Category Archives: WEB LOG

Advocacy and newly discovered links of interest to people concerned about a sustainable future for “Spacehip Earth” and its living systems and species, including homo sapiens.

2050 renewable target is technically feasible

This presentation of 20 slides by Jeremy Leggett demonstrates how the world supply of energy could be free of fossil fuels by 2050. Leggett is in the business of solar energy innovation. It is unlikely that the COP24 negotiators in Katowice share his optimism. The vested interests of the big energy producing countries led the US, Saudi Arabia and Russia to disavow the IPCC analysis.

World’s largest shipping line aims for carbon neutrality – Maersk has 20% of world containers shipping trade and has good intentions.

what can we do?

Prof. Nate Hagens teaches at the University of Minnesota in the US. He gave up his job in Wall Street upon realising what impact exponentially growing, fossil fuel-and debt-based, free-market, corporate capitalism was having on the finite earth. When his students ask WHAT CAN WE DO? the article summarises what he tells them. It relates to

  1. Big Universal Movements
  2. Personal Lifestyles

and adds a few links to important readings.

OLDROYD CLIMATE HUB PRESENTATION –  Slides from the presentation – Spaceship Earth presentation short notes

And some positive news from US politics? Is A New Green Deal possible in the USA? – the new generation of progressive Democrats (Ocasio-Cortez, et.al.) are promoting a huge climate policy shift resembling the massive response to the original New Deal that reversed the Great Depression of 1929 (The Atlantic article, 5 Dec 2019)

Vision of an Ecological Civilisation -Jeremy Lent (author of “The Patterning Instinct”) MAHB article

Climate activists must challenge economic growth – Resilience article for COP24 activists, 7 Dec 2018

LINKS TO VIDEOS

Welcome to Spaceship Earth (2 mins)

The impossible hamster e(economic growth)

Direct action in Poland -350.org video (6 mins)

Hooked on Growth (50 mins)

Speech for climate justice by Anjali Appadurai at Climate Summit in Durban

 Lecture by Guy McPherson Responding to abrupt climate change” –(75 mins.)

Noam Chomsky lecture on climate change and nuclear war existential crises, 2017

COP24 links

CO2 emissions reach all time high – timely Global Carbon Project report for COP24 participants to ponder (BBC website article). Contains suggestions for personal action to lower emissions.

At COP24 Greta Thunberg the 15-year old Swedish activist speaks truth to power holders who fail to act and predicts that “people will rise to the challenge” where our leaders have failed to curb CO2 emissions.

David Attenborough warns of civilisation collapse; “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision makers, to act now. They’re behind you, along with civil society represented here today. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilization and the natural world on which we depend, is in your hands.”

Academics’ perspectives on  “12 years to disaster”

What to expect

What must be agreed – The urgency for decisive action is the imperative for COP24. The UN must press on with four major strands for meeting the Paris 1.5°C target:

  1. Reduce fossil carbon emissions.
  2. Remove carbon from the atmosphere (NETs).
  3. Halt the rise of emissions of non-CO₂ greenhouses cases (Methane, Nitrous oxide, CFCs).
  4. Investigate techniques for geoengineering, including Solar Radiation Management.

All four of these must proceed simultaneously and in parallel. COP24 must make this perfectly clear. There is utmost urgency and no time to “wait and see”.

Financial sector cannot be trusted in climate transition – sustainability and profitability in conflict.  “… private finance and large investors will play a central role at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, and in the full implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.  Representatives from pension funds, insurance funds, asset managers and large banks will attend the meeting and lobby governments, cities and other banks to favour investments in infrastructure, energy production, agriculture and the transition towards a low-carbon economy.  It is difficult to ignore that a strong reliance on private finance means putting the future of Earth in the hands of individuals and institutions that brought the global economy to the verge of collapse. …  global military spending in 2017 reached US$1.7 trillion while poor countries promised funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation in 2015 are still waiting.. COP24 should not legitimise large financial investors as the architects of a transition where sustainability rhymes with profitability”.

The Great Dying – new research on the Permian extinction – an ominous reminder of what climate change can do. NYT article 

On track for 1.5C global limit by 2034 – just 16 years to cross the limit.

Big investors to the rescue? – week 2 of COP24 gets new perspective based on fear of financial system collapse.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE COP24 ROOM

without a wider critique of the toxic relationship between climate change and economic growth, governments will be almost powerless to achieve any net zero targets they set”. 

The above extract from this article sums up the invisible ‘elephant in the room’ (universal commitment to economic growth which is the root cause of climate change and many other existential threats to a sustainable future) at the mass gathering from 200 nations in Katowice this week that is trying to reach some accord, in the absence of US commitment, in the face of the latest dire warnings from the IPCC scientific consensus about climate disruption, anthropogenic warming and rising numbers of storms & floods, droughts & fires around the world.

The article further suggests that:

“At COP24 environmental movements have an opportunity to use their platform to highlight the relationship between economic growth and environmental impact, and even to discuss radical alternative futures that are not dependent on a growth-based economy.”

This is  precisely the purpose of the presentation that I shall make at the Climate Hub fringe event platform on Friday that I am calling “Prospects for Spaceship Earth in the Anthropocene”. I will add this slide from the above article to my presentation:

I am less convinced about the article’s conclusion that:

“By identifying the root cause of climate change, and our inability to address it, these [protest] groups can go further than demanding action. They can change public mindsets, put pressure on national governments and point to a shared way forward. Here, we have our best shot at limiting the damage of climate change in a meaningful and timely way.”

Pictures of where one consequence of economic growth is leading – From a Guardian article on day one of Katowice COP24. “Climate catastrophe is now looking inevitable. We have simply left it too late to hold rising global temperatures to under 1.5C and so prevent a future of drowned coasts, ruined coral reefs, spreading deserts and melted glaciers”. 

2.7% growth in GHG  emissions for 2018 (NYT, 6 Dec 2018)

Rich countries failing on GHG emissions

BBC CLIMATE SUMMARY BEFORE COP24

Interactive charts from the BBC website on the opening day of COP24 in Katowice. The seven charts illustrate these conclusions:

1. The world has been getting hotter each year

2. The year 2018 set all sorts of records

3. We are not on track to meet climate change targets

4. The biggest emitters are China and the US

5. Urban areas are particularly under threat

6. Arctic sea ice is also in danger

7. We can all do more to help

Yet more data to consider as I finish my presentation for the Climate Hub fringe event alongside the COP mega-event that seems to have spawned far more media attention than normally exists about human impact on Spaceship Earth, at least the temperature, compunction and circulation of our atmosphere. I will try to promote the  metaphor of finite Spaceship Earth and the transformation brought about in the Anthropocene – the geological Epoch of Humans that has accelerated beyond control of its unintended consequences during my lifetime.

I will put my power point presentation on this website when it is complete.

Green new deals

This article includes a video of a panel from the Sanders Institute inaugurated this week to promote progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues. The panel includes Naomi Klein author of “This Changes Everything” and Bill McKibben the founder of 350.org. The Green New Deal is a  proposal to create a GND committee in the  US Congress that embeds social justice into the transformation required for  keeping global warming under the targets of the IPCC Report.  The IPCC report that radical political and economic  change are rapidly required – the usual systemic tall order for both the environment and society. The original New Deal in the 1930s brought a response to crisis but it was neither ‘green’ nor ‘for everybody’.

 

Progressive International was also launched at the same time by the wife of Bernie Sanders and Varoufakis. It aims to counter the spread of right  wing authoritarianism by building a global progressive movement.

Doughnut economics metric

Kate Raworth’s model for sustainable economics has now been developed into a new metric for locating the degree to which 150 countries are not able to maintain a safe operating space between environmental limits and social well-being indicators. In this short illustrated article the results are set out and classified into four categories. No countries come close to creating a secure future. The four categories are described as follows:

A. Countries that are barely crossing any planetary boundaries, but are falling very far short on meeting people’s needs, including G20 members India and Indonesia. The development path that these nations must now pursue has never taken before. Copying the degenerative industrial path of today’s high-income countries (Group C), would most likely collapse Earth’s life-supporting systems.

B. Many middle-income, ‘emerging’ economies – including G20 members like Brazil, Russia, China, Argentina and South Africa – are both falling short on social needs while already crossing biophysical boundaries. These countries are now making future-defining investments in urbanization, energy systems and transport networks. Will these infrastructural investments take them further away from the doughnut, or start bringing them towards it?

C. Today’s high-income countries ­– including G20 members like the US, UK, France, Germany and the EU 28 itself – cannot be called developed, given that their resource consumption is greatly overshooting Earth’s boundaries and, in the process, undermining prospects for all other countries. These high-income nations, too, are on an unprecedented developmental journey: to sustain good living standards while moving back within Earth’s biophysical boundaries.

D. No country is yet in sweet-spot cluster D (for Doughnut!) – so how many years until some are there, and which will make it there first?

The variables used in the metric are illustrated  here for Argentina where the G20 nations that produce 85% of carbon emissions is taking place this weekend:

 

Climate Assessment Reports

This hugely important report from 12 US government agencies was released at a time when people were preoccupied with Thanksgiving holidays, some believe, in order to minimise its  impact. It has dire conclusions about the impact of climate change on the US economy but appears to remain firmly within the ‘economic growth is good’ paradigm.

“Scientists have understood the fundamental physics of climate change for almost 200 years. In the 1850s, researchers demonstrated that carbon dioxide and other naturally occurring greenhouse gases in the atmosphere prevent some of the heat radiating from Earth’s surface from escaping to space: this is known as the greenhouse effect. This natural greenhouse effect warms the planet’s surface about 60°F above what it would be otherwise, creating a habitat suitable for life. Since the late 19th century, however, humans have released an increasing amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels and, to a lesser extent, deforestation and land-use change. As a result, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the largest contributor to human-caused warming, has increased by about 40% over the industrial era. This change has intensified the natural greenhouse effect, driving an increase in global surface temperatures and other widespread changes in Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in the history of modern civilization.”

Here  is a short introduction by a journalist to the report.

Here ‘Resilience’ summarises the impacts studied in the report

And here is the US President’s response to the report

A similar report for Europe Climate Impacts on Economy (European Commission)- impacts examined: Coastal floods; River floods; Droughts; Agriculture; Energy; Transport; Water resources; Habitat loss; Forest fires; Labour productivity; Mortality due to heatwaves.

And a UN Report on the Emissions Gap- a tripling of cuts to CO2 emissions is needed

Three chilling conclusions from the NCA

Predicted regional impact of climate change on US regions

WMO Reports record high GHGs

This BBC article summarises a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation that has been released shortly before the COP24 Climate Summit in Katowice. The report shows no slowing in the concentrations of CO2 (405 ppm in 2017), methane, NO2 in the atmosphere and also reveals new concerns about CH11 a gas that was banned due to its effects on the ozone layer as well as global warming. These GHGs (greenhouse gases) are now at levels not seen since 3 to 5 million years ago when earth temperatures were 2C degrees higher and sea levels 10-20 metres higher.

And here the BBC reports (with video)  on how China is building coal-powered electricity power stations all around the world. The article details and example in Serbia.

The Carbon Gap is here explained –  about the difference between what is needed and what is promised by 2030 – 12 years from now.

Politicians promote economy over environment

This article looks at the failure of politicians to take a systemic view that connects economic activity and consumer preferences with effects on the environment. The politicians seem to favour economic ‘progress’ despite unfavourable, now extremely serious and destructive effects on the support systems provided by the natural world for human society. Easter island is used as a previous example of the collapse of an economic system that destroyed its environmental support system. Pro-environment US President Jimmy Carter proved unable to beat Reagan who, like Trump, promised to “make America great again”. The author uses meat eating’s global effects on climate as a current issue that politicians are afraid to face.

“…democracy has never been very good at tackling the global issue of environmental degradation. Instead politicians often go to great lengths to avoid the topic. When they do engage, they do so begrudgingly, putting all their rigour into a division of responsibility that excuses themselves to the greatest extent.

On the whole, democracies are dominated by chronic short term decision making. And while they often act as safeguards to individual human liberties, democracy, and its preference for compromise, are often part of the problem when it comes to the environment – the biggest issue of them all.

Politicians avoid the reality that only immediate alterations to human behaviour can prevent this crisis. Put simply, the planet urgently needs more compassion for the environment and much less individual ego.”

A further illustration of economics trumping environment relates to the needed transformation of farming: 

“It is widely agreed that today’s global agriculture system is a social and environmental failure. Business as usual is no longer an option: biodiversity loss and nitrogen pollution are exceeding planetary limits, and catastrophic risks of climate change demand immediate action.

Most concede that there is an urgent need to radically transform our food systems. But the proposed innovations for more sustainable food systems are drastically different. Which we choose will have long-lasting effects on human society and the planet.

Suggested innovations in food systems can be broadly understood as either seeking to conform with – or to transform – the status quo.”

After outlining the contrasts between fossil-fuel-drive, industrialised, financialised, corporate high-tech agriculture and regenerative localised agroecological farming, the authors ask:

“Do you want to live in a world in which artificial food is produced by intelligent robots and corporations that put profits before people? Or one where agroecological innovations ensure we can nourish ourselves and our communities in a fair, ecologically regenerative, and culturally rich way?”