Religion

Fracking protesters show, a people’s rebellion is the only way to fight #climatebreakdown #StopAdani #EndCoal #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #WentworthVotes for #ClimateAction to stop catastrophic #ClimateChange

Today, the notion of public service seems as quaint as a local post office.

We expect those who govern us to grab what they can, permitting predatory banks and corporations to fleece the public realm, then collect their reward in the form of lucrative directorships.

As the Edelman Corporation’s Trust Barometer survey reveals, trust worldwide has collapsed in all major institutions, and government is less trusted than any other.

As for the economic elite, as the consequences of their own greed and self-interest emerge, they seek, like the Roman oligarchs fleeing the collapse of the western empire, only to secure their survival against the indignant mob.

An essay by the visionary author Douglas Rushkoff this summer, documenting his discussion with some of the world’s richest people, reveals that their most pressing concern is to find a refuge from climate breakdown, and economic and societal collapse.

Should they move to New Zealand or Alaska?

How will they pay their security guards once money is worthless?

Could they upload their minds on to supercomputers?

Survival Condo, the company turning former missile silos in Kansas into fortified bunkers, has so far sold every completed unit.

Trust, the Edelman Corporation observes, “is now the deciding factor in whether a society can function”.

Unfortunately, our mistrust is fully justified.

Those who have destroyed belief in governments exploit its collapse, railing against a liberal elite (by which they mean people still engaged in public service) while working for the real and illiberal elite.

As the political economist William Davies points out, “sovereignty” is used as a code for rejecting the very notion of governing as “a complex, modern, fact-based set of activities that requires technical expertise and permanent officials”.

Nowhere is the gulf between public and private interests more obvious than in governments’ response to the climate crisis.

On Monday, UK energy minister Claire Perry announced that she had asked her advisers to produce a roadmap to a zero-carbon economy.

On the same day, fracking commenced at Preston New Road in Lancashire, enabled by the permission Perry sneaked through parliament on the last day before the summer recess.

The minister has justified fracking on the grounds that it helps the country affect a “transition to a lower-carbon economy”. But fracked gas has net emissions similar to, or worse than, those released by burning coal.

As we are already emerging from the coal era in the UK without any help from fracking, this is in reality a transition away from renewables and back into fossil fuels.

The government has promoted the transition by effectively banning onshore wind farms, while overriding local decisions to impose fracking by central diktat. Now, to prevent people from taking back control, it intends to grant blanket planning permission for frackers to operate.

None of it makes sense, until you remember the intimate relationship between the fossil fuel industry, the City (where Perry made her fortune) and the Tory party, oiled by the political donations flowing from both sectors into the party’s coffers. These people are not serving the nation.

They are serving each other.

In Germany, the government that claimed to be undergoing a great green energy transition instead pours public money into the coal industry, and deploys an army of police to evict protesters from an ancient forest to clear it for a lignite mine.

On behalf of both polluting power companies and the car industry, it has sabotaged the EU’s attempt to improve its carbon emissions target. Before she was re-elected, I argued that Angela Merkel was the world’s leading eco-vandal. She might also be the world’s most effective spin doctor: she can mislead, cheat and destroy, and people still call her Mutti. 

Other governments shamelessly flaunt their service to private interests, as they evade censure by owning their corruption. A US government report on fuel efficiency published in July concedes, unusually, that global temperatures are likely to rise by 4C this century. It then uses this forecast to argue that there is no point in producing cleaner cars, because the disaster will happen anyway. Elsewhere, all talk of climate breakdown within government is censored. Any agency seeking to avert it is captured and redirected.

In Australia, the new prime minister, Scott Morrison, has turned coal burning into a sacred doctrine. I would not be surprised if the only lump of coal he has ever handled is the one he flourished in the Australian parliament. But he dirties his hands every day on behalf of the industry. These men with black hearts and clean fingernails wear their loyalties with pride.

If Jair Bolsonaro takes office in Brazil, their annihilistic actions will seem mild by comparison. He claims climate breakdown is a fable invented by a “globalist conspiracy”, and seeks to withdraw from the Paris agreement, abolish the environment ministry, put the congressional beef caucus (representing the murderous and destructive ranching industry) in charge of agriculture, open the Amazon Basin for clearance and dismantle almost all environmental and indigenous protections.

With the exception of Costa Rica, no government has the policies required to prevent more than 2C of global warming, let alone 1.5C. Most, like the UK, Germany, the US and Australia, push us towards the brink on behalf of their friends. So what do we do, when our own representatives have abandoned public service for private service?

On 31 October, I will speak at the launch of Extinction Rebellion in Parliament Square. This is a movement devoted to disruptive, nonviolent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse.

The three heroes jailed for trying to stop fracking last month, whose outrageous sentences have just been overturned, are likely to be the first of hundreds. The intention is to turn this national rising into an international one.

This preparedness for sacrifice, a long history of political and religious revolt suggests, is essential to motivate and mobilise people to join an existential struggle. It is among such people that you find the public and civic sense now lacking in government.

That we have to take such drastic action to defend the common realm shows how badly we have been abandoned.

 George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

Press link for more: The Guardian

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Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C Will Require Deep Emissions Cuts #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #WentworthVotes for #ClimateAction Stop #ClimateBreakdown #TheDrum #QandA

By Climate Central

The Paris Climate Change Agreement set a goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F).”

In that agreement, world leaders asked the IPCC, the preeminent climate science body, “to provide a Special Report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.”

After being formally approved by all the UN country representatives, that special report was released this week.

Human activities have already warmed the planet about 1°C (1.8°F) since the pre-industrial era, defined by the IPCC as the latter half of the 19th century. At the current rate of warming, Earth would reach the 1.5°C threshold between 2030 and 2052.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C is not easy and requires drastic changes to our energy, transportation, food, and building systems.

Net CO2 emissions need to drop 45 percent from their 2010 levels by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050 (meaning that any remaining CO2 emissions would need to be offset by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

Meeting this goal involves a large jump in renewables for the global energy supply, providing 70-85 percent of electricity use by 2050.

Moreover, because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries, we have already committed to future warming with our historical emissions.

As a result, even with drastic emissions cuts, meeting this 1.5°C goal likely means a brief exceedance, or overshoot, of the 1.5°C threshold before returning to that level for the longer term and requires some removal of CO2 from the atmosphere — either via reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, or technological advancements enabling direct capture of carbon from the atmosphere.

Even limiting warming to 1.5°C comes with higher risks from extreme heat, drought, and heavy precipitation.

This harms agriculture, food and water supplies, human health, and the oceans. Optimum agricultural belts will shift, water supplies will be at additional risk, and disease-carrying insects will move into new areas. Additionally, an extra half-degree Celsius (about 1°F) from 1.5°C to 2°C would magnify impacts:

  • Doubling the number of people affected by water scarcity
  • Doubling the losses of corn yields in the tropics
  • Increasing by 10 times the frequency of ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean
  • Losing 30 percent more coral reefs (meaning a total of 99 percent of coral reefs will disappear)
  • Losing an additional 50 percent of global fisheries
  • Adding 10 million people to those affected by sea level rise

With current technologies in place, drastic changes still make the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C possible, but the window is rapidly closing to meet that goal.

Press link for more: Climate Central

Stephen Hawking’s last warning from beyond the grave #ClimateBreakdown #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #WentworthVotes #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateChange #Science

By Nick Miller

An insular, Trump-age mindset won’t help solve challenges like climate change and population growth, warns physicist Stephen Hawking from beyond the grave.

In his final book, published after his death, physicist Stephen Hawking tackled the big questions of life, the universe and everything.

Photo: AP / Matt Dunham

With tears in her eyes, Lucy Hawking listened to her father’s narration over an animation explaining his insights into the paradoxes of black holes: a problem that he was investigating – and publishing research on – right up to his death.

“It feels sometimes like he’s still here,” she said.

But if he were he would be speaking out not just on the exotic problems of fundamental physics and cosmology.

“He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges that present themselves are global – and need us to come together and work together – that we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking,” Lucy Hawking said. “That at a time when we should be calling for unity we were becoming more and more fractured and divided.

“I think that was a huge concern for him and one that you’ll find all the way through the book… it’s a call for unity, it’s a call to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us and to work together to find a solution.”

The book is a collection of Professor Hawking’s favourite answers to the questions he was constantly asked over his acclaimed career, such as “will we survive on Earth?” and “will artificial intelligence outsmart us?”.

He began pulling it together before his death, but the project was finished by his family and colleagues.

The tenth and last question in the book is “how do we shape the future?”

In his answer, Hawking emphasised the importance of education and research, lamenting that funding for science was being significantly cut.

“We are also in danger of becoming culturally isolated and insular,” he wrote. “With Brexit and Trump now exerting new forces in relation to immigration and the development of education, we are witnessing a global revolt against experts, which includes scientists.”

But science held the answers to pressing problems such as global warming, the growing population, renewable energy and epidemic diseases.

Making science more accessible to diverse populations and young people “greatly increases the chances of finding and inspiring the new Einstein. Wherever she might be”.

In the book Hawking also said:

  • Colonising the solar system “may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves… if we stay [on Earth] we risk being annihilated”.
  • When computers become smarter than us “we will need to ensure that [they] have goals aligned with ours”.
  • In the future, we will communicate through brain-computer interfaces wired into our skulls.
  • Sometime during this century we will be able to use genetic engineering to improve our memory and lifespan, but “unimproved” humans won’t be able to compete with the new “race of self-designing beings”.
  • Scientists have a duty to alert the public to the “unnecessary risks” posed by climate change.

Professor Hawking concluded that there is “probably no heaven and afterlife”, and there is no reliable evidence for a God that created the universe or directs our fate.

It’s just wishful thinking, he said.

We have just one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe.

“When we die we return to dust. But there’s a sense in which we live on, in our influence and in our genes that we pass on to our children.”

Lucy Hawking said her father would have been “very honoured” by the decision to inter his ashes at Westminster Abbey – between the graves of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

“He never liked to be alone, he always wanted to be at the centre of everything,” she said.

“I like to think that between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin he will never be alone again.”

Press link for more: SMH

Time to ban #NewsCorp & other right wing news media that use their propaganda to attack science? Putting us at risk of catastrophic #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #MediaWatch #Democracy

Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch.

http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/episodes/climate-coverage/10377090

And last week’s dramatic report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change really sounded the alarm on the future of our planet, with scientists predicting the Great Barrier Reef could be wiped out by 2050 if we don’t act to slow down global warming.

And you would have thought that would make big headlines in Australia, given the reef is on the World Heritage list, our largest tourist attraction and gives jobs to 60,000 people.

So what was front-page news in the local papers?

On Tuesday and Wednesday, News Corp’s Cairns Post had this.

News Corp’s Townsville Bulletin had this.

And News Corp’s Daily Mercury in Mackay had this.

Inside the paper they all had something on climate, but typically only a few paragraphs and the reef barely got a mention.

Remarkable, eh?

But in News Corp’s tabloids around the country the story was the same.

Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph had a horse on its front page:

Get off ya high horse

– The Daily Telegraph, 9 October, 2018

And, its only climate story was six paragraphs inside the paper about going nuclear.

The Courier-Mail had this on the front, and the same small piece on nuclear power.

And Melbourne’s Herald Sun had this on the front and nothing at all in its news pages about climate or the reef.

So how could those News Corp papers all but ignore this huge story, which The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan and ex-Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger reckon is the media’s absolute duty to report?

The planet is on a fast path to destruction. The media must cover this like it’s the only story that matters

– The Washington Post, 8 October, 2018

If voters are kept in the dark about global warming by newspapers then urgent action by democratic politicians becomes a hundred times harder

– Twitter, @arusbridger, 2018

Back in Australia, News Corp’s columnists did think the IPCC warnings were worth noting, but only to ridicule the threat and the idea of doing anything about it, with Miranda Devine writing scornfully:

This week’s hysterical missive from the United Nation’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is just the latest case of the boy who cried wolf.

– The Daily Telegraph, 10 October, 2018

So, is Miranda a scientist? No.

Nor is the Herald Sun’s Terry McCrann, who went off even harder, branding the threat to the Reef:

… emotional — and utterly dishonest — blackmail deployed by the IPCC climate hysterics of the grubby coalition of theological climate extremists and greedy money-chasing renewable energy rent-seekers; carpetbaggers and mainchancers all.

– Herald Sun, 8 October, 2018

Quite a broadside.

Another good article in the Cairns Post.

To its credit, The Australian did give the IPCC front-page treatment, with Environment Editor Graham Lloyd running a couple of stories.

But within hours the paper’s columnists had switched to all-out attack, with Chris Kenny deriding the scientists’ warnings as “alarmism”, “virtue-signalling”, “sanctimony” and “crying wolf”.

And Judith Sloan joined the chorus of derision, by claiming that the IPCC report – written by 91 climate experts and citing 6000 peer-reviewed papers – was not science and all old hat.

More people being inundated, more floods/droughts …

You know, the normal catastrophic stuff.

– The Australian, 9 October, 2018

Meanwhile, Environment Editor Graham Lloyd – who should know better – had two swipes, declaring the scientists to be living in a parallel universe, and attempting to discredit the data on which the warnings were based:

Claims of 70 problems found with key temperature dataset used by climate models

“The primary conclusion of the audit is the dataset shows exaggerated warming …”

– The Australian, 8 October, 2018

Lloyd’s story mirrored identical attacks from leading climate sceptics the day before.

Led by James Delingpole, another non-scientist who says global warming is a scam, on the notorious alt-right website Breitbart:

Climate Bombshell: Global Warming Scare Is Based on ‘Careless and Amateur’ Data, Finds Audit

– Breitbart, 7 October, 2018

And by Joanne Nova – who is a scientist, but says the world should thank Australia for its CO2 emissions – who claimed:

The IPCC demands for cash rest on freak data, empty fields, Fahrenheit temps recorded as Celsius, mistakes in longitude and latitude, brutal adjustments and even spelling errors.

– JoanneNova.com, 7 October, 2018

All three attempted demolition jobs relied on data analyst Dr John McLean, whose work they all claimed showed the IPCC had got it hopelessly wrong.

So, who is McLean?

Well, let’s get another of his fans, One Nation’s climate expert, to introduce him:

MALCOLM ROBERTS: Hi, I’m Malcolm Roberts and I’m with Dr John McLean from Melbourne and he’s on Skype with us and he is 13 years in climate science …

And he’s just conducted the first audit of the temperature database known as HadCRUT 4.

– Facebook, Malcolm Roberts, 11 October, 2018

McLean’s audit of the data earned him a PhD from James Cook University in Townsville, where his supervisor was Peter Ridd, another well-known climate sceptic who was recently sacked.

So how good is McLean’s track record?

Well, seven years ago, he famously predicted:

It is likely that 2011 will be the coolest year since 1956, or even earlier

– Climate Realists, 9 March, 2011

That was 100% wrong. According to NASA:

… the year was the 9th hottest in the past 130 years.

– NASA, 20 January, 2012

A previous academic paper of McLean’s in 2009, claiming El Nino was responsible for most of the rise in global temperatures, was ripped apart by climate experts who accused him of cherry-picking the data.

His co-author then was yet another famous climate sceptic, the late Bob Carter, who liked to tell his admirer Alan Jones that man-made global warming was rubbish:

BOB CARTER: Well, there’s only two words you can use to describe it – it’s a farce and it’s a circus.

ALAN JONES: It is.

BOB CARTER: And the sad thing about it is …

ALAN JONES: It’s a lie. It’s a lie.

BOB CARTER: Yes, and because of the way it is pushed as you say, in the education system and in the news media, so many well-intentioned people have been sucked in.

– The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 2GB, 10 December, 2012

The work that backs up McLean’s new data audit is dedicated to Bob Carter.

So, is McLean to be believed ahead of 91 leading climate experts and 6000 peer-reviewed scientific papers when he claims the IPCC’s work is worthless?

The Australian, Breitbart, Joanne Nova and Miranda Devine clearly reckon he is.

And so does Alan Jones, who cited McLean last week in telling his listeners:

ALAN JONES: Don’t believe the global warming science is settled. It is corrupt.

– The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 2GB, 12 October, 2018

One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts is also convinced by McLean’s argument:

MALCOLM ROBERTS: So this is what is underpinning the UN’s climate scare, which is underpinning government policies in this country. What we need to do then John is pull out of Paris.

JOHN MCLEAN: Yes, we certainly should be stepping right back and saying, hey, this data is crazy. Come back to us when we’ve got some, when you’ve got some decent data and a convincing argument.

– Facebook, Malcolm Roberts, 11 October, 2018

But how convincing is John McLean? We asked a number of climate experts to review his audit.

Professor Steven Sherwood at NSW University’s Climate Change Research Centre told us it:

… turns up little if anything new … seems specifically motivated to discredit global warming …

– Professor Steven Sherwood, Email, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, 12 October, 2018

And he added:

Its naive claims of alternative causes of global warming do not consider the relevant laws of physics and do not make sense.

– Professor Steven Sherwood, Email, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, 12 October, 2018

The ANU’s Nerilie Abram, lead author of a coming IPCC report on the oceans, told Media Watch:

Regardless of whether the PhD thesis work has any merit or not, the claim that this falsifies IPCC findings is wrong.

– Associate Professor Nerilie Abram, Email, ANU, 12 October, 2018

And the UK Met Office was just as emphatic, putting McLean’s, quote, “70 problems” into context by pointing out that the HadCRUT dataset which it looks after:

… contains over 7 million points of data from in excess of 7500 observation stations on land around the globe, together with millions of measurements of sea-surface temperature.  The small number of specific errors highlighted represent a tiny fraction of the data and as such are likely to have a negligible impact on the overall results. The long-term increase in global temperature is unequivocal. This is backed up by other globally recognised datasets, all of which are run independently, and find very similar warming.

– Met Office, Email, 13 October, 2018

And that takes us back to the bigger picture, where the concern is that so much of News Corp treats climate science, and the threat to our planet, with such contempt.

Why is that so? Presumably, because Rupert Murdoch is a non-believer.

But sadly, it’s not new, and not just in Australia. Back in 2012, America’s Union of Concerned Scientists audited News Corp’s coverage in the US and concluded:

Representations of climate science on Fox News Channel and in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages are overwhelmingly misleading

– Is News Corp Failing Science?, Union of Concerned Scientists, September, 2012

And it then gave examples of what that coverage contained:

… broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and disparaging comments about individual scientists. Furthermore, much of this coverage denigrated climate science by either promoting distrust in scientists and scientific institutions or placing acceptance of climate change in an ideological, rather than fact-based, context.

– Is News Corp Failing Science?, Union of Concerned Scientists, September, 2012

Six years later, the same determination to deny and denigrate climate science is flourishing in Australia.

And what makes it even more serious is that in Australia News Corp controls around 60 per cent of our daily newspaper circulation.

Not to mention a whole bunch of websites and of course Sky News which, for once, we have not even bothered to audit because we know too well what we’ll find.

And we should add we put a series of questions to John McLean. He declined to answer them. You can read the emails on our website.

Read the questions put to Dr John McLean and his response and biography.

Read an academic comment on one of Dr John McLean’s papers and Dr McLean’s response

Read Stephan Lewandowsky’s article about Dr John McLean’s work

Read the Press Council’s adjudication on a Crikey article about John McLean

Read the response from the UK Met Office

Read the response from Professor Steve Sherwood

Read the response from Associate Professor Nerilie Abram

Read the response from Professor David Karoly, Leader, Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub National Environmental Science Program, CSIRO

Read the WMO’s 2017 Statement on the State of the Global Climate

Global temperature anomaly 1850-2017 to 1981-2010

The IPCC warning is clear we are in a climate crisis and unless we act quickly humanity may not survive.

We must take the warnings seriously, if the threat was from a sovereign nation, would we allow their propaganda on our media during a time of war?

Multinational Corporations are more powerful than sovereign nations and their propaganda is a huge threat to our democracy.

Remember Lord HAW-HAW

Lord Haw-Haw was a nickname applied to the Irish-American William Joyce, who broadcast Nazi propaganda to Britain from Germany during the Second World War. The broadcasts opened with “Germany calling, Germany calling”, spoken in an affected upper-class English accent. Wikipedia

IPCC #climatechange report – what it means #ClimateBreakdown #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #WentWorthVotes 4 #ClimateAction #CoralNotCoal

The IPCC is a load of scientists – more than 2,000 of them – that the United Nations asks for unbiased updates on climate change.

After slogging away for more than 2 years, they’ve just released their latest work.

In a nutshell, climate change is looking bad.

Like no-more-coral-reefs bad. But we can still get out of this mess.

What’s the worst-case scenario?

The report is frank.

We can’t let the planet warm by more than 1.5°C.

Even an extra half a degree puts millions more people at risk of flooding.

The risks to nature become very high too.

Insects that pollinate our food are almost twice as likely to lose their habitat at 2°C. And we can all but say goodbye to the coral reefs at that temperature.

Is the 2°C warning new information?

We already know that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is the best chance we have of stopping disastrous changes to the climate.

The new revelation, is the shocking amount of change that just half a degree more can cause.

How are we doing – are we on track to beat this?

Bluntly, no.

We’ve already hit over 1°C of warming and are currently on course for a devastating rise of more than 3°C.

It doesn’t help that governments are promising one thing and doing another.

Like our government: it’s fuelling climate change by supporting fracking, Heathrow expansion, road building and other polluting projects.

What’s the good news?

We can still keep global warming below 1.5°C and stop runaway climate change.

Right now it’s difficult but not impossible to achieve – but we’ve got a small window of opportunity.

Consider this the final call for serious action.

Success will mean cleaner air, lower sea levels, less flooding, fewer people forced from their homes and countries because of extreme weather, more access to water and more nature. 

There are bonuses too. For example, schemes to reduce energy waste will lead to warmer homes and lower utility bills.

What do we need to do?

The report lays out several pathways of avoiding warming above 1.5°C.

Essentially we need to produce much less planet-warming carbon pollution.

All of the paths require a much faster transition to electric cars.

Reforestation is essential to them all too – trees suck carbon pollution out of the air. We need to double the area of forests in the UK. 

And governments need to stop funding climate change.

They’re currently supporting planet-warming industries that dig up and burn coal, oil and gas. We need to ditch these fossil fuels as soon as possible and invest more in clean, renewable energy.

What can I do?

One simple but really important thing you can do now – is sign our petition against fracking. Fracking contributes to climate change, and the government is trying to force it on communities.

Press link for more: Friends of the Earth

The Giant Corporations Behind Your Burgers And Milk Have A Terrifying Climate Secret #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateBreakdown #StopAdani #EndCoal

The Giant Corporations Behind Your Burgers And Milk Have A Terrifying Climate Secret

Together, five companies have a climate footprint bigger than Exxon, Shell or BP, but we don’t talk about it.

Lauri Patterson

Beef burgers, ham sandwiches, cheese slices, yogurt, bread.

A good amount of the food you might eat on a daily basis is likely to have come from just three U.S companies: Tyson, Cargill and Dairy Farmers of America. 

Minnesota-based Cargill is the world’s biggest food trader, selling everything from grains and beef to eggs and palm oil.

Meat giant Tyson processes 35 million chickens, 424,000 pigs and 130,000 cattle every week in the U.S. And Dairy Farmers of America accounts for 30 percent of all the milk produced in the country.

And in addition to providing your breakfast, lunch and dinner, they are some of the world’s most-polluting companies. 

The climate footprint of oil and gas giants such as Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP are well-known, but food companies have faced far less scrutiny.

The world’s five largest meat and dairy companies combined, including Tyson, Cargill and Dairy Farmers of America, are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions every year than any of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.


Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Cargill, the food behemoth, is the U.S.’s largest privately held company.

And in a week when international climate scientists have warned that the world is rapidly running out of time to reduce emissions and keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius, this matters more than ever.

So where does this mega climate footprint come from?

The emissions cover everything from the production of crops to feed chickens, pigs and cows to the methane emissions released by burping cattle.

Some less obvious emissions include those associated with farm machinery fuel and the production of chemicals and other inputs needed to grow grain, palm oil and other food crops.

The food sector as a whole is estimated to be responsible for as much as 29 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions. But meat and dairy account for the vast majority of those emissions.

A major study published this week says U.K. and U.S. citizens need to cut consumption of beef by 90 percent and consumption of milk by 60 percent to keep global warming at or below 2 degrees Celsius.

Lane Hickenbottom / Reuters

Sides of beef hang at the Cargill beef processing plant in Schuyler, Nebraska.

Cargill and Tyson have set themselves targets for reducing emissions, and Dairy Farmers of America told HuffPost that it plans to set emission-reduction targets by the middle of 2019. But environmental campaigners say this will not be enough to help the world avoid dangerous climate change.

“I don’t really expect any of these companies to make changes on their own,” said Devlin Kuyek, senior researcher at the nonprofit group GRAIN. “They are wholly committed to growing sales of meat and dairy.”

Although it does not yet have any reduction targets, Dairy Farmers of America acknowledged its climate impact. “We market a lot of milk so we recognize that our footprint is large, but it also means our opportunity for change is large,” said David Darr, vice president of sustainability.

The current emission-reduction targets being set by food companies may not be enough to avoid global warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, but they are nonetheless an important step, says Nate Aden, a climate adviser at the World Resources Institute. He says setting regular targets to reduce climate emissions has served as a “way to hold accountable people who won’t be around at the company in 2050.”

Cargill admits its emission targets exclude byproducts generated by animals before they are slaughtered and processed into meat, including their feed and methane emissions ― which account for roughly 90 percent of the company’s total emissions. A spokesperson said Cargill is developing more “sustainable ways to manufacture feed and improve its nutritional and feed conversion value” in an effort to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

Tyson says its targets do include emissions from animals. Aden says the company is likely to try to meet these by switching more of its business out of beef production into pork and chicken, which have a lower environmental impact. Tyson has also bought a stake in the meat alternatives company Beyond Meat, although Kuyek said he believes this is “more of a hedge than a real bet” away from meat.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Packages of Tyson Foods processed meat products. 

So does the huge climate footprint of meat and dairy mean we cannot eat any livestock products at all? Not exactly, says Shefali Sharma, a director at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a research nonprofit, and author of a report exposing the climate footprint of the food companies. 

“We’re not saying don’t eat meat. But it is the scale that we eat and the dominant model of how it is produced,” Sharma said. “That’s the industrial meat and dairy model where a whole lot of feed is fed to a whole lot of animals to produce cheap meat where all the externalities like environmental impact and health are not accounted for.”

With President Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the global agreement on tackling climate change, it seems unlikely that externalities like climate emissions will be mitigated via regulation or tax anytime soon. 

But Aden says companies could fill that gap and show it’s possible to thrive economically while reducing emissions. Something like this is already happening with the Science Based Targets initiative jointly run by WRI, the United Nations and the World Wide Fund for Nature. It’s a voluntary scheme that allows companies to set emission-reduction targets in keeping with the pace recommended by climate scientists to limit the worst effects of climate change.

“We are not giving an opinion on whether a meat company should or should not exist,” Aden said. “We want to show companies can cut emissions and [we’re] showing how. We’re laying the groundwork so that if we have a major climate crisis we have the tools and examples for when we do have the political capital to act.”

All companies ― whether involved in food, gas, clothes or electrics ― need to make reducing climate emissions part of their business plans, Sharma said.

“I think companies really need to get their heads around what role they want to play in dealing with climate change,” she said. “They have to think about what growth model they can pursue that avoids more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming and meets 21st-century needs.”

Press Link For More: Huffington Post

A carbon tax is a good idea #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal #WentworthVotes #TheDrum #QandA @abcnews

A carbon tax is a good idea — so long as it doesn’t come with industry handouts

Exxon Mobil made a bit of a splash Tuesday when it announced a $1-million, two-year donation to the Republican-led Americans for Carbon Dividends, an organization pushing for a national tax to help curtail emissions of atmosphere-warming carbon.

A carbon tax is aimed at making the burning of fossil fuels — which releases carbon — more expensive, and thus directing consumer behavior away from carbon-spewing energy and driving investment toward carbon-free alternatives.

It’s a sound approach, one this page endorsed more than a decade ago, and better than the related cap-and-trade plans, which California has used since 2012.

A price on carbon certainly worked in Australia until our government “axed the tax”

But the plan that Exxon Mobil is throwing its money at — pocket change, really, for a corporation that made nearly $20 billion last year — is less than it seems.

Called the Baker-Schultz plan after two of its authors, former Republican secretaries of State James A. Baker III and George P. Schultz, the plan calls for gradually increasing the per-ton carbon tax to reduce the risk of market shock, and for returning the proceeds to consumers on a per-capita basis through the Social Security Administration.

Everyone gets the same amount of cash, but those who use less carbon-emitting energy will pay less tax — giving them a powerful incentive to conserve.

So far, all good. And a set rate helps companies better anticipate their costs; businesses like stability and predictability.

But there’s always a but, it seems.

The Baker-Schultz plan also includes a waiver that would let oil companies and other emitters off the hook for past acts contributing to global warming, preempting the many lawsuits filed against them. And it would undo the Clean Power Plan and other federal regulations covering carbon dioxide emissions.

That makes this sound less like a smart plan to reduce carbon than a toxic quid pro quo — “OK, we’ll go for a carbon tax if these lawsuits go away and we get sharper deregulation.” 

Another plan, pushed by the Citizens Climate Lobby and other groups, would similarly escalate the per-ton tax over time and return the proceeds in a per-capita dividend, without the corporate giveaways.

That’s a better option.

A carbon tax is aimed at making the burning of fossil fuels — which releases carbon — more expensive.


Whatever approach might ultimately gain traction, it will be a useless gesture unless the tax is sufficiently high to compel changes in producer and consumer behavior.

How much is too little?

How much is too much?

We’re not going to pretend we know — there are experts who can make that calculation. But this is an area in which compromise isn’t much of an option.

As the recent Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change warned, without near-immediate and drastic action to curtail the rise of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mankind faces a dire environmental future.

Rising seas, more severe weather patterns — a lesson just reinforced by Hurricane Michael — deep agricultural impacts and worse droughts and flooding.

We’ve known about this problem for decades.

Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius predicted nearly 120 years ago (building on earlier work by Irish-born scientist John Tyndall) that warmer temperatures would follow increased levels of human-generated atmospheric carbon.

Over the subsequent few decades scientists recorded changes in carbon levels, and by the early 1970s there were international calls for research into the phenomenon.

The world — particularly the industrialized world — has known this reckoning was coming yet has done little more than wave at it.

It’s like a homeowner who ignores the leak in the upstairs bathroom until the house’s structural integrity begins to get compromised. Well, the bones of this building are weakening.

The problem confronting us is that understanding the threat and the available solutions — both technological and behavioral — does nothing for us unless we find a way to overcome the enormous political hurdles posed by self-interested polluters, self-centered consumers and the climate skeptics controlling the levers of government.

The science and the already evident effects of global warming haven’t moved the needle on global action enough to stop the needle on the global thermometer.

It might be tempting to sigh and give up, but that would be just as foolish as continuing the disastrous policies that are imperiling the health of the very environment that makes life possible.

There’s an adage that “it’s an ill bird that fouls its own nest.”

If so, we’re some rather sick birds.

The Times Editorial Board
Press link for more: LATimes

How Capitalism Torched the Planet and Left it a Smoking Fascist Greenhouse #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #WentworthVotes #Genocide #Ecocide

How Capitalism Torched the Planet and Left it a Smoking Fascist Greenhouse

By Umair Haque

It strikes me that the planet’s fate is now probably sealed. We have just a decade in which to control climate change— or goodbye, an unknown level of catastrophic, inescapable, runaway warming is inevitable.

The reality is: we’re probably not going to make it.

It’s highly dubious at this juncture that humanity is going to win the fight against climate change.

Yet that is for a very unexpected — yet perfectly predictable — reason: the sudden explosion in global fascism — which in turn is a consequence of capitalism having failed as a model of global order.

If, when, Brazil elects a neo-fascist who plans to raze and sell off the Amazon — the world’s lungs — then how do you suppose the fight against warming will be won?

It will be set back by decades — decades…we don’t have. America’s newest Supreme Court justice is already striking down environmental laws — in his first few days in office — but he will be on the bench for life…beside a President who hasn’t just decimated the EPA, but stacked it with the kind of delusional simpletons who think global warming is a hoax.

Again, the world is set by back by decades…it doesn’t have.

Do you see my point yet?

Let me make it razor sharp.

My friends, catastrophic climate change is not a problem for fascists — it is a solution.

History’s most perfect, lethal, and efficient one means of genocide, ever, period.

Who needs to build a camp or a gas chamber when the flood and hurricane will do the dirty work for free?

Please don’t mistake this for conspiracism: climate change accords perfectly with the foundational fascist belief that only the strong should survive, and the weak — the dirty, the impure, the foul — should perish.

That is why neo-fascists do not lift a finger to stop climate change — but do everything they can to in fact accelerate it, and prevent every effort to reverse or mitigate it.

But I want to tell you the sad, strange, terrible story of how we got here.

Call it a lament for a planet, if you like.

You see, not so long ago, we — the world — were optimistic that climate change could be managed, in at least some way.

The worst impacts probably avoided, forestalled, escaped — if we worked together as a world. But now we are not so sure at all.

Why is that?

What happened?

Fascism happened — at precisely the wrong moment. That shredded all our plans. But fascism happened because capitalism failed — failed for the world, but succeeded wildly for capitalists.

Now, this will be a subtle story, because I want to tell it to you the way it should be told.

Let me begin with an example, and zoom out from there.

The world is in the midst of a great mass extinction— one of just a handful in history. Now, if we had been serious, at any point, really, about preventing climate catastrophe, we would have made an effort to “price in” this extinction — with a new set of global measures for GDP and profit and costs and tariffs and taxes and so on. But we didn’t, so all these dead beings, these animals and plants and microbes and so on — strange and wonderful things we will never know — are “unpriced” in the foolish, self-destructive economy we have made.

Life is literally free to capitalism, and so capitalism therefore quite naturally abuses it and destroys it, in order to maximize its profits, and that is how you get a spectacular, eerie, grim mass extinction in half a century, of which there have only been five in all of previous history.

But biological life was not the only unpaid cost — “negative externality” — of capitalism.

It was just one.

And these unpaid costs weren’t to be additive: they were to multiply, exponentiate, snarl upon themselves — in ways that we would come to find impossible to then untangle. (And all this was what economists and thinkers, especially American ones, seemed to whistle at and walk away, anytime someone suggested it.)

You see, capitalism promised people — the middle classes which had come to make up the modern world — better lives. But it had no intention of delivering — its only goal was to maximize profits for the owners of capital, not to make anyone else one iota richer. 

So first it ate through people’s towns and cities and communities, then through social systems, then through their savings, and finally, through their democracies. 

Even if people’s incomes “rose”, cleverly, the prices they paid for the very same things which capitalism sold back to them with the other hand, the very things they were busy producing, rose even more — and so middle classes began to stagnate, while inequality exploded.

Let’s specify the unpaid costs in question: trust, connection, cohesion, belonging, meaning, purpose, truth itself.

These were social costs — not environmental ones, like the mass extinction above. And I will make the link between the two clear in just a moment. First I want you to understand their effect.

A sense of frustration, of resignation, of pessimism came to sweep the world. People lost trust in their great systems and institutions.

They turned away from democracy, and towards authoritarianism, in a great, thunderous wave, which tilted the globe on its very axis.

The wave rippled outward from history’s greatest epicenter of human stupidity, America, like a supersonic tsunami, crossing Europe, reaching Asia’s shores, crashing south into Brazil, cresting far away in Australia.

Nations fell like dominoes to a new wave of fascists, who proclaimed the same things as the old ones — reichs and camps and reigns of the pure.

People began to turn on those below them — the powerless one, the different one, the Mexican, the Jew, the Muslim— in the quest for just the sense of superiority and power, the fortune and glory, capitalism had promised them, but never delivered.

The capitalists had gotten rich — unimaginably rich.

They were richer than kings of old. But capitalism had imploded into fascism.

History laughed at the foolishness of people who once again believed, like little children hearing a fairy tale, that capitalism — which told people to exploit and abuse one another, not hold each other close, mortal and frail things that they are — was somehow ever going to benefit them.

Now. Let me connect the dots of capitalism’s unpaid social and environmental costs, and how they are linked, not additively, 2+2=5, but with the mathematics of catastrophe.

When we tell the story of how capitalism imploded into fascism, it will go something like this: the social costs of capitalism meant that democracy collapsed into neo-fascism — and neo-fascism made it unlikely, if not outright impossible, that the world could do anything at all about climate change, in the short window it had left, at the precise juncture it needed to act most.

Do you see the link?

The terrible and tragic irony?

How funny and sad it is?

The social costs of capitalism weren’t just additive to the environmental costs — they were more like multiplicative, snarled upon themselves, like a great flood meeting a great hurricane.

The social costs exponentiated the environmental, making them now impossible to reduce, pay, address, manage. 2+2 didn’t equal 4 — it equalled infinity, in this case. Both together made a system that spiralled out of control.

Wham!

The planet’s fate was being sealed, by capitalism imploding into fascism — which meant that a disintegrating world could hardly work together anymore to solve its greatest problem of all.

Let me sharpen all that a little. By 2005, after a great tussle, much of the world had agreed on a plan to reduce carbon emissions —the Kyoto Protocol. It was just barely enough — barely — to imagine that one day climate change might be lessened and reduced enough to be manageable. Still, there was one notable holdout — as usual, America.

Now, at this point, the world, which was in a very different place politically than it is today, imagined that with enough of the usual diplomatic bickering and horse-trading, maybe, just maybe, it would get the job done. And yet by 2010 or so, the point of all this, which was to create a global carbon pricing system had still not been accomplished — in large part thanks to America, whose unshakeable devotion to capitalism meant that such a thing was simply politically impossible.

So by this point the world was behind — and yet, one could still imagine a kind of success.

Maybe an American President would come along who would see sense.

Maybe progress was going in the right direction, generally.

After all, slowly, the world was making headway, towards less carbon emissions, towards a little more cooperation, here and there.

And then — Bang! America was the first nation to fall to the neo fascist wave.

Instead of a President who might have taken the country into a decarbonized future, Americans elected the king of the idiots (no, please don’t give me an apologia for the electoral college.)

This king of the idiots did what kings of idiots do: he lionized, of all things…coal.

He questioned whether climate change was…real.

He packed the government with lobbyists and cronies who were quite happy to see the world burn, if it meant a penthouse overlooking a drowned Central Park. He broke up with allies, friends, and partners.

Do you see the point?

The idea of a decarbonizing future was suddenly turned on its head.

It had been a possibility yesterday — but now, it was becoming an impossibility.

Before the neofascist wave, the world might have indeed “solved” climate change.

Maybe not in the hard sense that life would go on tomorrow as it does today — but in the soft sense that the worst and most vicious scenarios were mostly outlandish science fiction.

That is because before the neofascist wave, we could imagine nations cooperating, if slowly, reluctantly, in piecemeal ways, towards things like protecting life, reducing carbon, pricing in the environment, and so on. These things can only be done through global cooperation, after all.

But after the neofascist wave, global cooperation — especially of a genuinely beneficial kind, not a predatory kind — began to become less and less possible by the day.

The world was unravelling.

When countries were trashing the United Nations and humiliating their allies and proclaiming how little they needed the world (all to score minor-league wins for oligarchs, who cashed in their chips, laughing )— how could such a globe cooperate more then?

It couldn’t — and it can’t.

So the neofascist wave which we are now in also means drastically less global cooperation — but less global cooperation means incalculably worse climate change.

So now let’s connect all the dots.

Capitalism didn’t just rape the planet laughing, and cause climate change that way.

It did something which history will think of as even more astonishing.

By quite predictably imploding into fascism at precisely the moment when the world needed cooperation, it made it impossible, more or less, for the fight against climate change to gather strength, pace, and force.

It wasn’t just the environmental costs of capitalism which melted down the planet — it was the social costs, too, which, by wrecking global democracy, international law, cooperation, the idea that nations should work together, made a fractured, broken world which no longer had the capability to act jointly to prevent the rising floodwaters and the burning summers.

(Now, it’s at this point that Americans will ask me, a little angrily, for “solutions”. Ah, my friends.

When will you learn?

Don’t you remember my point?

There are no solutions, because these were never “problems” to begin with.

The planet, like society, is a garden, which needs tending, watering, care.

The linkages between these things — inequality destabilizing societies making global cooperation less possible — are not things we can fix overnight, by turning a nut or a bolt, or throwing money at them.

They never were.

They are things we needed to see long ago, to really reject together, and invest in, nurture, protect, defend, for decades — so that capitalism did not melt down into fascism, and take away all our power to fight for our worlds, precisely when we would need it most.

But we did not do that.

We were busy “solving problems”.

Problems like…hey, how can I get my laundry done?

Can I get my package delivered in one hour instead of one day?

Wow — you mean I don’t have to walk down the street to get my pizza anymore? Amazing!!

In this way, we solved all the wrong problems, if you like, but I would say that we solved mechanical problems instead of growing up as people. Things like climate change and inequality and fascism are not really “problems” — they are emergent processes, which join up, in great tendrils of ruin, each piling on the next, which result from decades of neglect, inaction, folly, blindness. We did not plant the seeds, or tend to our societies, economies, democracies, or planet carefully enough — and now we are harvesting bitter ruin instead. Maybe you see my point. Or maybe you don’t see my point at all. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a tough one to catch sight of.)

The tables have turned. The problem isn’t climate change anymore, and the solution isn’t global cooperation — at least given today’s implosive politics.

The problem is you — if you are not one of the chosen, predatory few. And the solution to the problem of you is climate change.

To the fascists, that is.

They are quite overjoyed to have found the most spectacular and efficient and lethal engine of genocide and devastation known to humankind, which is endless, free natural catastrophe.

Nothing sorts the strong from the weak more ruthlessly like a flooded planet, a thundering sky, a forest in flames, a parched ocean.

A man with a gun is hardly a match for a planet on fire.

I think this much becomes clearer by the year: we have failed, my friends, to save our home.

How funny that we are focused, instead, on our homelands.

It would be funny, disgraceful, and pathetic of me to say: is there still time to save ourselves?

That is the kind of nervous, anxious selfishness that Americans are known for — and it is only if we reject it, really, that we learn the lesson of now.

Let us simply imagine, instead, that despite all the folly and stupidity and ruin of this age, the strongmen and the weak-minded, in those dark and frightening nights when the rain pours and the thunder roars, we might still light a candle for democracy, for freedom, and for truth.

The truth is that we do not deserve to be saved if we do not save them first.

Umair
October 2018

Press link for more: EAND.CO

Cognitive Dissonance #ClimateBreakdown #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal #RUOK #Insiders #QandA

We Don’t Have Time’s goal is to create a social media platform for the future, focused on the biggest challenge of our times — climate change.

Why do we have such trouble coming to grips with climate change?

Why do we falter?

Originally published in the Swedish web publication Poros, Jonatan Olofsgård explores the subject in his essay Dissonance.

Please make sure you have 10 minutes of privacy to read it.

It’s that big a deal.

It may help save us from ourselves by realising we all experience cognitive dissonance as a result of living in the climate emergency.

Image ‘And the Dead Robed in Red’ by Harry Clarke (1920). Downloaded.

I have become afflicted by a kind of muteness. It reveals itself in the following manner: the more I know, the less I am able to talk about it. It came over me last spring. As the days became longer, I became ever more silent. I know there was a time when I talked, and that some time later I lacked the ability. I know it happened in the spring, because I was in hospital for a while then, and when I came out I could no longer talk.

There’s a parallel between my hospital stay and my muteness.

I came down with a high fever, and a doctor told me I had the flu. But the fever wouldn’t go away, and I was just getting more and more tired. I saw a new doctor. “I’m going to run every test there is until I know what’s wrong”, she said. I got the feeling that my inexplicable fever was an offence to her. When the test results came back, she told me I had glandular fever and explained that it might take some time to clear up. All I had to do was rest and allow my body to recover. And finally, she said that if I felt sudden pain in my stomach, I should seek medical help immediately. “But it’s very uncommon. I’ve never seen that in my entire professional career.” She was in her early 50s and spoke with the complete authority of the expert. I didn’t feel particularly worried.

The next morning I woke up early with dull pains in my stomach. Not in any way intolerable — but quite apparent. And yet I hesitated, despite the instructions I’d been given. I didn’t want to sit in the waiting room of a casualty department, feeling the hours slipping away. I made breakfast for my children and thought that instead I’d just go to the medical centre when it opened. Perhaps the pain increased, or perhaps there was a moment of stillness where I could think more clearly. I no longer remember exactly what it was that made me pick up the phone.

I felt obliged to apologise for disturbing them. The nurse on the phone told me not to be silly. I arrived at casualty in an ambulance. I remember being embarrassed at taking up space in the hospital, as if I’d bluffed my way in. To me it was obvious that after waiting for a few hours I’d be examined and then sent home again. I was in pain, but it wasn’t dominating my experience of the world.

Being the focus of emergency healthcare means seeing an extremely effective machine from the inside. I know there are a lot of people with completely different experiences of Swedish healthcare, and I’ve also previously encountered the slow, long-winded nature of our medical system: the pointless waiting and empty diagnoses. But what happened that morning was completely different.

They didn’t put me in a waiting room, but instead on a stretcher. The nurses rolled me past people who I thought looked like they needed urgent care, people who looked like they were going to die at any moment. They took blood tests, did an ultrasound, and sent me for a CT scan. There was a calm, efficient flow of activity.

Now, afterwards, I reflect on that I should have felt more worried at the time. I should have understood that something was wrong. I should have been impressed by everything going on around me. But how are you supposed to feel when the medical system reacts more strongly than your own experience tells you to? My interpretation of the situation was based on the concrete experience of how it felt to be me. My bodily experience trumped the information being transmitted to me from the surrounding world. I observed what was going on with disbelief, and perhaps a certain amount of curiosity.

A few hours later, a surgeon explained that I didn’t need to worry, there was no danger. But I would have to stay in hospital. How long for? Until I could go home again. And when would that be? When they decided I could go home again.

Receiving two contrary messages at the same time leads to a very particular type of cognitive challenge. There’s no need to worry, everything’s okay — but you can’t leave the hospital.

My experience of doctors is that they love life, love healthy people and are focused on healing. But they talk rather less often about risks and how fragile life is. For the same reason, some doctors are reluctant to reveal why they’re doing particular tests, making certain decisions or prescribing specific medications. Finding out why I couldn’t go home required a fair amount of effort.

There was a shadow and the shadow could be a rupture and the rupture could in turn lead to internal bleeding. And if it started to bleed, it wouldn’t bleed just a bit — quite the opposite. If I went home and started to bleed, it was by no means certain that I’d get back to the hospital in time. The surgeon explained all this with some irritation in her voice, as if informing me of all this was a disruption to the whole medical system. She emphasised her main message once again. There was nothing to worry about. All I needed to do was lie still in a hospital bed and if I felt the slightest change, the slightest increase in discomfort in my stomach, I should press the alarm button.

And what would happen then? The same irritation. They would operate on me. The blood was ordered. The needles and tubes in my arms were there so the healthcare personnel could anaesthetise me quickly if they needed to. Essentially, I was just a piece of meat to be placed on an operating table. And by the way, I couldn’t eat or drink anything from now on, just in case I needed to be operated on immediately. If I got really thirsty I could moisten my lips with a damp cotton bud.

They moved me to a casualty department, put me in a bed and connected me up to a drip. Demonstrated how the alarm button worked. Connected me to a monitor to keep track of my pulse and blood oxygen level. I stared at the curves on the screen. “Rest”, said the nurses. “Don’t worry.”

So I lay still — actually I couldn’t do anything else since i was practically chained to the bed. They X-rayed me again. The battery in my phone ran out and there was no charger in the ward that fitted it. The world shrank. Every morning a surgeon came in and told me I was to stay another day.

Finally I was allowed to sit up and then to move around the room, still connected to my drip. After another couple of days they finally took the drip away and let me eat and drink again, and eventually I was allowed to go home — without anything actually having happened.

And then the muteness arrived. It stemmed from the fact that the medical system had given me the task of dealing with two completely irreconcilable descriptions of reality: You might die if you go home. There’s no reason for you to feel worried.

The scientific term for the condition that arises when somebody is forced to handle two irreconcilable insights is cognitive dissonance. It’s a state of mind characterised by surprise, fear, guilt and sometimes embarrassment. It’s not a nice position to find yourself in. The way out of it often consists of rationalising away one of the insights — the more uncomfortable one — or of suppressing it, or projecting it onto someone else.

In his book “Anthropocene”, environmental historian Sverker Sörlin describes our time in the following way: “It is both a success story and a period of breakdown”. If you could choose to be born at any time, but not choose where in the world or in the social pyramid, 2018 would be a good choice. Today, many people have a better time of it than ever before (in purely material terms). At the same time we are in a global ecological crisis without equivalent; a process that it’s expected will soon make large parts of the planet uninhabitable for humans.

This sounds so vast, so ridiculous, so incredible when you say it straight out. Incredible as in not credible. I instinctively want to soften and nuance what I’ve written. It hurts me to leave it unchanged. When I lay there in my hospital bed listening to the surgeon explaining the situation to me, I felt a sense of recognition. I recognised it from every conversation I’d had about global warming, about biological diversity, about the global nitrogen cycle.

The fact that development is moving forwards, that things are getting better, is a narrative that has its roots in the time of the Enlightenment; the time of the revolutions. Scientific, political and industrial; these three areas reinforce each other. This is where the thought is born that it’s possible to know and act better — that knowledge is cumulative. That there’s a line running from the past into the future, and that it’s possible to extrapolate. That progress gives birth to itself. This is a narrative that corresponds to our experience, which makes history understandable, which provides a framework for how we should act, which makes it possible to relate to the future.

Against this idea of progress there is a newly born insight that we are hollowing out the ground we stand on, that as a species we are destroying the foundation of our own existence. It’s common for anyone pointing this out to talk about progress as a construct; a narrative or a myth. This is very unfortunate. Concepts such as ‘myth’ or ‘narrative’ aren’t merely intellectual tools, they are also rhetoric, and rhetoric says that progress and development are an incorrect description of the world we live in. Progress or catastrophe. We instinctively want to reject one of these descriptions. The complication is exactly as Sörlin describes it: that our time is characterised by both success and breakdown, not that one of the descriptions is true and the other false.

It’s a terrifying balancing act. Anyone who takes the threat seriously is just as sensitive to dissonance as anyone who clings to progress. Neither wants to find themselves in the discomfort that dissonance leads to.

If there is an essentially different narrative, a framework that’s not about progress, it isn’t a doomsday narrative so much as a statement of our almost total dependence on our surroundings. We are part of an incredibly sensitive ecosystem and there’s no way to take ourselves out of this complex relationship of dependency. Since Descartes’ day, the idea of progress has been closely linked with the control of body and nature, of matter and energy. These are two narratives that don’t seem to be compatible. Reason says that one of these narratives must be false, that one of them must be discarded. The challenge lies in the fact that both of them can be true, but that our consciousness is not equipped to handle this. Evolution hasn’t prepared us for it.

So when the medical staff inserted needles into my arms, when they pushed me along on a stretcher to get a CT scan, I didn’t feel worried, despite my reason registering and assessing what was going on around me. Despite the fact that I understood what was going on. The experience of my body, the experience of my world, my experience of being me, came before all reasoned arguments. I didn’t feel I was in danger. I didn’t feel a level of pain that could justify the doctors’ actions. I didn’t experience any threat, despite my reason being able to draw the conclusion that there was a threat — I didn’t feel any worry. This was my internal dissonance, and I recognise it from so many conversations I’ve had about climate change. At lunch, on the commuter train… everywhere. When what I say can’t be reconciled with what the other person experiences.

The people I talk to aren’t idiots. On the contrary, they can keep two thoughts in their heads, they’re able to see that two courses of events can be parallel, that what creates prosperity also erodes what it’s based on. That situations can be ambiguous — alternately symbiotic and parasitic. And yet I can’t talk about this. The discomfort is too great.

There are people who choose the doomsday narrative because they feel it’s a more correct description of reality. The price they pay is to some extent no longer being able to take part in society. It’s impossible to be happy about your colleagues’ foreign holidays or consumption. You can no longer view increased growth as something desirable and natural. The things that form the foundation of your interaction with other people no longer function. For these people, playing along means a betrayal of themselves. But speaking up makes them so difficult that those around them can’t stand to have them near. There are also many people who wholeheartedly live the progress narrative, who reject every threatening signal or feel confident that every threat can be conquered, just like everything else that once stood in the way of progress. But the majority of us live with our heads down, trying to find a way to avoid the discomfort.

I was discharged with a list of instructions. Don’t do anything too strenuous. Avoid activities with a risk of falling or hitting your body. Don’t lift heavy weights. As if I would have tried. I could just about cope with dragging myself up the stairs to my bedroom.

At home I lay on the living room sofa and thought that it should be possible to use this insight, this bodily, contradictory experience. I was already familiar with the term cognitive dissonance, but the term had no concrete anchor for me. At the hospital, I was given exactly that: an anchor point.

I’m writing this a year later. I still have the notes and comments I wrote for this text; fossils from the period immediately after my hospital stay. I work with them. They act as a mirror in which my bodily experience meets my experience of the society I live in. Is it working? I don’t know. When I began to write this essay it was winter. An unusually late, cold and snowy winter, following a period with an unusually high amount of rain. Now, as I finish the text, an extreme heatwave has just finished. Around me people are talking worriedly about the heat, only to go back in the next instant to discussing their holiday plans and renovation projects. We move in and out of these two major narratives, but never stop in the place where they meet. We don’t stop in the dissonance.

Several years ago in his book “Collapse”, David Jonstad wrote that many of the people living through the fall of the Roman Empire never realised that the empire was collapsing. The process was too drawn out, and it consisted of such a vast number of movements forwards and backwards, like waves moving up and down a beach. But on a more basic level the experience of collapse was also in conflict with the foundation of the Roman view of the world — in Rome it simply wasn’t possible to imagine a world that wasn’t dominated by Rome. And that’s not so surprising, really. Rome was a victory machine, a wonder of infrastructure and military domination that lasted more than 700 years. Our cultural framework — our inheritance from the Enlightenment — is only half as old, but still dominates our thinking. Therese Uddenfeldt touches on the same subject in her book “The Free Lunch”, which has the wonderful subtitle “Or why it’s so difficult to understand that everything comes to an end”. Why is it so difficult to even imagine something can be different to what we’re used to?

The fact that we flee from dissonance means our experience of the world is truncated. Something significant is removed — stolen from us. We lose the ability to clearly see how the world is changing around us. Anyone who can’t take in both movements is unable to fully experience the current moment, and is instead relegated to a before and after. Instead of seeing how the perspectives are woven together we are thrown between them, back and forth. And then suddenly one of the perspectives cracks and it feels as if we’ve always lived in a single narrative. I can see that in myself, in what I perceive to be a before and after. I can feel it in my surroundings, how we unconsciously move around such a point; a point that we have perhaps already passed but not yet succeeded in capturing in the spotlight.

I lay in my hospital bed and was monitored by a system that had grown out of the idea of progress. Medical skills that would have once been considered magic were available to me, just ready to spring into action. And yet simultaneously the same system was undermining my living conditions, eroding them like acid rain or like a rising sea wears away the beach.

It’s taken a year to give birth to this text. A year in which I essentially haven’t talked to anyone about the environment, sustainability or ecology. A year in which the discomfort I experienced was so strong that I became paralysed and silent. This is an attempt to break that silence.

The experience of dissonance gives rise to feelings of helplessness and paralysis, but shying away from what we encounter in the dissonance between success and catastrophe also makes us helpless and paralysed. We lose our ability to see and think clearly. As a society, as individuals, in our most private spheres where we are naked and alone. In the moment, the difference is subtle, easy to miss — but in actual fact it’s enormous. It isn’t the news that you have a disease that kills you. It isn’t the news that you’re out of danger that saves you.

Written by: Jonatan Olofsgård

Translated by: Jane Davis

This is a translation of the original article for the web publication ‘Poros’. Poros is a Swedish online essay journal, launched in 2015.

https://www.porostidskrift.se/

Web site: https://www.porostidskrift.se #4 2018. Original post here.

Facts about the author

Jonatan Olofsgård (born 1983) lives in Skurup, near Malmö in southern Sweden. His writing is an exploration of the links between culture, nature and technology.

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Is preventing #climatebreakdown compatible with #capitalism? #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #climatechange #StopAdani #EndCoal #Insiders #QandA @QandA @SydneyAzari @KateRaworth @scheerlinckeva

By

Julia Steinberger

Immigrant, Swiss-American ecological ecologist at the University of Leeds. Research focus on living well within planetary limits.

This is a key question, apparently, because, in some polite circles, preventing planetary-scale, irreversible harm to ecosystems and humans can only be justified if we promise not to change the economic system that this harm arose from in the first place.

Sydney Azari, an eco-socialist based in New York, as usual has the best pithy comment here:

Capitalism is a big word, and covers many different definitions.

Kate Raworth wisely refuses to be drawn into debates on that word, because of the toxic combination of strong feelings and vague meaning, of which she distinguishes three:

The third definition is the one that applies here, and we can sharpen it: our current capitalism is fossil-based, and fossil-fueled capitalism has made the companies that provide this fuel the most profitable in the history of humankind.

The fossil giants and their adjacent industries, such as automotive & aviation, represent our current capitalist system. Our infrastructure and cities are built for them, our markets function for them, our governments are in thrall to them.

Pushing fossil capitalism off the (emissions) cliff

Monday’s IPCC SR15 report, finally, clearly, shows that our emissions must go from 40-odd billion tonnes per year to zero within the next 20 years. Effectively, our emissions must fall off a cliff, and then keep falling.

That cliff is utterly incompatible with the continued existence of fossil industries and their adjacent friends.

Never mind the usual greenwash PR, of Shell calling for more trees the day after the IPCC report was released: what we really need, of course, are fewer Shells. None at all, zero, nada, zip, to be precise.

And the simple fact that preventing climate breakdown is incompatible with the very existence of fossil companies means that taking climate change seriously means bringing down fossil capitalism, with its inbuilt drivers of accumulation, domination, exploitation and destruction. This monster cannot be tamed or reformed: it must be destroyed, so that the rest of us and the ecosystems we depend upon can live.

Does this mean the end of all private enterprise and profit? Of course not. In fact, as multiple business sectors and organizations have realized, their futures align far better with sustainable pathways (i.e. non-Mad Max wasteland prospects). Predictably, their voices and positions have been drowned out by the vast sums of money and influence pushed by the oil, coal and gas barons. So ending fossil capitalism does not mean ending markets, private ownership or profit: however it does mean actively, consciously working to stop fossil companies cold.

New voices for clarity

Encouragingly, what used to be unspeakable (except by the fringe of usual Cassandras, those who see and speak only with principle, not worrying about their reputations in “polite” circles — I’m thinking of Kevin Anderson, Alice Larkin, Naomi Klein) is now finally said overtly: we need to do whatever it takes to stop fossil and adjacent industries, and thus bring emissions to zero.

Deep down, everyone who knew the reality of climate change also knew this, but they found it convenient to politely hide that reality: I call it “hiding behind the market.” It would work like this: we’d have a model of the energy system and monetary costs of carbon and various technologies (renewable, electric…).

Then to achieve a livable future, the model would have to crank up the carbon cost to a high level at a certain rate.

This would then make the fossil industries’ products unprofitable, and they would go gently into that good night where the most-profitable-ever-mega-giant corporations go when their balance sheets turn red. Ok, I wasn’t able to help myself from editorializing there, but you get my point: this idea of carefully balanced markets, where you can just gently dial up the price of carbon past the point where you’ve put Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell, Gazprom, Saudi-Aramco & Co. completely out of business, without them noticing or intervening in any way, is laughable.

Markets only work like that in a nice model: in reality, the big bad (fossil) dogs do everything they can to keep the gentle fluffy (renewable and lower energy consumption) puppies out.

There is a name for that in political economy: vested interests.

There has been a sea change of late, and though it is late, it is welcome. Scientists and economic commentators are no longer quietly “hiding behind the market”, and just advocating for high carbon prices or taxes or trading schemes: they are connecting the dots to where those prices, taxes and trading schemes need to go to be effective, and talking openly about the power of vested interests. Just a few recent quotes show how the new awareness of our urgent reality has made this clarity possible:

“One such [effective] policy would be a carbon price starting around €30 per tonne of CO2, which would very likely render investments in coal-fired plants unprofitable. Zero-carbon mobility, such as electric cars, could then become an attractive option as consumers would expect an increasing carbon price, and the internal combustion engine would gradually be phased out.” — Ottmar Edenhofer & Johan Rockstrom in The Guardian.

“Even in the absence of a new body, they [international institutions] would be working together to face down the inevitable opposition to change from the fossil fuel lobby.” —Larry Elliot, Economics Editor for the Guardian

“I think we need to start a debate about who is going to pay for [the costs of climate change and carbon removal from the atmosphere], and whether it’s right for the fossil-fuel industry and its customers to be enjoying the benefits today and expecting the next generation to pay for cleaning it up.” —Myles Allen, Oxford University, in Nature.

This clarity makes it our mission and its challenges ever clearer and easier to grasp: our fight, our struggle, has to be to rapidly free our societies from the vested interests of fossil-fueled industries. But how can we do this?

Removing the dragon of fossil capital from our societies

There are many ways to act to remove fossil industries and their harmful influence from our midst. Moreover, actions to ban fossil fuels have pervasive and wide-ranging effects: they ripple out through societies, making the next steps of change ever more likely and swift. Working on divesting, i.e. removing investment revenues from fossil companies, is one of the best avenues for action.

The European Parliament, under the leadership of Molly Scott Cato (who was also on the BBC panel), has made great strides in this direction: a broad coalition now realizes that investing in fossil industries is both risky and harmful. Many pension funds and organizations (such as universities) have already successfully divested from fossil fuels, and their numbers keep on growing. As a further step, we need to compel our leaders and governments to end all funding and subsidies to fossil industries.

Another strong action to ban fossil fuels is to intervene physically, by stopping extractive industries at the locations of extraction or transport.

This is the mission of thee anti-fracking movement in the UK, anti-pipeline movements in Canada and the US and so on.

These are all direct actions we can take to stop the power of fossil industries, and through these actions we can rapidly render them toxic and nonviable.

But it will be a bitter and unfair fight, where the full force of capitalist power will on overt display, as in the extreme jail sentence harshly handed down to non-violent anti-fracking protestors in the UK just 2 weeks ago. And that’s why I believe it is helpful to use the C-word in describing what we are up against, because without seeing the fossil capital dragon for what it is, an immense, profitable, accumulating monster, with tentacles in every corner of our governments and planet, we will not be ready for the fight ahead, and might too easily become discouraged.

If we have a realistic view of the fight for our future, we will learn from past efforts, anticipate the vicious actions of the fossil lobby, and keep each others spirits up, because the stakes here are far too high for failure to be an option.

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