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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, […]

http://climatecrocks.com/2015/09/16/california-governor-warns-of-coming-climate-refugee-crisis/

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, […]

http://realnewsone.com/2015/09/20/if-he-wants-to-win-an-election-turnbull-should-go-back-to-his-old-self-on-climate/

Eight ways to reach 100% renewable in developing countries | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian

Original source: Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian | 1. Celebrate the positives Renewable energy is clearly becoming the cheapest, more scalable and quickest way to provide electricity to the new demand from emerging markets. Currently there is only one key issue, availability of the renewable resource (no sun at night and no-wind days), but new […]

http://hundredgivers.com/2015/09/19/eight-ways-to-reach-100-renewable-in-developing-countries-global-development-professionals-network-the-guardian/

Climate Change Disaster Reduction Planning. #Auspol 

Climate change is a clear and present danger, forcing countries to evolve their policies constantly to keep up, participants at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction said today.
“It’s clear that climate change is going to have dramatic consequences for disaster risk reduction, particularly for poorer countries,” said Mr. Phil Evans, Government Services Director at the United Kingdom’s Met Office. 
The scale of the challenge makes it all the more important to seize the unique opportunity of 2015, given that this year sees three interlocking events: The World Conference, then a summit of global leaders on the Sustainable Development Goals in New York in September, and finally, in Paris in December, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 
All three events are part of international efforts to chart out future policy to cope with the changing climate and rein in impacts such as increasingly frequent and extreme super-storms or droughts. 
“In the context of disaster risk reduction and climate change, 2015 is a remarkable opportunity to address these issues,” said Evans. 
Bangladesh, one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, has won wide praise for its disaster risk reduction policies. The cyclones and floods of the past claimed tens of thousands of lives in the low-lying South Asian nation, but community-based early warning and evacuation plans have helped pull the toll down into the hundreds. 
The Bangladeshi government is doing even more to meet the challenge head on, said Mr. Shahid Ulla Mia, Additional Secretary at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief. 
“Momentum on management of disaster and climate risk across all levels is on the rise in Bangladesh,” he said. 

  
2-2“These have translated into high political commitment, growing public investments, advancement of risk-informed development, formulation of institutional and legislative policy for disaster risk management, innovation, use of technological solutions, and finally, promotion of the ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ approach for managing risk.
“Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation have moved from the periphery to the center of development planning. The agenda of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is the top of the political agenda in Bangladesh.” The picture is similar in the Philippines, which is regularly battered by typhoons. 
“Investing in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is critical to maintain development gains,” said the Philippines’ Climate Change Commissioner Lucille Sering, underscoring that the need to tackle the issue had spurred a common approach by all branches of the country’s government. 

Press link for more: climate change.searca.org

What’s there to see at the bottom of the ocean? More than you’d think

Grist

“Ocean explorer” sounds like a pie-in-the-sky job description, like “adventure archaeologist” or “Jedi.” But for David Gruber, it’s his actual title. A 2014 National Geographic emerging explorer who studies bioluminescence and fluorescence, Gruber hones in on the areas of the world that are still big unknowns and dives deep into them — way deep. Over the years, as Gruber has studied what goes on hundreds of meters below the surface of our seas, he has discovered hundreds of species and even identified entirely new marine phenomena, including some that could lead to breakthroughs in medical research.

A deep thinker, Gruber brings a philosophical approach to his science. He was first drawn to study bioluminescence because it was “an area that was artistic and beautiful to me, and that was really unknown.” Plus, he has an eye for the big picture: “It’s not like we’re just looking at it right now at…

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Northern California National Forests on Fire

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Last month’s storms in the North Coast resulted in hundreds of lightning strikes igniting forest fires across the region and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Now a combined total of approximately 102,755 acres are burning on the Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests. Thousands of fire fighters are on the ground, some in an effort to protect life and property and others are in the wilderness and backcountry. Fire suppression and the military style of firefighting can be more environmentally destructive than wildfire itself. Crews typically construct ridge top fire lines with bulldozers, dump fire retardant, ignite high severity back burns, fell trees and open up decommissioned roads to access and suppress the fires. These damaging efforts are often ineffective, for example yesterday a burning tree fell across a containment line on the Route complex, causing the fire to escape.  Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.wildcalifornia.org

GR:  The human damage fighting fires…

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