Yes @mattjcan your symbolic war went wrong. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Canavan’s symbolic war that went wrong

February 10 2018 – 12:15AM

By Richard Denniss

Politicians love symbols, whether it’s standing in front of a wall of flags, wearing a ribbon on their lapel or being photographed with workers in hard hats.

Voters love symbols, too.

Political travel expenses are, for many voters, a symbol of all that’s wrong with politics.

Traffic jams are a symbol of all that’s wrong with immigration policy and the number of women in cabinet is a symbol of a party’s concern about gender equity.

Of course, different issues have different importance for different voters.

Labor’s Adani stance

But some symbols unite unlikely allies. And just as Bronwyn Bishop’s preference for helicopter travel created an unlikely coalition of disgust, the Turnbull government’s problem is that the Adani coal mine has become a symbol that unites all voters worried about climate change, corporate welfare, multinational tax avoidance and the need to create jobs in regional Australia.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, has always been a fan of the Adani mine. and When he secured the $5 billion of taxpayers’ money for his Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the mine’s prospects were looking rosy.

Of course, he knew that environmental groups would complain about using public money to help build the world’s largest export coal mine, but such complaints were part of the strategy.

Protestors gather at Federal Parliament this week to oppose the Adani coal mine. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Symbols are only powerful when people notice them, so for Canavan it was essential to have a big fight with the environment movement over whether Queensland needed to create jobs or protect the climate.

Without the fight, no one would notice the minister or his project.

The mine, which is 160 kilometres from the nearest small town of Clermont, is designed to be “automated from pit to port”.

Without a big national fight about its symbolism, the would be pretty easy to miss.

As Adani’s own economic expert, Jerome Fahrer, pointed out in court, the mine would not noticeably affect the Queensland or Australia’s unemployment rate.

Fahrer said under oath “the benefits of this project are not about jobs, they’re about incomes”.

The only way for Canavan to make the project look like a big deal for the economy, as opposed to a profitable deal for Adani, was to pick a fight with environmentalists and use that fight to appear in the media every day talking about the “tens of thousands” of jobs he would create and that his opponents would stop.

But while political debates about coal mines may be largely symbolic, there is nothing symbolic about being unemployed.

There are more than 700,000 jobless Australians.

With the unemployment benefit, Newstart, just $245 a week, it’s easy to understand why voters worry about jobs.

In turn, when you ask voters if they prefer governments to create more jobs, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll say yes.

That’s what the Coalition hoped people would focus on.

But if you ask people whether we should build new coal mines, most voters say no.

Similarly, if you ask people whether taxpayers should subsidise new coal mines, an overwhelming majority say no. And that’s where things started to go wrong for Canavan’s strategy.

While he wanted a big national debate to make his pet project, and himself, look nationally significant, he didn’t get the debate he hoped for.

Rather than become a symbol of the Coalition’s commitment to ignoring environmentalists and creating jobs, the Adani mine is a symbol of the government’s determination to give public money to a foreign company that’s is registered in the Cayman Islands.

At a time the Tax Office is publishing data on the number of big mining companies that pay no tax, and at a time when the mining industry is demanding a $65 billion cut in company tax, the Coalition wants to give $1 billion to a foreign company registered in a tax haven.

One Nation campaigned against the Adani subsidies at the recent Queensland state election. Indeed, Pauline Hanson was photographed in front of her party’s posters, which declared “no free rail for Adani”.

While Canavan has worked tirelessly to suggest it is only environmentalists who oppose the Adani mine, multiple polls show that most One Nation and Coalition voters have similar concerns.

The Adani mine is a symbol of the blinkered vision that the Coalition has about our economic future and the best way to create jobs in regional Australia.

Far more Australians work in tourism than in coal mining.

If the Coalition took the budget, or regional job creation, seriously, it would look at all the ways to create jobs in north Queensland, compare the costs of a range of projects and programs, and choose the policies that create the most jobs per taxpayer dollar spent. But despite years of telling Australians that a highly automated coal mine far from population centres is a great way to create jobs, the Coalition is yet to produce any comparative research to suggest that $1 billion for a coal rail line would create more jobs than $1 billion invested in tourism, manufacturing, education or anything else.

The Adani mine has also become a symbol of the Coalition’s ideological confusion.

Having spent decades saying we needed to cut subsidies to manufacturing and other exporters, the so-called “free-traders” have now embraced the idea that subsidies are a great way to create jobs.

Only three years ago, they were proudly scrapping aid for the car industry in Victoria on the basis that industries should stand or fall on their own two feet.

So thanks to Canavan, Australia is finally having the debates about climate change, the role of government and corporate tax evasion that we avoided for decades.

The Coalition succeeded in making Adani a symbol, but a symbol of our nation’s determination to mine more coal as at a time the world is buying less of it, to give industry aid to powerful groups like miners but deny it to emerging industries like renewables, and to give taxpayers’ money to foreign companies rather than collect a fair share of tax for Australians.

It’s easy to see why every party other than the Coalition opposed elements of the Adani mine in the recent Queensland election. What’s impossible to see is the case for the Turnbull government sticking with its support for the mine. Bill Shorten mustn’t be able to believe his luck.

Richard Denniss is The Australia Institute’s chief economist. Twitter: @RDNS_TAI

Press link for more: SMH.COM.AU


California Governor rebukes Trump on #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 2 minutes to midnight #qldpol

California governor rebukes Donald Trump in warning of ‘immediate and genuine risk’ of climate change, nuclear weapons and poisoned politics

Jeremy B White San FranciscoThursday 25 January 2018 21:46 GMT

California Governor Jerry Brown used his final State of the State address to warn of imminent peril from climate change and nuclear weapons, drawing a sharp contrast to Donald Trump.

“Our world, our way of life, our system of governance — all are at immediate and genuine risk.

Endless new weapons systems, growing antagonism among nations, the poison in our politics, climate change,” Mr Brown said before a joint sessions of the California Legislature in Sacramento, with potential successors looking on.

Offered in the final year of his fourth term leading America’s most populous state, Mr Brown’s cautionary remarks echoed some long-standing themes.

He has aggressively pursued state-level policies to limit the effects of climate change, positioning California as a global leader in contrast to the President’s scepticism of climate science.

California has also enacted policies shielding immigrants from deportation in deliberate defiance of the Trump administration.

“Despite what is widely believed by some of the most powerful people in Washington, the science of climate change is not in doubt,” Mr Brown said.

The science and reality of #climatechange keeps getting stronger.

How much longer can Washington deny and delay?

And his reference to destructive weapons implicitly rebuked the Trump administration, which has dangled the threat of a nuclear strike over a belligerent North Korea.

The President himself has hinted at annihilating the country and taunted Pyongyang with a reference to his “nuclear button”.

Kim Jong-un inspects weapon North Korea says is powerful hydrogen bomb

Shortly before Mr Brown’s speech, his official account shared a tweet from former Secretary of Defence William Perry, noting that the “Doomsday Clock” managed by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — a symbolic representation of the world’s proximity to disaster — had ticked to two minutes to midnight because “world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change.

Mr Brown delivered a keynote address at a 2015 symposium focused on the Doomsday Clock, warning of the “catastrophic consequences” of climate change and nuclear arms competition.

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

#ClimateChange among Top Risks Facing World – WEF #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Extreme Weather and Climate Change Among Top Risks Facing World – WEF | UNFCCC

Extreme weather events such as coastal storms and droughts, failure to reduce carbon emissions and build climate resilience, and natural disasters are among the top risks that pose a serious threat to global stability, according the latest Global Risks Report 2018 published by the World Economic Forum.

The intensification of environmental and climate related risks comes on the heels of a year characterized by high-impact hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – causing major destruction in the US and the Caribbean island states, extreme temperatures and the first rise in global CO2 emissions in four years.

Speaking about the report, Alison Martin, Group Chief Risk Officer of Zurich Insurance Group, said: “Extreme weather events were ranked as a top global risk by likelihood and impact. Environmental risks, together with a growing vulnerability to other risks, are now seriously threatening the foundation of most of our commons.

Unfortunately, we currently observe a too-little-too-late response by governments and organisations to key trends such as climate change.

It’s not yet too late to share a more resilient tomorrow, but we need to act with a stronger sense of urgency in order to avoid potential system collapse.”

The report was published a few days before the beginning of the World Economic Forum in Davos, which will be attended by the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa.

In Davos, the UN’s top climate change official will meet with government and non-state leaders to discuss how to drive forward the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the key international agreement designed limit the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius, thereby preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

The report notes that climate action initiated by a growing network of cities, states and businesses is emerging as an important means of countering climate change and other environmental risks.

Global risks are increasingly interconnected

The report also warns that biodiversity is being lost at mass-extinction rates, agricultural systems are under strain, global food supply is in danger, and pollution of the air and sea has become an increasingly pressing threat to human health. Some of these risks can cause a chain of events – large scale displacement, water scarcity – that could jeopardize social, political and economic stability in many regions of the world.

For instance, the latest data shows that over 75% of the 31 million people displaced during 2016 were forced from their homes as a result of weather-related events.

Among the 30 global risks the experts were asked to prioritize in terms of likelihood and impact, five risks – extreme weather, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, major natural disasters and man-made environmental disasters, and failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change – were ranked highly on both dimensions.

The report points out the interconnectedness that exists both among these environmental risks and between them and risks in other categories – such as water crises and involuntary migration. Also notable is the economic cost attached to natural disasters and coastal storms that cause devastation of critical infrastructure.

The report suggests that a trend towards nation-state unilateralism could make it more difficult to sustain the long-term, multilateral responses that are required to counter rising temperatures and the degradation of the global environment.

The report – which shares the perspectives of global experts and decision makers on the most significant risks that face the world – asked nearly 1,000 respondents for the views about the trajectory of risks in 2018. Nearly 60% of them pointed to an intensification of risks, compared with just 7% pointing to declining risks.

See the relevant World Economic Forum press release.

Download the Global Risks Report 2018 here.

Press link for more: COP23.UNFCCC.INT

Best Environmental Journalism 2017 #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Our Favorite Environmental Journalism of 2017

Popular Dec. 26, 2017 01:01PM EST

By Joe Sandler Clarke and Unearthed reporters

From the finest American journalism chronicling the worst excesses of the Trump administration to international stories showing the impact of climate change on the developing world, here are the stories we wish we had written this year.

On our changing climate

Alaska’s permafrost is no longer permanent – New York Times, Henry Fountain @henryfountain

This striking New York Times piece is one of those rare pieces of journalism that communicates an issue so effectively and with such clarity that the reader is able to immediately grasp the complex science that too often makes environmental journalism impenetrable.

The perfect storm – Reveal

Hurricane Harvey pummelled Houston in August, and Reveal reporter Neena Satija was there to document the city’s unpreparedness for the storm. This piece is a follow-up to Hell and High Water, the extraordinary 2016 joint investigation by ProPublica, The Texas Tribune and Reveal.

One of the clearest signs of climate change in Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey was the rain – Vox, Umair Irfan @umairfan

We were crying out for a piece of forensic reporting setting out the links between climate change and this summer’s storms in the Caribbean and southern America, and Umair Irfan delivered. This is the kind of explanatory journalism Vox excels at.

The U.S. flooded one of Houston’s richest neighborhoods to save everyone else – Bloomberg Businessweek, Shannon Sims @shannongsims

Another piece on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This cover story from Bloomberg Businessweek gives an insight into what a natural disaster looks like in one of America’s most important economic areas. As Sims herself said, this is an article about “what justice looks like in a changing climate.”

Why climate change is creating a new generation of child brides – The Observer, Gethin Chamberlain @newsandpics

Stories that connect climate change with real human consequences should be the gold standard of environmental reporting. This piece from the Observer does just that, showing how increased droughts and floods are forcing farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to give away their daughters to stay out of poverty.

‘Not a single thing was dry’: Mumbai’s residents count the cost of floods – The Guardian, Amrit Dhillon and Carlin Carr

Devastating floods in South Asia made for one of the most dramatic environmental stories this year. In this piece, Mumbai residents talk to the Guardian about facing up to the torrential rains.

Mapped: How UK foreign aid is spent on climate change – Carbon Brief, Rosamund Pearce @_rospearce and Leo Hickman @LeoHickman

Rich countries are providing aid to help developing nations adapt to climate change. But how much is being spent? Who is spending it? And where is the money going? Back in October, Carbon Brief set out to answer these questions. A month later, they also mapped how multilateral climate funds spend their money.

On Trump

Under Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has slowed actions against polluters, and put limits on enforcement officers – New York Times, Eric Lipton @EricLiptonNYT and Danielle Ivory @danielle_ivory

While the president’s agenda has largely floundered in Congress, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt‘s efforts to undo Obama-era environmental rules have happened at a rapid pace. This New York Times piece sets out just what the agency has been up to in the first year of the Trump presidency.

Why the scariest nuclear threat may be coming from inside the White House – Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis has done some amazing work chronicling the Trump administration. We could easily have picked his piece on the administration’s actions against scientists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But with the news dominated by fears over North Korea, this look at U.S. nuclear policy at home was timely and fascinating.

America’s climate refugees have been abandoned by Trump – Mother Jones, Kyla Mandel @kylamandel

With Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast devastated by hurricanes this year, Kyla Mandel reported on the Trump administration’s efforts to cut support for American communities at the forefront of climate change.

Bombs in your backyard – ProPublica

It turns out that the U.S. military spends more than a billion dollars a year cleaning up sites it has contaminated with explosives and toxic chemicals. Some of these areas are near schools and residential neighborhoods. We know this because ProPublica went ahead and mapped them.

On the shifting energy system

How China floated to the top in solar – Time, Charlie Campbell @CharlieCamp6ell

This was the year the world got serious about green energy, and this feature from Time magazine tells the story of how China became a leader in renewable energy. We liked this line from Sang Dajie, a former coal miner who now works on the world’s largest floating solar farm: “The coal mine was very hot and the air was bad. But here I feel safe. The new energy is safe.”

The story behind this days-long traffic jam in Mongolia – Quartz, Johnny Simon

China may be leading the world on renewable energy, but it still loves coal. This photo gallery was a clear illustration of the country’s energy conundrum.

The race to solar-power Africa – New Yorker, Bill McKibben @billmckibben

Activist and journalist Bill McKibben reported on how American start-ups are competing with Chinese and European firms, and homegrown companies, to provide cheap, reliable power to a continent where fossil fuels have failed to spark development.

The town that disappeared – BBC News, Jenny Norton

Across Russia, hundreds of small towns have been abandoned in the past ten years as coal mining becomes increasingly unviable in the country and the fallout from the collapse of the Soviet Union continues.

Russia-backed hackers try to hijack Britain’s power supply – The Times, Aaron Rogan and Mark Bridge

Amid the flurry of concern about hacking in the U.S. election, The Times reported in June that Russian hackers attacked networks running the national grid in the UK. A couple of days later, Motherboard, Vice’s sister tech publication, reported that GCHQ believed the hackers had already compromised UK energy sector targets.

On the new and persistent threats to the environment

Series: So I can breathe – BBC World Service

There have been plenty of air pollution stories in the media over the last 12 months, but this series of programs broadcast across BBC platforms in March caught our eye for reporting on solutions to the global crisis.

Vladimir’s Venezuela: Leveraging loans to Caracas, Moscow snaps up oil assets – Reuters, Marianna Parraga and Alexandra Ulmer

Venezuela’s economy is unravelling and, as this special report from Reuters in August shows, the country’s socialist government is taking increasingly drastic measures to survive.

Attack of the bee killers – Politico, Giulia Paravicini @giuliaparavicin and Simon Marks @MarksSimon

2017 saw even more scientific research linking bee deaths with controversial pesticides called neonicotinoids. This piece in Politico methodically and forcefully lays out how chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta have lobbied EU politicians for years to weaken regulations.

There’s an army of Indian Twitter accounts pushing suspiciously identical pro-mining tweets – BuzzFeed, Mark Di Stefano @MarkDiStef

With Indian mining company Adani seeking support for a controversial coal project on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the company’s boss Gautam Adani visited Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in April. As BuzzFeed reported, his visit was wildly cheered on by a bunch of definitely real Indian tweeters who all believed that Adani would bring coal jobs to Queensland.

A fight for Brazil’s Amazon forest – Financial Times, Sue Branford

Since Michel Temer became president in August 2016, Brazilian politics has been dominated by rollbacks for key environmental and Indigenous protections. In September, as part of the FT’s ‘Brazil: the Road Ahead’ series, Sue Branford reported on the new scramble for natural resources in the Brazilian Amazon.

Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally, new research reveals – The Guardian, Jonathan Watts @jonathanwatts and John Vidal @john_vidal

Protecting the environment is an increasingly dangerous thing to do. This research by Global Witness found that in 2016, 200 environmental activists and others protecting their land from destructive industries were killed—and the rate only increased in 2017. This story launched The Defenders, an ongoing collaboration between the Guardian and Global Witness tracking such killings.

Press link for more: Ecowatch.com

Women, Gender Equality & #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol

Women, gender equality and climate change: driving forward!

Fanny-Benedetti & Celine Mas

French President Emmanuel Macron again sounded the alarm at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At the summit, which took place from 6 to 17 November 2017 in Bonn, he warned that the planet is under threat and that if we continue on our current trajectory, we risk “tacitly, collectively accepting the disappearance of a significant number of populations by 2100.”

Furthermore, a group of over 15,000 scientists from more than 184 countries have issued a notice highlighting our moral imperative to current and future generations to take action to reverse the vicious cycles that have been created by the overexploitation of the planet’s natural resources and through our unsustainable modes of production and consumption, which represent a risk for the future of all of humanity.

As the primary users of new agricultural techniques, as green energy entrepreneurs, or simply as those who decide on modes of consumption and behaviour within the family, women are key actors in bringing about change and developing solutions that secure our transition to a sustainable future.

While climate negotiations are failing to give us news that’s sufficiently heartening, the increasing attention given to the specific role of women in the fight against climate disruption and the ecological transition is a reason to feel encouraged.

Again this year, at the COP23 in Bonn, the role of women took the spotlight thanks to the activism of the feminist associations present, such as Care France, Adéquations and Women in Europe for a Common Future, which alongside UN Women have tirelessly brought the subject to attention, at every stage in the negotiation process.

These advocacy efforts are starting to pay off, as the states have just adopted a gender-focused action plan, a first within the framework of these negotiations. The plan obliges states to make commitments that go beyond making observations on the differentiated impact that climate change has on men and women, by ensuring that all of their climate mitigation efforts are designed to decrease this gender gap, whereby women are disproportionately affected.

In fact, each change to the climate affects women in a specific way, especially in the Global South, because female populations in these countries provide an essential contribution to food security, agriculture, health and energy sectors. Every consequence of climate change which impacts on natural resources — such as drought, flooding and other extreme meteorological events—will exacerbate the poverty of these women who generally carry out household tasks unaided.

The risk of death as a result of natural disasters linked to climate change is 14 times higher for women and children, essentially because they are not the primary beneficiaries of catastrophe alert and prevention programmes.

If women have often been considered as secondary actors, it’s time for a thorough review, appreciation and endorsement of their vital role. This inevitably means reassessing the way that financing is attributed.

Studies show that taking gender into account in policies focused on development, transport, sustainable forest management, water management and renewable energy strengthens their impact and increases their socio-economic return on investment. Taking action in favour of women and for equality therefore means contributing to the fight against climate change.

UN Women notably supports women’s action on climate change through its International Day of Rural Women on 15 October, and its flagship programme which promotes women’s empowerment through climate-smart agriculture. This programme aims to improve African women’s access to technology and information by managing digital platforms for women and providing agricultural data in real time such as information on farming technology, market prices and weather forecasts, as well as increasing women’s access to financing, credit and investment.

In France, women are already at the forefront of activities in the social and solidarity economy sector, in agribusiness, health, social integration and recycling.

However, the means allocated to gender concerns in the climate sphere remain largely insufficient. In 2015, only 0.01 percent of international funding was being used to support projects that incorporate both climate and women’s rights elements. This lack of access to funding is a serious impediment to the development of projects led by women that accelerate the ecological transition. The question of financing is undeniably one that states must address — by making real commitments — in order to create climate resilience, and to prevent humanity from suffering the worst consequences of its own imprudence.

Press link for more: The Hindu

Former Green Leader Bob Brown Slams Evil, Corrupt Adani Mine #StopAdani #auspol

Bob Brown slams ‘evil, corrupt’ Adani mine

Veteran conservationist Bob Brown has compared Adani’s Carmichael coal mine to Tasmania’s quashed Franklin Dam, slamming the “destructive wealth and arrogance” of the company’s chairman.
The former Greens leader joined protesters from the Stop Adani group in Sydney on Saturday where he demanded no public money be spent on the Queensland project.

Mining tycoon Gautam Adani this week declared the company would break ground on its controversial $16.5 billion coal mine in Queensland in October.
“This is the biggest environmental, heritage, Indigenous and lifestyle issue I have seen come along in decades in Australia,” Mr Brown told reporters at the summit.

He said Mr Adani had signalled, in a “heightened arrogance”, that a billion-dollar loan for the project from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund was already locked in despite no public announcement from the Turnbull government.

Opponents vow to continue Adani fight
Opponents of Adani’s proposed coal mine say they will continue to examine it’s lawfulness after the Federal Court threw out two attempts to stop it going ahead.

Adani fined over Qld stormwater release
Adani has been fined by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection over a license breach at its Abbot Point facility.
“You’re not welcome to bring your destructive wealth and arrogance to ride over the majority opinion of Australian people who don’t want you to have that loan and won’t let you get away with that mine,” Mr Brown said.
He predicted a revolt at the next election if the loan and “evil, rotten, corrupt” mine went ahead.
Mr Brown rose to prominence as director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society as it campaigned against the Franklin Dam in the late 1970s and 1980s.
It was a battle won by conservationists and Mr Brown warned Carmichael mine opponents were similarly prepared to physically sit in front of machinery.
Maggie McKeown from the Mackay Conservation Group said Queenslanders had seen the impacts of climate change in the form of heat, coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and cyclone damage.
“If Adani opens up the coal in the Galilee Basin, it’s undeniable that these events will become more frequent and more intense,” she said.

Hanson says Adani railway should be built by Australians, not ‘foreign investors’
Pauline Hanson says a railway between Adani’s mega-coal mine and the Queensland coast should be built and owned by Australia, rather than “foreign investors”.
Adani mine ‘threatens finch’s survival’
Experts working to save an endangered species of finch say Adani’s Queensland coal mine will put it on a fast track to extinction.
Mine opponents argue the project cannot proceed because carbon emissions from the coal being burned in India will further damage the already-ailing reef through climate change.
The Federal Court last week dismissed two legal bids to stop it going ahead, from traditional owners and environmental groups.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ruled out financial support but her Labor government views the enormous project as a valuable jobs generator.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been accused by protesters of sitting on the fence on the issue.
The Stop Adani group will hold a national day of action against the project on October 7.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office declined to comment.

Press link for more: SBS.COM

Why we need a politics of the far future. #Auspol

By Richard Eckersley, first published at On Line Opinion on 4 September 2015
If you were to assess various personal life paths and their risks and opportunities, would you choose one that had a 1 in 2 chance of wrecking your life, or even ending it? In most circumstances, no-one would; the risks are just too high.
Yet a new study suggests that many people think that we are taking risks of this magnitude with our future as a civilisation or a species. The study found most Australians (53%) believe there is a 50% or greater chance our way of life will end within the next 100 years, and a quarter (24%) that humans will be wiped out. These are surprisingly high estimates; no person or organization would accept or choose this level of risk, given the stakes.
When asked about different responses to these threats, 75% of the Australians surveyed agreed ‘we need to transform our worldview and way of life if we are to create a better future for the world’ (an ‘activist’ response); 44% agreed that ‘the world’s future looks grim so we have to focus on looking after ourselves and those we love’ (nihilism); and 33% agreed that ‘we are facing a final conflict between good and evil in the world’ (fundamentalism).
The findings strip the ground from under the largely ‘business as usual’ strategies that dominate political thinking. Concerns about the world’s future barely register in our politics; our political leaders proclaim constantly that Australia is a great nation with a great future. This tension may contribute more than politicians and political pundits suspect to the current mood of political disillusion and cynicism.
Melanie Randle, of the Faculty of Business at the University of Wollongong, and I co-authored the study, recently published online in the journal Futures. The study involved a survey of over 2,000 people in Australia, US, UK and Canada.
Findings were similar across countries, age, sex and other demographic groups, although some interesting differences emerged. More Americans rated high the risk of humans being wiped out (30%), and that humanity faces a final conflict between good and evil (47%) – reflecting the strength in the US of Christian fundamentalism and its belief in the ‘end time’ and a coming Apocalypse. Such beliefs can influence national politics; some commentators thought they shaped President Bush’s outlook.
There is mounting scientific evidence and concern that humanity faces a defining moment in history, a time when it must address growing adversities, or suffer grave consequences. Reputable journals are canvassing the possibilities; the new study will be published in a special issue of Futures on ‘Confronting catastrophic threats to humanity’.
Most focus today is on climate change and its many, potentially catastrophic, impacts; other threats include depletion and degradation of natural resources and ecosystems; continuing world population growth; disease pandemics; global economic collapse; nuclear and biological war and terrorism; and runaway technological change.
Not surprisingly, surveys reveal widespread public pessimism about the future of the world, at least in Western countries, including a common perception of declining quality of life, or that future generations will be worse off. However, there appears to have been little research into people’s perceptions of how dire humanity’s predicament is, including the risk of the collapse of civilisation or human extinction. These perceptions have a significant bearing on how societies, and humanity as a whole, deal with potentially catastrophic futures.
People’s responses in our study do not necessarily represent considered assessments of the specific risks. Rather, they are likely to be an expression of a more general uncertainty and fear, a loss of faith in a future constructed around notions of material progress, economic growth and scientific and technological fixes to the challenges we face. This loss is important, yet hardly registers in current debate and discussion. We have yet to understand its full implications.
At best, the high perception of risk and the strong endorsement of transformational change could drive a much greater effort to confront global threats. At worst, with a loss of hope, fear of a catastrophic future erodes people’s faith in society, affecting their roles and responsibilities, and their relationship to social institutions, especially government. It can deny us a social ideal to believe in – something to convince us to subordinate our own individual interests to a higher social purpose.
There is a deeply mythic dimension to this situation. Humans have always been susceptible to apocalyptic visions, especially in times of rapid change; and we need utopian ideals to inspire us. Our visions of the future are woven into the stories we create to make sense and meaning of our lives, to link us to a broader social or collective narrative. Historians and futurists have emphasised the importance of confidence and optimism to the health of civilisations and, conversely, the dangers of cynicism and disillusion.
Despite increasing political action on specific issues like climate change, globally the scale of our response falls far short of matching the magnitude of the threats, as the study findings imply. Closing this gap requires a deeper understanding of how people perceive the risks and how they might respond. Offering false hope is not the solution; to address the challenges we must first acknowledged them.
On the evidence, the far future is drawing closer – and it worries us.

Press link for more: climatecodered.org

Stand With Pope Francis#Auspol Be part of the #Climate solution.

Ahead of Pope Francis’s first visit to the U.S., NextGen Climate today launched a national campaign calling on our leaders to stand with Pope Francis and embrace clean energy solutions that protect our common home and secure our children’s future.

In the coming weeks, NextGen Climate will run TV, print and digital ads highlighting the diverse coalition of Americans who are answering the Pope’s moral call to action on climate change. NextGen Climate will also partner with Nuns on the Bus, a campaign of NETWORK, a National Catholic School Social Justice Lobby, to host rallies and events in Columbus, Ohio and Washington, DC urging our leaders to join the fight to build a clean energy future.
“Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has the power to shift the conversation about climate change in a very real way,” said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. “His may be the most important voice in the world. Now, it’s time for Congress to join the growing coalition of military, faith and business leaders answering the Pope’s call to take action on climate change.”
Beginning this week, NextGen Climate will launch a robust national advertising campaign that will reach millions of Americans and amplify the Pope’s powerful message. The new television ad, “Dear World,” which will run in both English and Spanish, features excerpts from the Pope’s climate change encyclical in a powerful call to action. This ad will air in Washington, DC, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania and on national cable as part of a $2 million ad buy.

Press link for more: ecowatch.com

California Governor Warns of Coming Climate Refugee Crisis

Governor Brown of California states the obvious. A climate refugee crisis is waiting to happen in North America. Joe Romm at Climate Progress: The Syria conflict has triggered the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” explains the European Commission. As Climate Progress has been reporting for years, and as a major 2015 study confirmed, […]


If he wants to win an election, Turnbull should go back to his old self on climate

By Peter Christoff, University of Melbourne No more “stop the boats” or “axe the tax”. In announcing his challenge to Tony Abbott on Monday, Malcolm Turnbull promised to take Australian politics away from the mantrafication of policy by three-word chant. He offered to treat the public intelligently, to engage it with reasoned explanations for policy change, […]