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Want to fight climate change? Read these 3 books first #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Want to fight climate change? Read these 3 books first

Shyla RaghavApril 19, 2018

Climate change is causing sea ice to melt. This threatens the survival of species such as the leopard seal, pictured above, in Antarctica. (© Levi S. Norton)

Climate change can seem like an impossibly large problem — what can any one of us do?

The answer: More than you might think. Three recent books can help point the way: They have shaped my views on how to eat sustainably, what impact the products I buy have on climate change and how important social justice is to tackling environmental issues.

“The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food,” by Dan Barber

Barber, a chef in New York, took a hard look at the way Americans eat and decided that it needs to change. He discusses what it means to cook and eat sustainably in a world obsessed with buying farm-to-table products without knowing whether these products are actually helping the environment. Traditionally, Americans have eaten meals similar to what Barber calls the “first plate”: a large cut of meat with few vegetables. The farm-to-table movement launched the idea of the “second plate,” one with free-range meat and locally sourced vegetables. But, Barber says, the best meal for the planet is actually the “third plate”: a combination of vegetables, grains and livestock that is fully sustainable.

This book got me thinking about my own relationship with food — and how we as humans are integrally linked with the ecosystems we live in, and that sustain us. We’re constantly told about the virtues of eating and purchasing locally, but this book takes it a step further, helping me understand the need to reimagine our current food system. We need to do this sooner rather than later for ourselves, for our communities and for the health of our planet.

“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” by Naomi Klein

Klein exposes plenty of the myths involved in the climate change debate. Perhaps most provocatively, she says that climate change isn’t about carbon — it’s about capitalism. Klein argues that climate change is a wake-up call for the world to update its economic system to one that can sustain the Earth and every living thing on it. She says that either we rise to this challenge or we let it devour us.

I believe that humanity will rise to this challenge — in fact, it already is. Klein highlights how climate change is fundamentally an issue of justice and equity and integral to how our society is structured. One of the key tenets driving Conservation International is the understanding that people can thrive and economies can grow without destroying nature or increasing carbon emissions. Klein’s book inspires us to action while respecting and empowering communities that we live in.

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The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems,” by Van Jones

Jones explains how to simultaneously solve socioeconomic inequality and the world’s environmental problems — no small task. This concept struck home for me because of Conservation International’s rights-based approach to conservation: Local communities who help the environment should be as fully supported and included as the nature that we try to protect. Jones lays out what he calls “the Green New Deal” — a proposal that would create thousands of new jobs that focus on conserving energy in local communities. I think that forms of climate resilience, such as the plan that Jones lays out, is the next wave of the environmental justice movement. Jones shows us how being green isn’t incompatible with prosperity, income generation and livelihoods of people. It’s an inspiring call to action to make the green movement part of the future we envision for our country.

Shyla Raghav is Conservation International’s climate lead.

Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Press link for more: Blog Conservation

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95% of worlds population breathe dangerous air! #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

More than 95% of world’s population breathe dangerous air, major study finds

Poorest are hardest hit with many developing countries falling behind on cleaning up toxic air pollution

Fiona HarveyLast modified on Wed 18 Apr 2018 04.24 AEST

More than 95% of the world’s population breathe unsafe air and the burden is falling hardest on the poorest communities, with the gap between the most polluted and least polluted countries rising rapidly, a comprehensive study of global air pollution has found.

Cities are home to an increasing majority of the world’s people, exposing billions to unsafe air, particularly in developing countries, but in rural areas the risk of indoor air pollution is often caused by burning solid fuels. One in three people worldwide faces the double whammy of unsafe air both indoors and out.

The report by the Health Effects Institute used new findings such as satellite data and better monitoring to estimate the numbers of people exposed to air polluted above the levels deemed safe by the World Health Organisation. This exposure has made air pollution the fourth highest cause of death globally, after high blood pressure, diet and smoking, and the greatest environmental health risk.

Experts estimate that exposure to air pollution contributed to more than 6m deaths worldwide last year, playing a role in increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, lung cancer and chronic lung disease. China and India accounted for more than half of the death toll.

Burning solid fuel such as coal or biomass in their homes for cooking or heating exposed 2.6 billion people to indoor air pollution in 2016, the report found. Indoor air pollution can also affect air quality in the surrounding area, with this effect contributing to one in four pollution deaths in India and nearly one in five in China.

Bob O’Keefe, vice-president of the institute, said the gap between the most polluted air on the planet and the least polluted was striking. While developed countries have made moves to clean up, many developing countries have fallen further behind while seeking economic growth.

He said there was now an 11-fold gap between the most polluted and least polluted areas, compared with a six-fold gap in 1990. “Air pollution control systems still lag behind economic development [in poorer nations],” he said.

But he added: “There are reasons for optimism, though there is a long way to go. China seems to be now moving pretty aggressively, for instance in cutting coal and on stronger controls. India has really begun to step up on indoor air pollution, for instance through the provision of LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] as a cooking fuel, and through electrification.”

The number of people exposed to indoor air pollution from burning solid fuels has fallen from an estimated 3.6 billion around the world in 1990 to about 2.4 billion today, despite a rising population.

Emissions from transport are a growing concern, however, as road traffic increases. Diesel fuel is a leading cause of air pollution in some rich countries, including the UK, but in poorer countries the often decrepit state of many vehicles means petrol-driven engines can be just as bad in their outputs, especially of the fine particulate matter blamed for millions of deaths a year.

O’Keefe said governments were under increasing pressure to deal with the problems through regulation and controls, and hailed internet access as having a significant impact.

“Social media has been very important, as a growing number of people have access to it and to data and discussions [on air pollution]. People now have the ability to worry about not just the food they eat and a roof over the head, but they have the means to discuss [issues] in public,” he said.

Tuesday’s report reinforces an increasing volume of data in recent years that has shown how air pollution is increasing and causing deaths. More data has become available in the past decade from satellites and on-the-ground monitoring, while large-scale studies have revealed more of the health risks arising from breathing dirty air, which rarely kills people directly but is now known to contribute to other causes of death.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Dear Mr Adani “Invest in Solar not Coal. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

50+ RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL ON ADANI TO INVEST IN SOLAR, NOT COAL

For our common home

Dear Mr Adani,

We are leaders from many faith traditions and communities across Australia. We are writing to you to ask you to abandon your proposed mine and instead use the same money to invest in solar energy in North Queensland.

Our common home, the Earth, is now in great danger due to the effects of our actions as human beings on the climate. On this point the scientific community is united. Today, we too are united as people of faith.

Let us be clear. We are not merely opposed to this one mine. We are opposed to all new coal development in the Galilee Basin. We are at a crossroads. One way lies destruction; the other way, sanity. We need to turn immediately in the direction of a stable and compassionate future based on ambitious investment in renewable energy.

We wish to stress that we strongly support good local jobs. Yet people need jobs with a realistic future. Grasping at short-term profits from a thermal coal industry in worldwide structural decline will not provide this. Meanwhile, investment in renewables is booming. And the evidence shows that investment in renewable energy creates far more jobs per dollar than coal does. Coal communities need serious investment to make the transition from the dirty energy of the past to the clean energy of the future.

This mine would also create far fewer than the 10,000 jobs you have claimed. Your own economist stated under oath in the Queensland Land Court that the average number of new jobs per year would be around 1464. Likewise, your Australian CEO has said that “everything will be autonomous from mine to port”. This is no recipe for jobs.

We are very concerned that there is nothing approaching a broad acceptance of the use of the land for the mine from the indigenous peoples in the area. This is abundantly clear from the longstanding legal opposition on the part of the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council.

We know that this mine would use huge volumes of scarce water from the Great Artesian Basin. This ‘Pearl of Great Price’ is an ancient and precious source of water and must not be squandered. The effects on farmers and on our ecosystems would be too great.

For thousands of years, our traditions have taught us to care for the Earth. This responsibility is now extremely urgent. And it is those least responsible for this threat that suffer the greatest impacts of a warming climate.

Here in Australia this moral responsibility is inescapable. By itself, the amount of carbon dioxide from burning the coal in the Galilee Basin would be one tenth of what the whole world can ever emit if we are to avoid the safe upper limit in temperature before many island nations and coastal cities start to disappear (1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels). This is already starting to happen. Australians in the Torres Strait Islands are already suffering serious inundation as are our close neighbours in Kiribati and Tuvalu. It would lead to many more bushfires, droughts, cyclones and floods both here and all over the world. Already we see the impending loss of the famous Great Barrier Reef, a place of magnificent beauty, full of life and astonishing colour, which has experienced back-to-back yearly coral bleaching. The single largest and overriding cause of this is climate change. The reef is World Heritage listed – and the world is watching. Such an increase in temperature also poses serious security risks as world civilisation starts to feel the strain of so many natural disasters.

Your own mine would emit a staggering five billion tonnes of CO2.

Our love and concern for the wellbeing of people, other forms of life and our planet leaves us convinced that building this mine would be a giant leap in a very dangerous direction. We therefore call on you to abandon it and to work instead with state and federal governments to invest in good local jobs in solar and wind. You have the capacity to do enormous good.

Protecting our common home and all those who live here is an essential part of each of our faiths. We each ask the faith communities to which we belong to join us in creating this future. An easy first step is to support the Sun Powered Queensland campaign for an ambitious target for solar energy. We also ask our communities to contact the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, who have organised this letter, to help them in their work.

Yours in peace,

Bishop Philip Huggins, Anglican Church, President, National Council of Churches, Australia

Dr Rateb Jneid, President, Muslims Australia

The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Dean of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane

Jeffrey B. Kamins OAM, Senior Rabbi, Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra

Sheik Riad Galil OAM, Senior Imam, West Heidelberg Mosque

Bhante Sujato, Project Leader, Sutta Central

Reverend Dr Denis Edwards, Professorial Fellow, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University, Adelaide Campus

The Right Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University

Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Jewish Ecological Coalition, Board member, ARRCC

The Reverend Dr Jo Inkpin, Lecturer in Theology & Senior Tutor and Anglican Priest, St Francis College, Brisbane

The Reverend Dr Patrick McInerney, Columban Coordinator NSW

Professor Gerard Moore, Academic Dean, United Theological College, Associate Head of School of Theology, Charles Sturt University

Rev Brian Vale, Regional Director, Missionary Society of St Columban, ANZ Region

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Islamic Sciences and Research Academy Australia (ISRA)

Reverend Dr Jason John, Uniting Earth Ministry, Uniting Church NSWACT

Reverend Dr Ormond Rush, Associate Professor and Reader, Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University

Dr Neil Ormerod, Professor of Theology, Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University

Father Claude Mostowik MSC, President, Pax Christi Australia, Director, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australia)

Pastor Darren Cronshaw, Head of Research and Professor of Missional Leadership, Australian College of Ministries, Pastor, Auburn Life Baptist Church

Reverend Alex Sangster, Uniting Church Minister, Fairfield

Reverend Rex Graham, Uniting Church Minister, Wollongong

Pastor Jarrod McKenna, Cornerstone Church, Perth

Reverend John Brentnall, Chairperson, Uniting Eco Group

Sister Barbara Daniel PBVM, Presentation Sisters

Sister Elizabeth Young RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Elaine Wainwright RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Caroline Vaitkunas RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Claudette Cusack RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Mary Tinney RSM, Sisters of Mercy, Earth Link

Sister Marie Britza RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Veronica Lawson RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Julie O’Brien RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Barbara Bolster RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Tricia Nugent RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Ruth Wyatte RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Ana Freeman, Rahahim Ecology Centre

Dharmachari Arthacarya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Buddhankapali, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Dantachitta, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmalata, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmamati, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Dharmamodini, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmananda, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Hrdayaja, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Khemayogini, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Maitripala, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Nagasuri, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Nandavani, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Prakashika, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Saddhavijaya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Samacitta, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Shubhavyuha, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Siladasa, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Sudaya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Tejopala, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Vimoksalehi, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Vimuttinandi, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Moksavajra, Triratna Buddhist Order

Ms Thea Ormerod, President, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)

The public is invited to contribute to ARRCC’s current fund-raiser. Click here to view the video and donation page.

ARRCC.ORG.AU

Doughnut Economics with Kate Raworth #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani A vision for a sustainable economy. #SDGs

Doughnut Economics with Kate Raworth

On Nightlife with Philip Clark

Looking around today you might wonder whether just how much dissent there is in the field of economics?

Economists seem mostly convinced, that economic growth is king and that dampening growth will have devastating consequences for us all: the link between jobs and growth and a high standard of living is apparently unbreakable.

But is there another way to think about the economy?

Kate Raworth joined us from the BBC Studios in Oxford –

She’s the author of a book called Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist and she’s developed the idea of ‘doughnut economics’ now being talked about around the world.

Duration: 50min 49sec

Broadcast: Tue 20 Mar 2018, 10:00pm

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

The Big Picture on Nature. #ClimateChange #BioDiversity #ClimateRefugees #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

The Big Picture on Nature

Kate Raworth speaking at the World Economic Forum

Looking around today you might wonder whether just how much dissent there is in the field of economics?

Economists seem mostly convinced, that economic growth is king and that dampening growth will have devastating consequences for us all: the link between jobs and growth and a high standard of living is apparently unbreakable. But is there another way to think about the economy?

Kate Raworth joined us from the BBC Studios in Oxford – She’s the author of a book called Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist and she’s developed the idea of ‘doughnut economics’ now being talked about around the world.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

Collapse of Civilisation within decades. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’

Damian CarringtonThu 22 Mar 2018 22.30 AEDT

Fifty years after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb, biologist Paul Ehrlich warns overpopulation and overconsumption are driving us over the edge.

The toxification of the planet with synthetic chemicals may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change, says Ehrlich. Photograph: Linh Pham/Getty Images

A shattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich.

In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, The Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever.

The world’s optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change.

Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but “the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual ‘world destroyer’ meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen”.

The Population Bomb, written with his wife Anne Ehrlich in 1968, predicted “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s – a fate that was avoided by the green revolution in intensive agriculture.

Many details and timings of events were wrong, Paul Ehrlich acknowledges today, but he says the book was correct overall.

“Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”

Make modern contraception and back-up abortion available to all and give women full equal rights, pay and opportunities

Ehrlich has been at Stanford University since 1959 and is also president of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, which works “to reduce the threat of a shattering collapse of civilisation”.

“It is a near certainty in the next few decades, and the risk is increasing continually as long as perpetual growth of the human enterprise remains the goal of economic and political systems,” he says. “As I’ve said many times, ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell’.”

It is the combination of high population and high consumption by the rich that is destroying the natural world, he says. Research published by Ehrlich and colleagues in 2017 concluded that this is driving a sixth mass extinction of biodiversity, upon which civilisation depends for clean air, water and food.

High consumption by the rich is destroying the natural world, says Ehrlich. Photograph: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

The solutions are tough, he says. “To start, make modern contraception and back-up abortion available to all and give women full equal rights, pay and opportunities with men.

“I hope that would lead to a low enough total fertility rate that the needed shrinkage of population would follow. [But] it will take a very long time to humanely reduce total population to a size that is sustainable.”

It will take a very long time to humanely reduce total population to a size that is sustainable

He estimates an optimum global population size at roughly 1.5 to two billion, “But the longer humanity pursues business as usual, the smaller the sustainable society is likely to prove to be. We’re continuously harvesting the low-hanging fruit, for example by driving fisheries stocks to extinction.”

Ehrlich is also concerned about chemical pollution, which has already reached the most remote corners of the globe. “The evidence we have is that toxics reduce the intelligence of children, and members of the first heavily influenced generation are now adults.”

He treats this risk with characteristic dark humour: “The first empirical evidence we are dumbing down Homo sapiens were the Republican debates in the US 2016 presidential elections – and the resultant kakistocracy. On the other hand, toxification may solve the population problem, since sperm counts are plunging.”

Plastic pollution found in the most remote places on the planet show nowhere is safe from human impact. Photograph: Conor McDonnell

Reflecting five decades after the publication of The Population Bomb (which he wanted to be titled Population, Resources, and Environment), he says: “No scientist would hold exactly the same views after a half century of further experience, but Anne and I are still proud of our book.” It helped start a worldwide debate on the impact of rising population that continues today, he says.

The book’s strength, Ehrlich says, is that it was short, direct and basically correct. “Its weaknesses were not enough on overconsumption and equity issues. It needed more on women’s rights, and explicit countering of racism – which I’ve spent much of my career and activism trying to counter.

“Too many rich people in the world is a major threat to the human future, and cultural and genetic diversity are great human resources.”

Accusations that the book lent support to racist attitudes to population control still hurt today, Ehrlich says. “Having been a co-inventor of the sit-in to desegregate restaurants in Lawrence, Kansas in the 1950s and having published books and articles on the biological ridiculousness of racism, those accusations continue to annoy me.”

But, he says: “You can’t let the possibility that ignorant people will interpret your ideas as racist keep you from discussing critical issues honestly.”

More of Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s reflections on their book are published in The Population Bomb Revisited.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Meet my favourite Climate Scientists. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is a highly-respected expert on climate change.

An associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, her focus is developing new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale.

As founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, she also provides relevant, state-of-the-art information to a broad range of non-profit, industry and government clients about how climate change will affect our lives.

Her work has resulted in over 50 peer reviewed publications in key reports on the issue.

She also teamed up with Andrew Farley to write A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books.

He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty  thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books,National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.

James Hansen

James Hansen is an esteemed adjunct professor from America.

At present, he professes at Columbia University in the department of Earth & Environmental Sciences.

The former head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Hansen is famous as “father of global warming” given his citations on early warning signs in 1980s regarding the contemporary burning issue of global warming. He is also a very ardent climate activist.

Michael Mann

Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC).

Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth’s climate system.

Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003. He has received a number of honors and awards including NOAA’s outstanding publication award in 2002 and selection by Scientific American as one of the fifty leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002. He contributed, with other IPCC authors, to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2012 and was awarded the National Conservation Achievement Award for science by the National Wildlife Federation in 2013. He made Bloomberg News’ list of fifty most influential people in 2013. In 2014, he was named Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and received the Friend of the Planet Award from the National Center for Science Education. He received the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication from Climate One in 2017 and the Award for Public Engagement with Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is also a co-founder of the award-winning science website RealClimate.org.

Live Simply So Others Can Simply Live. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange a Game Change

The global economy is undermining the ecological foundations of life, producing perverse inequalities of wealth, and spreading a cultural malaise as ever-more people discover that consumerism cannot satisfy the human craving for meaning.

While industrial civilisation continues this inevitable descent, humankind is being challenged to reimagine the good life, tell new stories of prosperity, and get to work envisioning and building a new world within the shell of the old.

“To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

Genuine progress toward a just and sustainable world requires those who are over-consuming to move to far more materially ‘simple’ and less energy-intensive ways of living.

This does not mean deprivation or hardship.

It means focusing on what is sufficient to live well, and creating new cultures of consumption, new systems of production, and new governance structures that promote a ‘simpler way’ of life.

Our basic needs can be met in highly localised and low-impact ways, while maintaining a high quality of life.

“What people must see is that ecologically sane, socially responsible living is good living; that simplicity makes for an existence that is free.” – Theodore Roszak

The Simplicity Institute seeks to provoke a broader social conversation about the need to transition away from growth-based, consumer societies toward more resilient, egalitarian, and rewarding societies based on material sufficiency and renewable energy.

Rethinking growth, capitalism, and consumerism in an age of environmental limits and economic instability cannot be avoided.

The only question is whether it will be by design or disaster.

Please take a look around the site to learn more:

Press link for more: Simplicity Institute

Renewables record breaking 2017. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

New renewable energy capacity double fossil fuel growth in record-breaking 2017

Nick Kilvert

China was responsible for more than 50 per cent of the world’s solar investment in 2017.

(Getty Images: Xinzheng)

Solar power is continuing to surge ahead as the world’s emerging energy technology, according to a United Nations report that found global spending on solar was higher than any other energy source in 2017.

Key points:

• Australia increased renewable investment by 147 per cent to $8.5 billion

• Based on 2017 rates, Australia could replace coal power stations in next 20 years

• 45 per cent of worldwide renewable energy investment came from China

In a record-breaking year for renewable energy creation worldwide, the 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity was higher than all other technologies, including other renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels.

Australia’s own spending on solar skyrocketed with a significant boost in investment from South Australia, according to Iain MacGill from UNSW.

“We have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin,” Dr MacGill said.

“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market.”

But Australia was starting from a low base, according to the ANU’s Energy Change Institute director Ken Baldwin, who said our transition to renewables still has some way to go.

“What will be interesting to see is whether this can be maintained,” Professor Baldwin said.

“There was 6 gigawatts of solar, both residential and commercial installed in [Australia] in 2017.

“If that keeps going, that’s a huge number and combined with wind that will be more than sufficient to replace the ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations in the next decade or two.”

According to the UN report, the proportion of the world’s electricity being generated by wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro, rose from 11 to 12.1 per cent in 2017.

That equals a potential reduction of around 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels – more than three times Australia’s entire carbon emissions for 2016.

The 157 gigawatts of new renewable power commissioned in 2017 was more than double the 70 gigawatts of net fossil fuel generating capacity added.

Integrating variable electricity sources into the grid and managing the energy market is now the key challenge for countries investing in renewables, according to report co-author and head of research at the Frankfurt School UNAP Centre, Ulf Moslener.

“The coming phase is mastering the structural change within the electricity sector,” Professor Moslener said.

“[Working out] how to apply business models to energy systems where the energy production costs are effectively zero.”

Value for money undermined by policy uncertainty

In total, Australia invested a record $8.5 billion in renewables in 2017 and got far greater value for money than just a few years earlier.

The price per watt of solar photovoltaics in Australia in 2017 was just $1.40, compared to $6.40 in 2010, according to the report.

Professor Baldwin said although the increased investment in renewables is encouraging, Australia’s ability to develop our renewable infrastructure is being stunted.

“Government policy uncertainty has sent a wrecking ball through the energy industry over the last decade,” he said.

“It may be that we can get agreement between the states on the national energy guarantee…[and] this might enable renewables to move forward, but at the moment there is too much uncertainty.”

He said potential investors in renewables and fossil fuels are afraid of the impact future policies will have on energy values.

“In the future something will be introduced into the market in order to account for the damage that greenhouse-gas emissions are putting on the economy and putting on society, and that creates a risk for investment.”

China invests almost half of entire world renewable budget

While Australia’s renewable spending is locally significant, it pales in comparison to China’s record-breaking investment of more than $126 billion, or around 45 per cent of the total global renewable energy budget.

China’s huge solar budget took even the report authors by surprise, according to Professor Moslener.

“The costs are still falling which makes the dominance in investment terms in China even more thrilling,” he said.

Air pollution in China is believed to kill around a million people every year, and is also likely to be a key motivation behind their huge investment in clean energy technology, according to Dr MacGill.

“If we think about what’s motivating China in this space, climate change is a factor but regional air pollution is definitely significant,” he said.

“They’re investing in lots of renewables but they’re also doing other things as well – trying to close down coal, and switching to more nuclear and more gas.

“But we’re also seeing significant investments in developing countries – parts of the Middle East and Mexico as well.”

2015 was the first year that developing countries invested more in renewable energy than developed countries, and have done so ever since.

Although solar was the energy source of choice in 2017, wind power is a cheaper option in many regions according to Professor Baldwin.

“Wind has also decreased [in cost] considerably and in many countries is now the lowest price form of renewable energy, and that’s certainly true in Australia,” he said.

Large-scale hydro electric projects were outside the scope of the report, however investment in these projects was significantly less than wind and solar.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

“Can we save the planet? We must be relentlessly optimistic” #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

‘Can we save the planet?

We must be relentlessly optimistic’

Bad news about our planet can paralyse us, says former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Instead, it’s time to focus on the opportunities in tackling climate change.

She explains why ‘radical collaboration and relentless optimism’ could make 2020 a turning point.

By all rights, Christiana Figueres should be sitting with her feet up, sipping piña coladas in the shade of a palm tree in her native Costa Rica. She is not. Far from it, in fact. A year and a half after stepping down as the United Nations’ top climate negotiator, she is as active as ever.

Under the umbrella of the new Mission 2020 initiative which she is heading up, 61-year-old Figueres is ploughing her abundant energies into “bending the curve” on emissions, as she puts it. If that sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it is.

Spirited and outspoken, Figueres is not one to shun the spotlight or duck a fight. In as much as any single person could be said to be the face of the landmark Paris climate agreement, it is her. And “bending the curve” – that’s to say, taming greenhouse emissions so that average global temperatures remain below 2°C above pre-industrial levels – is what the Paris agreement is all about.

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So while Figueres may no longer be banging diplomatic heads together, she has not changed her spots. Fighting manmade climate change remains her all-consuming goal in life.

“It is us human beings who caused climate change and it’s only us who can do anything about it. And it’s only now that we can do anything too,” she says, her voice quivering with urgency.

She has lost none of her steeliness, either. Battling climate action down the road is simply not an option, she insists. To do so is as morally unconscionable as it is ecologically unacceptable. “We cannot pass this on to the next generation. They have had absolutely no role in creating the conditions for climate change.”

It is us human beings who caused climate change and it’s only us who can do anything about it

So what has changed about the post-Paris Figueres? More than you might think. The most obvious shift relates to her audience. Before, it was an influential, yet tiny, cadre of global political leaders on whom her persuasive talents were targeted. Now, it’s basically everyone on the planet – with those in advanced, consumption-heavy economies at the top of her list. “Everyone who is benefitting right now from what society has produced has a role to play in lowering their carbon footprint,” she insists. “Only those who consume nothing are off the hook.”

The second big change centres on the framing of climate change. The fact that we now have a global agreement on climate action is arguably a miraculous achievement. If truth be told, however, many countries came to the negotiating table in Paris kicking and screaming. For them, decarbonisation is still seen as a burden, not a boon.

Figueres is hell-bent on changing that. Doing so requires a new narrative. In short, more carrot and less stick. “I don’t have climate change tattooed on my forehead,” she insists. What she has instead, figuratively speaking, is the word ‘opportunity’. Opportunity for healthier cities, for healthier populations, for a healthier planet – radically reducing our carbon footprint holds out hope across the board in her view.

After stepping down as UN climate chief, Figueres has continued to fight climate change through the Mission 2020 initiative

“Addressing climate change is an opportunity, and a catalyst for the kind of world we want to see. It is a catalyst for modernising our built environment, our agriculture system, our energy infrastructure, so they all perform to 21st century standards,” she says. Figueres believes the media plays an instrumental role here. Its function isn’t just to make climate change more understandable – an area where she concedes progress is being made, albeit slowly. Media can also help people to open their eyes and imagine what a low-carbon future might look like.

“It’s an important thing to do because it’s difficult for people to move forwards if they can’t envision where they are heading. The problem at the moment, however, is that there’s a massive message lag. Much of the media continues to portray climate change action as a huge cost, when the opposite is actually true.”

This feeds into the third and perhaps most significant characteristic of the post-Paris Figueres: her unrelenting commitment to optimism. This veteran of countless COP summits is adamant that today represents a “golden window of opportunity” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Substantiating her positive thinking is what she sees as a confluence of technological, political and investment trends. She cites a host of examples: the cost of wind power dropping below 2¢/kWh in Mexico, India’s proposed 2030 ban on sales of non-electric vehicles, the issuance of green bonds topping $100bn (£74bn), to name but a few.

“Of course, these developments aren’t without their hiccups, but the general trend is very much in a positive direction,” she says.

Much of the media continues to portray climate change action as a huge cost, when the opposite is actually true

Her optimism doesn’t lack a realistic edge, either. She openly acknowledges that reducing emissions to zero is “not reasonable” any time soon. Yet that shouldn’t stop us devoting everything to reducing them as much as possible. To that end, Mission 2020 is looking to engage anyone and everyone, from public administrations to companies, charities and universities.

The former UN climate head qualifies her optimism as being “stubborn” in nature. This is not stubbornness for stubbornness’s sake. Rather, hers is rooted in a rock-solid conviction that curbing climate change is not only absolutely necessary, but completely possible.

Once that is achieved, maybe Figueres will put her feet up. Until then, expect only full steam ahead for this carbon-cutting dynamo.

Read more: Could we beat global warming? 5 megatrends to look out for

Images: Julien Paquin / Hans Lucas

Press link for more: Positive News