niña

Earth Experiences 400th Consecutive Warmer-than-Average Month #auspol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

The last time the world saw a cooler-than-average month was in 1984, according to new reports from NOAA.

The Earth has now had 33 years of rising and above-average temperatures.

According to recent reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s monthly global climate report, this marks the 400th consecutive month of warmer-than-usual monthly averages.

The last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month was in 1984 when US President Ronald Reagan was in office for his second term, and the Apple Macintosh personal computer had just gone on sale.

The NOAA report also said that the month of April had the third-highest temperatures of any April in NOAA’s recorded history. NOAA started gathering climate data in 1880.

Researchers from around the world have no problem with pointing to specific causes — namely that of human impact on global climate change.

“It’s mainly due to anthropogenic (human-caused) warming,” NOAA climatologist Ahira Sanchez told CNN. “Climate change is real, and we will continue to see global temperatures increase in the future.”

While there have been efforts to reduce overall CO2 emissions, there still remains pushback from supporters of fossil fuels. There’s also a growing reliance on fossil fuels coming from developing nations with rapidly expanding populations, economies, and technologies. However, those developing nations still don’t use as much fossil fuels when compared to global powers like the U.S.

“We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm,” said NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt. “Speeding by a ‘400’ sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new.”

Climatologists have used the 20th-century average as a benchmark for their measurements. That allows them to ‘goal post’ when they look through climate data. This type of benchmarking also gives them the opportunity to account for climate variability.

“The thing that really matters is that, by whatever metric, we’ve spent every month for several decades on the warm side of any reasonable baseline,” Arndt said.

These rising global temperatures have hit certain areas harder than others, the report detailed. The heat was most unusually concentrated in Europe. The continent had its warmest April in recorded history. The heat wave also affected Australia and gave it its second-warmest month ever recorded.

There were even particular portions of Asia that saw extreme heat. One particular case was in southern Pakistan. The town of Nawabshah hit an incredibly high 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 50.5 Celsius) on April 30. Climatologists are currently trying to determine if this is the hottest April temperature on record for the entire planet.

There was also another milestone detailed in the NOAA monthly report. Carbon dioxide readings — the gas most closely linked to global warming — hit its highest levels in recorded history. Carbon dioxide now has over 410 parts per million. NOAA’s numbers aren’t the only ones being leveraged against this new data. According to Scripps Institute of Oceanography, this high amount of carbon dioxide is the highest amount its been in the past 800,000 years — comparing modern numbers with those found through extensive climatological research.

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A Year of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

A Year of Climate Change, as (Not) Presented by the EPA

Irma Omerhodzic

By Jeff Turrentine

“This page is being updated.” So begins the message that has greeted visitors to the climate change page on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website for just over a year now. “We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.”

As the Washington Post recently reported, those “priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt” would seem to include withholding important information about climate change—both its causes and its effects—from the general public, perhaps in perpetuity. Two (anonymous) employees of the agency have glumly confirmed that the “update” is a sham. “There’s definitely no progress on the website,” one of them told the Post. “I’m not sure anyone’s even addressing it.”

I was curious: What climate-connected events and milestones have occurred while the page has sat stagnant? As agency officials spent the past year pretending to mull over their position on climate change, what kind of a year did the rest of us have?

As it happens, the period from May 2017 to May 2018, from a climate change perspective, has been one of the most devastating and costly 12-month spans ever recorded. The EPA really picked one hell of a year to stop informing the American people about the single-greatest threat to the environment.

Here’s a recap.

Record-Breaking Heat Around the Globe

The EPA may have determined that 2017 was the year global warming should go underground, but the atmosphere didn’t listen. According to NASA, 2017 was incontrovertibly the second-hottest year on earth since 1880, when such record-keeping first began. Europeans understandably bestowed the name Lucifer on a summer heat wave that reached as high as 117 degrees in some parts of Spain and brought lengthy stretches of triple-digit temperatures to many other countries. India continued its miserable, years-long streak of deathly hot summers, with the mercury rising as high as 120 degrees in some areas; hundreds of deaths all over the subcontinent were attributed to the heat. Here in the U.S., we experienced our third-hottest year on record, with five states—Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina—reaching new all-time highs.

Arctic Ice Loss, Out of Control

Glacial is a word you might well use to describe the pace at which the EPA’s webmasters are working to update the agency’s climate change page. Unfortunately, it is also a word that’s becoming less and less apposite for describing the home of glaciers: the Arctic. According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice extent for April of 2018 was measured at 980,000 square kilometers below average—meaning that this year has tied 2016 for the lowest April sea ice extent on record. In plain language: There’s less ice atop Arctic waters right now than ever before in the nearly 40 years that we’ve been keeping track of such a thing, save for two years ago, when it was about the same.

The Costliest Wildfire Season in U.S. History

As the EPA was reconsidering its “priorities” regarding how to address climate change, nearly 50,000 separate wildfires were consuming millions of acres, destroying tens of thousands of structures, and killing dozens throughout the American West. The U.S. Forest Service spent more than $2 billion fighting these fires last year, a new record. In California, where the 2017 wildfire season lasted well past Christmas (it usually subsides around October), the damage—exacerbated by years of drought and high temperatures—was enough to make it the worst season in the state’s history. And as the 2018 wildfire season approaches, analysts are already making ominous forecasts.

The Costliest Hurricane Season in U.S. History

While EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was openly pushing for a series of public debates on the science of climate change—a dumb-to-begin-with scheme that we’ve just now learned would have been rigged to favor climate skeptics—Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were laying waste to giant swaths of the U.S. and the Caribbean. They killed more than a thousand people, damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, and cost our country more than $282 billion. In Puerto Rico, where Maria hit last September, many Americans are still living without water and electricity. Residents there and on the Gulf Coast have spent the past nine months trying to rebuild after what experts have deemed the fifth-most catastrophic hurricane season since such record-keeping began—and the most expensive ever. Meanwhile, the 2018 hurricane season begins on June 1and experts are already predicting it to be “above average” in activity.

A Fired-Up Resistance

The past 12 months were marked by a string of menacing superlatives: most, worst, hottest, driest, priciest, even melty-est. But amazingly, it wasn’t all bad. If our natural systems spent much of the past year in open revolt, our human systems have risen to the occasion. In the vacuum created by the Trump administration’s shameful inaction, states, other countries, and even corporations have stepped up. Last July, for instance, Gov. Jerry Brown announced that California would be hosting a global climate action summit this September in San Francisco, with the purpose of moving members of the international community—including the U.S., with or without the support of its federal government—toward the goals spelled out in the Paris climate agreement. (You remember, the one President Trump pulled out of last June).

Climate change keeps happening whether the EPA acknowledges it or not. Fortunately, the global, national and local fights against it continue, too, whether the U.S. government takes part in them … or not.

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Methane, Climate Change, and Our Uncertain Future #StopAdani #auspol

Methane is generally considered secondary to carbon dioxide in its importance to climate change, but what role might methane play in the future if global temperatures continue to rise?

Flooded permafrost tundra in northeast Siberia. Hydrology is a key control on methane emissions in wetland and permafrost ecosystems. Credit: Joshua Dean

By Joshua Dean

The greenhouse gas, methane, is produced by both natural processes and human activities. While there has been much attention paid to curbing anthropogenic emissions, a changing climate will likely increase the production of natural methane. In an open access article recently published in Reviews of Geophysics, Dean et al. [2018] describe the ways in which biological, geochemical, and physical systems influence methane concentrations and explore how methane levels in natural systems may alter in a warming climate. Here the authors answer some questions about the sources and significance of methane, and indicate some future research directions.

How does methane effect the Earth’s climate?

Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that is much stronger than carbon dioxide (CO2), 34 times stronger if compared over a 100-year period. While concentrations of methane in the atmosphere are about 200 times lower than carbon dioxide, methane was responsible for 60% of the equivalent radiative forcing caused by carbon dioxide since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Methane’s presence in the atmosphere can also affect the abundance of other greenhouse gases, such as ozone (O3), water vapor (H2O), and carbon dioxide.

What are the primary natural and anthropogenic sources of methane?

The main natural sources of methane are wetlands and freshwater systems (rivers and lakes). The main sources of anthropogenic methane are agriculture (such as cattle farming) and waste (such as landfills), and methane derived from the fossil fuel industry. Anthropogenic sources are slightly larger emitters of methane to the atmosphere compared to natural sources.

How have methane levels in the atmosphere changed over time?

Direct records of atmospheric methane concentrations only go back about 800,000 years. During this time methane concentrations have generally varied between 300 and 800 parts per billion. Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution in about 1750, however, atmospheric methane concentrations shot up to about 1800 parts per billion and are continuing to rise.

Between 2000 and 2007, atmospheric methane concentrations appeared to stabilize, leading to sustained debate regarding the main drivers of atmospheric methane. Crucially, after 2007 atmospheric methane concentrations began to rise again and current measurements suggest that atmospheric methane concentrations will continue to increase.

It remains vital that we are able to identify the cause(s) of this rise in order to address emissions of this critical greenhouse gas. Particularly important is curbing emissions from human activities, namely agriculture and the fossil fuel industries. One key example of this, currently, is the identification and mitigation of leaking natural gas infrastructure.

Which natural systems are most vulnerable to climate change and may significantly influence methane emissions?

The biggest natural emitters of methane are wetlands and lakes, both of which are affected by the impacts of climate change, namely increased temperatures and changing hydrology. The balance between methane production and its oxidation within these environments before it can be released to the atmosphere, both of which are affected by temperature and hydrology, is crucial to understanding the response of these systems to climate change.

While not the largest emitters, permafrost systems (underlain by soils that remain frozen throughout the year due to cold local temperatures) are highly vulnerable to climate change. The proportion of methane emitted from such systems may increase significantly in a warmer future as the previously frozen organic carbon-rich soils are thawed out, making this material available for methane producing microbes.

The methane climate feedback loop. Credit: Dean et al., 2018, Figure 7

What are some of the unresolved questions in this field where additional research, data or modeling is needed?

In the short-term, a key issue that needs resolving is the mismatch between global methane budgets from top-down (derived from atmospheric measurements) and bottom-up (derived from measurements of methane emissions at the land surface from different methane producing environments) approaches. This requires collecting more data at high resolution in time and space, and the use of isotopes to bridge top-down and bottom-up observations to identify methane sources across these measurement scales.

In the longer-term, a crucial question that remains is whether methane oxidation in natural environments can match potentially increased methane production in response to predicted climate change. Answering this question requires observations and modeling at a wide range of scales from the microbial- to the global-scale. This should also involve bringing together researchers across these disciplines, particularly linking geophysicists and geochemists with microbiologists.

—Joshua Dean, Department of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands; email: j.f.dean@vu.nl

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Pediatricians are concerned about climate change, and here’s why #auspol #StopAdani

CNN) — Doctors have long raised alarm about the potential health risks of climate change, but it turns out that children are particularly vulnerable.

Children are estimated to bear 88% of the burden of disease related to climate change, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics.

The new paper highlights some studies on the implications of climate change for children’s health and then calls for the world to better prepare for these health risks, not just in the future but in the present.

“We already have seen the impacts,” said Dr. Kevin Chan, chairman of pediatrics at Memorial University and head of child health at Eastern Health in Canada, who co-authored the paper.

Chan pointed to Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma as examples of climate change-related weather events that have affected children’s health, along with extreme heat waves and emerging infectious pathogens such as the Zika virus.

During pregnancy, Zika infection can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected and the brain has not developed properly. There is no treatment for microcephaly that can return a child’s head to a healthy size or shape.

Alerts of an outbreak of Zika, spread mostly by mosquitoes, emerged in 2015 and continued through 2016. Some studies suggest that increased climate instability has contributed to the emergence and spread of mosquito-borne infections like Zika.

“Absolutely, that was one that disproportionately affected children,” Chan said of Zika.

“The basic message is that climate change is occurring, and I think it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations, and that includes children,” he said.

In the new paper, Chan and co-author Dr. Rebecca Pass Philipsborn, a member of the pediatrics faculty at the Emory University School of Medicine, cited a separate study that found that deaths due to diarrhea, malaria and nutritional deficiencies among children younger than 5 accounted for 38%, 65% and 48% of all global deaths, respectively, in 2015.

That study was published in The Lancet in 2016. The new study reports that those causes of death can be climate-sensitive.

For instance, certain changes in climate can make it more suitable for the transmission of malaria, a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Similarly, climbing temperatures have been tied to an increased incidence of waterborne bacterial infections that cause diarrhea. When compared with a future without climate change, an estimated 48,000 additional deaths due to diarrheal illness are projected among children younger than 15 by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

As for nutritional deficiencies, about 95,000 additional deaths due to childhood undernutrition are projected for 2030, according to the WHO. Extremely high seasonal temperatures and extreme weather events could damage crops, impacting the food supply and thus childhood nutrition.

In their paper, Chan and Philipsborn also referenced studies on children’s vulnerability to extreme heat, droughts and air pollution.

A separate report, published last year by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, mapped how those climate change-related events and others threaten the health of people across the United States — and those threats can vary by region.

Dr. Mona Sarfaty, executive director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and director of the program on climate and health at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, said the the sources for the new Pediatrics paper are credible and well-known to experts on climate change and health.

“The danger to children is real and is already witnessed by physicians in the US,” said Sarfaty, who was not involved in the paper.

“Children suffer more heat impacts because they spend more time outside. They are more vulnerable to the heat-related increases in air pollution that come from fossil fuel exhaust, because their lungs are still developing. Outdoor play also makes them more prey to insect vectors carrying dangerous infections,” she said. “The doctors in our societies are seeing these problems today, and they will undoubtedly get worse if we don’t decisively address climate change.”

Though the new paper highlights the current body of research on climate change and children’s health, Chan said that more research could help physicians better understand and prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

“Specifically, what we wanted to highlight was, there’s very little research and evidence around children,” Chan said.

“A lot of the research is very, very broad and tends to look more at adult populations. I don’t think they factor in the specific impacts on children themselves, and I think more research is needed in that arena,” he said. “We really need more efforts into addressing climate change to protect our children.”

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In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics published an updated policy statement on global climate change and children’s health, calling for health facilities to reduce their carbon and environmental footprints and for politicians to promote energy efficiency, among other recommendations.

“Climate change is a rising public health threat to all children in this country and around the world,” former academy President Dr. Sandra G. Hassink said in a news release at the time.

“Pediatricians have a unique and powerful voice in this conversation due to their knowledge of child health and disease and their role in ensuring the health of current and future children,” she said.

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Decarbonisation is no solution to #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani We need a paradigm shift.

Decarbonization scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit global temperature increase to well below 2 °C and to pursue 1.5 °C demand the realization of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) at vast scales (Smith et al., 2016).

Presently such “negative emissions” techniques have been limited to concepts, and a handful of prototypes and pilot projects.

No government has committed to a major program of negative emissions research and development or the creation of regulatory support mechanisms.

This stands in stark contrast to the calculations presented in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which assumes that for meeting a 2 °C target, net negative CO2 emissions will have to be reached globally at around 2070, and gross negative emissions of 670 Gigatonnes (Gt) CO2 (range 320–840) will have to be realized during the 21st century.

Under these calculations, deployment of CDR would have to start as early as in the 2020s.

The requirements for meeting a 1.5 °C target are even more challenging, with 810 Gt CO2 by 2100 (range 440–1,020) (Smith et al., 2017).

While policymakers, in accepting the IPCC’s assessments, appear to have implicitly accepted that CDR is necessary to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets, they have avoided asking (or answering) the next obvious question: “Who exactly is going to do it?”

Given the history of United Nations (UN) climate change negotiations, a reasonable assumption would be that the European Union (EU) should lead the way.

Globally, the EU is still one of the largest emitters, carries a high degree of historical responsibility and praises itself for its climate leadership in the international arena, even more so since the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Integrated Assessment Models (IAM) indicate that the EU would be one of the largest CDR contributors over the course of the 21st century, delivering gross negative emissions on the order of 50 Gt, more than 10 times its current annual “positive” emissions, but less than 10% of the total CDR volumes assumed by IAMs in 2 °C scenarios (Peters & Geden, 2017). Recent energy system modeling studies, aimed at cost optimization through an uneven distribution of mitigation burdens between sectors, suggest that the EU will already have reached gross CDR levels approaching 1 Gt per year by 2050, to be delivered by the power sector, through deployment of Bio‐Energy combined with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) (Bollen & Aalbers, 2017; Solano Rodriguez, Drummond, & Ekins, 2017).

So far, however, in contradiction with its potential role as a leader in this collective effort, the EU seems rather unmoved by technical assessments of the requirement for substantial CDR to meet global climate stabilization objectives.

This should not come as a surprise.

Planned and realized transformations of national or regional energy systems are usually not determined by complex mitigation modeling studies, but based on wider political and economic considerations.

Nuclear energy and CCS serve as telling examples here.

That deployment of these technologies did not meet earlier expectations regarding their role in a cost‐effective climate policy cannot primarily be explained by poor market design or inadequate regulatory regimes (Arranz, 2015; Kanellakis, Martinopoulos, & Zachariadis, 2013; Szulecki, Fischer, Gullberg, & Sartor, 2016).

Therefore, if we want to assess whether and how CDR could enter the sphere of EU climate policymaking we not only need to consider how certain CDR techniques fit into the existing landscape of political preferences, economic interests, national energy mixes, and infrastructures.

We also need to examine how a carbon removal approach could potentially confront and confound the dominant EU climate policy paradigm, with its core narrative that emissions reductions ‘in line with science’ and support for low‐carbon technologies will eventually help to achieve global climate stabilization, and simultaneously deliver green growth.

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Harvard Scientist: Climate Change May Be Worse Than We Think #auspol #StopAdani

Harvard Scientist: Climate Change May Be Worse Than We Think

Daniel Schrag’s professional credentials are impressive: He’s the director of the Center for the Environment at Harvard University where he’s a professor of environmental science and engineering.

At Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Schrag is co-director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program.

Throughout President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, Schrag served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, contributing to many reports.

He has a long list of published papers ranging from the impact of corals on seawater chemistry 250 million years ago to solar geoengineering.

But nowhere in his extensive résumé will you find “prophet of doom.”

Yet he very much sounds like one when speaking about the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. “While climate change may not yet have had its huge impact on biodiversity,” says Schrag, “just wait.

What’s coming is really extraordinary.”

In a presentation called “Our Planetary Experiment” to be unveiled at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium on Wednesday, Schrag uses his research into Earth’s geologic record as well as new data from planets beyond our solar system to determine the future of our planet as carbon dioxide emissions continue to build and heat up our atmosphere.

As it stands now, Schrag concludes the “experiment” is not going well.

He says that “over the next few decades, Earth’s atmosphere will return to a state not seen for millions of years.”

The Scripps CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa (Courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

In his talks, Schrag often refers to the Keeling Curve, a graph created by American scientist Charles David Keeling in 1958.

Keeling was the first to record ongoing CO2 levels in Earth’s atmosphere.

In the late 1950s the CO2 readings were 315 parts per million.

In 2018, that reading has exceeded 400 ppm.

In analyzing Earth’s geologic record, Schrag says, “never in the last 800,000 years has CO2 been above 300 ppm.” Schrag says the last time atmospheric CO2 levels spiked sharply was around 36 million years ago when non-human factors were at play.

Even then the spike occurred over thousands of years.

“We’re likely to see 4 maybe even 6 degrees (Celsius) of (global) warming over the next 100 years,” says Schrag, “and it’s happening more than 100 times faster than climate change we’ve experienced in the past.”

Schrag believes there might be even more to be concerned about, saying there might be additional factors worsening climate change that scientists have not anticipated.

Adding to his grim forecast, Schrag says reversing the trend will be neither easy nor quick.

The World Counts

For one thing, more than half of the CO2 currently affecting climate change will remain in our atmosphere 1,000 years from now. “A silver-bullet solution is not around the corner.

It will require innovative investments sustained for at least the next century,” he says.

Schrag says public policy energy choices made “over the next decade or two will have profound effects on the Earth’s system, on every living thing on the planet.” Schrag says determined and sustained energy choices that reduce CO2 emissions are urgently needed to prevent his doomsday prophecies from becoming realities of biblical proportions.

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What genuine, for real, no-bullshit ambition on climate change would look like. #auspol #StopAdani

What genuine, for real, no-bullshit ambition on climate change would look like

New scenarios show how to hit the most stringent targets, with no loopholes.

David Roberts

A new dawn of ambition, or something.

Shutterstock

What would it take to really tackle climate change? No delays, no gimmicks, no loopholes, no shirking of responsibility — the real thing. What would it look like?

To answer that question, it helps to understand the upper threshold of climate ambition. The target agreed upon by the world’s nations in Paris in 2015 is global warming of “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with good-faith efforts to hold temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Countries are not moving anywhere near fast enough to hit those targets, so we are currently on track for somewhere around 3 degrees. It is generally agreed that hitting 2 degrees would quite ambitious, while hitting 1.5 would be nothing short of miraculous.

While there is nothing like a real-world plan in place for hitting those targets yet, climate modelers have come up with many scenarios for how we might do so. However, as I wrote recently, most of those scenarios rely heavily on “negative emissions” — ways of pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. If negative emissions technologies can be scaled up later in the century, the reasoning goes, it gives us room to emit more earlier in the century.

And that’s what most current 2- or 1.5-degree scenarios show: Global carbon emissions rise in the short term, then plunge rapidly to become net negative around 2060, with gigatons of carbon subsequently captured and buried over the remainder of the century. The oil giant Shell released a scenario along those lines a few weeks ago.

Shell’s use of negative emissions, compared to other scenarios.

Glen Peters

The primary instrument of negative emissions is expected to be BECCS: bioenergy (burning plants to generate electricity) with carbon capture and sequestration. The idea is that plants absorb carbon as they grow; when we burn them, we can capture and bury that carbon. The result is electricity generated as carbon is removed from the cycle — net-negative carbon electricity.

Most current scenarios bank on a lot of BECCS later in the century to make up for the carbon sins of the near past and near future.

BECCS.

Sanchez 2015

One small complication in all this: There is currently no commercial BECCS industry. Neither the BE nor the CCS part has been demonstrated at any serious scale, much less at the scale necessary. (The land area needed to grow all that biomass for BECCS in these models is estimated to be around one to three times the size of India.)

Maybe we could pull off a massive BECCS industry quickly. But banking on negative emissions later in the century is, at the very least, an enormous, fateful gamble. It bets the lives and welfare of millions of future people on an industry that, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t yet exist.

Plenty of people reasonably conclude that’s a bad idea, but alternatives have been difficult to come by. There hasn’t been much scenario-building around truly ambitious goals: to zero out carbon as fast as possible, to hold temperature rise as close to 1.5 degrees as possible, and, most significantly, to do so while minimizing the need for negative emissions. That is the upper end of what’s possible.

Three recent publications help fill that gap:

• “Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050,” by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), is a plan that targets a 66 percent chance of staying below 2 degrees, primarily through renewable energy.

• The analysts at Ecofys recently released a scenario for zeroing out global emissions by 2050, thus limiting temperature to 1.5 degrees and eliminating (most of) the need for negative emissions.

• A group of scholars led by Detlef van Vuuren of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency published a paper in Nature Climate Change investigating how to hit the 1.5 degree target while minimizing the need for negative emissions.

This graph will be very meaningful once you read the paper.

Nature Climate Change

Here’s how this post is going to go: First, we’ll have a quick look at why targeting 1.5 degrees is so urgent; second, we’ll look at a few things these scenarios have in common, the baseline for serious ambition; third, we’ll look more closely at the third paper, as it offers some interesting alternatives (like, oh, mass vegetarianism) to typical carbon thinking; and finally, I’ll conclude.

Why targeting 1.5 degrees is urgent

Americans can’t make much sense out of Celsius temperatures, and half a degree of temperature doesn’t sound like much regardless. But the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of global warming is a very big deal. (The IPCC is coming out with a science review on this in October.)

Another recent paper in Nature Climate Change makes the point vividly: Bumping ambition up from 2 to 1.5 degrees would prevent 150 million premature deaths through 2100, 90 million through reduced exposure to particulates, 60 million due to reduced ozone.

“More than a million premature deaths would be prevented in many metropolitan areas in Asia and Africa,” the researchers write, “and [more than] 200,000 in individual urban areas on every inhabited continent except Australia.”

That’s not nothing! And of course, the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees could mean the difference between life and death for low-lying islands.

The Marshall Islands, for now.

Shutterstock

There’s no time to waste. In fact, there may be, uh, negative time. Limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is possible, even in theory, only if the “carbon budget” for that target is at the high end of current estimates.

Again: 1.5 is only possible if we get started, with boosters on, immediately, and we get lucky. Time is not running out — it’s out.

What’s required to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees

The three scenarios I mentioned are different in a number of ways. The first two project through 2050, but the Nature Climate Change paper goes out to 2100. They target different things and use different tools. But they share a few big action items — features that any ambitious climate plan will inevitably involve.

1) Radically increase energy efficiency.

Just how much energy will be needed through 2050? That depends on population and economic growth, obviously, but it also depends on the energy intensity of the world’s economies — how much primary energy they require to produce a unit of GDP.

Increasing energy efficiency (which, all else being equal, reduces emissions) is in a race with population and economic growth (which, all else being equal, increases them). To radically decarbonize with minimal negative emissions, efficiency will need to outrun growth. (Notably, Shell’s scenario shows much higher global energy demand in coming decades; growth outruns efficiency.)

IRENA’s scenario reduces global energy-related emissions 90 percent by 2050. Of that 90 percent, 40 comes from energy efficiency.

To do this, IRENA says, the energy intensity of the global economy must fall two-thirds by 2050. Improvements in energy intensity will have to accelerate from an average of 1.8 percent a year from 2010 to 2015 to an average of 2.8 percent a year through 2050.

In the Ecofys scenario, energy efficiency is so amped up that total global energy demand is lower in 2050 than today, despite a much larger population and a global economy three times larger than today’s.

The Nature Climate Change paper summarizes the necessary approach to efficiency this way: “Rapid application of the best available technologies for energy and material efficiency in all relevant sectors in all regions.”

“All relevant sectors in all regions” means electricity, transportation, buildings, and industry, all bumped up to the most efficient available materials and technologies, everywhere in the world, starting immediately. Cool, cool, cool.

2) Radically increase renewable energy.

All the scenarios envision renewables (primarily wind and solar) rapidly coming to dominate electricity. In the IRENA scenario, renewables grow sixfold faster than they are currently, supplying 85 percent of global electricity by 2050.

Ecofys has them supplying 100 percent of global electricity — with that sector completely decarbonized — by 2040, even as global demand for electricity triples.

The Nature Climate Change paper notes that the vision of rapid renewables dominance all these scenarios have in common involves “optimistic assumptions on the integration of variable renewables and on costs of transmission, distribution and storage,” which, yeah.

3) Electrify everything!

Notably, all three scenarios heavily involve electrification of sectors and applications that currently run on fossil fuels. In the IRENA case, electricity rises from 21 percent of total global energy consumption today to 40 percent by 2050.

In the Ecofys scenario, it rises to a whopping 70 percent. In the Nature Climate Change study, it rises to 46 percent (compared to 31 percent in the reference case).

I have made the case for electrification before, and it’s not complicated. We know how to radically increase the supply of zero-carbon electricity; increasing the supply of zero-carbon liquid fuels is much more difficult. So it makes sense to move as much energy use as possible over to electricity, particularly vehicles, home heating and cooling, and lower-temperature industrial applications.

The Ecofys scenario makes it particularly clear: If renewable energy and energy efficiency are to be your primary decarbonization tools (more on that in a second), full decarbonization requires going all out on electrification.

The rising yellow wedge at the bottom left — that’s electricity.

IRENA

4) And still maybe do a little negative emissions.

Even though the intentions, of the Ecofys and Nature researchers particularly, was to minimize the need for negative emissions, neither was able to completely eliminate it.

“Regardless of the rapid decarbonisation” in the scenario, Ecofys researchers write, “the 1.5°C carbon budget is most likely still exceeded.” The only way to hold at 1.5 is to mop up that excess carbon with negative emissions. Ecofys thinks CCS applications will mostly be confined to industry and the rest can be taken care of by “afforestation, reforestation, and soil carbon sequestration,” i.e., non-CCS methods of negative emissions. And, it notes, this remaining excess carbon “is significantly less than most other low carbon scenarios.”

In the Nature Climate Change study, the need for BECCS can be completely eliminated only if every single one of the other strategies is maximized (see the next section).

Here’s what those researchers conclude about negative emissions:

[W]hile this study shows that alternative options can greatly reduce the volume of CDR [carbon dioxide removal] to achieve the 1.5°C goal, nearly all scenarios still rely on BECCS and/or reforestation (even the hypothetical combination of all alternative options still captured 400 GtCO2 by reforestation). Therefore, investment in the development of CDR options remains an important strategy if the international community intends to implement the Paris target.

They advise policymakers (wisely, it seems to me) to pursue negative emissions strategies but to think of alternative scenarios as insurance against the possibility that those strategies run up against unanticipated social or economic barriers.

The Kemper Project, meant to capture carbon from coal emissions, died a painful death.

(Wikipedia)

Decarbonization beyond renewable electricity and efficiency

The IRENA and Ecofys scenarios, like most rapid decarbonization scenarios, rely overwhelmingly on renewable energy and energy efficiency. But as environmentalist Paul Hawken reminds us with his Drawdown Project, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in most climate policy. (For instance, we’re going to talk about fake meat here in a minute.)

Like most climate-economic modelers, the Nature Climate Change researchers use integrated assessment models (IAMs) to generate their scenarios. They tested their decarbonization strategies against the second of five shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), which are the modeling community’s set of different visions for the future — different mixes of population, economic growth, oil prices, technology development, etc. SSP2 contains roughly median predictions. (If you’re curious about SSPs, here’s an explainer.)

But they also challenge some of the limitations in how IAMs have typically been used:

As IAMs select technologies on the basis of relative costs, they normally concentrate on reduction measures for which reasonable estimates of future performance and costs can be made. This implies that some possible response strategies receive less attention, as their future performance is more speculative or their introduction would be based on drivers other than cost, such as lifestyle change or more rapid electrification.

The Nature Climate Change paper attempts to model some of these more ambitious, uncertain, or non-cost-driven strategies, assembling a whole suite of decarbonization scenarios in different combinations.

Several of them are familiar: There’s a “uniform carbon tax in all regions and sectors,” along with maximized energy efficiency and renewable energy. But others are more novel in these modeling contexts.

Agricultural intensification: “High agricultural yields and application of intensified animal husbandry globally.”

Low non-CO2: “Implementation of the best available technologies for reducing non-CO2 emissions and full adoption of cultured meat in 2050.” (Non-CO2 greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxide, black carbon, fluorocarbons, aerosols, and tropospheric ozone. Cattle are a big source of methane, thus the cultured meat.)

Lifestyle change: “Consumers change their habits towards a lifestyle that leads to lower GHG emissions. This includes a less meat-intensive diet (conforming to health recommendations), less CO2-intensive transport modes (following the current modal split in Japan), less intensive use of heating and cooling (change of 1°C in heating and cooling reference levels) and a reduction in the use of several domestic appliances.” Though they don’t call it out specifically, this would very much involve less flying, one of the most carbon-intensive habits of the affluent.

Low population: “Scenario based on SSP1, projecting low population growth.” Population growth can be curbed most effectively through access to family planning and education of girls (which, notably, have many other benefits as well).

Good climate policy.

(Drawdown)

You can decide for yourself how likely you find any of these changes. The researchers say they are modeling “ambitious, but not unrealistic implementation.”

Reducing non-CO2 GHGs and widespread lifestyle changes have the most short-term impact on emissions. However, “by 2100,” they write, “the strongest reductions are found in the renewable electrification and low population scenarios.” This echoes what the Drawdown Project found, which is that educating girls and making family planning widely available (thus reducing population growth) is the most potent long-term climate policy.

Deep thoughts

Needless to say, accomplishing any one of these goals — a global carbon tax, maximized efficiency, an explosion of renewable energy, a wholesale revolution in agriculture, rapid reduction of non-CO2 GHGs, a rapid shift in global lifestyle choices, and successful measures to curb population growth — would be an enormous achievement.

To completely avoid BECCS while still hitting the 1.5 degree target, we would have to accomplish all of them.

That is highly unlikely. Still, the important point of the Nature Climate Change research remains: “alternative pathways exist allowing for more moderate use and postponement of BECCS.” Given the substantial and uncharted difficulties facing BECCS, policymakers owe those alternative pathways a look.

Obviously these strategies face all kinds of social and economic barriers. (I’m trying to envision what it would take to rapidly shift Americans from beef to cultured meat … trying and failing.) But they also come with co-benefits. Reducing fossil fuels reduces local air pollution and its health impacts. Energy efficiency reduces energy bills. Eating less meat and driving less are healthy.

Overall, a radical energy transition would mean a net boost in global GDP (relative to the reference case) in every year through 2050.

IRENA

An energy transition would also create millions of net jobs. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Engineering any of these shifts, the Nature Climate Change researchers write with some understatement, “requires not only insights from IAMs, but also in-depth knowledge of social transitions.” They suggest (and I heartily endorse) that subsequent research focus on social and political barriers and strategies.

In the end, perhaps the most important conclusion in the Nature Climate Change paper is the simplest and the one that we already knew: “a rapid transformation in energy consumption and land use is needed in all scenarios.”

At this point, whether it’s possible to hit various targets is almost beside the point. All the science and modeling are saying the same thing, which is that humanity faces serious danger and needs to reduce carbon emissions to zero as quickly as possible.

The chances of us getting our collective shit together and accomplishing what these scenarios describe are … slim. There are so many vested interests and so much public aversion to rapid change, so many governments to be coordinated, so many economic and technology trends that must fall just the right way. It’s daunting.

Conversely, the chances of us overdoing it — trying too hard, spending too much money, reducing emissions too much or too fast — are effectively nil.

So the only rule of climate policy that really matters is: go as hard and fast as possible, forever and ever, amen.

Press link for more: VOX.COM

Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air

By Eric Holthauson May 3, 2018

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist and staff writer for Grist, covering climate science, policy, and solutions. He has previously written for the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and a variety of other publications.

The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different.

For one, humans didn’t exist.

On Wednesday, scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmed that April’s monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration breached 410 parts per million for the first time in our history.

We know a lot about how to track these changes.

The Earth’s carbon dioxide levels peak around this time every year for a pretty straightforward reason. There’s more landmass in the northern hemisphere, and plants grow in a seasonal cycle. During the summer, they suck down CO2, during the winter, they let it back out. The measurements were made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii — a site chosen for its pristine location far away from the polluting influence of a major city.

Increasingly though, pollution from the world’s cities is making its way to Mauna Loa — and everywhere else on Earth.

In little more than a century of frenzied fossil-fuel burning, we humans have altered our planet’s atmosphere at a rate dozens of times faster than natural climate change. Carbon dioxide is now more than 100 ppm higher than any direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores over the past 800,000 years, and probably significantly higher than anything the planet has experienced for at least 15 million years. That includes eras when Earth was largely ice-free.

Not only are carbon dioxide levels rising each year, they are accelerating. Carbon dioxide is climbing at twice the pace it was 50 years ago. Even the increases are increasing.

That’s happening for several reasons, most important of which is that we’re still burning a larger amount of fossil fuels each year. Last year, humanity emitted the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in history — even after factoring in the expansion of renewable energy. At the same time, the world’s most important carbon sinks — our forests — are dying, and therefore losing their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it safely in the soil. The combination of these effects means we are losing ground, and fast.

Without a bold shift in our actions, in 30 years atmospheric carbon dioxide will return back to levels last reached just after the extinction of the dinosaurs, more than 50 million years ago. At that point, it might be too late to prevent permanent, dangerous feedback loops from kicking in.

This is the biggest problem humanity has ever faced, and we’ve barely even begun to address it effectively. On our current pace, factoring in current climate policies of every nation on Earth, the best independent analyses show that we are on course for warming of about 3.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, enough to extinguish entire ecosystems and destabilize human civilization.

Climate change demands the urgent attention and cooperation of every government around the world. But even though most countries have acknowledged the danger, the ability to limit our emissions eludes us. After 23 years of United Nations summits on climate change, the time has come for radical thinking and radical action — a social movement with the power to demand a better future.

Of the two dozen or so official UN scenarios that show humanity curbing global warming to the goals agreed to in the 2015 Paris Accord, not one show success without the equivalent of a technological miracle. It’s easier to imagine outlandish technologies, like carbon capture, geoengineering, or fusion power than self-control.

Our failed approach to climate change is mostly a failure of imagination. We are not fated to this path. We can do better. Yes, there are some truly colossal headwinds, but we still control our future. Forgetting that fact is sure to doom us all.

Press link for more: Grist.org

‘The Global Elite Is Insane’

‘The Global Elite Is Insane’ Revisited

BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 26 Mar 2018

Robert J. Burrowes, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

21 Mar 2018 – In 2014 I wrote an article titled ‘The Global Elite Is Insane’. I want to elaborate what I explained in the earlier article so that people have a clearer sense of what we are up against in our struggle to create a world of peace, justice and ecological sustainability.

Of course, as I explained previously, it is not just the global elite that is insane. All those individuals – politicians, businesspeople, academics, corporate media editors and journalists, judges and lawyers, bureaucrats…. – who serve the elite, including by not exposing and resisting it, are also insane. And it is important to understand this if we are to develop and implement effective strategies to resist elite violence, exploitation and destruction but also avert the now-imminent human extinction driven by their insane desire for endless personal privilege, corporate profit and political control whatever the cost to Earth’s biosphere and lifeforms (human and non-human alike).

But first, who constitutes the global elite?

Essentially, it is those extremely wealthy individuals – notably including the Rothschild family, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, the Walton family and the Koch brothers – as well as the world’s other billionaires and millionaires. See ‘Bloomberg Billionaires Index’.

Testament to their secretly and long-accumulated wealth and power, a 2012 investigation concluded that rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets – which excludes non-financial assets such as real estate, gold, yachts and racehorses – in offshore tax havens. See the Tax Justice Network.

If this sum was devoted to programs of social uplift then starvation, poverty, homelessness and other privations would vanish immediately and environmental restoration projects as well as research, development and implementation of visionary sustainability initiatives would flourish instantly.

The idea of an ‘underdeveloped’ or ‘developing’ national economy would vanish from the literature on Africa, Asia and Central/South America.

In addition to these individuals, however, the global elite includes the major multinational corporations, particularly including the following – although, it should be noted, this list simplifies the picture considerably by ignoring the conglomerate nature of many of these corporations and not including many of the (more difficult to identify) private corporations that should be listed in any comprehensive presentation:

• the major weapons manufacturers (such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics)

• the major banks (including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan Chase, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Bank of America) and their ‘industry groups’ like the International Monetary Conference

• the major investment companies (including BlackRock, Capital Group Companies, FMR, AXA, and JP Morgan Chase)

• the major financial services companies (including Berkshire Hathaway, AXA, Allianz and BNP Paribas)

• the major energy corporations including coal companies (such as Coal India, Adani Enterprises, China Shenhua Energy, China Coal Energy, Mechel, Exxaro Resources, Public Power, Glencore and Peabody Energy) as well as the oil and gas corporations (such as Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, Rosneft, PetroChina, ExxonMobil, Lukoil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Petrobras, Chevron, Novatek, Total S.A. and Eni)

• the major media corporations (including Alphabet [Google owner], Comcast, Disney, AT&T, News Corporation, Time Warner, Fox, Facebook, Bertelsmann and Baidu)

• the major marketing and public relations corporations (including Edelman, W2O Group, APCO Worldwide, Deksia, BrandTuitive, Fearless Media, and Citizen Group)

• the major agrochemical (pesticides, seeds, fertilizers) giants (including Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont)

• the major pharmaceutical corporations (including Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline)

• the major biotechnology (genetic mutilation) corporations (again including Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer and Novartis)

• the major mining corporations (including Glencore Xtrata, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Vale, Anglo American, China Shenhua Energy, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, and Barrick Gold)

• the major nuclear power corporations (including Areva, Rosatom, General Electric/Hitachi, Kepco, Mitsubishi, Babcock & Wilcox, BNFL, Duke Energy, McDermott International, Southern, NextEra Energy, American Electric Power, and Westinghouse)

• the major food multinationals (including Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Company [ADM], Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods and Mondelez)

• the major water corporations (including Veolia, Suez Environnement, ITT Corporation, United Utilities, Severn Trent, Thames Water, American Water Works).

Of course, the global elite also includes elite fora where various combinations of elite individuals from the corporate, political, media and academic worlds gather to plan their continuing violence against, and exploitation of, the Earth and its inhabitants. This is intended to consolidate and extend t heir control over populations, markets and resources to maximize their privilege, profit and power at the expense of the rest of us and life generally. Among intergovernmental organizations, it includes the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

A quick perusal of the agenda of such elite gatherings – including the World Economic Forum, the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission – reveals a comprehensive lack of interest, despite rhetoric and the occasional token mention, of pressing issues ranging from the threat of nuclear war and the climate catastrophe to the many ongoing wars, deepening exploitation within the global economy, extensive range of environmental threats and the refugee crisis, each of which they generated and now continue to deliberately exacerbate. See, for example, the agenda of the recent WEF meeting in Davos.

Primary servants of the global elite include political leaders in major industrialized countries (who legislate to progressively expand elite power, profit and privilege, such as Donald Trump’s recent tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of social programs), the judges and lawyers (who defend elite power using the elite-designed and manipulated legal system: ever heard of a wealthy individual convicted in court and given any serious punishment or of any major corporation genuinely held to legal account for its exploitation of indigenous peoples or destruction of the natural environment?), as well as corporate media editors and journalists, entertainment industry personnel, academics, industry organizations (such as the European Round Table of Industrialists) that represent the interests of major corporations, so-called ‘think tanks’ (such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution) and ‘philanthropic trusts’ (such as the Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford foundations) all of which justify, ignore or divert attention from elite violence and exploitation.

Importantly too, primary servants of the global elite include those who work within elite-directed agencies, notably including those in the so-called ‘intelligence community’ (such as the US CIA, British MI6, Russian SVR RF, Chinese Ministry for State Security and Israeli Mossad), who perform elite functions in relation to spying, surveillance and secret assassinations (particularly of grassroots activists), ostensibly under the direction of national governments. But it also includes many lower-level servants such as those who work as political lobbyists or in the bureaucracy as well as the education, police and prison systems.

So why do I claim that the elite and those who serve them are insane?

Any dictionary will offer a simple definition of ‘sanity’ along the lines of ‘soundness of judgment or reason’ and ‘the ability to think and speak in a reasonable way and to behave normally’.

But if we use this definition of sanity then, obviously, ‘sanity’ must be interpreted to mean that it is ‘sound judgment, reasonable and normal’ to further perpetrate the violence and exploitation that are overwhelmingly characteristic of our world. After all, most people powerlessly accept this incredibly violent state of affairs and, if they discuss it, do so in terms of its merits, politically, economically, morally or otherwise. Few people argue, simply, that violence is just insane.

So I would like to propose a more rigorous definition of sanity:

Sanity is the capacity to consider a set of circumstances, to carefully analyze the evidence pertaining to those circumstances, to identify the cause of any conflict or problem, and to respond appropriately, both emotionally and intellectually, to that conflict or problem with the intention of resolving it, preferably at a higher level of need satisfaction for all parties (including those of the Earth and all of its living creatures).

Clearly, my proposed definition of sanity is designed to imply that any conceptions we have of ‘sound judgment’, ‘reasonable’ and ‘normal’ mean that they are qualities we associate with individuals who possess the desirable capacity to improve the overall state of human affairs, whether an interpersonal relationship or geopolitically. This means, as an absolute minimum, the capacity to reduce violence or exploitation in one context or another.

You might, of course, accuse me of writing a definition of ‘sanity’ that serves my agenda to dramatically improve world order in the direction of peace, justice and sustainability. And you are right! But whose interest does it serve to have sanity defined as behavior that involves ‘sound judgment’ and is considered ‘reasonable and normal’ in the context of perpetuating extraordinary violence?

Alternatively, you might argue that my definition of insanity is too broad.

Surely, you might say, we can account for many of the behaviors outlined above in terms of different belief systems, ideologies and religions.

Doesn’t a person who believes in killing people to win wars (or for other reasons) just have a worldview different from those who believe that people should resolve conflict nonviolently?

Doesn’t a capitalist just have a worldview different from those who believe that people should share resources equally?

Doesn’t a person who believes in the unlimited accumulation of wealth just have a worldview different from those who believe in ecological sustainability?

But there is a more fundamental issue here.

As I explained in my original article, cited at the beginning of this one: Do you really believe that someone who is capable of perpetrating extraordinary violence, inequity and biosphere-threatening behavior – and thus clearly incapable of experiencing and expressing the love, compassion, empathy and sympathy that would drive a nonviolent approach to the world – is sane?

Given that emotional qualities such as love, compassion, empathy and sympathy are an evolutionary gift to those not seriously damaged during childhood, what happened to those individuals who do not possess them?

See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

Or, to explain it based on my longer definition of sanity highlighted above: Casual observation of the state of our world, including the primary threat of near-term human extinction through climate catastrophe or nuclear war – see ‘On Track for Extinction: Can Humanity Survive?’ – clearly reveals that none of the elite is paying considered attention to the perilous state of our world, analyzing the evidence in relation to it, identifying the cause(s) driving it or responding powerfully to end it. Why is this?

In essence, it is because one manifestation of their insanity drives them to deny reality to make huge profits from weapons production used to kill people, the burning of climate-destroying fossil fuels, environmental destruction (through, for example, mining and rainforest logging), commercial farming based on the poisoning and genetic mutilation of foods, the mass production and sale of poisoned, processed and nutritionally-depleted foods, the consumption of health-destroying and dependency-creating drugs, and control over the sale of water, once considered a human right. Moreover, insanity makes the elite do everything in its power to maintain this highly profitable state of affairs.

See ‘Profit Maximization is Easy: Invest in Violence’.

Moreover, of course, there is no evidence of committed elite engagement in efforts to end the many local wars (from which they make huge profits), end corporate exploitation of human beings (which kills, through starvation alone, 100,000 people every day but from which they make huge profits) and nonhuman beings (which drives 200 species of life to extinction daily but from which they make huge profits) or end local environmental destruction in a myriad ways (from which they make huge profits).

So, in summary, given our ongoing rush to extinction, it is clear that those who exacerbate this threat through failure to consider and act with awareness (as well as encourage aware action by others) fail to satisfy the definition of sanity that I offered above.

In short: Gambling on the future of humanity is not sane.

As an aside, it should be noted: Often enough too, the elite can rely on a largely insane population to mindlessly consume the latest consumer product, no matter how unnecessary, or they can rely on their marketing and advertising agents to persuade those of us who show the slightest reluctance to buy the latest inanity.

So with an insane global elite and its many insane servants as well as a largely insane consumer population, what can those of us who have the sanity to respond powerfully to the many threats to our survival do?

Well, if you want a child who is emotionally and intellectually engaged with the world and therefore capable of responding powerfully to their circumstances (which includes being able to resist the lure of serving the elite and being suckered by its marketing), then terrorizing the child into obedience is not the way to go about it. So, you might like to consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

If you are sane enough to investigate the evidence and to act intelligently and powerfully in response to it, I encourage you to do so. One option you have if you find the evidence in relation to one or more of the threats mentioned above compelling, is to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.

If you are self-aware enough to know that you are inclined to avoid ‘difficult issues’ and to take the action that these require, then perhaps you could tackle this problem at its source by ‘Putting Feelings First’. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, few of us had a childhood that nurtured our sanity.

If you want to mobilize people to campaign effectively on the climate, war, rainforest destruction or any other elite-driven violence that threatens our future, consider developing a comprehensive nonviolent strategy to do so. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

And if you want to participate in the worldwide effort to end the insanity we call violence in all of its manifestations, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

Elite insanity, if not stopped, will drive us out of existence. If you believe that the elite and their servants will ‘see the light’ before it is too late, I invite you to seek out the evidence to justify your belief. I have found none.

I also see no evidence that individual members of the elite will do the emotional healing necessary to be able to act sanely in response to the extinction-threatening crisis it has generated.

So it is up to those of us who can think and act sanely to stop the rush to extinction before it is too late.

Are you one of those people?

Robert Burrowes, Ph.D. is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence.

He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981.

He is the author of Why Violence?

Websites: (Charter)  (Flame Tree Project)  (Songs of Nonviolence) (Nonviolent Campaign Strategy) (Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy) (Robert J. Burrowes) (Feelings First) Email: flametree@riseup.net

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Mar 2018.

Press link for more: Transcend.org

Dear leaders: You’ve failed your children on climate change #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Jamie Margolin is an environmental activist and the founder of youth-led movement Zero Hour. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely hers.”

You failed us.

It’s your responsibility to protect the youth.

But when faced with the choice of fossil fuel money for your campaigns, or the wellbeing of your children, you pick fossil fuels.

Today is Earth Day.

Please save your phony Earth Day tweets and Facebook posts, I don’t want to see them. Put those in a bag along with your toothless “thoughts and prayers” tweets for hurricane victims and dump them in the ocean just like you permit corporations to dump their waste.

Because my generation is so done with your talk.

I’m a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. I have my whole life ahead of me, and there’s so much I want to do.

Read: Who is taking the lead on climate change?

I want to travel the world and see all its natural wonders. I want to run for office so I can be the leader I always wished I had.

But I have to come to terms with the fact that all of the above very well may not happen: because I’m growing up in the early 21st century, a time when the world and all its life systems are falling apart. Climate change has loomed over my every life decision, every time I try to plan for the future.

When I think of the future, I can’t assume stability or safety. When I think of adulthood, I see my home being flooded, I see deathly heat waves, droughts, famine and intense, deadly storms.

I see insects, allergens, and diseases spreading to places where they shouldn’t naturally be. I see countless people dying from toxic drinking water, food full of chemicals, and air thick with pollutants. I see millions upon millions of refugees fleeing homes in regions that have become uninhabitable. I see wars and conflict over dwindling resources.

A life full of ‘ifs’

There’s never been a time in my life when the scientific consensus was not that humans were changing the earth’s climate.

My life, and that of my entire generation, is full of “ifs.”

I want to see all the world’s natural wonders — if those natural wonders will still be around when I’m an adult.

I want to serve in political office — if our democracy will still be intact. Because when climate-caused natural disasters, drought, food shortages, and epidemics ravage our country, authoritarians could take advantage of the crisis situation and strip away our rights.

You are leaving my generation with a world that is unlivable.

Read: Children to sue European countries over climate change

Every time you take a donation of fossil fuel money, undo environmental regulations, side with polluters, or approve new fossil fuel infrastructure, you are ensuring that your children’s lives are full of “ifs.”

You have the power to save your kids.

You have the power to tackle the defining issue of our time head on. But you’ve chosen not to.

The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging, and you can’t even manage to do that.

You’re still in the pockets of corporations digging our destruction.

Leaders: I want you to know that Generation Z has had it.

Read: Microplastic pollution is all around us

Late last summer, after the string of climate-worsened natural disasters, I founded a youth climate action movement, Zero Hour.

We’re called Zero Hour to remind people that now is the time to act on climate change. We are youth from all over the country, who like the stereotypical Gen-Z’s that we are, work over the internet.

Youth climate action

We are organizing the Youth Climate Weekend in Washington DC this July that you won’t be able to ignore.

On July 19, for the Youth Climate Lobby Day we are going to your offices on Capitol Hill to remind you who you are working for.

On July 20, through art builds and artful activism, youth will remind you of the beauty of the planet you should be fighting to protect.

On July 21, for the Youth Climate March we will be flooding the streets because #ThisIsZeroHour and if you won’t pay attention to Mother Nature’s cries for help, maybe you’ll pay attention to the cries of your children.

And if you don’t listen to us this summer, we will keep escalating action.

Prepare to see us in your offices more and more often. Prepare to be voted out.

Leaders, I want you to know that the youth are watching.

See you this July.

Sincerely,

A teenage girl who has had enough and is not alone

Press link for more: Edition.CNN.com