Transformation of consciousness #StopAdani #auspol #empathy #ClimateChange

Transformation of consciousness

Excerpt from the Worldview Dimension of Gaia Education’s online course in Design for Sustainability

Daniel Christian WahlMay 18

Educator, speaker, strategic advisor — PhD Design for Sustainability, MSc Holistic Science, BSc Biol. Sciences; author of ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’

“The materialistic consciousness of our culture … is the root cause of the global crisis; it is not our business ethics, our politics or even our personal lifestyles.

These are symptoms of a deeper underlying problem.

Our whole civilization is unsustainable. And the reason that it is unsustainable is that our value system, the consciousness with which we approach the world, is an unsustainable mode of consciousness.”

— Peter Russell (Lazlo, Grof, & Russell, 1999, p.5)

Many people who have lived relatively conventional and successful lives within the Westernized industrial growth society, that has spread across the planet in the wake of economic globalization and the neoliberal “free”-market agenda, have recently woken up to a feeling of having raced at full tilt aiming for success and getting ahead, only to find out that the goals they were perusing, once reached, seemed shallow, meaningless, and forced them into a life-style or into keeping up a persona that they really felt unhappy with.

Why does this irrational behavior pattern prevail throughout the consumer society? (image)

The last of the economic shock waves that have rippled through the global system in 2008 as a result of the so-called sub-prime mortgage lending put in question whether this experience is in fact an isolated experience of some people, or much rather, the realization that our entire society and its guiding aims has been steaming all engines ahead into an altogether undesirable direction.

Both individuals and the western ‘financial success driven’ society as a whole seem to find themselves in a situation described by Joseph Campbell as “getting to the top of the ladder and finding that it stands against the wrong wall.”

“The dominant worldview of the Western industrial civilization does not serve either the collective or the individual.

Its major credo is a fallacy.

It promotes a way of being and a strategy of life that is ultimately ineffective, destructive, and unfulfilling.

It wants us to believe that winning the competition for money, possessions, social position, power, and fame is enough to make us happy. … that is not the true.”

Stanislav Grof (Lazlo, Grof, & Russell, 1999, p.65)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, suggests in his book The Evolving Self (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993): “To know ourselves is the greatest achievement of our species.”

He argues that in order to understand ourselves “ what we are made of, what motivates and drives us, and what goals we dream of — involves, first of all an understanding of our evolutionary past;” we need to reflect “on the network of relationships that bind us to each other and to the natural environment” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993, p.xvii).

He acknowledges the importance of the emergence of self-reflective consciousness and its role in freeing us from genetic and cult.

The Evolving Self by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggest that commitment to conscious evolution gives people deep meaning an personal satisfaction.

He is noted for his work in the study of happiness and creativity and for his notion of flow with years of research and writing on the topic. (image left; image right)

Csikszentmihalyi believes that the next big evolutionary change in human consciousness may simultaneously acknowledge the self as separate from and fundamentally interconnected with the complexity from which it emerges.

The individual, its culture, and the natural environment are simultaneously differentiated from each other and united into a larger complexity.

“If it is true that at this point in history the emergence of complexity is the best ‘story’ we can tell about the past and the future, and if it is true that without it our half-formed self runs the risk of destroying the planet and our budding consciousness along with it, then how can we help to realize the potential inherent in the cosmos?

When the self consciously accepts its role in the process of evolution, life acquires a transcendent meaning.

Whatever happens to our individual existences, we will become one with the power that is the universe.”

— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1993

Jeremey Rifkin suggest in The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis that human nature is fundamentally empathic rather than selfish and competitive.

He reviews recent evidence from brain science and child development studies that show how selfishness, competition and aggression are not innate parts of human behaviour but learned and culturally conditioned responses.

Our very nature is far more caring, loving, and empathic than we have been educated to believe.

While being empathic may have initially extended primarily to our family and tribe, our ability to empathize has continued to expand to include the whole of humanity, other species and life as a whole. Rifkin suggest that we are witnessing the evolutionary emergence of Homo empathicus:

“We are at the cusp, I believe, of an epic shift into a climax global economy and a fundamental repositioning of human life on the planet. The ‘Age of Reason’ is being eclipsed by the ‘Age of Empathy’.

The most important question facing humanity is this: Can we reach global empathy in time to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the Earth?”

— Jeremy Rifkin (2010, p.3)

The change that Rifkin speaks about resonates with Albert Einsteins’ conviction that our task must be to “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature.”

While this change is needed at a global scale of the human family, the first step lies in the awakening and transformation of consciousness of each and every one of us.

This section will explore both the personal and the collective dimension of this transformation. …

‘The Empathic Civilisation’, by Jeremy Rifkin. In this ambitious book, bestselling social critic Jeremy Rifkin shows that the disconnect between our vision for the world and our ability to realize that vision lies in the current state of human consciousness.

The very way our brains are structured disposes us to a way of feeling, thinking, and acting in the world that is no longer entirely relevant to the new environments we have created for ourselves.

Note: This is an excerpt from the Worldview Dimension of Gaia Education’s online course in Design for Sustainability. In 2012 I was asked to rewrite this dimension as part of a collaboration between Gaia Education and the Open University of Catalunya (UOC) and in 2016 I revised it again into this current version. The next opportunity to join the course is with the start of the Worldview Dimension on May 21st, 2018. You might also enjoy my book ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’.

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Urgent Climate Action Required to Protect Tens of Thousands of Species Worldwide #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Urgent Climate Action Required to Protect Tens of Thousands of Species Worldwide, New Research Shows | InsideClimate News

By Jack Cushman

Jack Cushman is an editor and reporter for InsideClimate News. Before joining ICN, he worked for 35 years as a writer and editor in Washington, D.C., principally with the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Cushman has written extensively about energy, the environment, industry and military affairs, also covering financial and transportation beats, and editing articles across the full spectrum of national and international policy. He served on the board of governors of the National Press Club and was its president in the year 2000. He is the author of “Keystone and Beyond: Tar Sands and the National Interest in the Era of Climate Change.”

And Neela Banerjee

Neela Banerjee is a Washington-based reporter for Inside Climate News. She led the investigation into Exxon’s early climate research, which was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service reporting and the recipient of nearly a dozen other journalism awards. Before joining ICN, she spent four years as the energy and environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau. Banerjee covered global energy, the Iraq War and other issues with The New York Times. She also served as a Moscow correspondent with The Wall Street Journal. Banerjee grew up in southeast Louisiana and graduated from Yale University.

A mere half degree of extra global warming could mean profound risks for tens of thousands of the planet’s species, scientists have found. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Humanity can powerfully improve the survival odds of tens of thousands of species, but only if nations dramatically raise their ambitions in the fight against climate change, according to new research published on Thursday in the journal Science.

One key to salvaging plant and vertebrate habitat and protecting the world’s biodiversity is to limit warming to the most challenging benchmark established under the 2015 Paris treaty—1.5 degrees Celsius of warming—not to the treaty’s less stringent 2 degree guardrail, the study found.

The study assessed, in more detail than ever before, a key measure of extinction risk: the shrinking size of each species’ current geographical range, or natural habitat. It projected that for an alarming number of species, their range size would shrink by at least half as temperatures rise past the Paris goals.

If nations do no more than they have pledged so far to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions—and warming consequently shoots past 3 degrees by the end of this century—6 percent of all vertebrates would be at risk. So would 44 percent of plants and a whopping 49 percent of insects.

But the dangers would be greatly reduced if warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees. That might protect the overwhelming majority of the 115,000 species assessed by the researchers. Just 4 percent of vertebrates would lose more than half of their current range. Only 8 percent of plants and 6 percent of insects would face that risk.

Keeping warming to 2 degrees is not nearly as effective, they found. The additional half degree of warming would double the impact on plants and vertebrate species, and triple the impact on insects.

First-of-Its-Kind Biodiversity Study

Conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and James Cook University in Australia, the study builds on their earlier work. For the first time, it examines insects and explores how effectively the extinction risks can be addressed by increasing ambition.

“If warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, then more species can keep up or even gain in range,” said Rachel Warren, the study’s lead researcher, “whereas if warming reached 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, many species cannot keep up and far more species lose large parts of their range.”

The new research adds a compelling layer of evidence to the mounting risks of rising temperatures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is currently revising a comprehensive draft report on the science behind the 1.5 degree target. This new report on endangered species was written in time to be reflected in the IPCC review, to be published in the fall.

A leaked copy of the latest IPCC draft, circulated for expert comment in the winter, noted in its summary that “local extinction (extirpation) risks are higher in a 2 degrees Celsius warmer world, compared to  1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Race to Bolster Paris Treaty’s Call for Action

At Paris, everyone recognized that the pledges to cut emissions would fall short of meeting the 2 degree target. Even so, the world’s nations decided to shoot for 1.5 degrees, where the dangers become pronounced for small island states and other highly vulnerable people. Since then, talks about increasing ambition have made relatively little headway, and President Donald Trump has renounced the pledges of the Obama administration.

Whether the goal is 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees, scientists say it can only be met by bringing net emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels to zero later in this century. The main difference is that with the more ambitious goal, emissions must be reduced much faster; some say it’s already too late.

This urgency has been highlighted by one peer-reviewed study after another, as scientists explore the consequences of falling short. Hundreds of scientists have filed thousands of comments to the IPCC as it races to bolster the treaty’s call for rapid action.

115,000 Species Studied; Insects Particularly Vulnerable

Since lost species never come back, and since many species perform vital ecosystem services, the growing risks of extinction are an especially profound aspect of climate change.

Until now, these problems have been studied in relatively few species, notably tropical coral reefs, which are already dying off under the approximately 1 degree of warming that’s been observed so far. They may be partly saved if emissions are reduced aggressively enough to stay below 1.5 degrees.

This time, the researchers examined 115,000 species, including 34,000 insects and other invertebrates that previously have not been included in global studies of climate and biodiversity. (Roughly a million species of insects have been named, and there may be many more.)

Insects, it turned out, are particularly sensitive to temperature increases, and these findings are particularly alarming.

They focus attention on pollinators essential to agriculture and insects that serve as food for birds and animals. The researchers found that three groups of pollinators are especially vulnerable to climate risks—true flies, beetles, and moths and butterflies.

The study’s authors concluded that meeting the most aggressive temperature target would most benefit species in Europe, Australia, the Amazon and southern Africa.

The study also looked at the ability of different species to migrate outside their normal ranges.

Birds, mammals and butterflies have better chances of relocating than other species as temperatures rise, the researchers found

Press link for more: Inside Climate News

Renewables Account For Most New U.S. Power Capacity #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Renewable Sources Account For Most New U.S. Power Capacity

Robert Rapier

Electricity-generating wind turbines are seen on a wind farm in the San Gorgonio Pass area on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, near Palm Springs, California. Photo credit DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images.

The history of power production through the early part of the 21st century was very much a tale of nonrenewable energy resources. Power was produced primarily by coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy at large power plants at central locations and distributed to customers via the electrical grid.

But a revolution is underway in the world’s power markets.

The Rise of Renewables

The world’s energy mix has evolved substantially over the past 20 years. Since 1997, global cumulative installed solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power have climbed from less than 8 GW to nearly 800 GW, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewables were responsible for almost 165 GW of new global power capacity in 2016—nearly two-thirds of the global total.

The U.S. has been a leader in this transition. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) “Energy Infrastructure Update” (EIU), renewable power sources accounted for half (49.9%) of the 24.6 gigawatts (GW) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service in 2017. Nearly all of the rest, 48.7%, was new natural gas capacity.

At the end of 2017, all renewables (including hydropower) accounted for more 20% of the nation’s installed generating capacity — up from 15.4% in 2021. Renewables accounted for 17.6% of total electrical generation in 2017, compared to 15.3% in 2016. The discrepancy between the 20% installed capacity and 17.6% of generation is attributable to the intermittency of renewable sources.

The Revolution Accelerates

But the first quarter of this year resulted in almost exclusively new renewable capacity. FERC’s most recent EIU showed that in the first three months of this year, renewables comprised nearly 95% of new power-generating capacity.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

Australia should be building “Sponge Cities” like China not new Coal mines. #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

China is Building 30 “Sponge Cities” to Soften the Blow of Climate Change

Sponge Cities

China is taking the repercussions of climate change seriously. One consequence of our warming world is increasingly frequent and more severe flooding. This is especially problematic in growing, crowded cities, which has made certain regions in China more vulnerable. To combat this growing issue, the country is pursuing the development of “sponge cities.”

The Sponge City Initiative, launched in 2015, invests in projects that focus on absorbing floodwater. Currently, spongy designs are being explored in 30 cities, including Shanghai, Wuhan, and Xiamen. The current aim of the initiative is that, by 2020, 80 percent of urban areas in China will re-use at least 70 percent of their rainwater.

The 30 cities included in the initiative have received more than $12 billion in funding for sponge projects. However, the federal government only provides between 15 and 20 percent of this funding, with the rest coming from local governments and private investors.

Lingang, a planned city in Shanghai’s Pudong district, is working to become the largest sponge city to date. This effort is supported by $119 million in funding from the city government, according to CNN. So far, the city has begun planting on rooftops, building wetlands (which will store rainwater), and laying down permeable roads that are capable of storing runoff water.

Combatting Floodwaters

The creation of a sponge city is not a singular, defined process. Each project is customized to its region and aims to improve upon previous techniques and overcome difficult challenges. Strategies include using permeable surfaces and green (meaning that it incorporates plant-life) infrastructure. The concept has so much potential that other cities around the world, like in Berlin, are looking to become more “spongy.”

China’s ambitious program is both a creative and effective approach to this life-threatening problem. In 2010, approximately 700 people were killed and more than 300 gone missing as a result of landslides from flooding in China. Just this July, 56 people were killed and entire towns were destroyed because of excessive rain and flooding in southern China.

Increased natural disasters will be a consequence of climate change that threatens all countries around the world, as illustrated by the recent hurricane and resulting flooding in Houston. But China is taking a firm stand against such flooding with this initiative, and the rest of the world might follow suit. From advanced drainage systems to roadways capable of absorbing water and creative planting, sponge cities are getting increasingly innovative in how they might be able to better fend off treacherous floodwaters.

However, all of this is really just a band-aid for a much bigger problem. Experts agree that, unless we make radical, global changes, humanity will feel more and more severe effects of climate change.

It is our responsibility to fight against climate change, and it is also necessary for our survival. So, while policymakers and corporate leaders search for ways to soften the blow of climate change, it is important that more initiatives directly combat our impact of the environment so that lives are not senselessly lost. 

Press link for more: Futurism

Macron’s speech to the US Congress. “There is no Planet B” #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Macron highlighted differences between the U.S. and France on the environment. “By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity we are killing our planet,” he said. “Let us face it,” Maron said, “there is no planet B.”

Macron urged business leaders and local communities to work together to “make our planet great again,” drawing applause and shouts from Democrats in Congress. Macron said he was sure one day the U.S. “will come back and join the Paris agreement,” which limits carbon emissions and which President Trump exited.

“An expansive, ambitious, global speech from Mr Macron. He exploits the potential of bridging European Union and US power, until recently the British preserve,” Labour Party MP Peter Kyle tweeted.

Northam Solar Farm “A Game Changer” #auspol #qldpol #wapol #StopAdani

Northam Solar Farm set to be a ‘game changer’, says Carnegie Clean Energy boss

Written by Lynn GriersonMarch 12th, 2018, 04:30PM

NORTHAM Solar Farm is scheduled to open mid-year in a ‘partnership first’ between Perth Noongar Foundation, Indigenous Business Australia and Carnegie Clean Energy.

Carnegie chief executive Michael Ottaviano says the model is a potential game changer for WA communities.

If all goes according to plan, the 10MW solar farm in Northam will be a template for local people and industry to utilise a renewable resource in a future where everyone is a winner.

Carnegie Clean Energy retains a 50 per cent stake in a deal with co-equity investors Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and the Perth Noongar Foundation to deliver electricity to about 3000 households throughout the 25-year project.

Carnegie chief executive officer and managing director Michael Ottaviano is hopeful that where his company leads, others will follow.

“What we’re really doing is taking engagement a step further and rather than just engaging the community at our whim, it’s about getting Indigenous people around the table to own and co-own projects; that’s never been done before,” he said.

“I think Northam could be a template for other companies to adopt in the sense that this is a way of not just community engagement where it’s the company coming in and dictating all terms, this is about working directly with the local community and with indigenous capital and owners to collectively drive change in these communities.”

The renewable energy project is breaking new ground for Carnegie and its indigenous partners.

“Part of our partnership agreement with IBA and the Perth Noongar Foundation talks about a whole range of requirements and obligations and part of that is engaging and employing indigenous people, contractors and businesses,” he said.

Artist impression of the Northam Solar Power Station.

“It’s a potential game changer; if you can give indigenous people equity in these projects then you’re creating an income stream for these groups, in this case for at least 25 years.”

Dr Ottaviano said people in Northam embraced the idea of a solar farm in their neighbourhood.

About 30 people will be employed during the construction phase and for the most part, they will be electricians and mechanical fitters.

“Solar farms don’t need much in the way of maintenance and you don’t even have to clean the panels.”

“The design element is being done at our Belmont HQ; it’s this sort of project that keeps us here in WA where we’re the biggest renewable energy employer.”

Carnegie is also on track to build the first microgrid in WA for the naval base on Garden Island.

The clean energy provider specialises in standalone solar projects, wave energy and hybrid – a complex energy mix, which Dr Ottaviano said is where the world is going.

Until recently, a 10MW would be considered large but on the east coast of Australia, solar farms are underway up to 10 times the size.

“Globally now we’re seeing projects approaching 500MW and 1000MW farms, which are really extraordinary and incredibly disruptive for the power section,” he said.

“To put it into perspective, a typical coal power station might be between 200MW and 500MW and now we’re seeing solar plants at that order of magnitude.”

He said that unlike other states, WA and NSW do not have renewable energy targets at a time when more consumers are putting solar panels on their roof to generate their own power.

“Australia has gone from having no roof top solar ostensibly five years ago to having more roof top solar per capita than any country in the world,” Dr Ottaviano said.

“We’ve got the best combination of solar, wind and wave; really we should be leading the world.”

He listed Denmark as among the top European countries approaching 100 per cent renewable power.

“Australia tends to be a technology taker rather than a technology maker, which is a shame because we’ve got great engineering skills and the world’s best renewable resources, but we consistently fail to see it as an opportunity,” he said.

“We sort of revert back to what is safe and conservative and easy, which is dig up the coal and gas and burn it.”

Press link for more: Community News

13 top universities form ‘Climate Change Coalition’ #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

13 top universities form ‘Climate Change Coalition’

Leading universities across North America have launched the ‘University Climate Change Coalition’ to leverage their research and resources to spur local climate action.

The coalition, also known as UC3, was announced by Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California and former Homeland Security secretary under the Obama administration.

With universities from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the new initiative will aim to fill the rising gap in local climate action, especially after the US government is making deep cuts to numerous science agencies and rolling back environmental regulations aimed at mitigating climate change.

“The UC3 coalition believes that addressing climate change is an area where some of the world’s greatest research institutions can, and must, lead”, Mrs. Napolitano said.

She added: “No one is better positioned than we are to scale up research-based climate solutions”.

The UC3 coalition will establish a roadmap for university-led climate action through cross-sector forums where it will bring together the community, business leaders, and other shareholders.

In addition, later in 2018, it will release a climate mitigation and adaptation report where it will synthesise the best practices, policies, and recommendations from all the UC3 institutions into a framework for continued progress.

The 13 participating research institutions are: Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, Tecnológico de Monterrey, La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ohio State University, State University of New York, University of British Columbia, University of California, University of Colorado, University of Maryland, University of New Mexico, University of Toronto, and University of Washington.

Scott Miller from the University of Virginia said: “With global climate change accelerating, higher education is stepping up its mobilization of teaching, research, and operational change. UC3 represents a comprehensive approach, uniting leaders from many sectors of society to inspire solutions and make informed policy recommendations”.

You can read more about the new coalition here.

Press link for more: Climate Action Programme

Is 100% #RenewableEnergy realistic? #auspol #qldpol #sapol #StopAdani

Is 100% renewable energy realistic? Here’s what we know.

Reasons for skepticism, reasons for optimism, and some tentative conclusions.

David RobertsFeb 7, 2018, 12:30pm EST

The world has agreed to a set of shared targets on climate change. Those targets require deep (80 to 100 percent) decarbonization, relatively quickly.

What’s the best way to get fully decarbonized? In my previous post, I summarized a raging debate on that subject. Let’s quickly review.

We know that deep decarbonization is going to involve an enormous amount of electrification. As we push carbon out of the electricity sector, we pull other energy services like transportation and heating into it. (My slogan for this: electrify everything.) This means lots more demand for electricity, even as electricity decarbonizes.

The sources of carbon-free electricity with the most potential, sun and wind, are variable. They come and go on their own schedule. They are not “dispatchable,” i.e., grid operators can’t turn them on and off as needed. To balance out variations in sun and wind (both short-term and long-term), grid operators need dispatchable carbon-free resources.

Deep decarbonization of the electricity sector, then, is a dual challenge: rapidly ramping up the amount of variable renewable energy (VRE) on the system, while also ramping up carbon-free dispatchable resources that can balance out that VRE and ensure reliability.

Two potentially large sources of dispatchable carbon-free power are nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Suffice it to say, a variety of people oppose one or both of those sources, for a variety of reasons.

So then the question becomes, can we balance out VRE in a deeply decarbonized grid without them? Do our other dispatchable balancing options add up to something sufficient?

That is the core of the dispute over 100 percent renewable energy: whether it is possible (or advisable) to decarbonize the grid without nuclear and CCS.

In this post I’m going to discuss three papers that examine the subject, try to draw a few tentative conclusions, and issue a plea for open minds and flexibility. It’ll be fun!


Two papers circulated widely among energy nerds in 2017 cast a skeptical eye on the goal of 100 percent renewables.

One was a literature review on the subject, self-published by the Energy Innovation Reform Project (EIRP), authored by Jesse Jenkins and Samuel Thernstrom. It looked at a range of studies on deep decarbonization in the electricity sector and tried to extract some lessons.

The other was a paper in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews that boasted “a comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems.” It was by B.P. Heard, B.W. Brook, T.M.L. Wigley, and C.J.A. Bradshaw, who, it should be noted, are advocates for nuclear power.

We’ll take them one at a time.

Most current models find that deep decarbonization is cheaper with dispatchable power plants

Jenkins and Thernstrom rounded up 30 studies on deep decarbonization, all published since 2014, when the most recent comprehensive report was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The studies focused on decarbonizing different areas of different sizes, from regional to global, and used different methods, so there is not an easy apples-to-apples comparison across them, but there were some common themes.

To cut to the chase: The models that optimize for the lowest-cost path to zero carbon electricity — and do not rule out nuclear and CCS a priori — generally find that it is cheaper to get there with than without them.

Today’s models, at least, appear to agree that “a diversified mix of low-CO2 generation resources” add up to a more cost-effective path to deep decarbonization than 100 percent renewables. This is particularly true above 60 or 80 percent decarbonization, when the costs of the renewables-only option rise sharply.

Again, it’s all about balancing out VRE. The easiest way to do that is with fast, flexible natural gas plants, but you can’t get past around 60 percent decarbonization with a large fleet of gas plants running. Getting to 80 percent or beyond means closing or idling lots of those plants. So you need other balancing options.

One is to expand the grid with new transmission lines, which connects VRE over a larger geographical area and reduces its variability. (The wind is always blowing somewhere.) Several deep decarbonization studies assume a continental high-voltage super-grid in the US, with all regions linked up. (Needless to say, such a thing does not exist and would be quite expensive.)

One conceptual example of a US-wide supergrid, from AWEA.

(AWEA, via Wikipedia)

The other way to balance VRE is to maximize carbon-free dispatchable resources, which include dispatchable supply (power plants), dispatchable demand (“demand management,” which can shift energy demand to particular parts of the day or week), and energy storage, which acts as both supply (a source of energy) and demand (a way to absorb it).

Energy storage and demand management are both getting better at balancing out short-term (minute-by-minute, hourly, or daily) variations in VRE.

But there are also monthly, seasonal, and even decadal variations in weather. The system needs to be prepared to deal with worst case scenarios, long concurrent periods of high cloud cover and low wind. That adds up to a lot of backup.

We do not yet have energy storage at anything approaching that scale. Consider pumped hydro, currently the biggest and best-developed form of long-term energy storage. The EIRP paper notes that the top 10 pumped-hydro storage facilities in the US combined could “supply average US electricity needs for just 43 minutes.”

Currently, the only low-carbon sources capable of supplying anything like that scale are hydro, nuclear, and (potentially) CCS.

So if you take nuclear and CCS off the table, you’re cutting out a big chunk of dispatchable capacity. That means other dispatchable resources have to dramatically scale up to compensate — we’d need a lot of new transmission, a lot of new storage, a lot of demand management, and a lot of new hydro, biogas, geothermal, and whatever else we can think of.

Even with tons of new transmission, we’ll still need a metric shit-ton of new storage. Here’s a graph for comparison:

The US currently has energy storage capacity for around an hour of average electricity consumption. Only 15 weeks, six days, and 23 hours to go!

Suffice to say, that would mean building a truly extraordinary amount of energy storage by mid-century.

It gets expensive, progressively more so as decarbonization reaches 80 percent and above. Trying to squeeze out that last bit of carbon without recourse to big dispatchable power plants is extremely challenging, at least for today’s models.

Thus, models that optimize for the lowest-cost pathway to deep decarbonization almost always include lots of dispatchable power plants, including nuclear and CCS.

“It is notable,” the review says, “that of the 30 papers surveyed here, the only deep decarbonization scenarios that do not include a significant contribution from nuclear, biomass, hydropower, and/or CCS exclude those resources from consideration a priori.”

To summarize: Most of today’s models place high value on large dispatchable power sources for deep decarbonization, and it’s difficult to muster enough large dispatchable power sources without nuclear and CCS.

100 percent renewables hasn’t been 100 percent proven feasible

The second review takes a somewhat narrower and more stringent approach. It examines 24 scenarios for 100 percent renewable energy with enough detail to be credible. It then judges them against four criteria for feasibility:

(1) consistency with mainstream energy-demand forecasts; (2) simulating supply to meet demand reliably at hourly, half-hourly, and five-minute timescales, with resilience to extreme climate events; (3) identifying necessary transmission and distribution requirements; and (4) maintaining the provision of essential ancillary services.

(“Ancillary services” are things like frequency regulation and voltage control, which keep the grid stable and have typically been supplied by fossil fuel power plants.)

Long story short, none of the studies passed these feasibility tests. The highest score was four points out of a possible seven.

The authors conclude that “in all individual cases and across the aggregated evidence, the case for feasibility [of 100 percent renewable energy] is inadequate for the formation of responsible policy directed at responding to climate change.”

That is the peer-reviewed version of a sick burn.

Note, though, that these are pretty tough criteria: Researchers model a full electricity system, responsive to both short-term and long-term weather variations, meeting demand that is not appreciably different from mainstream projections, providing all needed services reliably, using technologies already demonstrated at scale.

That’s not easy! It’s reasonable to ask whether we need that much confidence to begin planning for long-term decarbonization. If any new system must demonstrate in advance that it is fully prepared to substitute for today’s system, it’s going to be difficult to change the system at all.

(Renewables advocates might say that nuclear advocates have a vested interest in keeping feasibility criteria as strict and tied to current systems as possible.)

For more in this vein, see “A critical review of global decarbonization scenarios: what do they tell us about feasibility?” from 2014, and here for more.

The question is how much our current decision-making should be constrained by what today’s models tell us is possible in the distant future.

Energy experts are more optimistic than their models

A third paper worth mentioning is 2017’s Renewables Global Futures Report (GFR) from global renewable-energy group REN21. In it, they interviewed “114 renowned energy experts from around the world, on the feasibility and challenges of achieving a 100% renewable energy future.”

There’s a ton of interesting stuff in the report, but this jumps out:

That’s 71 percent who agree that 100 percent renewables is “reasonable and realistic.” Yet the models seem to agree that 100 percent renewables is unrealistic. What gives?

Models are only models

It pays to be careful with literature reviews. They are generally more reliable than single studies, but they are exercises in interpretation, colored by the assumptions of their authors. And there’s always a danger that they are simply compiling common biases and limitations in current models — reifying conventional wisdom.

There are plenty of criticisms of current models of how climate change and human politics and economics interact. Let’s touch on a few briefly, and then I’ll get to a few takeaways.

1) Cost-benefit analysis is incomplete.

Models that “minimize cost” rarely minimize all costs. They leave out many environmental impacts, along with more intangible social benefits like community control, security, or independence.

UC Berkeley’s Mark Delucchi, occasional co-author with Stanford’s Mark Jacobson of work on 100 percent WWS (wind, water, and sun — see more about that at the Solutions Project), says that the ideal analysis of deep decarbonization would involve a full cost-benefit analysis, taking all effects, “the full range of climate impacts (not just CO2), air-quality benefits, water-quality benefits, habitat destruction, energy security — everything you can think of,” into account. No one, he said, has done that for getting above, say, 90 percent WWS.

“My own view,” he told me, “which is informed but not demonstrated by my work on 100% WWS, is that the very large environmental benefits of WWS probably make it worth paying for close to — but not quite — a 100% WWS systems. The ‘not quite’ is important, because it does look to me that balancing supply and demand when you get above 90-95% WWS (for the whole system) starts to get pretty expensive.”

In other words, full cost-benefit analysis is likely to offset higher renewables costs more than most models show.

2) Most models are based on current markets, which will change.

“Our traditional energy models are pretty clearly biased against a 100% renewable outcome,” Noah Kaufman told me. He worked on the “US Midcentury Strategy for Deep Decarbonization,” which the US government submitted to the UNFCCC in November 2016 as a demonstration of its long-term commitment to the Paris climate process. “Models like to depict the system largely as it exists today, so of course they prefer baseload replacing baseload.”

(Kaufman cautions that while current models may underestimate renewables, he doesn’t believe we know that with enough certainty “to mandate those [100% renewable] scenarios.”)

Price analyses based on current wholesale energy markets will not tell us much about markets in 20 or 30 years. VRE is already screwing up wholesale markets, even at relatively low penetrations, because the incremental cost of another MW of wind when the wind is blowing is $0, which undercuts all competitors.

Wholesale power markets will not survive in their current form. Markets will evolve to more accurately value a wider range of grid services — power, capacity, frequency response, rapid ramping, etc. — allowing VRE and its complements to creep into more and more market niches.

Financing will evolve as well. As it gets cheaper, VRE and storage start looking more like infrastructure than typical power plant investments. Almost all the costs are upfront, in the financing, planning, and building. After that, “fuel” is free and maintenance costs are low. It pays off over time and then just keeps paying off. Financing mechanisms will adapt to reflect that.

3) Most models do not, and cannot, model emerging solutions or current costs.

Most energy models today do not account for the full complement of existing strategies to manage and expand VRE — all the different varieties of storage, the growing list of demand-management tools, new business models and regulations — so they neither are, nor claim to be, definitive.

“I don’t want to overstate or improperly extract conclusions from my work,” NREL’s Bethany Frew, who co-authored one of the key studies in the EIRP review, cautions, “I didn’t look at an exhaustive set of resources.”

Models today cannot capture the effects of technologies and techniques that have not yet been developed. But this stuff is the subject of intense research, experimentation, and innovation right now.

It is viewed as irresponsible to include speculative new developments in models, but at the same time, it’s a safe bet that the energy world will see dramatic changes in the next few decades. Far more balancing options will be available to future modelers.

In a similar vein, as energy modeler Christopher Clack (formerly of NOAA) told me, it can take two or three years to do a rigorous bit of modeling. And that begins with cost estimates taken from peer-reviewed literature, which themselves took years to publish.

The result is that models almost inevitably use outdated cost estimates, and when costs are changing rapidly, as they are today, that matters.

Speaking of which…

4) Models have always underestimated distributed energy technology.

As I described in detail in this post, energy models have consistently and woefully underestimated the falling costs and rapid growth of renewable energy.

The professional energy community used to be quite convinced that wind and solar could play no serious role in the power system because of their variability. Then, for a long time, conventional wisdom was that they could provide no more than 20 percent of power before the grid started falling apart.

That number has kept creeping up. Now CW has it around 60 percent. Which direction do you suppose it will go in the next few decades?

It’s a similar story with batteries and EVs. They keep outpacing forecasts, getting cheaper and better, finding new applications. Is there any reason to think that won’t continue?

Which brings us to…

5) Pretending we can predict the far future is silly.

Predicting the near future is difficult. Predicting the distant future is impossible. Nothing about fancy modeling makes it any less impossible.

Modelers will be the first to tell you this. (Much more in this old post from 2014.) They are not in the business of prediction; they aren’t psychics. All they do is construct elaborate if-then statements. If natural gas prices do this, solar and wind prices do that, demand does this, storage does that, and everything else more or less stays the same … then this will happen. They are a way of examining the consequences of a set of assumptions.

Are the assumptions correct? Will all those variables actually unfold that way in the next 20, 30, 40 years? Ask any responsible modeler and they will tell you: “Eff if I know.”

Long-term energy modeling was more tractable when the energy world was mostly composed of very large technologies and projects, with a small set of accredited builders and slow innovation cycles. But as energy and its associated technologies and business models have gotten more and more distributed, innovation has become all the more difficult to even track, much less predict.

Because distributed energy technologies are smaller than big power plants, they iterate faster. They are more prone to complex interactions and emergent effects. Development is distributed as well, across hundreds of companies and research labs.

Energy is going to bend, twist, and accelerate in unpredictable ways even in the next few years, much less the next few decades. We really have no friggin’ idea what’s going to happen.

The lessons to take from all this

Okay, we’ve looked at some of the literature on 100 percent renewables, which is generally pretty skeptical. And we’ve covered some reasons to take the results of current modeling with a grain of salt. What should we take away from all this? Here are a few tentative conclusions.

1) Take variability seriously.

One reason everyone’s so giddy about renewable energy is that it’s been pretty easy to integrate it into grids so far — much easier than naysayers predicted.

But one thing models and modelers agree on is that variability is a serious challenge, especially at high VRE penetrations. As VRE increases, it will begin to run into technical and economic problems. (Read here and here for more.) California is already grappling with some of these issues.

Getting deep decarbonization right means thinking, planning, and innovating toward a rich ecosystem of dispatchable resources that can balance VRE at high penetrations. That needs to become as much a priority as VRE deployment itself.

2) Full steam ahead on renewable energy.

We have a solid understanding of how to push VRE up to around 60 percent of grid power. Right now, wind and solar combined generate just over 5 percent of US electricity. (Nuclear generates 20 percent.)

The fight to get 5 percent up to 60 is going to be epic. Political and social barriers will do more to slow that growth than any technical limitation, especially in the short- to mid-term.

This is likely why the energy experts interviewed by REN21, though they believe 100 percent renewables is “reasonable and realistic,” don’t actually expect it to happen by mid-century.

It will be an immense struggle just to deploy the amount of VRE we already know is possible. If we put our shoulder to that wheel for 10 years or so, then we can come up for air, reassess, and recalibrate. The landscape of costs and choices will look very different then. We’ll have a better sense of what’s possible and what’s lacking.

Until then, none of these potential future limitations are any reason to let up on the push for VRE. (Though there should also be a push for storage and other carbon-free balancing options.)

3) Beware natural gas lock-in.

The easy, default path for the next several years will be to continue to lean on natural gas to drive down emissions and balance VRE. And sure enough, there’s a ton of natural gas “in the queue.”

But leaning too hard on natural gas will leave us with a ton of fossil fuel capacity that we end up having to shut down (or leave mostly idle) before the end of its useful life. That will be an economically unfortunate and politically difficult situation.

We need to start thinking about alternatives to natural gas, today.

4) Keep nuclear power plants open as long as possible.

Clack told me something intriguing. He said that there is enough nuclear capacity in the US today to serve as the necessary dispatchable generation in an 80 percent decarbonized grid. We wouldn’t need any big new nuclear or CCS power plants.

It would just mean a) changing market and regulatory rules to make nuclear more flexible (it largely has the technical capacity), and b) keeping the plants open forever.

Obviously those plants are not going to stay open forever, and the ones that are genuinely unsafe should be shut down. And Clack’s models are only models too, not gospel.

But what’s clear is that, from a decarbonization perspective, allowing a nuclear power plant to close (before, say, literally any coal plant) is a self-inflicted wound. It makes the challenges described above all that much more difficult. Every MW of dispatchable, carbon-free power capacity that is operating safely should be zealously guarded.

5) Do relentless RD&D on carbon-free dispatchable resources, including nuclear.

We know we will need a lot of dispatchable carbon-free resources to balance out a large share of VRE.

Storage and demand management can play that role, and in any scenario, we will need lots of both, so they should be researched, developed, and deployed as quickly as possible.

But large-scale, carbon-free dispatchable generation will help as well. That can be hydro, wave, tidal, geothermal, gas from waste, renewable gas, or biomass. It can also be nuclear or CCS.

I personally think fossil fuel with CCS will never pass any reasonable cost-benefit analysis. It’s an environmental nightmare in every way other than carbon emissions, to say nothing of its wretched economics and dodgy politics.

But we’re going to need CCS regardless, so we might as well figure it out.

View image on Twitter

Glen Peters


Without large-scale CCS there needs to be an immediate & more rapid decline in fossil fuel use

Current nuclear plants have proven uneconomic just about everywhere they’ve been attempted lately (except, oddly, South Korea) and there is no obvious reason to favor them in their market battle with renewables.

But it is certainly worth researching new nuclear generation technologies — the various smaller, more efficient, more meltdown-proof technologies that seem perpetually on the horizon. If they can make good on their promise, with reasonable economics, it would be a blessing. (See Brad Plumer’s piece on radical nuclear innovation.)

Basically, research everything. Test, experiment, deploy, refine.

6) Stay woke.

Above all, the haziness of the long-term view argues for humility on all sides. There’s much we do not yet know and cannot possibly anticipate, so it’s probably best for everyone to keep an open mind, support a range of bet-hedging experiments and initiatives, and maintain a healthy allergy to dogma.

We’ve barely begun this journey. We don’t know what the final few steps will look like, but we know what direction to travel, so we might as well keep moving.

Press link for more: Vox.com

Why I’m stepping down from Less Meat Less Heat #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #doughnuteconomics

By Igor Voronkov on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

This photo represents our power to influence nature being ultimately eclipsed by natures ability to wipe us out.

It is with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation from my leadership role as the CEO of Less Meat Less Heat.

I hope you will take the time to read and understand my reasons for doing so as I have in my best attempts to explain and communicate them to you.

Ultimately my decision stems from the understanding that, as Albert Einstein so eloquently put it, that ‘we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them’.

That ‘thinking’ is more than just a thought but rather the overarching paradigm of the perpetual-growth capitalistic socio-economic model within which we live. But before I dive into a deeper discussion of my reasoning, I’d like to take you on a little journey.

Less Meat Less Heat (LMLH) has come a long way from its humble beginnings as an idea I had on a particularly pensive walk back when I was living in Amsterdam about three years ago. I originally conceived LMLH out of necessity from the realisation that we cannot solve the climate crisis through the transition to renewable energy alone, as I later argued here.

I was ultimately frustrated at both the grass-roots climate movement and our international geo-political response to the climate crisis for being so narrow-mindedly focused only on the transition from fossil-fuels to renewable energy, since this left out both a third of greenhouse gas emissions as well as massive opportunities for sucking the carbon out of the atmosphere – trees.

Although we worked hard at changing their minds, not much has changed since, with LMLH still being in the minority of organisations attempting to address climate change through diet change, alongside the vital decarbonisation of society (side note – Al Gore did briefly mention the impact of livestock agriculture at his presentation at COP23, however this only accounted for about 10 seconds of a half-hour-long presentation).

LMLH was ultimately conceived to fill a gap in the marketplace of ideas required to solve the climate crisis and this is precisely why I was so passionate about LMLH until recent months. I still believe it to be a vital part of the global grass-roots climate movement, so I hope we can find someone to take over my role as CEO, however I understand due to the high demands of the role and non-existent pay, this may take some time.

Before I dive into a discussion of my reasoning and train of thought I would like to thank you all for your amazing work, passion and determination over the years.

Over the past 3 years we have achieved a lot at LMLH, from building a movement both on social media and in real life that spans the world to crowdfunding, developing and publicly launching a multi-platform smartphone app that had been used by thousands to learn about the climate impacts of their food choices, just to name a few key milestones.

Let’s not forget that we actually represented our growing movement at two international UN climate talks – COP21 and COP23! I have learned a lot throughout this incredible journey and had a lot of fun along the way.

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to extend a BIG THANK YOU in the form of virtual hugs and kisses (redeemable in person next time we meet) to all volunteers and supporters no matter how big or small your involvement – none of this would have been possible without your hard work and support.

My thinking has since evolved greatly towards a deeper understanding of the structural, systemic root causes of the social justice and environmental symptoms we are battling – climate change being just one of many. Dr Samuel Alexander taught me in his paradigm-shifting course ‘Consumerism and the Growth Economy’, to question the assumptions underlying any problem, which is ultimately how I arrived at LMLH in the first place, questioning the assumption that we could solve climate change through a transition towards renewable energy alone, as I denoted above. Elon Musk taught me to take this thinking a step further by starting from first principles while Peter Joseph rounded out this way of thinking by teaching me to zoom out and think of the problem from a structural, systemic perspective.

Applied to climate change it looks something like this:

1 Identify and define your current assumptions:

1 The climate change effects we are currently experiencing are predominantly caused by human activity (anthropogenic).

2 The human activities that are contributing most to the climate crisis is the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transport and rising emissions from the increasing consumption of ruminant livestock also causing the destruction of carbon sinks (forests).

3 We know how to solve the climate crisis and have the technology to do so but we are lacking political will.

The first two points are backed up by solid science (with more consensus than on the theory of gravity!), however the third point is an observational value judgement which requires us to zoom out and see it from a systemic, structural perspective.

Digging deeper we find that the lack of political will at the UN climate talks 23 years on is largely due to corporate influence from the fossil fuel industry.

This is exacerbated by the fossil fuel industry spreading doubt around the science of anthropogenic climate change as revealed in the book and documentary of the same name, Merchants of Doubt.

Although many progressives campaign for the removal of financial influence from politics, it is hard to envisage this actually occurring when you consider the fact that 69 of the world’s top 100 economies are in fact, corporations, most of which span across many countries and pay little tax.

A recent study from Princeton University found that, “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”

That’s right – the average citizen exerts little to no influence on both policy and the outcomes of the actual elections themselves.

I recall experiencing this first hand at COP21 when our Climate Action Network delegation were advised that the US delegation would not proceed with the climate talks unless they were assured that the final outcome would not be legally binding, since if it were it would not be passed by the fossil-fuel industry-controlled senate.

According to Transparency International’s global corruption reports, the situation is prevalent in most countries around the world. Further discussion of this ubiquitous phenomena is outside the scope of this piece, however I would recommend reading The New Human Right’s Movement if you would like to learn more.

It is easy to vilify the corporations but trickier to identify the system that gave rise to them in the first place – the c word, whose questioning is often retorted with accusations of Marxism and communism – capitalism.

We have lived in a paradigm of capitalism single-mindedly focused on perpetual economic growth at all costs since the industrial revolution, with most of the exponential growth occurring since the end of World War II.

This has resulted in our surpassing several physical planetary boundaries that allowed our modern societies to exist and flourish in the first place.

Capitalism has not only driven climate change through the rapidly increasing burning of fossil fuels for energy, rising meat consumption and destruction of carbon sinks as denoted earlier, it has also corrupted our response to the climate crisis through doubt-mongering and political dithering.

When you couple this sobering fact with an understanding that year-on-year economic growth is exponential, not linear (as simply explained in the highly recommended The Crash Course series here), we have a recipe for almost-certain disaster towards greater inequality, environmental destruction and all of the suffering that both factors exacerbate. Since we live in a globalised society, climate-induced shocks in one country create a butterfly effect-like consequences all around the world as we have seen in Syria in recent years just to name one example that is usually not connected to climate change.

Climate change is hence just one of many externalised costs of production economists refer to as negative externalities. Negative externalities are costs that the public and environment bears and are the key reason why we have such affordable goods and services that result in such dire environmental consequences such as climate change and pollution – they are simply left of out of the price.

Therefore, we can eat $5 hamburgers and fly internationally for not much more – we don’t pay the true environmental and social cost of producing those goods or delivering those services.

Research shows that when the true environmental costs of production are factored in, none of the world’s industries would be profitable any longer.

Hence capitalism privatises the profits to the shrinking few (8 men have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the human race) while more and more of us bear the costs.

As a side note, rising income inequality has been linked to many pernicious social effects, from increased violence to deteriorating mental health just to name a few (related documentary is on Netflix).

I could go on but in the interests of brevity and respect for your time I will move on. To summarise the above points, we are governed by the global system of capitalism which requires perpetual economic growth with no respect for physical planetary boundaries which we rely on for life as we know it, or political attempts to control it over the long term (we all saw how easily environmental laws can be reversed or even ignored in recent years).

Hence, therefore attempts to promote ‘sustainable consumption’ are doomed to fail in the long term.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t try to live more sustainably in our own lives and just do as we please, but that we should let go of the idea that we can have a truly sustainable capitalistic society in the long term.

Naomi Klein recently echoed this understanding as it relates to climate change in her documentary and book of the same name, This Changes Everything. Legendary post-apocalyptic author Margaret Atwood echoed these sentiments in her piece It’s not just climate change, it’s everything change’.

Simply put, we cannot solve the climate crisis within the paradigm that created it – capitalism.

Furthermore, politically-mandated economic growth coupled with externalised public costs are a recipe for the collapse of civilisation as we know it. Esteemed investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed put it in the recent piece Beyond Extinction Transition to post-capitalism is inevitable

“The risk of civilizational collapse — and outright extinction — is perhaps the clearest signal that there is something deeply wrong with the global system in its current form. So wrong, that it is right now on a path to self-annihilation.

The science of impending doom does not prove the inevitability of human extinction, but it does prove the inevitability of something else: the extinction of industrial civilization in its current form.

The endless growth model of contemporary global capitalism is not just unsustainable — it is on track to destabilize the Earth System in a way that could make the planet uninhabitable for society as we know it.”

Therefore, it is not just our relatively safe and somewhat predictable climate that it is at stake here, it is modern industrial civilisation as we know it that we risk unless we connect the dots.

What’s next for LMLH?

This is a difficult question to answer at this point since one of the downsides of being a founding director of an organisation is that everything is led and coordinated by yours truly. Hence without me at the wheel there will likely be a drastic slowdown in activity until a time when we find someone else to take over. I’ve been convinced by eager volunteers that some activities can continue, such as building the movement through social media, screening events and the occasional fundraising BBQ to keep the [digital] lights on. I believe this to be possible, however programs such as upgrade of The Climatarian Challenge, Skip Beef for the Reef and the LMLH schools program will have to be put on hold until further notice.

This is unfortunate to say the least, but I don’t see any other way.

Furthermore, we will have to figure out what to do with the busy LMLH inbox – an out of office advising of the current situation will have to suffice for the time being.

Should you have any ideas on how the organisation can move forward then please do let me know on Slack which I will continue to check for the coming weeks.

What’s next for me?

Although I can be stubborn at times, I am humble enough to admit that I don’t have all the answers.

Therefore, I feel it’s only fitting to bring our old friend Albert Einstein into the mix with another pertinent quote, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”

I do, however, have some idea of the vision of the future I would like to work towards.

I would like to work towards a global society that is not just sustainable but regenerative (vital when you consider the sick state of our ecosystems), one which builds community rather than destroying it and one which promotes values of altruism and collaboration rather than individualism and greed.

Hence, I plan on taking my time to research the projects out there that fit this criterion, meet the people working on them and either join an existing project or begin a new one.

As a side note, I have been constantly inspired by the ideas coming out of The Zeitgeist Movement so will definitely be reconnecting with them soon.

Whatever I pick, it would have to generate a passionate ‘hell yeah‘ from me to be considered.

I also think I need a break as I have worked tirelessly on LMLH and difficult family circumstances I’d rather not divulge for the time being.

I look forward to at least a month of relaxing, surfing, leaning Spanish and reading lots of fiction (bring on Montanita!).

Much love,

Igor Voronkov

Press link for more: Igor Voronkov

Fighting Climate Change? We’re Not Even Landing a Punch. #auspol #StopAdani

Fighting Climate Change? We’re Not Even Landing a Punch

Eduardo Porter JAN. 23, 2018

The dry bed of Lake Poopó in Bolivia, where steady warming over the last 30 years evaporated what little water was left. Josh Haner/The New York Times

In 1988, when world leaders convened their first global conference on climate change in Toronto, the Earth’s average temperature was a bit more than half a degree Celsius above the average of the last two decades of the 19th century, according to measurements by NASA.

Global emissions of greenhouse gases amounted to the equivalent of some 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year — excluding those from deforestation and land use.

Worried about its accumulation, the gathered scientists and policymakers called on the world to cut CO2 emissions by a fifth.

That didn’t happen, of course.

By 1997, when climate diplomats from the world’s leading nations gathered to negotiate a round of emissions cuts in Kyoto, Japan, emissions had risen to some 35 billion tons and the global surface temperature was roughly 0.7 degrees Celsius above the average of the late 19th century.

It took almost two decades for the next breakthrough.

When diplomats from virtually every country gathered in Paris just over two years ago to hash out another agreement to combat climate change, the world’s surface temperature was already about 1.1 degrees Celsius above its average at the end of the 1800s. And greenhouse gas emissions totaled just under 50 billion tons.

This is not to belittle diplomacy.

Maybe this is the best we can do.

How can countries be persuaded to adopt expensive strategies to drop fossil fuels when the prospective impact of climate change remains uncertain and fixing the problem requires collective action?

As mitigation by an individual country will benefit all, nations will be tempted to take a free ride on the efforts of others.

And no country will be able to solve the problem on its own.

Still, the world’s diplomatic meanderings — from the ineffectual call in Toronto for a reduction in emissions to the summit meeting in Paris, where each country was allowed simply to pledge whatever it could to the global effort — suggest that the diplomats, policymakers and environmentalists trying to slow climate change still cannot cope with its unforgiving math.

They are, instead, trying to ignore it. And that will definitely not work.

The world is still warming.

Both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that global temperatures last year receded slightly from the record-setting 2016, because there was no El Niño heating up the Pacific.

Warmer and Warmer

The balance after 30 years of climate diplomacy: a hotter world with more greenhouse gases.

While the world frets over President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement, I would argue that the greatest impediment to slowing this relentless warming is an illusion of progress that is allowing every country to sidestep many of the hard choices that still must be made.

“We keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome,” said Scott Barrett, an expert on international cooperation and coordination at Columbia University who was once a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Climate diplomats in Paris didn’t merely reassert prior commitments to keep the world’s temperature less than 2 degrees above that of the “preindustrial” era — a somewhat fuzzy term that could be taken to mean the second half of the 19th century.

Hoping to appease island nations like the Maldives, which are likely to be swallowed by a rising ocean in a few decades, they set a new “aspirational” ceiling of 1.5 degrees.

To stick to a 2 degree limit, we would have to start reducing global emissions for real within about a decade at most — and then do more.

Half a century from now, we would have to figure out how to suck vast amounts of carbon out of the air.

Keeping the lid at 1.5 degrees would be much harder still.

And yet, when experts tallied the offers made in Paris by all the countries in the collective effort, they concluded that greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 would exceed the level needed to remain under 2 degrees by 12 billion to 14 billion tons of CO2.

Australia’s emissions on the rise!

Are there better approaches? The “climate club” proposed by the Yale University economist William Nordhaus has the advantage of including an enforcement device, which current arrangements lack: Countries in the club, committed to reducing carbon emissions, would impose a tariff on imports from nonmembers to encourage them to join.

Martin Weitzman of Harvard University supports the idea of a uniform worldwide tax on carbon emissions, which might be easier to agree on than a panoply of national emissions cuts.

One clear advantage is that countries could use their tax revenues as they saw fit.

A coal-fired power plant in Kentucky. Attempts to embrace carbon capture as a climate strategy have collided with concerns about condoning the use of fossil fuels. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

Mr. Barrett argues that the Paris agreement could be supplemented with narrower, simpler deals to curb emissions of particular gases — such as the 2016 agreement at a 170-nation meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, to reduce hydrofluorocarbon emissions — or in particular industries, like aviation or steel.

Maybe none of this would work.

The climate club could blow up if nonmembers retaliated against import tariffs by imposing trade barriers of their own.

Coordinating taxes around the world looks at least as difficult as addressing climate change. And Mr. Barrett’s proposal might not deliver a breakthrough on the scale necessary to move the dial.

But what definitely won’t suffice is a climate strategy built out of wishful thinking: the proposition that countries can be cajoled and prodded into increasing their ambition to cut emissions further, and that laggards can be named and shamed into falling into line.

Australia is definitely a “laggard”

Inveigled by three decades of supposed diplomatic progress — coupled with falling prices of wind turbines, solar panels and batteries — the activists, technologists and policymakers driving the strategy against climate change seem to have concluded that the job can be done without unpalatable choices. And the group is closing doors that it would do best to keep open.

There is no momentum for investing in carbon capture and storage, since it could be seen as condoning the continued use of fossil fuels.

Nuclear energy, the only source of low-carbon power ever deployed at the needed scale, is also anathema.

Geoengineering, like pumping aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect the sun’s heat back into space, is another taboo.

But eventually, these options will most likely be on the table, as the consequences of climate change come more sharply into focus.

The rosy belief that the world can reduce its carbon dependency over a few decades by relying exclusively on the power of shame, the wind and the sun will give way to a more realistic understanding of possibilities.

Some set of countries will decide to forget Paris and deploy a few jets to pump sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to cool the world temporarily.

There will be a race to develop techniques to harvest and store carbon from the atmosphere, and another to build nuclear generators at breakneck speed.

It will probably be too late to prevent the Maldives from ending up underwater.

But better late than never.

Press link for more: New York Times