How to Spread the Word about Climate Change – Even if You’re Not a Climate Scientist

When a large asteroid hit the earth, sixty-five million years ago, it kicked up a huge amount of dust. The dust dimmed the sun for so long that the surface of the earth cooled sufficiently to wipe out the dinosaurs (incidentally giving mammals a chance to develop into the rich variety we see today).

If such a threat were in our near future, CNN and all the other news channels would be screaming about it. There would be non-stop coverage, on what we could do to avert the disaster, and how to cope should it strike anyway, and how each of us would be affected. You couldn’t get away from this news.

A similar threat is actually upon us, but going the other way: the earth is steadily warming. If we keep burning fossil fuels at today’s rate, the average global temperature may rise by 4 degrees C by 2100. That doesn’t sound like much, but the last time the world was 4C cooler on average, we were in an ice age, and life looked very different from the way it is today.

And it will keep warming past the year 2100. We don’t know what life will look like when it’s more than 4C warmer: it hasn’t been that warm for millions of years. 

This is an astonishing thought: the planet, our home, would be altogether a different place from what it is today. And while the changes appear slow on a human time scale, the warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate. Already species are feeling the pressure, and it is not clear how many will survive the changes that are very rapid on an evolutionary time scale. It’s clear: we must do what we can to keep the warming below 2C.

You would think that would make the news.

But the other astonishing thing about this is that there has been a near-silence on climate change in the mainstream news media. What little there is, is often diluted because editors give equal time to climate change deniers.

So here is what you and I can do about that.

We can help pass around the story ourselves. I’ve been giving climate talks, and have found that even the greenest cohorts still needs to hear the message more often, and more clearly: that global warming is happening, that it’s happening now, that we humans are causing it, and that there is a window of time in which we can work to stave off the worst of the effects.

For those who are not into powerpoint talks, you can arrange to show movies on climate change. This is what I did recently. I started by going to my public library; I found the librarian who manages the library events, and pitched her my idea of showing selected parts of the documentary “Years of Living Dangerously”.

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I have been giving Climate talks at using John. 

‘Long struggle’ warning on climate

America’s chief climate negotiator has warned of the long battle ahead to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Todd Stern told BBC News that by the end of the month, he expects the US to make a “quite ambitious” declaration on climate change.

He praised China’s projected offer to the December climate summit in Paris.

But he said the conference would not itself solve the climate problem. That, he argued, would need ongoing effort over decades.

Nations are desperate for the Paris meeting to avoid a repeat of the shambolic gathering in Copenhagen in 2009 that failed in its billing as the summit to save the planet.

This time, rich nations have agreed to make their offers well in advance to reduce the chance of last-minute chaos.

Long view

The EU has already offered a 40% cut on 1990 levels by 2030. The US will soon offer – probably a 26-28% reduction below 2005 levels by 2025. Comparison is hard because of different baselines, but some experts say the two appear roughly comparable in terms of effort. 

China is expected to offer to peak emissions by 2030 at the latest, and to produce 20% of its energy from nuclear and renewables by the same date.

“The two-degree goal will be reached if countries execute a deep decarbonisation of their economies over a significant period of time,” he said. 

Press link for more: Roger Harrabin |

We forget that nature & its laws don’t negotiate. 

Can the world get richer forever?

Since the dawn of the industrial age, the world has steadily been getting wealthier, despite setbacks such as the Great Depression and the more recent global financial crisis. 

We make more, sell more and consume more than ever before. 

Yet, according to the United Nations, nearly three billion people still live on less than $2.50 (£1.70) per day.

So, how can we raise living standards for those who still live in poverty? The answer, according to most governments, is rapid economic growth. 

Growth is seen as a panacea for a great many ills. It creates jobs, erodes debts and raises living standards. For politicians, it also generates votes. It is almost universally seen as a Good Thing.

Journalists are complicit in this. We frequently describe rapid growth as “robust”. Slower growth is “anaemic” and an economy in recession is often portrayed as “sick” or “ailing”.

‘Boiling the oceans’

Yet there’s a problem here. We live on a finite planet, but growth is exponential. So an annual increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of 3% might not sound like much – but it means an economy will double in size every 23 years.

So does this matter? According to Tom Murphy, professor of physics at the University of California San Diego, it definitely does, as economic growth goes hand in hand with increasing energy consumption. 

“From a physical point of view, if we grew at 3% a year, in about 400 years’ time we would actually be boiling the oceans – not because of global warming and CO2, but just because of the heat that is a natural by-product of the energy that we use,” he says.

These physical constraints, Prof Murphy says, will start to have an impact – for example, by creating cycles of boom and bust – and will make long-term growth impossible.

Press link for more: Theo Leggett |

The biggest story in the world podcast: Episode 1, Keep it in the ground

Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity, yet journalism has struggled for two decades to tell a story that doesn’t leave the public feeling disheartened and disengaged.

This podcast series lets you behind the scenes as the Guardian’s editor in chief Alan Rusbridger and team set out to find a new narrative. Recording as we go, you’ll hear what works, as well as our mistakes. Is there a new way to make the world care?

Episode 1: Keep it in the Ground

Alan calls the team to arms and challenges them: can they find a new way to report on climate change? He outlines why this is the most important story in the world and why most of the fossil fuels we already know about need to be kept in the ground. Given six months, can they succeed to engage a public in a new way?

Narrated by Aleks Krotoski and produced by Francesca Panetta, Jason Phipps,  and original music by 

Press link for podcast: The Guardian

World failing to tackle deadly pollution crisis.

New research says hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk from air pollution over next two decades.

New research from Europe’s environmental watchdog says hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk from air pollution in the next two decades.

And the European Environment Agency says governments are failing to act. Out of 20 environmental trends identified by the agency, not one is expected to improve.

A study said: “Projected improvements in air quality … are not expected to be sufficient to prevent continuing harm to health and the environment”.

India has been ranked by the World Health Organisation as having 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

A study just out in Mumbai estimates that high levels of pollution are likely to reduce life expectancy at birth by 3.2 years.

China is making strides to tackle its air quality, bringing in a law which subjects polluters to unlimited fines.

But a video released this week blaming corporate greed and a lack of political will to tackle the problem has gone viral, racking up more than three million hits.

So how much harm is being done by pollution, to the planet and its people? And are governments doing enough to clear the air?

Press link for video:

Green renewable energy and Australia’s lack of commitment.

While Australia is a co-founder of the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action on green renewable energy, the country has maintained considerable distance from the other co-founders.

This action has again put the Government headed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a controversial position at the Lima, Peru summit, deemed to be critical in the 2015 Paris global agreement.

The 14 Australians delegates, the lowest number in two decades, didn’t go unnoticed by attendees from other nations who observed that the Australian voice was barely heard compared with previous summits. This show of short staff may be an indication that although Australia has not yet officially cut its ties to the Cartegena Dialogue, the country it is no longer as invested in green renewable energy targets.

Cartagena Dialogue highlights Abbott’s lackluster commitment to climate change

The Australian Government’s decision to downgrade Cartagena’s position on their priority list has not boded well for the Abbott administration. This is the first conference on climate change which Australia has attended since the country scrapped the carbon price policy. Overtures of climate funding contribution have been dismissed by Australia as it cut funding of the UNEP.

The UNEP – short for United Nations Environment Programme – coordinates environmental activities worldwide and assists developing nations in their implementation of environmental-friendly practices and policies. With this apparent display of indifference from Australia climate talks are stalled every time the country participates in one of them.

Australia became upset at the mention of climate change during the G20 summit and has denied that climate change can be a threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Notwithstanding that work on its general carbon emission targets has not even been begun by Australia climate talks have progressed between Cartagena’s member-countries, including Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand.

Press link for more: Australian Solar Quotes

Global carbon emissions experienced zero growth in 2014. 

In what has been described as a real surprise by the International Energy Agency (IEA), annual global emissions of carbon dioxide experienced zero growth in 2014, even as the globe’s economy continued to grow. According to IEA data CO2 emissions for 2014 were 32.3 billion tonnes, the same as 2013, meanwhile the global economy grew by 3 per cent.

While this is not the first time that growth of emissions has stalled, on previous occasions it was coupled with a significant economic downturn such as the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 and the collapse of industrial production with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On this particular occasion it appears to be driven by structural changes in China and decarbonisation and enhanced energy efficiency across China, the United States and Europe.

Press link for more: Tristan Edis |

Wind energy could supply 41 per cent of U.S. electricity by 2050.

The Obama administration says wind energy could supply 35 per cent of the nation’s electricity by 2050, and says that within 10 years wind energy will be competitive even with existing coal plants.

The prediction is included in the US Department of Energy’s Wind Vision, a new era for wind energy in the US. It is an update of a document first released in 2008 by the Bush administration

In the latest version, the DoE says the current level of wind energy in the US – 4.5 per cent – is likely to double by 2020, before doubling again to 20 per cent of total demand by 2030.

The report predicts 35 per cent wind energy by 2050 as its core scenario, but says if wind costs are lower than expected, the result could be 41 per cent wind energy by 2050 – and this appears to be without assumed demand reductions from energy efficiency measures.

Giles Parkinson |

China eyes fundamental shift in energy policy.

In 2013, China consumed an extra 93 million tonnes of the stuff.

That amount – a mountain of the black fuel that would at one time have kept the best part of a quarter of a million British miners in work – represented only a 2.6% increase in China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for coal.

Like Britain, China’s industrial revolution has been coal-powered, but it has been on a scale and speed like nothing else in world history, bringing with it serious environmental implications.

China surpassed the United States to become the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007 and, if that trajectory is followed, it is well on track to double US emission levels within the next few years.

For anyone, anywhere worried about climate change, China has become the problem, and with the country opening a new coal-fired power station on average every week, it is a problem that has looked likely to simply grow and grow.

‘Peak coal’

Except that the recently released figures for 2014 suggest that something very interesting may now be happening.

Rather than another giant increase in coal consumption, for the first time in 15 years, government data shows that China’s annual coal consumption declined by 2.9%, with an accompanying 1% fall in carbon dioxide emissions.

Press link for more: John Sudworth |

Here’s how much faster wind and solar are growing than fossil fuels.

There’s been a lot of positive news about clean energy lately. For instance, we’ve reported that from 2008 to the present, wind and solar energy capacity in the United States has tripled.

Now, a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration makes a similar point. It finds that the electricity generated from wind and solar grew a lot faster than electricity generated by fossil fuels last year. In fact, solar more than doubled, and wind outgrew all other sources.

“I think the story that renewable generation is up from wind and solar and other sources is certainly the story to tell,” said Emily Williams, deputy director of industry data and analysis at the American Wind Energy Association, which heralded the report.

Here’s the bad news, though: Wind and solar are still only contributing a small fraction of the total electricity that we use, and far, far less than coal. They may be growing faster, but they’re very far behind.

The new data come from the EIA’s latest installment of Electric Power Monthlywhich provides stats on net electricity generation, across different energy sources, on a monthly and also annual basis. “Net generation” is defined by EIA as the gross electricity generated from a particular power source, minus the “electrical energy consumed at the generating station(s).” It should not be confused with electricity generating “capacity,” which is how much a source can potentially generate, vs. how much it actually produced.

Based on EIA’s data, there was considerably more growth in non-fossil electricity than in fossil based generation in 2014. In particular, wind and solar grew much more than coal or natural gas:

Press link for more: Chris Mooney |