Recommended books

Jeremy Williams is one of my favourite bloggers who, like this blog and resource platform, is providing material that aims to raise awareness and promote action on behalf of a sustainable future on Spaceship Earth for all its organic passengers and support systems, though he prefers the ‘make wealth history’ title for his blog rather than the spaceship metaphor. Here is an annotated list of five books that he recommends as 2014 draws to a close. They can be added to ‘Catalogue of Resources: Books’ on this website.

COP20 conflicts

The Lima Conference of the Parties (COP 20) continue their long-running failure to achieve any consensus about international collaboration to cut carbon emissions. Two very different commentaries are to be found from the BBC (12.12.14) on the one hand and from the Murgatroyd Blog (08.12.14) on the other hand. Another surprising contribution to the COP 20 debate came from an international declaration  by Catholic bishops on climate change. They are the leaders of upwards of one billion adherents world-wide – around one seventh of all the people on Spaceship Earth. Jeremy Williams comments on and provides a link to this declaration.

Implications of 4 degree global warming

Jeremy William’s blog is my favourite source of material and links on the issues that relate to the well-being or otherwise of our civilisation’s future on Spaceship Earth. In this week’s blog he introduces the World Bank’s Report “4 degrees: Turn down the heat” which firmly links climate change to human development. Here is an extract:

If the planet continues warming to 4°C, climatic conditions, heat and other weather extremes considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the new climate normal—a world of increased risks and instability.

The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise. The task of promoting human development, of ending poverty, increasing global prosperity, and reducing global inequality will be very challenging in a 2°C world, but in a 4°C world there is serious doubt whether this can be achieved at all.

Another Williams blog on the implications of different rates and levels of carbon emissions is here. It is based on the Carbon Brief a website that reports daily on the latest developments and media coverage of climate science and energy policy, with a particular focus on the UK. 

Unpleasant or uninhabitable future?

Lima will be the site for yet another international attempt to frame an agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s semi-optimistic article in the New York Times reports:

“After more than two decades of trying but failing to forge a global pact to halt climate change, United Nations negotiators gathering in South America this week are expressing a new optimism that they may finally achieve the elusive deal.

Even with a deal to stop the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists warn, the world will become increasingly unpleasant. Without a deal, they say, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans.

The aim of negotiators in Lima is, for the first time, to produce an agreement in which every nation commits to a domestic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, along the model of the November 2014 United States-China agreement. Negotiators expect that by next March, governments will make announcements similar to those made by the United States and China in November

In order to avoid the 3.6 degree increase, global emissions must peak within the next 10 years, going down to half of current levels by midcentury. But the deal being drafted in Lima will not even be enacted until 2020. And the structure of the emerging deal — allowing each country to commit to what it can realistically achieve, given each nation’s domestic politics — means that the initial cuts by countries will not be as stringent as what scientists say is required”.

A powerful documentary film “Disruption” made before the previous Climate Summit held in New York at the UN on 21 September 2014 to mobilise the largest street protest ever seen against the failure to address climate disruption seriously. The film offers a summary of the scientific evidence about human-induced climate disruption, why we are both simultaneously bystanders and perpetrators and how street demonstrations can contribute powerfully to create ‘social tipping points’ that bring about shifts in values and political change.

For a visual account of the biggest climate march ever see this coverage an the website.