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Royal Wedding brings audacity, conviction, compassion and relevance to the Crown #auspol #StopAdani #Qldpol

The Royal Wedding: Suits actress brings audacity, conviction, compassion and relevance to the Crown

By C.C. Ford May 21, 2018

When Bishop Michael Curry, the African American head of the American Episcopal Church, went off script at the wedding of Meghan and Harry and launched into a riveting and chaotic monologue about love, he turned a Royal Wedding into the greatest theatrical moment on live TV so far this century.

All those lefty republicans who studiously avoided the television on Saturday night in outrage at the cost, or what it might infer about their politics or progressiveness, missed a stupendous live-action entertainment that rivalled a great sporting finale or interplanetary rocket launch, but with the additional gravitas of profound cultural change.

Initial shock gradually segued into the thrill of being at the mercy of the moment, relevant protocols and schedules hijacked and made irrelevant.

Royalty, with its precise protocol, has always been done best by the Brits. The horses, the carriages, the military, the extraordinary ecclesiastical architecture and music, the choirs and command of the spoken word, the stately vocal rhythms of the English tongue refusing to embellish the exquisite language of literature or the Bible which need no embellishment. British Royal events have always mastered a perfect balance between extravagance and restraint, each advertising the magnificence of the other.

And then along came an African American preacher invoking Martin Luther King, his booming voice riding the rhythmic waves of evangelism and soul, filling the parapets of St Georges Chapel in Windsor with a vocabulary that included fire, slavery and Instagram, and a slow-combustion momentum that harnessed a rousing and charismatic repetition:

“Someone once said that Jesus began most revolutionary movement in all of human history, a movement grounded in the unconditional love of god for the world. And a movement mandating people to live that love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I’m talking about some power, real power, power to change the world.”

It was mind-blowing, extraordinary and moving. From a stage-managerial point of view, it was hard to know if the rave was a response to stage-fright or opportunism. Initial shock gradually segued into the thrill of being at the mercy of the moment, relevant protocols and schedules hijacked and made irrelevant, and then into hilarity as the pompous Royals (and sour, ageing court-jester Elton John) tittered, rolled their eyes or sat with expressions of stunned disbelief.

The Bishop was either not concerned by the chill, or was understandably so high on his own vibe that he did not feel it. And his stoicism in the face of his audience – almost entirely dressed in hideous confections of synthetic peach or violet– turned the address into a conquest.

Ms Markle elegantly exploited the architecture of love to make her mark rather than the traditional enraged weapons of ideological change.

He was not giving up, backing off or shying away from the moment, or his role in defining it. His mesmeric use of the word love – “the energy of love”, “the mighty hands of love”, “the dynamic power of love”, came to persuade us that Hallelejuh! – love is indeed “the only way” and this young couple, despite being saddled by love’s nemeses –privilege and celebrity – were indeed its exemplars.

There sat Harry, the red-headed misfit, the little boy who lost his mother, the charmer, the scamp and his fabulous twinkly-eyed biracial lover, a feisty beauty who clearly insisted on making the ceremony (and presumably the marriage) a genuine merging of two souls and their collective cultural history. A gospel choir sang an exquisite Stand By Me and brilliant black musicians shared the soaring acoustical heights of the church.

This was a one-time heretical hit parade finding a thoroughly modern benediction: American, divorced, Black, fearless and non-traditional embraced within the cocoon of British nobility. In having her own heritage so clearly embedded in the service, Ms Markle was elegantly exploiting the architecture of love to make her mark rather than the traditional enraged weapons of ideological change. The self-declared feminist was wearing her white gown and borrowed tiara, curtseying to the monarch, while all around her centuries of racism, tradition and anachronism trembled. How modern and how joyful.

Curry’s flouting of technical etiquette was the moment that history will note as the unlikely rescue of the Windsors from death by irrelevance.

The Queen, unlike the lesser Royals, did not reveal any scepticism with regards Curry’s oration. She is too well-mannered and too wise, wise enough to understand that women like Markle are the future of the survival of the Royals. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Queen understood very well that the silly tag-alongs like Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Phillips are the irrelevant, pedestrian gate-crashers who somehow lucked out despite no discernible purpose, while the biracial Suits actress and one-time game-show hostess was bringing audacity, conviction, compassion and relevance to the crown.

Curry’s flouting of technical etiquette – his lack of concern regarding time allowances, or mimicking the controlled cadences of the British clergy – were cause enough for surprise and perhaps displeasure (we can only speculate). But the intemperate lyrical poetry of his oration was, more than the kiss on the steps between a white British soldier and prince and a divorced Black American actress, the moment that history will note as the unlikely rescue of the Windsors from death by irrelevance.

Press link for more: Daily Review

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Solar shines in global shift to renewables. #StopAdani #auspol #Qldpol

Solar shines in global shift to renewables

By Tim Buckley on 22 May 2018

A 70 MW floating PV plant in construction in Anhui province, China

Solar energy is taking an increasingly prominent role in driving the ongoing transformation of global electricity generation markets alongside gains in storage, wind, hydroelectricity and energy efficiency.

IEEFA has today released a new report examining the global solar market and the ever-increasing scale of investment, the speed of implementation and the rapidly broadening range of applications that are becoming commercially viable e.g. concentrated solar power, floating solar, solar fish farms, commercial behind the meter applications, hybrid wind-solar-battery projects and in India, even solar-coal hybrid structures.

As readers of Renew Economy hear repeatedly, corporates, policy makers and regulators are all finding the speed of transformation hard to grasp, particularly in the crucial China and India markets, but the results of the past year are a good indicator of the trend.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports that 98 gigawatts (GW) of solar was installed globally in 2017, a 31% increase from the prior year.

Meanwhile – and just as important – BNEF estimates the levelized cost of solar dropped 15% year-on-year to US$86/MWh for capacity installed in 2017.

Leading the charge, China accounted for more than half the newly installed solar capacity, or some 53 GW, a figure that as recently as 2014 would have eclipsed the global total of solar installations.

While India’s current installation numbers aren’t as dramatic as China’s, the country is clearly embarking on a massive transformation of its electricity sector as well.

The country’s National Electricity Plan, released in March 2018, affirms national intentions to increase renewable energy capacity to 275 GW by 2027, with solar representing two-thirds of this total.

As renewables rise in India, thermal power capacity is forecast to decline to just 43% of the nation’s total in 2027, down from 66% today.

Major solar energy tenders are occurring every week in India (for May 2018 so far 1,000MW,500MW,750MW,200MWand 50MW) at prices now consistently 10-20% below the cost of existing domestic thermal power generation (and 50% below new imported coal fired power).

There is a remarkable buy-in across the country from the government through to the largest corporate incumbents like NTPC, Adani and Tata, each of whom are now amongst the largest and most aggressively ambitious investors in Indian renewables.

Only last week Tata Power committed to invest US$5bn to reach 12GW of renewables by 2028, such that more than half their capacity will be zero emissions sourced (up from zero in 2014 and 30% today).

Our report tracks the largest solar projects operational in the world, and the lead keeps changing. Adani commissioned the then world’s largest solar project at 648MW in Tamil Nadu in mid-2017, but it has slipped to the sixth position in less than a year – refer table.

By 2019 Rajasthan’s 2,225MW Bhadla industrial park is due for full commissioning; three times the size.

And Gujarat is now exploring a 5GW solar park ;double again.

Fourteen of the World’s Largest Operating Solar Projects

Source: Company & Press reports, IEEFA estimates

China and India are hardly alone on this front, as scores of other countries embrace solar.

Saudi Arabia, for one, announced in March 2018 a plan to build 200 GW of solar capacity by 2030, yet another marker in the transition under way across global energy markets. The uptake of solar is gathering momentum too in Europe and the Americas.

As highlighted in The Climate Council’s new report “Renewables & Business: Cutting Prices & Pollution”, the rise of Australian commercial and industrial solar (particularly rooftop) is really starting to boom.

With record high electricity prices crippling businesses, this is expected to keep accelerating, such that even the deliberately flawed NEG is unlikely to to slow this trend.

Not-withstanding this lack of a central policy to sensibly transition our electricity system, Australia remains a world leader in the uptake of solar.

This month cumulative solar installs passed through 7GW. Every week we are reading about new solar investments each of A$100-200m or more for regional Australia, with the speed of construction and uptake clearly evident.

Last week saw the partial commissioning of Australia’s largest to-date solar plant under construction, that being Enel of Italy’s 220MW Bungala solar farm in Port Augusta.

The same week we saw Lighthouse Solar’s 100MW Clare solar farm grid connected – the biggest to date in Queensland.

But the list of projects underway is changing so fast it is impossible to keep up with the latest largest so far solar development. The Queensland government is trying, with a useful reference map.

Solar Reserve’sAurora150MW CSP with 1,100MWh storage is a leading example of Australia’s global leadership in deploying new solar technologies, with this development’s price for peaking electricity setting a new global benchmark low.

And following the brilliant success of Tesla’s South Australian lithium ion battery development, Victoria is now replicating this with two more distributed utility scale battery projects by Tesla and Fluence, one linked to a solar project.

Having shown the way in Australia, Tesla has now commissioned a 18MW Belgium storage system for grid stabilisation, with a 30-40MW virtual peaking solar power plant to come.

And having installed the U.K.’s largest to-date unsubsidised solar with storage power plant(10MW solar, 6MW of storage), Anesco is looking to install 380MW of UK solar and storage by 2020.

Floating solar – another innovation with multiple advantages – is rapidly scaling up.

While Australia is still just trialing this, having commissioned a 100kWsystem in January 2018 at Lismore’s sewage treatment plant, China commissioned a 40MW project in 2017 and has two 150MW projects nearing completion in 2018.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra has announced requests for proposals for 1,000MW of floating solar, with India’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) having issued an expression of interest in support of a national target of 10GWof floating solar being released back in December 2017.

Looking at the combination of our coking and thermal coal plus liquid natural gas (LNG) positions, Australia is one of the three largest exporters of fossil fuels globally.

We have major industries at clear stranded asset risk and potentially terminal decline over the very long term. Even our 64% global share of seaborne coking coal is threatened longer term by the combination of technology innovation and carbon emissions policies.

But there-in lies the need to pursue opportunities in industries of the future. Renew Economy provided a glimpse of what could be possible in terms of Australia with CWP’s $20bn 6GW of wind and 3GW of solar Pilbara mega-project for renewable energy exports at world scale.

A vision that might take a couple of decades to come to full fruition, but in doing so it could transform world energy markets entirely.

More immediately, the West Australian budget is a beneficiary of our growing position as a world leader in lithium ion processing.

Technology innovation, deflation, ever-larger scale and the constant breaking of records are the clear lessons of solar led energy transformation now underway.

Australia should be pursing the opportunities for investment, jobs and export industries of the future as a top national priority.

Authors: Tim Buckley / Kashish Shah – IEEFA

Tim Buckley is IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies, Australasia.

Press link for more: Renew Economy

Only 1% of Japan’s biggest coral reef is healthy due to climate change #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Only ‘one per cent’ of Japan’s biggest coral reef is in a healthy condition due to climate change

Danielle Demetriou, Tokyo

The survival of Sekisei Lagoon – Japan’s largest coral reef – is in question  Credit: Alamy/NASA

It has long been famed as a subtropical paradise, with more than 400 different types of coral living beneath crystal clear waters in a far-flung corner of southern Japan.

Today, however, the future of Sekisei Lagoon – Japan’s largest coral reef – is in question after a new government report found that only one per cent of its coral is in a healthy condition due to global warming.

The decline of Sekisei Lagoon, which stretches over an expanse of more than 26 square miles in a remote area of southernmost Okinawa, is attributed to bleaching due to rising water temperatures and coral-eating starfish.

It is a process that has been evolving for decades, with the overall volume of coral in Sekisei Lagoon reportedly dropping by as much as 80 per cent since the late 1980s, after being badly hit by a string of mass bleaching incidents.

Bleaching occurs when unusually warm water causes coral to expel algae, leading to the coral turning completely white.

The ratio of healthy coral had dropped from 14.6 per cent in 1991 to 1.4 per cent in Sekisei Lagoon Credit:  AFP

The full extent of the current situation has come to light in a new government report, which analysed satellite photography and information from around 1,000 regional monitoring sites for the first time in 10 years.

The study found that the ratio of healthy coral had dropped from 14.6 per cent in 1991 to 1.4 per cent in Sekisei Lagoon today, with two other coral reefs surrounding nearby Ishigaki and Iriomote islands suffering from a similar decline.

“If coral reefs don’t recover, it means a loss of rich fauna for a variety of creatures and would have grave impact on the ecosystem in the region,” Chihiro Kondo, a ministry official, said.

Coral reefs are a vital component of marine life, acting as a buffer for coastlines during tropical storms as well as providing habit for countless organisms. Despite accounting for less than one per cent of the planet’s seas, corals are reportedly home to 25 per cent of marine life.

Incidents of bleaching have risen in recent years, triggered by abnormal environmental conditions such as rising sea temperatures causing corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.

Corals can regain their health if the water temperature drops, however, recovery has been slow in Sekisei Lagoon due several mass bleaching incidents, the most recent taking place in 2016.

Press Link for more: Telegraph.co.uk

Flat Earthers vs #climatechange sceptics: why conspiracy theorists keep contradicting each other #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Flat Earthers vs climate change sceptics: why conspiracy theorists keep contradicting each other

Gareth Dorrian May 21, 2018 8.29pm AEST

Would a flat Earth suffer from climate change? Shutterstock

Flat Earthism and the idea that human activity is not responsible for climate change are two of the most prevalent conspiracy theories today. Both have been increasing in popularity since the late 20th century. Currently, 16% of the US population say they doubt the scientifically established shape of the Earth, while 40% think that human-induced climate change is a hoax. But proponents of one of these theories are not necessarily proponents of the other, even though both are often motivated by a common mistrust of authority. In fact, they regularly contradict one another.

Flat Earthers, for example, tend to disbelieve organisations such as NASA on the shape of Antarctica – or indeed, that there is a southern hemisphere at all. Yet the president of the Flat Earth Society, Daniel Shenton, is quite convinced – presumably at least in part thanks to information from NASA – that climate change is happening and espouses a fairly conventional view on the subject.

Former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci (dismissed by president Trump after ten days in office), meanwhile, believes that the Earth is in fact round, but does not believe in anthropogenic climate change, as he made clear in an interview with CNN.

Such selective reasoning is common among conspiracy theorists who often lack consistency with one other. Despite this, the media, celebrities and even politicians regularly make broad comparisons between climate change scepticism, Flat Earthism and other conspiracy theories.

Fabricated data?

In the field of global climate change, scientific bodies often are accused, even by those in power, of fabricating data. But such criticism is often deeply flawed. Take those sceptics, for example, who believe that climate change is occurring, but because of natural – rather than man-made – causes. If one argues that data has been fabricated to show warming where there is none, one cannot then also imply that warming is occurring after all, but naturally. Either there is warming or there is not. Similarly, Flat Earthers who state that images showing Earth’s curvature are due to the shape of a camera lens, themselves believe in a disc which by definition has a curved edge.

Indeed, one of the few commonalities which exist between all major conspiracy theories is that somehow scientists and governments are involved in a grand conspiracy for reasons unknown.

A major part of the scientific anthropogenic climate change argument is that there is an increase in temperature extremes in both summer and winter. Evidently, a Flat Earth model cannot support this; in fact, the most accepted Flat Earth model, which maintains that the sun rotates in a non-variable circular orbit over the flat disk, implies that there should be no seasons at all, let alone multi-decadal seasonal extremes due to climate change. Nevertheless, to quote Shenton:

Climate change is a process which has been ongoing since (the) beginning of detectable history, but there seems to be a definite correlation between the recent increase in worldwide temperatures and man’s entry into the industrial age.

In this instance, the president of the Flat Earth Society is correct. Anthropogenic climate change sceptics, on the other hand, are often willing to accept the science behind the Earth’s natural cycles, which they blame – instead of human activity – for the world’s weather woes. Clearly, we again find an implicit difference of opinion between a Flat Earth model, and a non-anthropogenic climate change one.

Climate change: a ‘global’ problem. Shutterstock

It is also clear that many climate change sceptics believe in the (approximately) spherical Earth, even if only subconsciously, by their use of scientifically accepted global maps when discussing data – not to mention when calling it “global” warming.

And what about aliens?

If governments and scientists are so untrustworthy and steeped in corruption, then why would one believe them on any issue? Where does the line of trust actually fall? Why would a person who mistrusts governments and scientists on the shape of the Earth, not hold the same politicians and scientific organisations similarly bogus on the issue of climate change? Or alien abductions, chem trails, or anything else?

Read more: I watched an entire Flat Earth Convention for my research – here’s what I learnt

But the problem isn’t likely to go away any time soon. The US has the highest number of believers in both flat-Earthism and anthropogenic climate change scepticism, and the UK is not far behind. The US also has a high number (more than 50%) of senior political figures who deny man-made climate change, not to mention a democratically elected leader vocally believing the same. There are also numerous well-known celebrities who question the established shape of our planet.

While of course scientists can play the blame game, it could be that the scientific method itself is a major limiting factor in communicating results with the public. Science is not just a body of knowledge, but a method of critical thinking.

Scientists, by necessity, have to communicate their findings in a certain rigid way focusing on probabilities, certainty values and confidence intervals. These can appear dry or baffling to the public. But by providing more easily understandable narratives we can make scientific discussions with the public more productive.

In today’s complex world of social media narratives, the engagement of scientists with the public is more crucial than ever. Thankfully, current funding for public engagement training and activities is accessible to scientists with a passion for communication and conversation, enabling them to communicate facts rather than “fake news”.

Press link for more: The Conversation

UN: Progress on Emission Reduction Too Slow #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Global Economy Improving, but Progress on Emission Reductions too Slow – UN | UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 18 May 2018 – A new UN report shows that whilst short-term prospects for the world economy are improving, with the world gross product expected to expand by 3.2 per cent in both 2018 and 2019, a lot more needs to be done to avert a major economic downturn linked to unchecked climate change.

The study by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs points towards a 1.4 percent increase of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 due to a combination of accelerated economic growth, relatively cheap fossil fuels and weak energy efficiency efforts.

“While recent evidence points to progress in decoupling emissions growth from GDP growth in some developed economies, it is still manifestly insufficient. The rate of global energy efficiency gains has been slowing since 2015, reaching 1.7 percent in 2017—half the rate required to remain on track with the Paris Agreement”, say the authors of the report ‘World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2018.’

Improving energy efficiency and a radical shift to low carbon for the world’s markets is integral to meeting the objectives set forth by the Paris Agreement, which aims to respond to climate change by keeping a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees C.

The authors of the report say that several steps can be taken to notably align the rate of energy efficiency gains with the goals of the Paris Agreement. These include the reform of fossil fuel subsidies and taxes, deploying renewable energy technology, and decreasing the cost of renewable energy generation.

Warnings of Climate Impacts Setting In

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions account for 2016 and 2017 being the two hottest years on record.

Evidence from the report states that a rising global average temperature could translate into a slower growth of per capita output in countries with a high average temperature, most of which are low-income countries.

The sectors of agricultural production, labor productivity, weather dependent industry, capital accumulation and human health are most at risk for disruption from an unpredictable climate.

Warmer climates create shifting rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, and an increased frequency of extreme weather events. Respectively, these events can move the locations of farmlands, endanger Small Island Developing States, and threaten large population centers.

Policy Reform Crucial to Meeting Paris Agreement Goals

The report says that a reform of fossil fuel policy could increase the rate of energy efficiency gains.

Additionally, the use of new technologies such as wind, solar, electric vehicles and battery storage is critical.

In 2017, renewables accounted for 61 percent of all newly installed net power capacity in 2017 with solar alone encompassing 38 percent.

Falling costs for solar and wind power supported the economic viability for several renewable energy projects.

But even with the newly-installed capacity, renewable energy today only accounts for 19 percent of power capacity and 12.1 percent of power generation around the globe.

At the current rate of change, the pace of power transition would take approximately 55 years for the share of renewables to reach 50 percent of earth’s total energy capacity – too late to ensure the Paris Agreement’s goals can be met.

Read the full report here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: Interesting Engineering

Transformation of consciousness #StopAdani #auspol #empathy #ClimateChange

Transformation of consciousness

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

Daniel Christian WahlMay 18

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

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

These are symptoms of a deeper underlying problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its major credo is a fallacy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1993

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Jeremy Rifkin (2010, p.3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Press link for more: Medium.com

UN Call for rapid scale up of Climate Finance #auspol #UNFCCC #ClimateChange

UN Secretary-General Calls for Rapidly Scaled up Climate Finance | UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 15 May 2018 – UN Secretary-General António Guterres has renewed his call for governments, industry, and finance to meet the challenge of climate change through innovation, urgent action, and substantial investment.

“Investments in clean, green infrastructure need to be scaled up globally.

For that, we need leadership from the finance and investment community and by local, regional and national governments who will decide on major infrastructure plans over the coming years,” said the Secretary-General in his remarks at the Austrian World Summit in Vienna.

The International Energy Agency estimates that investment in renewable electricity last year was $242 billion, more than half of what was invested in new fossil fuel development.

The UN’s top official urged enhanced climate financing to face and address the world’s “utmost priority”. “For a full-scale transition to clean energy, we must see billions invested by 2020,” he said.

Read his full address here:

I am very pleased and very honored to be with all of you today.

I thank the government of Austria and the R20 for promoting the low-carbon infrastructure we need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to implement the Paris Agreement and with enhanced ambition as the targets that were fixed in Paris, we all know, will not be enough.

We need to have an increased ambition in that implementation.

This is a matter of the utmost priority.

Every day, I am faced with the challenges of our troubled and complex world. But none of them loom so large as climate change.

If we fail to meet the challenge, all our other challenges will just become greater and threaten to swallow us.

Climate change is, quite simply, an existential threat for most life on the planet – including, and especially, the life of humankind.

That is why we must use all our resources to build a sense of urgency.

We must act with common purpose to raise ambition while we still have time to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible.

For that, we need leadership and innovation – the focus of this Summit.

Both are essential for climate action.

Today, I want to focus on solutions.

We do need a new energy revolution.

The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones.

We do not need to wait for coal and oil to run out to end the age of fossil fuels.

A great many solutions already exist or are in the pipeline.

In the past decade, prices for renewables have plummeted and investments are on the rise.

Today, a fifth of the world’s electricity is produced by renewable energy.

We must build on this.

There are plenty of examples to inspire us.

Morocco is building a solar farm the size of Paris that will power over a million homes by 2020.

Last July, China surpassed its 2020 goal of 105 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity.

A decade ago it had a mere 100 megawatts.

That’s more than a thousand-fold increase in ten years, and represents nearly one-third of global installed capacity.

In France, the government has announced a bill to end the search for and production of hydrocarbons.

In the United States, renewables are set to provide 69 per cent of new capacity by 2021, as dozens of coal plants are retired.

Just last week, Allianz, a leading insurer, announced it would refuse to cover coal-fired power plants and coal mines with immediate effect and rid itself of all coal risks.

The world is seeing a groundswell of climate action.

It is clear that clean energy makes climate sense.

But it also makes economic sense. Today it is the cheapest energy.

And it will deliver significant health benefits.

Air pollution affects nearly all of us, regardless of borders.

The World Health Organization reports that more than 80 per cent of people living in urban areas are exposed to poor – and dangerous – air quality.

In China, it is estimated that fewer deaths from improved air quality could lead to savings of nearly $340 billion dollars by 2030 – four times the cost of meeting China’s climate goals.

This, surely, is the definition of win-win-win.

Investments in clean, green infrastructure need to be scaled up globally.

For that, we need leadership from the finance and investment community and by local, regional and national governments who will decide on major infrastructure plans over the coming years.

I encourage private sector leaders here today to announce new sources of financing for clean energy projects.

The International Energy Agency estimates that investment in renewable electricity last year was $242 billion.

That is more than half of what was invested in new fossil fuel development.

That figure is promising, but remains insufficient. For a full-scale transition to clean energy, we must see billions invested by 2020.

I also encourage you to disclose your climate risk, divest from fossil fuels and forge partnerships that will invest in low-emissions resilient infrastructure.

We need to do this from the biggest cities to the smallest towns.

The opportunities are tremendous.

Some 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 still remains to be built.

How this is done will either lock us in to a high emission future or steer us towards truly sustainable low-emissions development.

There is only one rational choice.

Let us also encourage innovative solutions to localize climate finance.

We can take inspiration from Toronto and Cape Town, which have launched their own green bonds.

I also look forward to the outcome of today’s discussions on a Subnational Climate Finance Facility for sub-Saharan Africa.

I applaud this Summit’s emphasis on city and subnational action.

We need financing to reach the people and places that need it most.

Mobilizing and equipping local governments with the capacity and financing to accelerate climate action is necessary if we are to bend the emissions curve.

Despite inspiring climate action in so many places, climate change continues to move faster than we are.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says: “The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.”

But it does not have to be that way.

The economics of solar and wind are on our side.

Cutting edge technologies, such as electric vehicles, or energy from algae, promise a new era of clean air and climate action.

New awareness is growing and new partnerships are being formed.

Let us build on this momentum.

Next year, as it was said, I am convening a Climate Summit to galvanize greater climate ambition.

I count on you to take ambition to new heights today and pave the way for more leadership and innovative action.

Let’s join a race to the top, a race where there are only winners.

Thank you.

Press link for more: UNFCCC

Bitcoin’s energy use, you libertarian nerds look even worse than usual #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChangeou

Bitcoin’s energy use got studied, and you libertarian nerds look even worse than usual

By Eric Holthauson May 17, 2018

Bitcoin’s energy footprint has more than doubled since Grist first wrote about it six months ago.

It’s expected to double again by the end of the year, according to a new peer-reviewed study out Wednesday. And if that happens, bitcoin would be gobbling up 0.5 percent of the world’s electricity, about as much as the Netherlands.

That’s a troubling trajectory, especially for a world that should be working overtime to root out energy waste and fight climate change. By late next year, bitcoin could be consuming more electricity than all the world’s solar panels currently produce — about 1.8 percent of global electricity, according to a simple extrapolation of the study’s predictions. That would effectively erase decades of progress on renewable energy.

Although the author of the study, Alex de Vries, an economist and data consultant based in the Netherlands, has shared these calculations publicly before, this is the first time that an analysis of bitcoin’s energy appetite has appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.

Bitcoin continues to soar in popularity — mostly as a speculative investment. And like any supercharged speculative investment, it swings wildly. Within the past 18 months, the price of bitcoin has soared ten-fold, crashed by 75 percent, only to double again, all while hedge funds and wealthy libertarians debate the future of the virtual currency.

Beyond its tentative success as a get-rich-quick scheme, bitcoin has an increasingly real-world cost. The process of “mining” for coins requires a globally distributed computer network racing to solve math problems — and also helps keep any individual transaction confidential and tamper-proof. That, in turn, requires an ever-escalating arms race of computing power — and electricity use — which, at the moment, has no end in sight. A single bitcoin transaction is so energy intensive that it could power the average U.S. household for a month.

A fluctuating bitcoin price, along with increases in computer efficiency, has slowed the cryptocurrency’s energy footprint growth rate to “just” 20 percent per month so far in this year. If that keeps up, bitcoin would consume all the world’s electricity by January 2021.

That simply won’t happen — government regulators would surely come to their senses by then — but it is a sign of bitcoin’s disastrous growth rate. In recent months, bitcoin supporters have criticized de Vries for being too pessimistic about its energy usage. But, as de Vries writes in the study, his estimates could also be missing out on secretive or illegal participation in the network, meaning there’s maybe even more happening than meets the eye. In at least one instance that de Vries found, a researcher was caught diverting a National Science Foundation supercomputer to mining bitcoin.

It’s a telling social phenomenon of late capitalism that we are willing to construct elaborate computer networks to conduct secure transactions with each other — and in the process torpedoing our hopes at a clean energy future.

Press link for more: Grist.org

End extreme poverty, inequality, injustice & Change Change #GlobalGoals #auspol #StopAdani

End extreme poverty.

Fight inequality and injustice.

Fix climate change.

Whoa. The Sustainable Development Goals are important, world-changing objectives that will require cooperation among governments, international organizations and world leaders.

It seems impossible that the average person can make an impact.

Should you just give up?

No!

Change starts with you. Seriously.

Every human on earth—even the most indifferent, laziest person among us—is part of the solution. Fortunately, there are some super easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do it, will make a big difference.

Have a look at just a few of the many things you can do to make an impact!

Things you can do from your couch

• Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use, including your computer.

• Stop paper bank statements and pay your bills online or via mobile. No paper, no need for forest destruction.

• Share, don’t just like. If you see an interesting social media post about women’s rights or climate change, share it so folks in your network see it too.

• Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm people or the planet. You can also voice your support for the Paris Agreement and ask your country to ratify it or sign it if it hasn’t yet.

• Don’t print. See something online you need to remember? Jot it down in a notebook or better yet a digital post-it note and spare the paper.

• Turn off the lights. Your TV or computer screen provides a cosy glow, so turn off other lights if you don’t need them.

• Do a bit of online research and buy only from companies that you know have sustainable practices and don’t harm the environment.

• Report online bullies. If you notice harassment on a message board or in a chat room, flag that person.

• Stay informed. Follow your local news and stay in touch with the Global Goals online or on social media at @GlobalGoalsUN.

• Tell us about your actions to achieve the global goals by using the hashtag #globalgoals on social networks.

• In addition to the above, offset your remaining carbon emissions! You can calculate your carbon footprint and purchase climate credits from Climate Neutral Now. In this way, you help reduce global emissions faster!”

Things you can do at home

• Air dry. Let your hair and clothes dry naturally instead of running a machine. If you do wash your clothes, make sure the load is full.

• Take short showers. Bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5-10 minute shower.

• Eat less meat, poultry, and fish. More resources are used to provide meat than plants

• Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you don’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad. You can also do this with take-away or delivered food, if you know you will not feel like eating it the next day. You will save food and money.

• Compost—composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients.

• Recycling paper, plastic, glass & aluminium keeps landfills from growing.

• Buy minimally packaged goods.

• Avoid pre-heating the oven. Unless you need a precise baking temperature, start heating your food right when you turn on the oven.

• Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency

• Adjust your thermostat, lower in winter, higher in summer

• Replace old appliances with energy efficient models and light bulbs

• If you have the option, install solar panels in your house. This will also reduce your electricity bill!

• Get a rug. Carpets and rugs keep your house warm and your thermostat low.

• Don’t rinse. If you use a dishwasher, stop rinsing your plates before you run the machine.

• Choose a better diaper option. Swaddle your baby in cloth diapers or a new, environmentally responsible disposable brand.

• Shovel snow manually. Avoid the noisy, exhaust-churning snow blower and get some exercise.

• Use cardboard matches. They don’t require any petroleum, unlike plastic gas-filled lighters.

Things you can do outside your house

• Shop local. Supporting neighbourhood businesses keeps people employed and helps prevent trucks from driving far distances.

• Shop Smart—plan meals, use shopping lists and avoid impulse buys. Don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items. Though these may be less expensive per ounce, they can be more expensive overall if much of that food is discarded.

• Buy Funny Fruit—many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or color are not “right”. Buying these perfectly good funny fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.

• When you go to a restaurant and are ordering seafood always ask: “Do you serve sustainable seafood?” Let your favourite businesses know that ocean-friendly seafood is on your shopping list.

• Shop only for sustainable seafood. There are now many apps like this one that will tell you what is safe to consume.

• Bike, walk or take public transport. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group.

• Use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup. Cut down on waste and maybe even save money at the coffee shop.

• Bring your own bag when you shop. Pass on the plastic bag and start carrying your own reusable totes.

• Take fewer napkins. You don’t need a handful of napkins to eat your takeout. Take just what you need.

• Shop vintage. Brand-new isn’t necessarily best. See what you can repurpose from second-hand shops.

• Maintain your car. A well-tuned car will emit fewer toxic fumes.

• Donate what you don’t use. Local charities will give your gently used clothes, books and furniture a new life.

• Vaccinate yourself and your kids. Protecting your family from disease also aids public health.

• Take advantage of your right to elect the leaders in your country and local community.

Things you can do at work

• If you have a fruit or snack that you don’t want, don’t throw it out. Give it away to someone who needs and is asking for help.

• Does everyone at work have access to healthcare? Find out what your rights are to work. Fight against inequality.

• Mentor young people. It’s a thoughtful, inspiring and a powerful way to guide someone towards a better future.

• Women earn 10 to 30 per cent less than men for the same work. Pay inequality persists everywhere. Voice your support for equal pay for equal work.

• 4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services. Lend your voice to talk about the lack of toilets in many communities around the world!

• Make sure your company uses energy efficient heating and cooling technology, and adjust the thermostat, lower in winter, higher in summer.

• Stay informed. Read about workers in other countries and business practices. Talk to your colleagues about these issues.

• Does your company invest in clean and resilient infrastructure? It’s the only way to keep workers safe and protect the environment.

• Raise your voice against any type of discrimination in your office. Everyone is equal regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, social background and physical abilities.

• Bike, walk or take public transport to work. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group.

• Organize a No Impact Week at work. Learn to live more sustainably for at least a week: un.org/sustainabledevelopment/be-the-change.

• Speak up! Ask your company and Government to engage in initiatives that will not harm people or the planet. Voice your support for Paris Agreement!

• Much of the waste that we produce on land ends up in the oceans.

• Examine and change everyday decisions. Can you recycle at your workplace? Is your company buying from merchants engaging in harmful ecological practices?

• Know your rights at work. In order to access justice knowing what you are entitled to will go a long way.

• Corporate social responsibility counts! Encourage your company to work with civil society and find ways to help local communities achieve the goals.

These are only a few of the things you can do. Explore this site to find out more about the goals you care most about and other ways to engage more actively.

Press link for more: UN.ORG