Religion

Trump’s “Tiny Tiny” Brain #ClimateChange #Science #auspol 

Trump misunderstood MIT climate research, university officials say
U.S. President Donald Trump refers to amounts of temperature change as he announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Massachusetts Institute of Technology officials said U.S. President Donald Trump badly misunderstood their research when he cited it on Thursday to justify withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Trump announced during a speech at the White House Rose Garden that he had decided to pull out of the landmark climate deal, in part because it would not reduce global temperatures fast enough to have a significant impact.


“Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100,” Trump said. 
“Tiny, tiny amount.”
That claim was attributed to research conducted by MIT, according to White House documents seen by Reuters. The Cambridge, Massaschusetts-based research university published a study in April 2016 titled “How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?” showing that if countries abided by their pledges in the deal, global warming would slow by between 0.6 degree and 1.1 degrees Celsius by 2100.
“We certainly do not support the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris agreement,” said Erwan Monier, a lead researcher at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and one of the study’s authors.


“If we don’t do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic,” said John Reilly, the co-director of the program, adding that MIT’s scientists had had no contact with the White House and were not offered a chance to explain their work.
The Paris accord, reached by nearly 200 countries in 2015, was meant to limit global warming to 2 degrees or less by 2100, mainly through country pledges to cut carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
Under the pact, the United States – the world’s second biggest carbon emitter behind China – had committed to reduce its emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
A senior administration official defended Trump’s use of the findings. “It’s not just MIT. I think there is a consensus, not only in the environmental community, but elsewhere that the Paris agreement in and of itself will have a negligible impact on climate,” the official told reporters at a briefing.
The dispute is the latest round of a years-long battle between scientists and politicians over how to interpret facts about the effects of burning fossil fuels on the global climate, and translate them into policy.
Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the science of climate change and once called it a hoax perpetrated by China to weaken U.S. business.

Press link for more: Reuters.com

Climate Change Our Greatest Moral Challenge & The generation gap 

Climate Mission—and Winning Converts

Pexels/Pixabay
For decades now, the organized climate-denial machine in this country—largely composed of polluting billionaires, bought-and-paid-for government officials, spurious think tanks, and a colorful assortment of freelance cranks—has liked to think that the millions of Americans who describe themselves as evangelical Christians are totally on board. 

The relationship they’ve cultivated is founded on the presumption of shared mistrust. 

To evangelicals, climate deniers have essentially said: You don’t really think those pointy-headed scientists have all the answers about the origins of the universe or how life on earth began, do you? 

So why would you ever trust them on this?

It’s easy to see what the climate-denial machine has gotten out of the relationship (besides fossil fuel profits).

 First and foremost, evangelicals have long represented a reliable voting bloc that can generally be counted on to organize for candidates and show up on election day; having them in your column is extraordinarily helpful at the basic level of boots-on-the-ground political reinforcement. 

Secondarily, climate deniers benefit from the patina of righteousness that comes from their association with the devout. 

When the policies you endorse are demonstrably linked to increased death, devastation, and human misery, believing that the majority of America’s evangelical Christians are nominally on your side must offer some degree of conscience-easing comfort.

But that invites the question: What do evangelical Christians get out of this relationship? 

Right now, the younger ones, at least, are getting the sneaking suspicion that they’ve been had. 

It is their future that’s at stake, after all.
It’s important to note here that a great deal of philosophical and political diversity exists among evangelicals, not all of whom fit neatly under the label of “Christian conservative.”

 While they tend to agree on fundamental theological matters, they’re not afraid to have vigorous internal debates over any number of hot-button social issues. 

One of these issues is climate change. 

And it now appears that evangelicals, especially millennial evangelicals, are starting to rebuff the advances of the climate-denial machine and to absorb climate action as an aspect of their faith—which compels them, after all, to be good stewards of God’s creation.


Since its inception in 1999, the Micah Network, a global community of relief workers and development specialists, has worked to make the easing of the poor’s burdens a larger part of the Christian mission.

 In 2005, the network launched the Micah Challenge, designed specifically to effect public policy that would help alleviate the poverty and suffering of more than 800 million people around the world who survive on less than $2 a day. 

For the young, energetic evangelicals who make up the Micah Challenge’s leadership, personal acts of charity for the poor, while laudable, aren’t enough. Poverty and suffering, they say, are structural problems that require structural solutions.



Visit the Micah Network’s website and one of the first things you’ll notice is how straightforwardly the organization prioritizes climate justice within its goals of “mobiliz[ing] Christians to end extreme poverty through changing attitudes, behavior, and policies that perpetuate injustice and deny God’s will for all creation to flourish.” 

Its adherents are naturally concerned about the disproportionate impact that climate change has on the world’s poorest people―making life much more difficult, and often impossible, for those living in areas highly susceptible to natural disaster, for example, or where food supplies are dependent on fishing or subsistence farming.
On one level, the group wins hearts and minds with the aid of high-profile Christian figures who understand the urgent need to rally public support for the cause. 

In 2015, the Micah Challenge sent a contingent of well-known Christian recording artists to the United Nations–sponsored COP 21 summit to witness the signing of the Paris climate agreement—as well as to “witness,” in the more religious sense of that word, for climate justice.

 And just last week, in the days leading up to the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., a small but influential group of Micah-associated authors, musicians, and scientists traveled to the nation’s capital. 

There they met with Republican lawmakers and others to express their displeasure at the Trump administration’s many attempts to defund or otherwise dismantle federal efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
In truth, support for climate action among evangelical faith leaders isn’t a new thing.

 The Evangelical Climate Initiative, which currently represents more than 300 of these leaders, has been sounding the trumpet on climate change for more than a decade. 

But the message hasn’t always caught on among parishioners, many of whom may feel uncomfortable endorsing a position they perceive as “liberal” or “progressive.” 

What feels different about this moment in time is that groups like the Micah Challenge, aided by expert climate communicators like the scientist Katharine Hayhoe, finally seem to have broken through to the next generation.


Katherine Hayhoe

 This generation has grown up not just reading and studying about the effects of climate change but actually living through them. 

Millennials don’t pay too much attention to the ravings of misguided senators or to dubious reports put out by pro-pollution think tanks. 

But they do listen to the words of their favorite bloggers, authors, and singer/songwriters.
Every week seems to bring more bad tidings for federal climate action and the planet. 
But here’s some good news: Our battle over whether and how to address climate change is looking less and less like a culture war these days, and more and more like a generation gap. 


And as is the case in any generational struggle, the old guard doesn’t have a prayer.

Press link for more: NRDC.ORG

March for Science! Today is the day to stand up for #Science 

Today is our chance to show support for science.

All over the planet people will be marching for universal values of science.

Find out where and when in your locality and join the scientists. 

Universal Literacy

A well-informed community is essential to a free and successful society. 

We support education to promote broad public knowledge and discussion of scientific work. 

As professionals, parents, and community-engaged volunteers, we enthusiastically contribute our time and expertise to helping children and students of all ages engage with the physical universe and biological world.

Open Communication

Publicly-funded scientists have a responsibility to communicate their research and public outreach and accessibility of scientific knowledge should be encouraged. 

Communication of scientific findings and their implications must not be suppressed.

Informed Policy

Public policy should be guided by peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus. 

Public policy must enable scientists to communicate their publicly-funded research results, and must support literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Stable Investment

A long-term, strategic approach to investment in scientific research and development is essential for driving true innovation. 

Government commitment to stable science funding policy will deliver solutions to complex challenges, promoting prosperity for all.


Our acknowledgment

Science belongs to everyone. It should be pursued for the benefit of all people and for the health of the environment we depend upon.
At March for Science Australia we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Australian continent, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to ancestors and Elders both past and present.
We recognise that science and scientific pursuits have been used in the past to disenfranchise many minority groups. We are committed to the promotion of science, now and in the future, as an endeavour which all persons have the right to pursue and enjoy the fruits of, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or lack thereof, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status.
Diversity has strengthened and enriched scientific inquiry, and the inclusion of all peoples and the promotion of equal opportunity and training within science should be a goal pursued by scientists and non-scientists alike.

Press link for more: March for Science Australia

Scientists March For Truth. #auspol 

Scientists to take to the streets in global march for truth.

By Mark Lynas
March for Science on 22 April will see scientists and supporters at more than 500 locations stand up for evidence-based thinking.


Scientists and science supporters will take to the streets in a global March for Science on 22 April . 

What began as a small Facebook group in the US capital, Washington DC has spiralled into a global phenomenon that will now see marches and other events in more than 500 locations around the world, from Seattle to Seoul.
It is great news that so many people are prepared to stand up and defend the need for evidence-based thinking and the scientific method. 

But it is also a sad comment on our times that a March for Science is needed at all. 


Post-truth populism has infected democracies around the world, scientific objectivity is under threat from multiple sources and there seems a real danger of falling into a modern dystopian dark age.
It is clear that the old days of scientists staying in the lab, publishing papers in scholarly journals, and otherwise letting the facts speak for themselves are over. 

As the Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes reminds us: “The facts don’t speak for themselves because we live in a world where so many people are trying to silence facts.” 

In her book, Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes wrote about these efforts from the tobacco industry onwards; science denialist attempts that are paralleled in today’s climate sceptic, anti-vaccine and anti-GMO movements.


These campaigners against truth take great pains to deny the existence of scientific consensus on their different issues. 

The fact that 97% of the peer-reviewed literature on climate change supports the consensus that most of global warming is human-induced is dismissed as mere elitism. 

But as Dr Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance for Science at Cornell, writes: “The values we defend are those of the Enlightenment, not the establishment.” 

Expertise is real, and we reject it at our peril.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the March for Science, and what may prove to be its most enduring legacy, is its truly global nature. 

Science is not western; it is everywhere and for everyone. 

I have worked with Alliance for Science colleagues to help get marches off the ground in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Uganda, Venezuela, Chile and other places.

 In between long Skype calls about logistics, fundraising, and media outreach I watched the lights flash on as the number of marches on the global map kept on increasing. 

It was like watching the world light up with knowledge.
Bangladesh March for Science’s lead organiser Arif Hossain says: “I am marching to let the world know that we are united for science in Bangladesh. 

We have 160 million people to feed in the changed climate, and together we will make a better day with science and innovation.”
Although the issues of most concern vary in different locations, appreciation of the need for science is global. As Nkechi Isaac, an organiser of the March for Science in Abuja, Nigeria, says: “Science is revolutionary.

 It holds the key to constant development and improvement for addressing climate change, food shortage and challenges in medicine. Science holds the solution to our food security.”
Nigerians can testify to the tragic effects of anti-science activism. Efforts to eradicate polio in the country were held up for years because of conspiracy theories spread by those suspicious of modern medicine and vaccines. People die when science is denied.
So here’s what we will be marching for.

 It’s time to enter the post-post-truth era. 

And there is no time to lose.

• Mark Lynas is a science and environment writer and a visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science at Cornell University.

Press link for more: The Guardian

The Solution Is Global Equality #auspol 

The Solution To Extremism Is Global Equality

By Stephan Said
The solution to extremism surrounding us today is global equality. 

To stop the religious, ethnic, and political extremism killing people from Colorado Springs, to Baghdad, San Bernardino and Bamako — to stop the environmental extremism that is burning up our planet — we must stop global inequality, imperialism and greed.
The entire human race is faced with a great ideological dilemma. 

We cannot separate ISIL, planned-parenthood shooters, or global warming. From extreme violence to extreme weather, extremism is rising like the oceans around us because the moral bankruptcy of our troubled world is pushing people and our planet to extremes — suicide bombings and natural disasters.
What we are witnessing is the failure of all existing ideologies and socio-economic systems on earth to have created a sustainable society in which we live in peace. 

We are all responsible for this failure. 

We have destroyed the cradle of civilization, killed millions and created the biggest refugee crisis in generations, for the control of the oil that is making the ice caps melt. 

Anyone who is angry is justified.
However mistaken violent extremism is as a response, it is offering would-be recruits a way to do something to change this unjust world not tomorrow, but today. 

If we want to win this war, we can only do so by lifting a higher, universal ideology by which humankind can live in peace with each other and with nature.
This ideological war is as old as human civilization, and so is the answer. 

No civilization is sustainable unless all of its members are treated as equals, and unless that civilization lives in harmony with nature.

Writers such as Arundhati Roy, Thomas Piketty, Nicolas Henin and Naomi Klein have drawn these connections in recent articles. But, the fact is, humankind has known the deal for thousands of years. We don’t have time to waste restating the obvious. It is urgent. The human race is facing its long-anticipated day of reckoning with its own failure to create a just world.
We have to pick up the torch where Martin Luther King, Jr. left it. 

The cause of global warming and of rising violence between us on earth is due to social and economic inequality. The answer is to organize a mass, global non-violent movement for equality.
We must get beyond the institutional language of a “more equitable world.” Equality is a universal way of being that must become a new socio-economic order that commits to and promises the idea that all people everywhere live equally with each other and nature.
We must demand a united global society across borders. 

We must demand every human being is cared for, fed, housed, educated, given equal voice and dignity, everywhere. We must demand a world in which humankind restores everything we take from nature. 

We must demand that we leave our world better than we found it, not selfishly for our children, but out of deference to the laws of nature itself.


First and foremost we must demand this of ourselves, as it will take unbelievable tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness to do so. 

Then, we must demand this of our governments, religions, political parties, and economic forces, and we must be willing to go into the streets non-violently demanding this global shift.
When we accept that we are all equals with each other and nature, we will not be able to be manipulated and separated from each other by false notions such as ethnicity, religiosity, nationality, or superiority of any kind. This is the only way to peace.
Peace is not impossible. 

I know, because I am the impossible.

 My aunt and cousins from Mosul, Iraq are now refugees because ISIL occupied their next-door neighbors’ house. 

The U.S. sent fighter jets and bombed it to the ground. They had to abandon everything and are somewhere across the border in Turkey.
My father’s Iraqi, Muslim family are refugees for the same reason that my mother’s Austrian, part-Catholic part-Jewish family were refugees and imprisoned or died in Dachau, Mauthausen and Auschwitz.

 Including my cousins’ children today, 6 consecutive generations of my family have been refugees as Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, because of inequality.
With all sides of the prevailing conflict consuming our world today within me, I’ve spent my life studying the single cause of war and hatred simply to be at peace with and construct my own identity. Inequality is the single cause of the chaos enveloping our world.
The majority of us on earth, in every country, in every religion, of every ethnicity knows what we have to do. 

Many people, parents, teachers, governments, and organizations are already working on the systemic shift necessary for the survival of humankind and our planet.

 I have given my entire career and written countless songs to build such a movement. But now, we must come together and turn our demand into action.
We are faced with the task of creating a new global socio-economic model sufficient to create sustainable peace on earth. A mass non-violent movement demanding that all people live equally with each other, loving each other, caring for our planet, is the only solution. 

We have to start today.
Press link for more: Huffington Post

Why We need Nikola Tesla to fight Climate Change #auspol #qldpol #science

By John F. Wasik

Nikola Tesla, the genius inventor of alternating current, radio and robotics, still provides uplifting guidance in this time of automation, climate change, globalization and political division.
Tesla died in 1943 at the age of 86, but his time has come again — particularly in light of the Trump administration’s decision earlier this week to roll back the progressive environmental policies that former President Barack Obama championed.
Adopting Tesla’s vision involves a new way of thinking about our relationship to the planet. Although great environmentalists like Teddy Roosevelt, John Burroughs and John Muir were articulating this new role during Tesla’s lifetime, world leaders today will also need to embrace Pope Francis’s radical “integral ecology.”

That means adopting a holistic approach to energy — intensive activities and tossing self-centered, widely held attitudes that takes man out of the center of his Ptolemaic universe.

Pope Francis, in his Laudato Si encyclical, doesn’t dispute the science behind climate change. The planet is getting hotter and man-made activities have some part in it. Last year was the hottest 12 months on record.
We need to get over ourselves and do something about the situation.
By “greening” all of the major systems of civilization — energy, transportation, manufacturing, building and consumer consumption — we can implement national networks of renewable energy and production.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order that begins the process of reversing climate change policies put in place by President Barack Obama, including his predecessor’s Clean Power Plan. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday has the details. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Tesla was a firm believer in green energy. He supported hydro, geothermal and solar power more than 100 years ago. His vision for wireless power is still a major engineering challenge. Yet what if we produced clean energy from 24/7 sunlight in space and beamed it down to our planet? Many engineers are working on this problem across the world.
Although Tesla’s alternating current systems power most of the world’s electrical grid, he saw the dangers of burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. It’s still a massive problem contributing to global warming.
Since the earth is a closed-loop system, integral ecology recognizes the fact that we can’t keep extracting resources forever. A growing world population will demand more and more of the planet to sustain us.
As physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra writes:
“At the very heart of our global crisis lies the illusion that unlimited growth is possible on a finite planet…In this economic system, the irrational belief in perpetual growth is carried on relentlessly by promoting excessive consumption and a throwaway economy that is energy and resource intensive, generating waste and pollution, and depleting the Earth’s natural resources.”
How can we provide enough fertilizer and arable land to growing countries? How do we conserve water where it’s most needed? How do we switch over from burning fossil fuels in every country to a renewable portfolio of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydrogen systems? How do we replace SUVs and McMansions with highly efficient, healthy homes?
All of these ideas have been on the table for decades, although progress has been made most notably in Northern Europe, which is working toward ambitious goals to free itself from fossil fuels and create a renewable energy grid.
The biggest obstacle to change has been our human-centered entitlement to global resources, which should be transformed to a responsible sharing of the commons, not an increasingly privatized resource. The earth can be managed more like a public library, not a buffet.
Ultimately, the almost immutable human mantra “it’s all about me” needs to be swapped with a shared prosperity and purpose “made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness,” the Pope notes.
Focus on quality of life over quantity of goods.

The most radical concept of all to be considered by world leaders? How to replace the damaging, universal dogma of economic growth with what the Pope calls “authentic humanity.”
That means more efficient and hospitable cities that embrace the poor, smaller/local commerce, better public transportation, respect for all species, and a new focus on quality of life over quantity of goods.

In crafting a truly integral approach that treats ecology, economics and ethics as points on an equilateral triangle, we’ll not only be addressing climate change, but safeguarding our deeper spiritual journey on this bountiful planet. Since Tesla was fervent advocate of world peace, he would’ve endorsed this worldview.
But to achieve this mission, we need to adhere to some of Tesla’s principles. We must visualize, conceptualize, and create solutions, then aggressively collaborate to make them blossom. Ecology is about relationships, but nothing can happen without consensus and cooperation.
John F. Wasik is a journalist, speaker, and the author of 17 books. 

This column is adapted from Lightning Strikes; Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla (Sterling, 2016)

Press link for more: Market Watch

The Slow Confiscation of Everything #auspol 

The Slow Confiscation of Everything

By Laurie Penny 


A protest against EPA head Scott Pruitt. / Lorie Shaull
These days, the words of the prophets are written in whimsical chalk on the hoardings of hipster latte-mongers: “The end is nigh. Coffee helps.”

 In the days running up to the inauguration of Donald Trump, I saw this sort of message everywhere, and as panic-signals go, it’s oddly palliative. 

The idea that the Western world might soon be a smoking crater or a stinking swamp does, in fact, make me a little more relaxed about the prospect of spending five dollars on a hot drink.  
Fuck it. 

The planet, as we keep telling each other, is on fire. 

Might as well have a nice latte while we wait for the flames to slobber up our ankles. 

When you consider that some desperate barista boiled the entire philosophy of post-Fordist public relations down to its acrid essence, it would be ungrateful not to. 

What have you got to lose? 

Five dollars and your pride, in the short term, but what will those be worth next year? 

Next week? 

Have you looked at the Dow Jones lately? 

Have you turned on the news? 

On second thoughts, best not—just drink your coffee and calm down. 

Look, they’ve drawn a little mushroom cloud in the milk foam. 

It’s quite beautiful, when you think about it. 
The topic of apocalypse comes up a lot these days. 

It’s slipped into conversation as compulsively as you might mention any other potentially distressing disruption to your life plans, such as a family member’s illness, or a tax audit. 

And yet the substance of the conversation has shifted in recent weeks and months from an atmosphere of chronic to acute crisis. 

The end seems to be slightly more nigh than it was last year; we talk about the Trumpocalypse with less and less irony as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the Doomsday clock half a minute closer to midnight. 
Of all the despicable things the runaway ghost train of the Trump administration has done in its first ferocious weeks, the attempt to utterly destroy every instrument of environmental protection is perhaps the most permanent.

 The appointment of fossil fuel tycoons and fanatical climate change deniers to key positions in energy and foreign policy, the immediate reinstitution of the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, the promise to pull out of the Paris Climate Pact—all moves crafted to please the oil magnates who helped put him in power—these are changes that will hasten the tick of the time bomb under civilization as we know it. 

Racist laws can eventually be overthrown, and even a cultural backslide toward bigotry and nationalism can be slowly, painfully reversed. 

We don’t get a do-over on climate change. 

The vested interests agitating to strip the planet for parts know that, too—and they plan to profit from this particular apocalypse as hard as they can.
They’re not the only ones eagerly anticipating the end times. 

Apocalyptic thinking has a long and febrile history in Western thought, and it is usually associated with moments of profound cultural change, when people found it all but impossible to envision a future they might live inside. 

The notion of armageddon as something to look forward to crops up time and again at moments of profound social unrest. 

Today, that includes legions of lonely alt-righters celebrating the advent of a new post-democratic, post-civilizational age where men will be real men again, and women will be really grateful. 


This “dark enlightenment” rumbles alongside a massive revival in millenarian end-times fanaticism among the Evangelical Christians who overwhelmingly voted for a man some of them believe is the literal antichrist who will hasten the final return of Jesus and his arse-kicking angels to sweep the righteous to their reward. 

There are many millions of people, especially in the United States, who seem to want an apocalypse—a word whose literal meaning is a great “unveiling,” a moment of calamity in which the murkiest and basest of human terrors will be mercifully swept aside. 

That gentle armageddon, however, looks unlikely to be delivered. 

Frightened, angry human beings have always fantasized about the end of the world—and institutions of power have always profited from that fantasy. 

In fact, as David Graeber notes in Debt: The First 5,000 Years, the ideal psychological culture for the current form of calamity capitalism is an apprehension of coming collapse mated bluntly with the possibility of individual escape. 

An economy driven by debt and fueled by looting and burning the resources that have sustained the species for generations would feel far more monstrous if it weren’t for the lingering suspicion that it might all be in flames tomorrow anyway.

 The world is on fire. 

Might as well build that pipeline. 

Might as well have that coffee.

But what world is on fire? 

The late comedian George Carlin had it right when he reminded us that

 “The planet is fine. The people are fucked.” 

The Earth is resilient, and will stagger on in some form until it is swallowed by the sun some four billion years from now—the world that we envision ending is Western civilization as we have come to understand it, a mere eyeblink in the long species churn of planetary history. 

Apocalyptic thinking has been a consistent refrain as the human species struggles to evolve beyond its worst impulses, but the precise form of the anticipated collapse always changes. 

Those changes are important. 

The catastrophes we are anticipating today are not the catastrophes of thirty years ago, and that distinction matters a great deal.
Climate change is this generation’s calamity, and it is similar to the nuclear threat that nurtured the baby boomers in that it promises a different sort of death from the petty disasters of war, famine, and pestilence—it promises near-total species collapse. 

The past swept away along with the future. 

The deletion of collective memory. 

This is an existential threat more profound than anything humanity has had to reckon with before except in the throes of ecstatic religious millenarianism.

 Rapture, in the Abrahamic understanding, traditionally meant immortality for the species.

 We are the first to really have to wrestle with ultimate species death, extinction in memory as well as being.

 Of course we are afraid. 

We were afraid of the Bomb. 

We’re afraid now, even though many people’s understanding of climate change hasn’t moved past the denial stage.

 It is there, however, that the similarities between the two types of apocalypse end.
Climate change is a different prospect of calamity—not just elementally but morally different from nuclear exchange in a manner which has not been properly dealt with. 

The first difference is that it’s definitely happening. 

The second is that it’s not happening to everyone. 
There will be no definite moment can say that yes, today we are fucked, and yesterday we were unfucked.

For anyone who grew up in the Cold War, the apocalypse was a simple yes-no question: either it was coming, or it wasn’t. 

Many people I know who grew up before the end of the nuclear arms race describe this as oddly freeing: there was the sense that since the future might explode at any point, it was not worth the effort of planning. 

Climate change is species collapse by a thousand cuts. 

There will be no definite moment we can say that yes, today we are fucked, and yesterday we were unfucked. 

Instead the fuckery increases incrementally year on year, until this is the way the world ends: not with a bang, not with a bonfire, but with the slow and savage confiscation of every little thing that made you human, starting with hope.


“In the U.S. we have a very strong sense of apocalypse that comes from puritanism, and it fed nicely into fears about the Bomb,” says Annalee Newitz, author of Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive A Mass Extinction.

 “Both kinds of apocalypse are instantaneous and there’s not much you can do about them. 

But climate change is slow and strange, sometimes imperceptible in a human lifetime. 

There are no pyrotechnics. 

Plus, we actually have a chance to intervene and prevent the worst effects of it. 

I think that’s a tough sell for people who grew up with a Bomb paradigm of apocalypse, where there’s either fiery atomic death or you’re fine. 

It’s hard to explain to people that there are probabilities and gradations of apocalypse when it comes to the environment, and there are hundreds of ways to mitigate it, from curbing emissions to preserving natural habitats and changing our agricultural practices. 

In a weird way, I think people are just now getting used to the slow apocalypse, and still don’t know how to deal with it.”
This was the unegalitarian apocalypse millennials inherited. 

If we are to define generations by their political impressions, one thing that everyone who grew up with no memory of the Cold War shares is a specific set of superstitions. 

 One of them was the consensus that neoliberalism had produced the “End of History.” 

For those of us who had not read Francis Fukuyama by the age of five, this came across as a general sense that there was no better society to hope for, no way of living on the horizon that would improve on the one we had been raised to—the nineties and the early aughts were as good as it was going to get.

 From here on in, unless we recycled and remembered to turn off the taps like the singing Saturday afternoon TV puppets urged us to, it would be slow collapse. 

Our parents, relieved of the immediate threat of atomic incineration, seemed oddly calm about that prospect.
Not half as calm, however, as our elected and unelected leaders.

 Because that’s the inconvenient truth, the other inconvenience about the world ending this way: it’s not ending for everyone.
This month, in a fascinating article for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos interviewed several multi-millionaires who are stockpiling weapons and building private bunkers in anticipation of what preppers glibly call “SHTF”—the moment when “Shit Hits The Fan.” 

Osnos observes that the reaction of Silicon Valley Svengalis, for example, is in stark contrast to previous generations of the super-rich, who saw it as a moral duty to give back to their community in order to stave off ignorance, want and social decline. 

Family names like Carnegie and Rockefeller are still associated with philanthropy in the arts and sciences. 

These people weren’t just giving out of the goodness of their hearts, but out of the sense that they too were stakeholders in the immediate future.
Cold War leaders came to the same conclusions in spite of themselves.

 The thing about Mutually Assured Destruction is that it is, well, mutual—like aid, or understanding, or masturbation.

 The idea is that the world explodes, or doesn’t, for everyone. 

How would the Cuban Missile Crisis have gone down, though, if the negotiating parties had known, with reasonable certainty, that they and their families would be out of reach of the fallout? 
How would the Cuban Missile Crisis have gone down if the negotiating parties had known that they and their families would be out of reach of the fallout?

Today’s apocalypse will be unevenly distributed.

 It’s not the righteous who will be saved, but the rich—at least for a while.

 The irony is that the tradition of apocalyptic thinking—religious, revolutionary or both—has often involved the fantasy of the destruction of class and caste. 

For many millenarian thinkers—including the puritans in whose pinched shoes the United States is still sneaking about—the rapture to come would be a moment of revelation, where all human sin would be swept away. 

Money would no longer matter. 

Poor and privileged alike would be judged on the riches of their souls. 

That fantasy is extrapolated in almost every modern disaster movie—the intrepid survivors are permitted to negotiate a new-made world in which all that matters is their grit, their courage, and their moral fiber. 
A great many modern political currents, especially the new right and the alt-right, are swept along by the fantasy of a great civilizational collapse which will wash away whichever injustice most bothers you, whether that be unfettered corporate influence, women getting above themselves, or both—any and every humiliation heaped on the otherwise empty tables of men who had expected more from their lives, economic humiliations that are served up and spat back out as racism, sexism, and bigotry. 

For these men, the end of the world sounds like a pretty good deal. 

More and more, it is only by imagining the end of the world that we can imagine the end of capitalism in its current form. This remains true even when it is patently obvious that civilizational collapse might only be survivable by the elite.
When it was announced that the Doomsday Clock had moved closer to midnight, I panicked for an entire day before realizing that, like a great many people, I didn’t know what the Doomsday Clock actually was.

 In case you were wondering, it’s not actually a real clock. 

It’s a visual representation of certain scientists’ estimation of how close human society is to catastrophe, published on the front cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947—a genius exercise in metonymy and public relations conceived in an age when the problem was not that people were panicking about the end of the world, but that they weren’t panicking enough. 

There is no sympathetic magic at play: if a drunk sub-editor got into the layout program and moved the portentous second hand all the way to Zero Hour on a whim, no rockets would fire of their own accord. 

This apocalypse is still within our power to prevent—and that starts with abandoning the apocalyptic mindset.
It is hard to outline the contours of a future you have never been allowed to imagine—one that is both different from today but accessible from it, too. 

The best we have been permitted to hope for is that the status quo be scraped to the edges of the present for as long as it lasts—a vote to run the knife around the empty jar of neoliberal aspiration and hope there’s enough to cover our asses.

 If people cannot imagine a future for themselves, all they can measure is what they’ve lost. 

Those who believe in the future are left, as they always were, with the responsibility of creating it, and that begins with an act of faith—not just that the future will be survivable, but that it might, somehow, maybe, be an exciting place to live. 
“Every ruthless criticism of current politics should be tied in some way to an example of how we could do things better,” said Newitz. “I realize that’s a tall order, especially when positive visions often feel like wishful thinking rather than direct action. Nevertheless we need to know what we are fighting for to retain our sense of hope. We need maps of where we are going, not just fire to burn it all down.”

Press link for more: The Baffler.com

A mother demands #ClimateAction #auspol 

On the heels of three consecutive years of record-breaking warmth, we recognize that global climate change is undeniable.

 This is why all the nations of the world came to agreement in Paris to keep the world well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline.

As a mother and retired teacher, I have grave concern for the challenges my adult children and my young students will face because of climate change. 

And, of course, those challenges will increase with each generation unless a major course correction is taken.


Science tells us that we’re changing the planet’s climate by burning fossil fuels, that we’re headed toward a dangerous tipping point in the next two decades if we don’t radically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

 This tipping point is expected to set up positive feedback effects such as the melting of Arctic Sea ice, which in turn increases the amount of heat absorbed by the Earth. 

Warming causing more warming.

 Of course, we’ve already seen the effects of that warming — droughts, worsening storms, flooding, wildfires and freak weather events — all of which will quickly intensify as global temperatures rise.

We have but one course of action. 

We must leave most of the coal, oil and gas on the planet in the ground and unburned, and transition rapidly to a renewable-energy economy.

While responsibility for this transition rests squarely on the shoulders of all of us, “We the People” cannot bear these burdens alone while the coal, oil and gas industries continue to reap huge profits, and government continues to ignore its responsibility to the mandates of science and the consequences of climate change. 

Politicians at every level of government must be held accountable for their action and inaction.


To our county representatives: Investment in renewable energy infrastructure, local entrepreneurship and both traditional and innovative agriculture that will keep jobs and our young people in this county. 

Fossil fuel infrastructure will only devalue our most precious assets — clean air, water and land — while providing few long-term jobs.

To Gov. Cuomo: A state that rightfully banned fracking should not have increased its use of fracked gas 18 percent between 2005 and 2014, nor increased its gas customers by half a million in the same time period, by granting permits for ongoing gas infrastructure projects. We know that all these projects leak methane, the main component of fracked gas, at every stage, and that methane is 100 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the critical 20-year timeframe before us.


To our federal government: Trump’s cabinet picks — Tillerson for secretary of State, Pruitt for EPA, Perry for Energy and Zinke for Interior — all have ties to the carbon lobby and either deny global warming, doubt human activity as its cause, or downplay its importance. We have our work cut out for us in pressuring law makers to rein in these friends of oil and gas.
An alternative theory about the motives of these climate-change skeptics was posited by Alex Steffen in a recent article, “Trump, Putin, and the Pipelines to Nowhere.” These skeptics may, in fact, be surreptitious climate change believers with a big agenda. 

While the extreme measures needed to extract fossil fuels today make them both uneconomic as well as catastrophic to climate, the Trump team may be determined to delay climate action and to keep the carbon bubble from bursting by propping up the extraction industries long enough for them to reap the last benefits of high valuation and large dividends from their substantial investments. 

They want shareholders buying into the perception of future oil and gas profits, even though they are fully aware of the magnitude of the damage ahead, to the economy and to the climate. 

The end game for them is short-term, but it’s disastrous for the planet, and we must call them out on it. Steffen writes, “The most serious political fight on the planet — the need to end use of coal, oil and gas — is at the center of America’s current political crisis.”

We will have to redefine prosperity and growth with new meanings and a return to some old ones. 

We will need to grow community, grow alliances, grow food, grow networks, grow resilience, grow support and grow local enterprise. 

The innovations needed to transition to a renewable energy economy with new industries and millions of jobs are already here. 

We just have to commit to the tough but necessary work of making this transition in our communities and to holding our representatives’ feet to the fire of our warming planet by demanding climate action and a jobs economy based on renewable energy.
Joan Tubridy, of Meredith, is a mother, retired teacher and former farmer.

Press link for more: The Daily Star

Lasting Effects of Pope Francis’ #ClimateChange Edict #auspol 

The Lasting Effects of Pope Francis’ Climate Change Edict
New research finds thinking about the pontiff changes the way we frame the issue.
By Tom Jacobs

(Photo: Gregorio Borgia/AFP/Getty Images)

Last fall, a study reported that Pope Francis’ much-discussed encyclical on climate change largely fell on deaf ears. Researchers from Texas Tech University found the appeal “failed to rally any broad support on climate change” among Americans, whether or not they were Catholic.
But newly published research suggests the pontiff’s call for taking care of the Earth has had a more subtle impact on American public opinion. It finds brief exposure to a photograph of the pope “increased perceptions of climate change as a moral issue.”


What’s more, this shift in how the issue is perceived was particularly strong among Republicans — a group that has traditionally been resistant to acknowledging the fact that humans are affecting the Earth’s climate in dangerous ways.
“The pope’s message may transcend political boundaries and fundamentally reshape how the issue is conceptualized among the public,” a research team led by Jonathon Schuldt of Cornell University writes in the journal Climatic Change.
The pontiff’s call for taking care of the Earth has had a more subtle impact on American public opinion.

The study utilized an online survey that featured 1,212 American adults. It was conducted in May of 2016—11 months after publication of the encyclical, and seven months after his visit to the United States.
Half the participants were shown a photo of Pope Francis and asked how familiar they were with his views on climate change. All were then asked three climate-change-related questions:
“Do you consider climate change to be a moral or ethical issue?”

“Do you feel personally responsible to contributing to the causes of climate change?”

“Do you feel personally responsible for helping to reduce climate change?”

For each, they answered “Yes, definitely,” “Yes, somewhat,” or “No.”
Among those who had briefly thought about the pope, 51 percent said they viewed climate change as a moral issue. For those who had not, that figure was 46 percent.

This gap was particularly large among Republicans. Thirty-nine percent of those who were exposed to the pope’s image said they considered it a moral issue, compared to 30 percent among those who were not. That’s a potentially important shift, as pondering about the ethical consequences of environmental destruction may shift behavior more effectively than thinking in utilitarian terms.
Similarly, the percentage of people who felt personally responsible for contributing to climate change increased from 48 to 52 if they had seen the photo of the pope. On this issue, it was Democrats who made the difference: Sixty-four percent of those who were exposed to the pontiff expressed responsibility, compared to 56 percent who were not.
Thinking about the pope did not increase the percentage of Republicans who felt personal responsibility for climate change, which stayed steady at 36 percent.
Nevertheless, the results suggest a reminder of the pope’s views can change the ways members of both parties think about the issue. Given the dangers of inertia, that has to be a positive sign.

Press link for more: psmag.com

George Monbiot: The Pollution Paradox #auspol

The Pollution Paradox
Dirty industries spend more on politics, keeping us in the fossil age.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 19th January 2017
Make America Wait Again. That’s what Donald Trump’s energy policy amounts to. Stop all the clocks, put the technological revolution on hold, ensure that the transition from fossil fuels to clean power is delayed for as long as possible.

Trump is the president corporate Luddites have dreamt of; the man who will let them squeeze every last cent from their oil and coal reserves before they become worthless. They need him because science, technology and people’s demands for a safe and stable world have left them stranded. There is no fair fight that they can win, so their last hope lies with a government that will rig the competition.
To this end, Trump has appointed to his cabinet some of those responsible for a universal crime: inflicted not on particular nations or groups, but on everyone.


Recent research suggests that – if drastic action of the kind envisaged by the Paris agreement on climate change is not taken – ice loss in Antarctica alone could raise sea levels by a metre this century, and by 15 metres in subsequent centuries. Combine this with the melting in Greenland and the thermal expansion of seawater, and you discover that many of the world’s great cities are at existential risk.

The climatic disruption of crucial agricultural zones – in North and Central America, the Middle East, Africa and much of Asia – presents a security threat that could dwarf all others. The civil war in Syria, unless resolute policies are adopted, looks like a glimpse of a possible global future.
These are not, if the risks materialise, shifts to which we can adapt. These crises will be bigger than our capacity to respond to them. They could lead to the rapid and radical simplification of society, which means, to put it brutally, the end of civilisations and many of the people they support. If this happens, it will amount to the greatest crime ever committed. And members of Trump’s proposed cabinet are among the leading perpetrators.

In their careers so far, they have championed the fossil fuel industry while contesting the measures intended to prevent climate breakdown. They appear to have considered the need of a few exceedingly rich people to protect their foolish investments for a few more years, weighed it against the benign climatic conditions that have allowed humanity to flourish, and decided that the foolish investments are more important.
By appointing Rex Tillerson, chief executive of the oil company ExxonMobil, as secretary of state, Trump not only assures the fossil economy that it sits next to his heart; he also provides comfort to another supporter: Vladimir Putin. It was Tillerson who brokered the $500 billion deal between Exxon and the state-owned Russian company Rosneft to exploit oil reserves in the Arctic. As a result he was presented with the Russian Order of Friendship by Mr Putin.
The deal was stopped under the sanctions the US imposed when Russia invaded Ukraine. The probability of these sanctions in their current form surviving a Trump government is, to the nearest decimal place, a snowball’s chance in hell. If Russia did interfere in the US election, it will be handsomely rewarded when the deal goes ahead.
Trump’s nominations for energy secretary and interior secretary are both climate change deniers, who – quite coincidentally – have a long history of sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry. His proposed attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, allegedly failed to disclose in his declaration of interests that he leases land to an oil company.
The man nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has spent much of his working life campaigning against … the Environmental Protection Agency. As the attorney general in Oklahoma, he launched 14 lawsuits against the EPA, seeking, among other aims, to strike down its Clean Power Plan, its limits on the mercury and other heavy metals released by coal plants and its protection of drinking water supplies and wildlife. Thirteen of these suits were said to include as co-parties companies that had contributed to his campaign funds or to political campaign committees affiliated to him.
Trump’s appointments reflect what I call the Pollution Paradox. The more polluting a company is, the more money it must spend on politics to ensure it is not regulated out of existence. Campaign finance therefore comes to be dominated by dirty companies, ensuring that they wield the greatest influence, crowding out their cleaner rivals. Trump’s cabinet is stuffed with people who owe their political careers to filth.
It was once possible to argue, rightly or wrongly, that the human benefits of developing fossil fuel reserves might outweigh the harm. But a combination of more refined climate science, that now presents the risks in stark terms, and the plummeting costs of clean technologies renders this argument as obsolete as a coal-fired power station.

As the US burrows into the past, China is investing massively in renewable energy, electric cars and new battery technologies. The Chinese government claims that this new industrial revolution will generate 13 million jobs. This, by contrast to Trump’s promise to create millions of jobs through reanimating coal, at least has a chance of materialising. It’s not just that returning to an old technology when better ones are available is difficult; it’s also that coal mining has been automated to the extent that it now supports few jobs. Trump’s attempt to revive the fossil era will serve no one but the coal barons.
Understandably, commentators have been seeking glimpses of light in Trump’s position. But there are none. He couldn’t have made it clearer, through his public statements, the Republican platform and his appointments, that he intends to the greatest extent possible to shut down funding for both climate science and clean energy, rip up the Paris agreement, sustain fossil fuel subsidies and annul the laws that protect people and the rest of the living world from the impacts of dirty energy.
His candidacy was represented as an insurgency, challenging established power. But his position on climate change reveals what should have been obvious from the beginning: he and his team represent the incumbents, fighting off insurgent technologies and political challenges to moribund business models. They will hold back the tide of change for as long as they can. And then the barrier will burst. 

Press link for more: Monbiot.com
www. monbiot.com