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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

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It is overdue to present a planetary confession. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Johan Rockström – It is overdue to present a planetary confession.

Author : Johan Rockström

Our human “balance sheet” for the past 50 years is everything else than positive, and that should make us humble.

Above all, it emphasizes Albert Einstein’s wisdom that we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

The industrial period started in Britain towards the end of the 18th century when James Watt invented the coal-driven steam engine.

Industrialization spreads quickly across the world, with increasing local environmental problems.

However, it took until the 1960’s before contamination and environmental disasters cause action on a broad level.

Cars cause smog levels higher than today’s problems in Beijing.

Philadelphia is classified as a disaster zone. Even in Stockholm, smog is a common phenomenon.

Lakes in the USA are so oil-contaminated that they start to burn.

It is impossible to eat fish.

Huge oil spills from tankers occur.

Finally, the world reacts.

The Republican president Richard Nixon establishes the Environmental Protection Agency EPA in 1970.

In that year, millions of Americans demonstrate for clean environment, during the first ever Earth Day.

The Swedish Environmental Agency, Naturvårdsverket, is established in 1967.

The Stockholm Conference, the world’s first meeting for environment and development, starts the UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program, in 1972. Legislation to tackle environmental problems is initiated.

In the USA, major environmental laws are passed which to this day regulate the environmental administration, and these are the very laws which Donald Trump wishes to limit: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

Right now, things happen which the regulations intended to prevent.

In parallel with our mobilisation to fix environmental problems, the problems accelerate.

We switch from linear increase of environmental problems to exponential increase of humanity’s pressure on the planet.

“Environmental hockey sticks” appear, from carbon dioxide to loss of biodiversity. Things go fast.

In only 50 years, we use up the world’s environmental flexibility, and now we have reached the “saturation point” where the atmosphere, the seas and ecosystems on land no longer can tolerate further unsustainable exploitation.

You probably see the drama unfolding.

Just at the time when we mobilize to solve global environmental problems, the result is exactly the opposite!

Instead of solving problems, environmental problems exacerbate in an exponential manner.

What a total failure!

Here we are.

In addition to all negative environmental trends, we are undermining our standard of living – because the invoices start coming.

For a long time, we could grow both our population and standard of living and “send the bill” to the environment and ecosystems.

That is no more.

Already today, when global warming has increased the average temperature by 1 degree Celsius, we see the costs in terms of social destabilisation such as in Syria, we see the collapse of 30% of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and we see huge costs such as the 350 mio USD bill for the 2017 tornado season in the USA.

One reason for our failure is the belief in the Kuznets graph according to which environmental problems increase at low GNP (read: poor countries) and decrease at high GNP, meaning that environmental problems are solved by economic growth, i.e. by having the resources.

The problem is that Kuznets is wrong.

The richer we are, the more damage to the planet we cause.

Recently, a scientific study showed that rich countries such as Sweden do score great on social indicators regarding standard of living, but they do this by over-consuming regarding the planetary limits.

This is depressing.

There is not a single country in the world which achieves good social development sustainably, i.e. within planetary limits.

Is there any hope?

Yes, most certainly!

Firstly, I claim that the right diagnosis of the patient is the precondition for correct treatment.

We need to be open and lay all our cards on the table.

We need to confess – on a planetary level.

Secondly, there are so many “islands of insight”, sustainable solutions and initiatives of cities and companies.

Surely in an “ocean of ignorance”.

However, all these islands start to form an ever tighter archipelago which can alter the logic towards a sustainable future for this planet.

Wikipedia on Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström appointed director at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Press link for more: Heatpower.com

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

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

Robert Rapier

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

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

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

The Rise of Renewables

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

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

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

The Revolution Accelerates

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

Press link for more: Forbes.com

Australia’s Greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.5% last year. #auspol #StopAdani

Australia’s annual emissions for the year to December 2017 are estimated to be 533.7 Mt CO2-e.

This figure is 2.4 per cent below emissions in 2000 (547.0 Mt CO2-e) and 11.7 per cent below emissions in 2005 (604.7 Mt CO2-e).

For the December quarter 2017, national emissions levels have increased 0.8 per cent relative to the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted and weather normalised basic.

For the year to December 2017, emissions increased 1.5 per cent on the previous year.

The expansion in LNG exports, which saw a 41.4% increase in LNG production in 2017 and a forecast increase in LNG production for 2018 of a further 18.1%, was the major contributor to this increase in emissions.

Emissions per capita, and the emissions intensity of the economy, were at their lowest levels in 28 years in the year to December 2017.

Emissions per capita in the year to December 2017 have fallen 36.3 per cent since 1990, while the emissions intensity of the economy has fallen 59.4 per cent since 1990

Domestic Transport GHG Continues to rise.

Australia isn’t meeting its Paris emission reduction targets

NDEVR found emissions in the most recent quarter soared to levels only seen once in the past six years.

That came despite massive jumps in wind-generated electricity in Victoria and New South Wales, which more than doubled, pushing down emissions from the National Electricity Market.

But emissions from transport were at record levels, with jumps in the use of diesel and aviation fuel.

Emissions in all other sectors either remained stable or increased slightly.

Press link for more: Environment.gov.au

Earth’s atmosphere just crossed another troubling #climatechange threshold #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Earth’s atmosphere just crossed another troubling climate change threshold

by Chris Mooney

A recent CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

For the first time since humans have been monitoring, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have exceeded 410 parts per million averaged across an entire month, a threshold that pushes the planet ever closer to warming beyond levels that scientists and the international community have deemed “safe.”

The reading from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii finds that concentrations of the climate-warming gas averaged above 410 parts per million throughout April. The first time readings crossed 410 at all occurred on April 18, 2017, or just about a year ago.

Carbon dioxide concentrations — whose “greenhouse gas effect” traps heat and drives climate change — were around 280 parts per million circa 1880, at the dawn of the industrial revolution. They’re now 46 percent higher.

As you can see in the famed “saw-toothed curve” graph above, more formally known as the Keeling Curve, concentrations have ticked upward in an unbroken progression for many decades. But they also go up and down on an annual cycle that’s controlled by the patterns and seasonality of plant growth around the planet.

The rate of growth is about 2.5 parts per million per year, said Ralph Keeling, who directs the CO2 program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which monitors the readings. The rate has been increasing, with the decade of the 2010s rising faster than the 2000s.

“It’s another milestone in the upward increase in CO2 over time,” Keeling said of the newest measurements. “It puts us closer to some targets we don’t really want to get to, like getting over 450 or 500 ppm. That’s pretty much dangerous territory.”

“As a scientist, what concerns me the most is not that we have passed yet another round-number threshold but what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have,” Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, said in a statement on the milestone.

Planetary carbon dioxide levels have been this high or even higher in the planet’s history — but it has been a long time. And scientists are concerned that the rate of change now is far faster than what Earth has previously been used to.

In the mid-Pliocene warm period more than 3 million years ago, they were also around 400 parts per million — but Earth’s sea level is known to have been 66 feet or more higher, and the planet was still warmer than now.

As a recent federal climate science report (co-authored by Hahyoe) noted, the 400 parts per million carbon dioxide level in the Pliocene “was sustained over long periods of time, whereas today the global CO2 concentration is increasing rapidly.” In other words, Earth’s movement toward Pliocene-like conditions may play out in the decades and centuries ahead of us.

Even farther back, in the Miocene era between 14 million and 23 million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are believed to have reached 500 parts per million. Antarctica lost tens of meters of ice then, probably corresponding to a sea level rise once again on the scale of that seen in the Pliocene.

Farther back still, at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary around 34 million years ago, Antarctica is believed to have had no ice at all, with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 750 parts per million.

These data points help show why it is that scientists believe that planetary temperatures, sea levels and carbon dioxide levels all tend to rise and fall together — and thus, why Earth is now headed back toward a period like the mid-Pliocene or even, perhaps, the Miocene, if current trends continue.

Keeling said that the planet, currently at 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, is probably not yet committed to a warming of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, but it’s getting closer all the time — particularly for 1.5 C. “We don’t have a lot of headroom,” he said.

“It’s not going to be a sudden breakthrough, either,” Keeling continued. “We’re just moving further and further into dangerous territory.

Press link for more: Washington Post

Three theories to help save the world. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange #DoughnutEconomics @KateRaworth

Three theories to help save the world

Humanity is now using the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste.

That is, it takes Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.

How do we solve the delicate problem of population growth and environmental limitations?

It’s a question with no easy  answer, but that hasn’t stopped mathematician and author, Joel Cohen, from coming up with three potential solutions:

A bigger pie: technical innovation

This theory looks to innovation and technology as Earth’s saviour, not only to extend the planet’s human carrying capacity but to also improve the quality of life for each individual.

Advances in food production technologies such as agriculture, water purification and genetic engineering may help to feed the masses, while moving away from fossil fuels to renewable power sources such as wind and solar will go some way to reducing climate change.

Funding and research of technical innovation should be a high priority in these areas, but we must accept that technology can only do so much, and is only part of the solution.

Fewer forks: education and policy change

The fewer forks theory is based on demographic transition, effectively finding ways to slow or stop population growth, resulting in fewer people fighting for resources or ‘slices’ of pie.

Birth rates naturally decline when populations are given access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, education for boys and girls beyond the primary level is encouraged and made available, and women are empowered to participate in social and political life. Continuing to support programs and policies in these areas should see a corresponding drop in birth rates. Similarly, as the incomes of individuals in developing countries increase, there is a corresponding decrease in birth rates. This is another incentive for richer countries to help their developing neighbours reach their potential.

Education is the foundation of our future, and not only because it helps to reduce unsustainable birth-rates. Image sourced from: European Union DG ECHO; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fewer forks can also cover another complicated area—the option of seriously controlling population either by force (as China has done in the past with its one-child policy), or by providing a health, education or financial incentive (for example free education for families with a single child). Both are morally, economically and politically charged areas, to which there is no easy answer.

Better manners: less is more

The better manners approach seeks to educate people about their actions and the consequences of those actions, leading to a change in behaviour.

This relates not only to individuals but also governments. Individuals across the world, but particularly in developed countries, need to reassess their consumption patterns. Numerous studies have shown that more ‘stuff’ doesn’t make people happier. We need to step back and re-examine what is important, while actively finding ways to reduce the amount of resources we consume.

Humanity is now using the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste. That is, it takes Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.

Governments too need to instigate shifts in environmental policy to protect and enhance natural areas, reduce CO₂ and other greenhouse gas emissions, invest in renewable energy sources and focus on conservation as priorities.

Developing countries should be supported by their more developed neighbours to reach their development goals in sustainable, practical ways.

Humans—all 7.6 billion of us—are complex, and so are the problems we create. In reality, there is no single, easy solution. All three options must be part of a sustainable future.

This article was adapted from Academy website content reviewed by the following experts: Professor Stephen Dovers FASAA Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University; Professor Colin Butler Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, University of Canberra

Press link for more: Science.org.au

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

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

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

Fiona HarveyLast modified on Wed 18 Apr 2018 04.24 AEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: The Guardian

Time to abandon economic growth #auspol #qldpol

It’s Time To Abandon Economic Growth As The Only Indicator Of Success

Instead, we need systems that focus on regenerating our planet, and equitably distributing its resources.

The story of mankind that we most like to tell ourselves is one of growth, says economist Kate Raworth at TED 2018 in Vancouver.

We’re all used to that image of the silhouettes, marching forward from ape to fully-upright human. “

“We readily believe that economic progress will take the same shape–an ever-rising line of growth,” Raworth says.

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That, she says, will be a difficult shift to bring about. “We’re financially, politically, and socially addicted to growth,” Raworth says.

Perhaps no one better enshrined our dependence on GDP than the economist Walter Rostow, whose 1960 book, The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto outlined the “ideal” trajectory for a country’s development, using a rather blunt airplane metaphor.

Countries prepare for takeoff by building up institutions and banks, which continue to grow until the country truly takes off and reaches peak prosperity and mass consumption. “But this plane is never allowed to land,” Raworth says. “Rostow left us flying into the sunset of mass consumerism.”

In other words, Rostow left no space to imagine a country driven to succeed by any metric other than that of continual growth.

That, Raworth says, has created a system that prioritizes GDP over the health of the planet and the well-being of the people who inhabit it, and that, she says, is fundamentally unsustainable.

“Humanity’s 21st-century challenge is clear: To meet the needs of all people,” Raworth says. “Progress on this goal is not going to be measured by money–we need a dashboard of indicators.”

When Raworth drew up a diagram of how those indicators might interact, it ended up looking like a donut (she wrote a book last year called Donut Economics, explaining her theory).

On the inner ring of this donut are things that are crucial to our survival and our societies: water, energy, food, health, housing, social equity, education, income, and work.

At the outer edge are the potential consequences of achieving these things: climate change, freshwater withdrawals, biodiversity loss, air pollution, ocean acidification, land conversion, nitrogen and phosphorous loading.

Between the two border rings, though, Raworth draws a middle ground she calls “the safe and just space for humanity.”

That safe space falls right between our social foundation (the base layer of resources we need to survive) and our ecological ceiling (the amount of resources we can extract from the world while still allowing it to regenerate).

Currently, we’re overtaxing the Earth’s resources: We’re already seeing the effects of climate change, nitrogen and phosphorous loading, land conversion, and biodiversity loss. Yet at the same time, we’re failing to meet the needs that keep our foundation strong, because our economy is structured in such a way as to funnel resources and wealth toward people who already possess it. Our current growth-driven strategy will only exacerbate this dynamic.

What Raworth is calling for is an “economy that tackles this shortfall and overshoot together, by design.” She imagines implementing regenerative systems at scale–things like universal basic income and renewable energy–while ensuring that our systems and governments prioritizing distributing resources, rather than hoarding them in the name of growth. “If we can harness today’s technology in service of distributive design, we can ensure that healthcare, political voice, financial resources reach and empower people,” she says.

Why is it, Raworth wonders, that we understand that when another human tells us, “I have a growth,” we know that indicates a health failure? “When something tries to grow forever within a healthy, thriving system, it’s a threat to the whole,” she says. “Why do we imagine our economies can buck this trend and grow forever?”

Press link for more Fast Company.com

Fixing Farming our climate challenge. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Fixing farming our climate challenge

Rod Oram writes in this week’s column about farming’s massive climate change challenge and New Zealand’s special role in finding ways to reduce emissions.

“As a scientist I’ve never had so much reason to be nervous; and as a scientist I’ve never had so much reason to be hopeful.”

This was the essential message Johan Rockström, one of the world’s leading earth scientists, delivered this past week about climate change and our responses to it during his visit to New Zealand.

He entrusted a particular task to us: agriculture and food production globally present the greatest climate change challenge of all.

Their big adverse effects on the ecosystem are compounded by associated impacts through deforestation, agricultural monocultures, biodiversity loss and the declining health of soils and water.

It’s harder for farmers

All up agriculture broadly defined is the largest single source of greenhouse gases globally, says Rockström, who founded and leads the Stockholm Resilience Centre. But their technological and economic pathways to sustainability are far less clear than those for energy, transport and the built environment.

There are agricultural examples but we need much more innovation and ways to scale them up.

He believes New Zealand has a leading role to play globally in this agricultural transformation. On one hand, agriculture emissions are 49 percent of our total emissions, by far the highest proportion for a developed economy. On the other, our farmers and the scientists and businesses that support them, are among the most innovative in the world.

As an aside on that latter point, agricultural innovation is remarkably slow compared with all other industrial sectors. The average time from innovation to peak deployment of a new piece of agri-tech is 19.2 years here versus 52 years in the US. This insight was delivered recently to a symposium of Our Land and Water, one of our government’s 11 long-term National Science Challenges. Clearly, we have to innovate far faster.

Get moving now

But, Rockström stresses, the window of opportunity to address the totality of climate change is very small. Humankind is still generating a rising volume of emissions. If we are to stand any chance of keeping the rise in global temperatures to under 2 degrees C we have to start bending the curve down by 2020 then accelerate our emission reductions to a rate of about 6-7 percent a year.

While that might seem like a manageable rate, it will actually require transformational shifts in technology across all sectors of the economy. Pathways that are technologically practical and economically viable are increasingly clear in electricity and other sources of power, in transport and industrial processes.

For example, renewable electricity and other forms of energy, after growing by 5.5 per cent a year for the past 15 years, are starting to demonstrate exponential growth. A world free from fossil fuels is possible by 2045, Rockström says.

Earth scientist Johan Rockstrom from the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

The ‘Moore’s law’ of climate change

If, though, humankind can reduce its emissions by 6 to 7 per cent a year, we would halve emissions every decade and achieve near-zero emissions by 2050.

This is the Global Carbon Law Rockström and colleagues are proposing, equivalent to Moore’s Law in computing. It is the latest development of the work of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

But maintaining that rate of reduction in carbon emissions over the next 30 years will take far more than just a complete switch to clean energy and sustainable agriculture.

We will also need to engineer carbon sinks, such as burning wood and other biofuels then capturing and storing the carbon emissions from them; and we will have to improve and monitor carefully the ecosystem health of land sinks such as forests and soil, and the ocean which currently absorbs a large proportion of the carbon emissions, and subsequent heat, generated by human activity.

If we do all that, “we have a 66 percent chance of staying under 2 degrees C,” Rockström says. But even that will cause ecosystem changes, moving us away from the Holocene, the geological epoch over the past 11,000 years which never saw temperature variations greater than plus or minus 1 degree C. This climate sweet spot was a “Garden of Eden”, Rockström says, in which humans have flourished.

Risks of feedback loops and tipping points

“We are already at 1.1 degree C. Even 1.5 degree C will be a challenge to adjust to.” Moreover, there are substantial risks that climate tipping points will trigger greater rises in temperature. Such feedback loops include forest dieback that would create savannahs that absorb far less carbon, and the loss of ice sheets, which not only raise sea levels but also reduce the white reflective surface of the planet, thereby increasing warming.

Responding to climate change will also take much more than science, technology change, targets and policies, he adds. All societies will need to progress a great deal so they have the capability to rise to the challenge of planetary stewardship.

For the first time we have a guide to that in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which are applicable to all countries, developing and developed.

Usually, the 17 goals are presented in a matrix that doesn’t differentiate their priorities. Rockström’s Stockholm Resilience Centre, however, has arranged them with the four goals on the biosphere as the essential and critical base, with eight societal goals sitting above to help build healthy societies capable of rapid change, with four economic goals above, topped with the goal on partnerships for achieving the goals.

The Centre is renowned for its work identifying the nine biological-chemical-physical boundaries of the planet and measuring the extent human activity is overshooting them. So far, only climate change has a clearly defined target, which is based on zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a 1.5-2 degrees C temperature goal. That was extremely hard for scientists to establish and for the United Nations to get some commitments to steps towards it by nations in the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

The next big phase of the Centre’s research is to work with other scientists to devise numerical measures of a “safe place” for humankind within some of the other planetary boundaries. Like the crystal clear signals temperature sends on climate change, these will focus people, politicians, policy makers, and all other participants in society on the urgent need to bring human activity back within the boundaries.

The biodiversity challenge

Their top priority is biodiversity. Their extremely difficult scientific task is to develop a measure that not just expresses the rapid loss of species but also the impairment these losses have on ecosystem health and resilience, and thus the ability of those systems to provide for human needs. Some major multinationals, highly conscious of their impact on natural resources, are among the leaders of the push for a biodiversity measure, Rockström says.

While Rockström didn’t mention a particular role for New Zealand in that work, we have a lot to offer. Among developed countries, we are the most dependent on the natural environment for earning our living, most of our National Science Challenges are focused on ecosystems in whole or part and the relevant sciences are the ones we are best at commercialising.

Above all we are ambitious and innovative about ecosystems, witness our goal of being predator free by 2050 and the wave of science, research, development and creativity this is unleashing. The Cacophony Project is an impressive example but just one of a rapidly growing number.

Likewise, we have a burgeoning ecosystem of organisations in business and civil society focused on these enormous opportunities. Two examples are the Next Foundation (http://www.nextfoundation.org.nz/), which invests heavily in environmental programmes, and the Hillary Institute of International Leadership (http://www.hillaryinstitute.com/), based in Christchurch, which chooses each year a global leader in environmental issues.

Rockström is its 8th laureate and this award has brought him here to share his knowledge widely, including with the government, and to learn more about New Zealand. His biggest engagement was with the twice-a-year New Frontiers gathering of local and international experts on these intensely integrated issues of deep sustainability, which is run by the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

“We are rolling in the right direction. We will decarbonise the world eventually – but are we moving fast enough?” He made it very clear to the New Frontiers audience that we are not.

But above all, he makes it abundantly clear that climate change is just one manifestation of humankind’s need for deep sustainability.  We are the greatest driver of planetary change, greater than any natural force. Thus, this geological epoch is truly the Anthropocene.

*Disclosure: I’m an Edmund Hillary Fellow, participated in New Frontiers, and was MC at the Our Land and Water symposium.*

Press link for more: Newsroom.co.nz

Coral bleaching threatens the diversity of reef fish — ScienceDaily #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Coral bleaching threatens the diversity of reef fish — ScienceDaily

New research reveals that global warming also affects fish who depend on corals.

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is revered for its kaleidoscope of colour.

New international research led by PhD student Laura Richardson of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University reveals that coral bleaching events not only whitewash corals, but can also reduce the variety of fish occupying these highly-valued ecosystems.

The study was conducted by researchers at James Cook University and Lancaster University, U.K., who examined 16 reefs off Lizard Island, in the northern section of the GBR.

The quantity and types of coral and fish species were surveyed before, during and after the 2016 mass bleaching event caused by a global heatwave.

“The widespread impacts of heat stress on corals have been the subject of much discussion both within and outside the research community.

We are learning that some corals are more sensitive to heat-stress than others, but reef fishes also vary in their response to these disturbances,” said lead author Ms Richardson.

“Fish assemblages are significantly impacted by loss of coral cover as a result of bleaching events, and some fishes are more sensitive than others,” said co-author Prof Nick Graham of Lancaster University.

The loss of corals affected some types of fish more than others. Following the bleaching event, researchers recorded a sharp drop in the diversity of fish communities as the mix or species changed.

Fish that are highly dependent on branching corals, such as butterflyfish, declined the most.

“Prior to the 2016 mass bleaching event, we observed significant variation in the number of fish species, total fish abundance and functional diversity among different fish communities. Six months after the bleaching event, however, this variation was almost entirely lost,” said co-author Dr Andrew Hoey of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

“Also known as ‘biotic homogenisation,’ this tendency towards individual and community similarity is increasingly considered one of the most pressing, but largely unrecognised, biodiversity crises faced globally.”

The paper “Mass coral bleaching causes biotic homogenization of reef fish assemblages” is published in Global Change Biology.

Press link for more: Science Daily