"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Abrupt impacts Of Climate Change’

2c Warming = “A death sentence for Africa.” The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard: Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Oldspeak: “On the eve of the latest and “most important” U.N. Climate change conference and the attendant fanfare of corporate sponsored circle jerks otherwise known as protest marches and “actions”, I thought it important to illustrate the pointlessness of it all. The following piece is a brilliant one from Cory Morningstar in 2012, one of the few journalists doing anything close to journalism about the single most important story on earth. In it, She delineates how back in 2009  a couple billion people were relegated to a future of famine, drought, and uninhabitable homelands, without much fanfare. Knowing all along that temperatures of of 2c or higher and CO2 concentrations of 350 ppm meant certain death for many people, some who had very little to do with creating the conditions of their death sentence. She details how science based targets were ignored in favor or politically palatable and omnicidal corporate approved targets, promoted as valid by its NGO/Non-profit Industrial Complex/Infotainment Media. Africa in particular was predicted to be hardest hit with irreversible climate disruption. We’re seeing that come to fruition, probably much sooner than anticipated in places like the horn of Africa, Somaliland, Senegal,  Botswana, The waves of refugees streaming into Europe, are fleeling terrorism and political instability borne of climate change and global warming. Meanwhile, as the planet burns, the negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level. So one has to wonder, what is the point of meeting if the game is far past over for climate? Why continue to pretend like 350ppm and 2c are acceptable targets for “mitigation” and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change when there is no way to even achieve those targets?!?!? These people will spend yet another 2 weeks on the champagne circuit bloviating, blithely spending more carbon emissions from a carbon budget that won’t even be discussed to talk about perhaps coming to a binding “climate agreement” that has no basis in reality or scientific fact. Enjoy the Kabuki. We’re fucked.” -OSJ 

 

Written By Cory Morningstar @ The Art of Annihilation:

“350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” – AOSIS Briefing 2009

“This was nothing less than a colonisation of the sky. $10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

In December 11, 2009 one of the most important briefings in the history of United Nations Conference of the Parties transpired (COP15) which took place in Copenhagen. If we lived in a world in which what we see, what we are told, and what we believe, matched our existing reality, this briefing would have become the basis of all future climate negotiations and discussions. Of course, that is not the world we live in. Rather, we live in a world of unfettered illusion that is fed and fetishized by a feast of denial, apathy, subservience, obedience, consumption and distraction.

Leading up to COP15, the institutionalized environmental “movement” united under an umbrella organization/campaign titled TckTckTck, a social media giant, contrived by some of the world’s most powerful corporations and the world’s most powerful marketing executives. (The trademark TckTckTck was registered, on November 30, 2009, by the EURO RSCG firm, a subsidiary of Havas Worldwide). [1] One such TckTckTck partner was the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change consisting of corporations such as Shell, RBF and Coca-Cola. (Signatories here) When this information was uncovered and made public, TckTckTck removed them from their website. (See screenshot).

The Demands

“350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” – AOSIS Briefing 2009

Despite the “demands” by the hope industry for a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” which consisted of an inadequate 40% global emission reductions by 2020 – with no disclosed baseline, the G77, AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), and the Bolivian government (under the leadership of Indigenous President Evo Morales) aggressively pursued the scientific targets necessary in order for the world to avoid complete ecological collapse and a global genocide of unparalleled proportions. This empty demand of a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” was the marketing centre of the campaign that grew from that oligarchy’s wet dream, the corporate social engineering creation, TckTckTck.

Bolivia and the AOSIS called for an agreement to keep the global temperature from exceeding no more than a 1ºC rise and to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm. [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.] [2] In stark contrast, the corporate NGOs “demanded” that temperatures not exceed a +2ºC and further “demanded” that world emissions peak within 8 years (meaning that emissions would continue to increase, business as usual, until, up to a further 8 years at which point we would begin an effort to decrease). TckTckTck includes over 350 international partners (280 in 2009) including Avaaz, 350.org (who signed on in inception-see HAVAS pager/press release), Conservation International, Greenpeace International, World Wildlife Fund (and many more pro-REDD advocates and climate-wealth profiteers) as well as Climate Action Network International [3] who represents (and speaks on behalf of) over 700 NGOs. CAN also lobbies governments for REDD – a false solution that breeds a new form of climate racism. [In 2009 the evolving data from the IPCC revealed that at an increase of temperature just below 2 degrees above pre-industrial level, the poor, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised would not survive, and below 1.5 degrees there would be a chance of survival.]

Regarding the issue of human rights and climate justice, the hundreds of corporate NGOs – by campaigning to convince the public to accept the global average temperature further rising up to a 2ºC limit – thereby sanctioned/sanctions most all species on this planet to an unprecedented annihilation within decades. [Note: Consider that at under +1ºC, we are already committed to a minimum +2.4ºC not including feedbacks: Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper. Further, note climate scientist James Hansen’s warning that even 1ºC now looks like an unacceptably high risk.]

While the non-profit industrial complex, including the vast majority of the climate justice movement may have succeeded in keeping both their eyes wide shut, leaders of vulnerable countries did not. [Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Truth

Artist: Abezgus E.V., Koretsky V.B. , Title: Neo- colonialism is nation’s robbery, Year: 1965

“I would rather die with my dignity than sign a deal that will channel my people into a furnace.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

One of the most inspiring leaders present at the COP15 was the ever so eloquent, Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77. (The G77 bloc is the major group of developing countries, many of which are among the most threatened by effects of climate change as well as, the largest developing country bloc represented at the COP15) Although Di-Aping was Sudanese by birth, his parents (who called themselves “Lumumbist”) named Di-Aping after the famous Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. (Lumumba, the anti-colonialist, democratically elected prime minister of the Congo was assassinated in 1960 having been deemed a severe threat by the U.S. due to his uncompromising ideas of freedom and African unity – Lumumba played a leading role in the struggle for the liberation of Africa and all of Africa’s resources.)

At the historic press conference which took place on November 11, Di-Aping addressed the international NGO community. The conference room was packed with representatives of the non-profit industrial complex and corporate media complex which includes to so-called progressive media. In a most direct approach, Di-Aping asked NGOs to support the demand that developed countries cut emissions 52% by 2017; 65% by 2020; and 80% by 2030 (based on a 1990 baseline). Further, Di-Aping asked the NGOs to demand GHG emission cuts well above 100% by 2050, which would (perhaps) keep the global temperature from exceeding no more than 1.5ºC. These targets, if met, would allow Africa to quite simply – stay alive.

A 2ºC rise in global temperature, which the non-profit industrial complex campaigned upon, would mean a 3.5ºC rise for Africa. This temperature is certain death for the Africa people – certain death for billions. In addition, a 2ºC global temperature rise guarantees a minimum 4ºC global temperature for future generations. In the film footage provided below, one bears witness to Di-Aping speaking directly to the Climate Action Network (International) (CAN) representatives.

One must note the disturbing irony. After the press conference was finished; a standing ovation erupted. The room shook with an audience both inspired and enraptured. Depending on one’s depth of understanding of foundations, corporate power structures and the non-profit industrial complex, one may or may not be surprised at what happened afterwards, which was, quite simply, nothing. The white ivory towers, ever so acquiescent to their hegemonic rulers, wrote off the African people by continuing their “demand” for “a fair, ambitious, binding agreement”. In other words: “sorry about your luck Africa … enjoy your future of hell on Earth … and fuck you”.

The non-profit industrial complex, with CAN and TckTckTck at the forefront stuck to 2ºC and their other suicidal (non)targets. The climate justice groups dared to demand that temperatures did not exceed 1.5ºC on occasion, while any discussion demanding that 1ºC be supported and campaigned upon sent this faction too, running scared like frightened field mice. Climate justice amounted to nothing more than a branded trademark. Silence and acquiescence reigned as the champagne circuit discussed career options over cocktails.

Below are excerpts from the only transcript that exists.

 “The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.”

“… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.”

“So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable. His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate sceptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of “incentivizing” profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying? What are you saying? I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.”

“Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs]”

“It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.”

“If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean? Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].”

 

Video:

Raw Footage, Lumumba Di-Aping, December 11, 2009 [Running time: 12:30]

Three days earlier, on December 8, 2009, a meeting comprised of approximately 100 African representatives of the non-profit industrial complex was announced. At the onset of this impromptu gathering (which also included a small handful of African parliamentarians) it was requested by the organizers that all microphones were to be turned off in order to ensure that discussions about to take place would not be recorded. (It must be noted that Di-Aping made a point of turning his microphone on.) Following introductions, Di-Aping was given the floor. Standing before the audience, Di-Aping was still. Initially he did not speak. Rather, he sat silent, as tears streamed down his face. After a long silence, Di-Aping spoke in unabashed candor. He cradled his head in his hands and stated: “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The silence was deafening. The audience froze. People had no idea of how one should react to a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting – in fact sharing – his raw emotions.

“[This] is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces.” – Lumumba Di-Aping commenting on the (non-binding) Copenhagen accord

After regaining his composure, in methodical tone, Di-Aping meticulously explained the science demonstrating why the  2ºC target being sought by the leading obstructionist states was not only certain death for Africa, but also representative of a new type of climate fascism being imposed on the African people. Di-Aping pointed out that the African negotiating delegations were weak, due to many having been “bought off” by the industrialised states, while simultaneously members of the South Africa delegation had aggressively sought to disrupt the unity of the bloc. Di-Aping, stressing the urgent need to hold Africa’s negotiators to account and the difficult struggle ahead, was unequivocal in his assessment bluntly stating “you have no idea of the powers that are arrayed against you”.

One example of a foundation serving as a front group for US industrialists cited by Di-Aping was the Climate Works Foundation. The CEO of Climate Works is William K. Reilly. Prior to his position with Climate Works, Reilly served as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, president of the World Wildlife Fund, president of The Conservation Foundation, and director of the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth. As well, he headed the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.

Di-Aping called upon the NGOs to demand their African leaders reject the agreement and further, to make very clear demands. Di-Aping suggesting campaigning on the slogans: “One Africa, one degree” and “Two degrees is suicide”.

After the meeting was concluded, Di-Aping apologized to those present explaining that as a child in Sudan, he was taught that it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.”

Plato’s Climate Justice

It is beyond obvious that the word justice loses all of its meaning when the “climate justice” movement refuses to, 1) Support what is necessary in order for the world’s most vulnerable to simply survive, and, 2) Refuses to represent those on the front lines of climate change who have pleaded with them to represent the interests of the world’s most vulnerable. In Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus argues that justice is mere trickery – the interest of the strong – nothing more than a name for what the powerful elites or cunning ruler has imposed on the people. This description seems to fit like a velvet glove within this context.

It is interesting to note that the taping of this conference can be found under Rockefeller’s 1Sky (now officially/publicly merged with 350.org) video archives where they highlight under the description: “Pt. 1 includes sections ‘Introduction’, ‘Importance of 1.5 degrees C and 350ppm’, and ‘Unacceptable targets and resulting deaths’. In both parts 2 and 3 as well as other video clips of this same press conference, 1Sky neglects to make mention of Di-Aping’s scathing comments regarding the conduct of the NGOs. Thus, 1Sky/350.org provides an inadequate description of the press conference to those they falsely claim to represent – purposely neglecting to highlight the significant fact that the G77 had requested NGOs campaign on the absolute necessity of deep and immediate emissions cuts. There is no disputing the fact that 1Sky/350.org et al purposely rejected these ambitious emissions targets.

Of little surprise was the fact that corporate media gave no coverage to the Di-Aping press conference. The so-called “progressive” media, incidentally also funded by the corporate elites via their tax-exempt foundations was also silent when it came to sharing the very critical issues Di-Aping had spoken of on the international stage. Controlling, manipulating and shaping public opinion has never been such a good investment. It has never been so easy. Ironically, the same “dirty oil money” that funds the “polluters” as decried by “the left” is the same “dirty oil money” that funds the environmental movement – even the “scruffy little outfits” have lined up to get a taste of the candy. And once they taste it – they’re hooked, bought and sold – all in one breath.

As to be expected, the corporate creation TckTckTck also buried the Di-Aping press conference. TckTckTck boasts 17 million followers. “Followers” is indeed an appropriate description – like sheep to the slaughter. TckTckTck can ask 17 million followers to buy a video game for 9.99 to “save the planet” yet they will not and cannot distribute any reports of relevance. 350.org, which claims to have “the most powerful brand in the world”, did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. 350.org promotes climate scientist James Hansen as their “350 messenger” in order to legitimize their “brand”, yet they will not and cannot distribute Hansen’s scientist papers (or even summaries) to their “followers”. Climate Action Network (CAN) International, “representing” over 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. Nor did the climate justice movement itself.

The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis humanity has ever witnessed. The disappearance of the 1ºC maximum temperature rise cited in 1990 by the United Nations may well be considered the greatest crime against humanity of all time. [http://theartofannihilation.com/category/articles-2010/expose-the-2o-death-dance-the-1o-cover-up-part-i/] The greatest danger we face today is continued ignorance, denial and obedience, as methane torches erupt and ice sheets disintegrate at an ever accelerating pace.

One may wonder if grossly undermining the ambitious positions put forward by Bolivia, ALBA states, the G77 and small island states was part of the ‘critical work’ the non-profit industrial complex speaks of.

In fact, it was.

What the public, and tragically, what remains in the charred ashes of the environmental movement itself, neglects to understand is that the critical work that the non-profit industrial complex performs brilliantly, is not work to advance civil society, who these self-appointed NGOS falsely claim to represent. Rather, the critical work performed in the spirit of “bread and circuses” is for those whom the non-profit industrial complex serves first and foremost – that of their funders.

The Movement is Racist  

“It is unfortunate that after 500 years-plus of interaction with the West, we [Africans] are still considered disposables.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

The question must be asked: was this deliberate dismissal of Lumumba Di-Aping’s briefing nothing more than blatant racism? The short answer to this question is an unequivocal yes.

An underlying, perhaps subconscious, yet very real deep-rooted racism (or at least a complete obliviousness to that which is considered the “other”) very quietly hums along beneath the entire system – resulting in the Euro-American dominated environmental “movement” acquiescing to the industrialized capitalist system. Thus the reality of those oppressed and exploited on the receiving end of the system is an inconvenient fact that is ignored at all costs by practically everyone (predominantly the privileged white) within the complex.

“Aversive racism is a term coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial behaviors of any ethnic or racial group act who rationalize their aversion to a particular group based on majority rules and stereotypes. People who behave in an aversively racial way have beliefs in egalitarianism, but will often deny their racially motivated behavior, or shift behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. Most of this behavior is considered to be implicit or subconscious. Though Kovel coined the term, most of the research has been done by John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner.” [Source: Wikipedia]

There is no other sound explanation which can explain how those who state they are “fighting” for “climate justice” were/are willing to undermine countries like Bolivia, Tuvalu and the G77, AOSIS and ALBA states, with a full understanding that millions more lives will be lost. The true grassroots organizations that actually tell the full truth and fight for what is necessary (Earth Peoples, and Global Coral Reef Alliance as just two examples) are marginalized and isolated to the point of invisibility by the complex.

There is no other sound explanation which can explain the dead silence on the ongoing genocide in the Congo since 1996. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Hyppolite Kanambe (alias Joseph Kabila) of the Congo are the three “leaders”  facilitating the western pillage and occupation of Central Africa, responsible in large part for over ten million people dead since the U.S.-backed invasion of 1996. Of course, these are the African faces of western occupation and imperialism. [3]This genocide far exceeds that of the Holocaust, which to this day, is seared into the minds of all Euro-American societies. Yet the question must be asked, what if these men, women and children of the Congo were white?After 19 years of suffering and death, the Congo remains locked under illegal occupation by the Imperialist powers including the United Nations itself.

On September 11, 2001, 3,000 people, predominately white Americans, were killed when the twin towers were destroyed. This operation opened up the door for an unparalleled slaughter in the Middle East which only continues to escalate.The illegal occupations and covert wars (Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan) are now expanding far beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, most recently with the invasion and decimation of Libya (2011) resulting in as many or more than one hundred thousand deaths. This NATO-led imperialist invasion under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” instilled and incited a most horrific and unimaginable racial “cleansing” of the black population, including black women, whose breasts were cut off their bodies with machetes. Not only was the NGO community silent, 78 NGOS (again,predominantly white) led the way for the invasion. When the “evidence” (which provided premise for NATO entry into the country)presented by the NGOs was proven false, was the International community horrified?Did the NGOs apologize profusely for their pivotal role in the slaughter and annihilation of an entire country, which, prior to the invasion, possessed the best living standards in all of Africa? No.Not on your life. Instead, they are adamant to carry out a repeat performance in Syria. Yet another imperialist imposed destabilization. And when an Italian grass-roots anti-war group organized an urgent appeal to the UN to demand the opposite – no foreign intervention – and distributed it to the international community of NGOs, how receptive was “the movement”? Although the U.S. and Canada have been integral in placing sanctions upon Syria, with the U.S. chomping a the bit to invade, only one organization in Canada and one single organization in the United States endorsed this appeal, in spite of an urgent call-out for signatures including distribution within an international climate justice network. This is important to note as the so-called climate justice movement has full knowledge of militarism’s massive contribution to our escalating climate crisis.

Also in 2011, the non-profit industrial complex was integral to an attempted destabilization of Bolivia. The NGOS (Avaaz, Amazon Watch, Democracy Center) who led/lead this charge (demonizing Indigenous president Evo Morales) excel in the manipulation of the public while money channeled from US powers (state and foundations) via USAID and CIDOB (Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente Boliviano) focus on coercion and manipulation within Indigenous populations, utilizing soft power where tensions may currently already exist. Hard power is the strategy of coercion via force, whereas soft power is coercing via manipulation and seduction – like a slow, methodical, death dance. There are no organizations in a better position to employ soft power methods than those that comprise the non-profit industrial complex.

The non-profit industrial complex has become an essential tool for the power hungry imperialist states, ever more threatened by the increasing rise of the global south who resolutely, in unity, work towards severing the chains of enslavement, imperialism and colonialism, once and for all. A long-term strategic objective of Western policy planners is to prevent such independence by any means necessary. Thus, the destruction of any/all independent sovereign states (such as Libya, Syria, Iran, etc) and the destabilisation, isolation and encirclement of the rising global powers (in particular China and Russia) is pivotal. Further, the welfare of the people is of absolutely no concern to those who salivate in the wings, waiting for the opportune moment to invade under the guise of humanitarian intervention. Puppet governments installed by the imperialist states serve not the citizens (who are completely irrelevant in the eyes of the corporatocracy,) but rather provide a false legitimacy for the occupation of the seized state in order to grant business contracts to the colonial powers and global corporations while privatising all services. Case in point: Despite the Congo being the world’s largest supplier of both copper and coltan, and many other precious minerals, the total tax revenue on these products in 2006-7 amounted to a miniscule £32 million. “This is surely far less than what even the most useless neo-colonial puppet would have demanded.” [Source: http://www.gata.org/node/5651]

Also Ignored by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex at COP15

  • UNFCC was already, a binding agreement. (Kyoto Protocol)
  • The world was already far beyond dangerous according to both James Hansen and John Holdren.
  • Although tipping points were most always spoke of in the future-tense, methane hydrates had already began venting, shocking the scientific community.
  • Bolivia’s position paper cited that global temperatures must not exceed 1C and the world must return to 300ppm. Ignoring Bolivia’s leadership, the “movement” called for a full degree higher (2C) and 350ppm which is in fact considered the very upper limit / maximum limit for mere stabilization by James Hansen.
  • The fact that climate scientist Kevin Anderson warned the world that by 2050 a mere half billion people would perhaps survive (based on 4C global temp – which is our current minimum trajectory, and a population of 9 billion).
  • That only by achieving zero carbon (as recognized by IPCC) can the earth even begin to cool.
  • That the Ranathon & Feng paper suggests we are committed today to a minimum 2.4C even if we were to achieve zero emissions tomorrow.
  • That feedbacks, once they are fully operational, are irreversible.
  • That militarism (whose emissions are exempted) is one of the primary contributors to climate change. “My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference.… The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation.” — Andrew Glikson, Earth/paleoclimate scientist
  • That industrialized livestock contributes over 50% of all GHG emissions.
  • That the industrialist capitalist system is the very root cause of climate change. The climate crisis can neither be solved nor averted within this economic system.

After COP15  – The Peoples Agreement

Why is it that the video of Venezuela’s fiery Claudia Salerno, who refused to stay silent on the bribery and blackmailing taking place within the COP17 corridors, was not publicized by the movement? Why is it that Bolivia’s Forest Proposal received/receives no support from “the movement”? (instead they chase the REDD scheme, which is being opposed by indigenous groups across the planet) Why is it, even though “the movement” claims it wants real action on climate change, they absolutely refuse to endorse the People’s Agreement? [4] Further, the same question must be put to civil society: Why is it, although civil society claims to want real action on climate change, they are only interested in symbolic organizations and meaningless tokens? Why do we have 17 million citizens following TckTckTck and 438 following the People’s Agreement? Surely civil society must acknowledge that these are the choices we make; that we make alone. No one has a gun to our heads (yet). Is it simply because the world’s most powerful NGOs are composed of largely white “leaders”? We claim disgust at symbolic, empty gestures, yet, when given the choice of what we wish to support; the People’s Agreement or the meaningless “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” we fall over one another lusting after the shiny green patina which emulates the American empire – an empire of death, racism, genocide, and colonialism. And like the empire, with the other rich nations, the international NGO community believes that they are the chosen ones, in control of the world. The champagne circuit is alive, well, wealthy – and predominantly white.

Video:

Capitalism as Pathology: The Illusory “Green Economy” vs People Solutions

Further Irony

In 1990 an international NGO believed policy must reflect that the world must not exceed a 1C temperature rise. Approximately two decades later, with a full climate crisis now engulfing the planet, this same NGO “fought” in Copenhagen for a binding agreement that would allow the Earth to further warm to a full 2C. Who was this NGO? None other than TckTckTck partner Greenpeace, who, at its helm sits Kumi Naidoo. And who is the chair of TckTckTck? Kumi Naidoo. The token black of the non-profit industrial complex, donned with a white mask – the non-profit version of Obama.

Today

Consider the vulgarity of this following fact. 1% of Earths citizens are creating 50% of the global GHG emissions. This means that the 99.9% of the  non-profit industrial complex and those they protect, in others words, most all those attending the United Nations Conferences on behalf of the wealthy states, are the very ones demanding they be allowed to continue unprecedented gluttony. In the opposite corner, we have Bolivia, many of the African states, and ALBA states – a collective of the poorest people on the planet (in a monetary sense) – whose emissions are almost irrelevant, pleading with us to live within reason – simply so they can live at all. Some would describe this a call for simple decency. While to deny a populace to simply live may appear to be normal conduct for state “leaders”, the fact the professional “activists” uphold the same doctrine demonstrates unequivocally everything can be justified and anyone is disposable when it comes to protecting white privilege.

Today, three years later at COP18, Bolivia, once more leads on the world stage. Alone. Again. One would be hard pressed to find even one organization endorsing or promoting Bolivia’s alternate proposal to REDD or any other futurist ideologies Bolivia has put forward to share with the world – this from one of the most poverty-ridden states in the world. Although poor monetarily, Bolivia’s unsurpassed wealth of knowledge, compassion and visionary philosophies make clear that in reality it is the Euro-American mindset that is pitiful, starved and depraved.

2ºC = 4ºC = Omnicide

“Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” – George Orwell

Today, states and complying scientists are quietly recommending a 2ºC to 2.5ºC target; although most subtle, this target is now to be perceived and thus portrayed as transient warming. Meaning it is not being thought of/identified any longer as equilibrium warming, such as the specific 1996 EU target. This means that “experts” (influential institutions and scientific bodies who obediently kowtow the line) are now in effect recommending we heat the planet to 4ºC. While Professor Kevin Anderson explains that to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, 1ºC is the new 2ºCand while climate scientist James Hansen states unequivocally that 1ºC is the true danger limit, we are now being prepared to submissively accept 4ºC. The fact is that to avoid 2ºC equilibrium we must limit warming to no more than 1ºC this century. [5] We either drastically conserve and sacrifice today or bury our children tomorrow. And of course, we cannot hold the temperature at 1ºC under the current economic system – that of the industrialized capitalist system – the very root cause of our climate crisis. The crisis is profound and unprecedented. Collectively, we steadfast refuse to acknowledge the severity of our multiple crises, our most daunting of challenges and the harshest of realities – all staring at us directly in the face. We look back only to see ourselves.

Why it Matters

“NGOs of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your funding” – Ashwin Desai

The so-called environmental movement refuses to acknowledge, let alone discuss the fact it’s been bought, sold, muzzled and now lies in ruins in a pile of ashes. Civil society remains largely unaware of this truth, let alone the key factors behind it. And this in itself is tragic, because this issue is one of the key factors as to why we, as a global society, have failed to mitigate our environmental crisis, and why we continue to advance further to the very precipice. Yet, trained from birth to not challenge authority, to not offend, to be obedient, to be polite – we remain silent. Yes, impeccable manners, avoid conflict, and above all, do not question those who “know best”. Our deeply internalized passivism is as great a threat as the forthcoming climate apocalypse itself.

Ignorance really is bliss and I do want change as long as that means nothing really changes. Please pass the soma.

Implications

The implications are many. It is clear that those who claim non-profit status on the basis they represent civil society, clearly do not. This then presents the question as to who elected these NGOs who falsely claim to represent civil society, all while serving corporate interests? The logical question that then follows, the question that must be asked is, what constitutes criminal negligence? If countries like Bolivia and G77 are prepared to take the radical, necessary positions to avert annihilation, what does this say about our environmental movement who resolutely undermine them? If we dismiss this factual information, what does this disclose about ourselves? Do we deserve anything more than the representation we are receiving if we deny the facts? Finally, how can governments expect to take the necessary positions, if when they do, they do not receive the support of civil society?

Lastly, what the hell do we expect when our entire movement is funded by the very same interests that are intent on destroying us? We need to stop defending and finding excuses for those selling us out and start defending our children from a future being shaped and moulded by the global oligarchy. We can’t have it both ways.

“So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come.  And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t.  But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West.  Thank you. [Thundering Applause]”– Lumumba Di-Aping

In the volumes of information that will be left on our finite planet when all traces of life, have, for the most part disappeared, the film footage of Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping of the G77, will serve as a testament as to who was in large part, responsible for: criminal negligence; crimes against humanity; and finally, lastly, a global genocide destroying most all life – that of the non-profit industrial complex.

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur

Notes:

Briefing to Civil Society NGOs by Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping. December 11th, 2009.

Full transcript:

Thank you for, I suppose, inviting me to address you this afternoon. As you know, the last few days since the beginning of this conference we have witnessed many events. I’m going to go very quickly through what I do consider to be the most critical aspects for a successful outcome in this conference. And this is of particular importance to us. We do believe that civil society and the parliament have a very critical role for our success. Without you the executive branches can get away with anything.

Now, what do we really believe are the critical success factors that we have to unite behind, because these are not simply negotiable for us as developing countries.

The first fundamental that we have to agree on at 5(4) is the issue of the 1.5 degree Celsius and the 350 ppm. And the centrality of this is because a deal that cannot save God, humanity and nature is not a deal that we should entertain in the first place. Those who articulated a perspective and tried to persuade us that the 2 degrees Celsius is a sound choice have made a trade off between life, humanity, and profit-seeking pursuits. It has no base in science. The very reports that they try to persuade us that they are based on, do not support their case. The IPCC AR4 [4th Assessment Report] says that two degrees Celsius will result in Africa warming up to 3.5[C] and the small islands states equally being threatened by the sea level rise. I will say this and I will say it with absolute conviction. Two degrees Celsius is certain death for Africa, is certain devastation of island states.

The policy decision maker, the scientists who try to do that, is definitely not only ill-advising others, he is ill-advising himself. So that’s one fundamental, if not the starting proposition for beginning sound negotiations and discussions.

The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering.

So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace. And this is one of the reasons we have asked the American administration, the American people, President Obama to join the effort and to join Kyoto Protocol.

We must defend Kyoto Protocol. And those who think that not defending Kyoto Protocol is the way forward are totally misguided because if you eliminate the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries — and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.

Having said that, we do believe equally that a very significant, substantial financial package, both for short term and long term, is necessary. How do we define that?  Simple.  We must avail, or developed countries must avail in the next 5 years, fast track financing. That fast track financing is the equivalent of 1% of the GNP of developed countries. It’s around 400 to 500 billion dollars depending on where … what happens to their economies. Of this, 150 billion dollars can be issued with immediate effect because, as we speak today, the IMF is sitting over 283 billion dollars’ worth of SDR’s [Special Drawing Rights or supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund] that are not allocated.  Simply sitting doing absolutely nothing, when we face a threat.

Many of you would say 400 billion dollars is a lot of money.  Well, think about how much is being poured into your defence budgets and which wars are you fighting.  Is there another war greater than this war on climate change?  I don’t think so. But let me equally give you the fallacy related to how big this amount is.  The European [Union] today were proud to announce that there would be 2.3 billion or 2.5 billion dollars available from now until 2012. Well, the sad news is 300 billion dollars was the amount of money that bankers in London city pocketed this year.

So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable.  His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate sceptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of “incentivizing” profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying?  What are you saying?  I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.

Moreover, would you believe that, what is important here, in this particular conference, is decision making. There is a lot of fallacy being spread that we need a new legal instrument. Well, a decision is a legal instrument. A court decision is binding. An executive decision is binding.

A legal instrument means that you as civil society are choosing that there shall be no actions for another 15 to 20 years. Think about the journey from the Stockholm Conference to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. How many years did it take the environmentalists to convince many decision makers that right action on environment is actually the pursuit of greener, low-carbon, carbon emissions?

Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs]. [Applause]

It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.

Now, I want to go back to other issues because it’s critical that we be very clear to each other. United States and United States people and United States civil society have a very important role to play. One reason is because United States is P1 [pledge 1? page 1?]. Another reason is because United States is the greatest emitter, historically and by per capita. And it is important because it wields huge power, both of influence and of signalling direction.

And that basically [is] what led us to conclude and call upon President Obama to join the Kyoto Protocol.  We understand the difficulties he is in.  The deep sense of conservative isolationism.  It’s an American phenomenon that you all know. United States was reluctant to do anything during the catastrophe of the Second World War, until Churchill managed to persuade them to join in. But when they joined, peace prevailed and came into existence in Europe.  They have this notion of exceptionalism. And that I think, this day, is to think of ourselves as one human family.

I thought that [is] what the United States signalled when they voted President Obama into office.  So notwithstanding the difficulties in the United States, I think any simple analysis makes one conclude that the problem is not with the Congress, the problem is with the conservative laggard of an industrial complex. So we have to, you have to, play an important role to persuade your Congress and to move forward. Join hands with those children who wrote a letter to President Obama to join, to preserve Kyoto Protocol.

And I want to say something else.  We should stop, equally, pushing this notion that the world must continue along the conflict and misguided sense of competition between the Occidentals and the Orientals … that China is the obstacle [right here?]. Three things we say about China and you all know about it. There are more poor people in China than in the entire of Africa. The only way to help China reduce rapidly its emissions is to help it through transfer of technology. Rapid transfer of technology in order to reduce emissions. Because the third neck of this argument: the poor Chinese have arrived, which we must support and that is [the why?] to development.

The conservative thinking that it’s all about nationalists trying to take advantage or starting a competitive advantage is not going to happen.  So what I ask of Obama is to join as a president, as the leader of the industrialized nations, is to join Kyoto Protocol, is to refuse a deal based on 2% [degrees] that would condemn Africa and small islands to death, and to help finance the global deal on climate change.

Remember what the United States did, after the war, to Europe.  The United States then was … had the size of 66% of the global economy. They launched a Marshall Plan.  The Marshall Plan was 3.2% of the U.S. economy.  And that in addition to the fact, when you factor in the fact that Europe had the capacity and the know-how, you can see that the total package necessary as a starting point for addressing climate change, from public finance, is not less than 5%. And it’s commonsensical. Think about it in this way, without going into economics. If you have a house that has decayed or if you have a school in your neighbourhood that has been built or infected by asbestos, how much would it cost to repair?  It’s not less than 30% of the price of that.

So, I do believe that if the United States did that before, President Obama should follow in that tradition and say to the rest of the world, “We are able. We have more than sufficient financing and capital to help, not only the poor, but to help ourselves because ultimately after we are destroyed, there will be many Katrinas [hurricanes] in the United States.

If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean?  Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].

And I do want you to ask President Obama a simple question. Because as much as he’s an American citizen, he is an extended citizen, if there is such a notion, of Africa.  Then doesn’t that lay on him any moral obligation to do what he can?  Shouldn’t he commit to the principles of which many of us find ourselves fascinated and grateful that there is somebody like him today being the president of United States. Because if it’s because his advisors are part and parcel of the Bush administration, or the [regularized?] Democrats, then he should do something about that. He is the president after all.  If it’s because he is thinking that this will save his political life for a next term, then inaction will actually lead to the opposite. A leader acts, a leader helps formulate the right policies, the right direction. That’s why one is a leader.  A leader takes the toughest stance.  If health care is so important and he is fighting that battle, climate change is as 100 times more important and it is your job as American civil society to help build that momentum. Yes, your task is a tough one because you’re moving from a very low base, but that’s part of life.

We will not give up because the West have power, absolute power, and accept whatever choices they will make.  We will continue to defend the interests of our people and the whole world.  This equally applies with Australians, New Zealand and Japan and many other developed countries’ leaders. Many of them have been elected for office because they claim they support climate change, but then you have to give it to the lobbyists — they are definitely smooth operators. They twist their minds in such a short time that somebody like Kevin Rudd suddenly  moves from where he was, somebody who in Bali was the only prime minister who came to Bali to say “Climate change matters.”  And then his delegation here is the complete opposite of that.

So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come.  And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t.  But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West.  Thank you. [Applause]

[1] SIGNIFICANT OMISSIONS IN TCKTCKTCK: Demands in the TckTckTck (http://tcktcktck.org) campaign for COP15, the organizers, allies and partners were calling for developed states to reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020. While most developed and developing states were calling for developed states to use 1990 as a baseline, the TckTckTck campaign did not have a baseline. Consequently what they were calling for was way below what developing states were demanding. How could an NGO campaign have a percentage reduction without a base-line date? In the TckTckTck campaign demands it was stated: “Reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020”. Is that from 2009 levels? or Canadian 2006 levels, or US 2005 levels? It is far from what most of the developing states wanted, at least 45% from 1990 levels. Apart for calling for stabilization by 2015, the tcktcktck campaign had no commitment for subsequent years, such as calling the reduction of global emissions by at least 95% from 1990 levels by 2050. The TckTckTck campaign was silent on a 2050 commitment. The Key issues at COP15 were i) the need for a common baseline such as 1990, and the need for developed states to commit to high percentage reduction of greenhouse gases from the 1990 baseline, and ii) the urgent demand to not have the temperature rise exceed 1degree above preindustrialized levels and to return to no more than 300ppm. The tcktcktck campaign seriously undermined the necessary, bold targets as advanced by many of the developing states.

[2] LOW LYING ISLANDS AND COASTLINES CAN TAKE NO FURTHER SEA LEVEL RISE. THE “TARGETS” OF 1.5 DEGREES C RISE AND 350 PPM CO2 ARE A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND A SUICIDE PACT FOR LOW LYING ISLANDS AND COASTS.SUMMARY: THE LONG-TERM SEA LEVEL THAT CORRESPONDS TO CURRENT CO2 CONCENTRATION IS ABOUT 23 METERS ABOVE TODAY?S LEVELS, AND THE TEMPERATURES WILL BE 6 DEGREES C OR MORE HIGHER. THESE ESTIMATES ARE BASED ON REAL LONG TERM CLIMATE RECORDS, NOT ON MODELS. WE HAVE NOT YET FELT THE CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS OF THE CURRENT EXCESS OF GREENHOUSE GASES PRODUCED BY FOSSIL FUELS, AND THE DATA SHOWS THEY WILL IN THE LONG RUN BE MANY TIMES HIGHER THAN IPCC MODELS PROJECT. IN ORDER TO PREVENT THESE LONG TERM CHANGES CO2 MUST BE STABILIZED AT LEVELS BELOW PREINDUSTRIAL VALUES, AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION. CO2 BUILDUP MUST BE REVERSED, NOT ALLOWED TO INCREASE OR EVEN BE STABILIZED AT 350 PPM, WHICH WOULD AMOUNT TO A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS, SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES, AND BILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIVING ALONG LOW LYING COASTLINES. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT ALL THE TOOLS FOR REVERSING GLOBAL WARMING AND REDUCING CO2 TO SAFE LEVELS ARE READY, PROVEN, AND COST EFFECTIVE, BUT ARE NOT BEING SERIOUSLY USED DUE TO LACK OF POLICIES AND FUNDING. [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 PPM IS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND LOW LYING ISLANDS, THE SAFE LEVEL OF CO2 FOR SIDS IS AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION”]The author is President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, an international NGO for restoration of coral reefs, and a member of the Jamaican delegation to UNCCC. Previously he was Senior Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, in charge of Global Climate Change and Biodiversity issues, where he contributed to the original draft of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dr. Goreau developed the HotSpot method used for the last 20 years to predict coral bleaching from satellite data. He was educated in Jamaican schools, MIT (BSc in Planetary Physics), Caltech (MSc in Planetary Astronomy), and Harvard (PhD in Biogeochemistry). He has swum and dived on reefs around the world since he was a small child, including most SIDS. His father was the first marine scientist in the world to use diving as a research tool and founded the Marine Science Program at the University of the West Indies.

[3] The founding of the Climate Action Network (CAN) in 1988 can be traced back to the early players in the ENGO community, including Michael Oppenheimer of the corporate NGO, Environmental Defense Fund. CAN is a global network of over 700 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The stated goal of CAN is to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. This goal is severely problematic in (at minimum) 2 fundamental ways: 1) There is no such thing as “ecologically sustainable levels” of climate change, and 2) as opposed to states having to respond to approximately 300 groups demanding action on climate change, states instead bask in the comfort of having to deal with only one (that of CAN), which essentially demands little to nothing. CAN has seven regional coordinating offices that coordinate these efforts in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Members include organizations from around the globe, including the largest corporate greens such as World Wildlife Fund [WWF], Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

[4] The exemplary People’s Agreement emerged from the April 2010 conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was endorsed by over 35,000 representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples and various states. During the year, the Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, participated in numerous UN processes under the UNFCCC, and valiantly struggled  to include the conclusions of Cochabamba People`s Agreement  in the negotiating documents. The main conclusions of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) were incorporated in the document of United Nations on Climate Change that became recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries that congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week august of 2010. The most important points that were incorporated for its consideration in the negotiations before Cancun, that took place in China were: 1) 50 % reduction of greenhouse gasses emission by developed countries for second period of commitments from the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017.2) Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1 C and 300 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 3) To guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries. 4) Full respect for the Human Rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants. 5) Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on of Indigenous Peoples Rights. 6) Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature. 7) Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice. 8) Rejection to the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries. 9) Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries. 10) Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to be excluded from the protection of the intellectual property rights to technologies and ecologically sustainable useful to mitigate climate change. 11) Developed countries will allocate 6% of their national gross product to actions relatives to Climate Change. 12) Integrated management of forest, to mitigation and adaptation, without market mechanics and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities. 13) Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest for plantations, since the monoculture plantations are not forest, instead should encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests. [Source: Joan Russow, PEJ News]

[5] [The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) refers to the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) carbon dioxide concentration (?Tx2). This value is estimated, by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) as likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5 °C with a best estimate of about 3 °C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5 °C. Values substantially higher than 4.5 °C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. This is a change from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), which said it was “likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5 °C”. Other estimates of climate sensitivity are discussed later on. A model estimate of equilibrium sensitivity thus requires a very long model integration; fully equilibrating ocean temperatures requires integrations of thousands of model years. A measure requiring shorter integrations is the transient climate response (TCR) which is defined as the average temperature response over a twenty year period centered at CO2 doubling in a transient simulation with CO2 increasing at 1% per year. The transient response is lower than the equilibrium sensitivity, due to the “inertia” of ocean heat uptake]

Hothouse Earth: Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High For 30th Year In A Row

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2015 at 4:30 pm

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Oldspeak: “We have to be able to admit publicly, privately, and everything in between that those 157 national climate change plans do not constitute enough emissions reductions to put us onto the path of 2 degrees …However, what they do is get us off the business-as-usual trajectory that we were on just four or five years ago to a temperature increase of 4 or 5 degrees” –Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

“Hmm. nice of someone from the UN to admit that the proposed intended nationally determined contributions are insufficient to avoid catastrophe. Unfortunately she’s still on a serious hopium trip in her belief that these contributions will actually be adhered to given the fact that they are completely voluntary &  there are no systems of regulation in place to enforce these INDCs.  And then of course the “solutions” proposed are wholly market-based, ripe for corruption and likely to prioritize the health of “markets” and “economies”, above those of people, environment and life on earth. Meanwhile, the world burns. Rest assured kiddies, we’re fucked. A bunch of bureaucrats meeting to make promises won’t change that.” –OSJ

Written By @ The Christian Science Monitor:

Carbon dioxide levels in the planet’s atmosphere hit a record high in 2014 – the 30th year in a row that record has been broken – spurring scientists to proclaim the planet is now in “uncharted territory” just weeks before international climate negotiations are scheduled to begin in Paris.

The figures are released annually by the World Meteorological Organization, a UN agency. The organization’s report on Monday shows that CO2 levels averaged 397.7 parts per million last year, briefly exceeding the 400-ppm threshold in the Northern hemisphere in early 2014, and again globally in early 2015.

Levels of atmospheric CO2 – the greenhouse gas most closely linked to climate change – has hit a new record every year since reliable record-keeping began in 1984.

“Every year we say time is running out. We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures at manageable levels,” said Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general, in a statement.

Many scientists argue that CO2 levels above 400 ppm will lead to destructive and irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate, but Dr. Jarraud said on Monday that 400 ppm will soon become “a permanent reality.”

“We are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed,” he added, saying the long-term implications for the planet will likely include rising sea levels, hotter global temperatures, and more extreme weather events like heat waves and floods.

Global CO2 levels will likely increase again next year because of El Niño, the cyclical warming the Pacific Ocean has been experiencing this year, according to Oksana Tarasova, WMO atmospheric research chief.

Representatives from 190 countries will be meeting in Paris later this month for a week of negotiations aiming to coordinate a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change that are now “locked in” because of gases that are already in the atmosphere.

Scientists have been stressing that the planet should seek to avoid warming more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Farenheit) above pre-industrial levels, but diplomats have said recently that it is unlikely such a goal will be achieved in Paris. Instead, the conference will hope to map out a pathway for a more achievable target.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a Monitor event last week that “we have to be able to admit publicly, privately, and everything in between that those 157 national climate change plans do not constitute enough emissions reductions to put us onto the path of 2 degrees [C].”

“However, what they do is get us off the business-as-usual trajectory that we were on just four or five years ago to a temperature increase of 4 or 5 degrees,”  Ms. Figueres aded.

Global temperatures are set to rise 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels this year, according to the Met Office in the UK.

“This is the first time we’re set to reach the 1C marker, and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office Hadley Center, according to the BBC.

The WMO maintains the world’s biggest network of sensors tracking changes in the Earth’s atmospheric makeup, and it has been tracking rising greenhouse gas concentrations for decades. Besides the record CO2 levels, Monday’s report also found that two other key greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous oxide – appear to be increasing at an even faster rate. Methane increased by 9 parts per billion from 2013 to 2014, up from an average annual increase of 4.7 ppb.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

Halfway To Hell: The World is Halfway to 2°C Global Warming

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Global temperature data for September 2015. Credit: U.K. Met Office

Oldspeak: The facts are these: 2015 is set to be the hottest year ever recorded on Earth. Global carbon emission are higher than ever recorded. The carbon budget – the maximum CO2 that can be emitted over time to keep below 2C – was already two-thirds used up by the end of 2014. And the probability of holding global temperatures below 2c is increasingly unlikely with every passing day with increasing emissions and without drastic emissions cuts. The cuts proposed to be discussed, negotiated and promised, not implemented mind you, just promised at the upcoming Paris climate summit; are woefully insufficient to stay below 2c. Recognize that the  2c benchmark is a dangerous political/economic creation;  giving a false sense of confidence that we still have time to  “fight/fix/mitigate” the worst effects of climate change. We don’t.  It has been stated in the past that around 2c, there will be significant disruption to society and possibly rapid non-linear environmental responses. We’ve already seen significant disruptions and non-linear responses at around 1c. The shitstorm coming at 2c and beyond, will not be pretty.” -OSJ

Written By Brian Kahn @ Climate Central:

It’s all but certain that 2015 will end up as the hottest year on record. And in setting that mark, the world is on track to finish the year 1°C above pre-industrial levels, a dubious milestone.

That would make 2015 the first year to crack the halfway mark of 2°C warming, the benchmark that’s been targeted as “safe” climate change and what nations are working toward meeting ahead of climate talks in Paris in December. But Monday’s announcement by the U.K. Met Office hints at how difficult achieving that target will be.

Unlike carbon dioxide, which has risen steadily like a drumbeat every year since the Industrial Revolution due to human activities, the temperature is likely to fluctuate annually and could dip slightly in the coming years (though signs already point to 2016 being even hotter). But the 1°C of warming shows how humans are reshaping the climate in the here and now and not some distant future.

The Met Office maintains one of the four major global temperature records. It shows that through September, the planet is running 1.8°F (1.02°C) above normal. El Niño, the warming of waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is a contributing factor. But it’s being layered on top of a long-term climate change signal, which has seen the world get hotter and hotter since record keeping began in the late 1800s.

“We’ve had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we’re set to reach the 1°C marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” Stephen Belcher, the director of the Met Office Hadley Center, said in a statement.

In a separate announcement on Monday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have reached record highs. That includes global carbon dioxide reaching 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time earlier this year at 40 carbon dioxide-monitoring stations.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the main drivers of climate change. The world has seen carbon dioxide risen more than 120 ppm since pre-industrial times. Readings at some stations, including the gold standard at Mauna Loa Observatory, are set to pass 400 ppm for the foreseeable future later this year. The WMO expects the global average to pass 400 ppm in 2016 as well.

With the planet having already run through two-thirds of its carbon budget — the amount of carbon that can be emitted before the world warms 2°C — scientists say that more action is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Even if the world limits warming to 2°C, there are still wholesale changes in store for the planet.

Research released by Climate Central on Sunday shows that even if warming is capped at 2°C, sea level rise would still impact land that’s currently home to at least 130 million people. If warming reaches 7.2°F (4°C) above pre-industrial levels, land where 470 million to 760 million people live today would feel the impacts.

 

The Fire Next Time: Record-Breaking Wildfires, Greenland Melting and Earth’s Hottest Month Ever

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2015 at 8:41 pm
A massive wall of wildfire smoke, blowing in from record-breaking fires in Eastern Washington, covers Puget Sound and Seattle. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

A massive wall of wildfire smoke, blowing in from record-breaking fires in eastern Washington State, covers Puget Sound and Seattle. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Oldspeak: “Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return….Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?” -James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time” 1963

“Behold! In an utterly synthetic, sanitized & death-phobic culture, the sheer length and breadth of madness wrought to avoid death, prolong life, enhance comfort, improve convenience and make life easy for humans;  has in fact had the unfortunate consequence of bringing about conditions precipitating a “Great Dying”. A Dying like none other experienced on Earth, in a mere instant on a geologic time-scale.  Sacrificing the beauty of our lives for concepts like “things”, politics, economies, ideologies & sense pleasures all to ignore the only immutable fact of life; that our love of life is nestled in a cradle of death. Dahr Jamail is back with his latest dispatch, bearing witness to the myriad of death, destruction and disintegration fear fueled human activity caused. As per usual, the news is getting shittier as time passes.  Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick… ” -OSJ

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

When I go up into the mountains, I’m used to being afforded magnificent views of alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, crystal-clear mountain streams, glaciers tucked under the shoulders of high valleys, stratified ridges arcing into the sky, and views so far into the distance one can sense the curvature of earth.

But on August 22, as I carefully climbed my way toward one of the high summits of Eastern Olympic National Park, the solace of the mountains eluded me due to an ominous sign. The view east – toward what has now officially become the largest complex of wildfires in history for Washington State, where over one-quarter million acres have burned – was dominated by a large, greyish-white plume of smoke that stretched as far north and south as I could see.

At first it appeared as a large storm cloud layer, which was confusing given that the weather-folk had called for a stable high-pressure ridge over western Washington through the weekend. But as I continued through the morning, the large white wall neared and slowly began enveloping the entire eastern mountains of the Olympics, and my eyes began to burn as I smelled the smoke.

By the time I reached the summit of my climb, the view south was already obscured by the smoke as it began to fully infiltrate Olympic National Park.

Looking south from high up in the Eastern portion of Olympic National Park, wildfire smoke begins making its way into the park. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Looking south from high up in the eastern portion of Olympic National Park, wildfire smoke begins making its way into the park. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

John Muir once wrote, “I must break away and get into the mountains to learn the news.” Today, given we are well along into abrupt anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), Muir’s quote has taken on an entirely new meaning, as the convulsions wracking the planet are starkly clear when we venture out into nature.

Back home after my climb, the wildfires were all over the news. Several firefighters had died recently while battling the blazes in eastern Washington, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show how over half the entire country was covered in wildfire smoke generated by literally hundreds of fires, and the smoke was bad enough in Seattle to have triggered health alerts.

The US is now officially in the worst wildfire season in its history, as almost 7.5 million acres across the country have burned up since spring.

Articles about ACD’s impacts are now being published in more mainstream outlets, carrying titles that include verbiage like “the point of no return,” and it is high time for that, given what we are witnessing.

A recently published study by the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Reliance revealed that “major shocks” to worldwide food production will become at least three times more likely within the next 25 years due to increasingly extreme weather events generated by ACD. One of the coauthors of the report warned of a “very frightening” future due to the synthesis of ACD and food demands from a constantly growing global population.

Meanwhile, July officially became the hottest month ever recorded on the planet, setting 2015 on course to easily become the hottest year ever recorded.

This month’s dispatch is replete with evidence of our growing crisis, including record-breaking amounts of ice being released from Greenland, more species under threat of extinction, and millions of acres of the planet burning up in wildfires across North America alone.

Earth

A trove of papers recently released in the journal Science have warned that the planet’s forests are all under major threat of being annihilated, due to the ever-expanding human footprint, coupled with ACD. The introduction to the studies reads: “These papers document how humans have fundamentally altered forests across the globe and warn of potential broad-scale future declines in forest health, given increased demand for land and forest products combined with rapid climate change.”

Speaking of which, another recent report, this one coming from the Center for Global Development, showed that the planet is on a trajectory to lose an amount of tropical forest land equivalent to the size of India by 2050.

Meanwhile, geologists with the US Geological Survey and researchers from the University of Vermont recently showed that Washington DC is, quite literally, sinking into the sea. “It’s ironic that the nation’s capital – the place least responsive to the dangers of climate change – is sitting in one of the worst spots it could be,” senior author of the paper, Paul Bierman, said. “Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter?”

At the moment, the answer to his question is obvious: The lawmakers that frequent our capital city are making no bold moves to address that city’s flooded future.

Food production, as aforementioned, is being dramatically undermined by ACD. In Nigeria, the country’s ability to feed itself is rapidly diminishing due to higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns. At least half the farmers there had been unable to even plant their crops at the time of this writing.

Animal species continue to bear the brunt of ACD all over the globe as well.

A recent study showed that in the UK, ACD is generating severe droughts that have placed several species of butterflies there at risk of extinction.

Another report showed how a disease spreading rapidly across the planet’s tadpole populations is now threatening the global frog population. Scientists who authored the report warn that this is further evidence of the sixth great extinction event the earth is now experiencing.

Another dismaying development: The ever-shrinking area of sea ice is deleteriously impacting the Arctic’s walrus population. This season could see another dramatic beaching event like that of last summer, in which 35,000 walruses dragged themselves out of the sea and onto a beach due to lack of sea ice.

Meanwhile, the ongoing drought in California has caused an “emergency situation” for trees in that state, as lack of water is causing unprecedented die-offs. The drought there is also wiping out several of the native fish populations, of which many are expected to disappear within the next two years if the drought persists.

Lastly in this section, unprecedented heat coupled with an intense drought has caused “glacial outbursts” on Washington State’s Mount Rainier. “Outbursts” occur when large pools of ice-melt form within the glaciers, then plunge from within the glacier, sending torrents of silt-filled water, boulders and trees down the slopes of the mountain, wiping out anything in its path.

While these outbursts have happened periodically throughout history, they are expected to increase in both frequency and severity as ACD progresses.

Water

As usual, circumstances on the water front continue to worsen around the planet.

In the Pacific Northwestern region of the US, over a quarter million sockeye salmon heading up the Columbia River have either died or are in the process of dying due to warmer water temperatures. Biologists warn that at least half of this year’s returning fish will be wiped out, and ultimately as much as 80 percent of the total fish population could perish. Both Oregon and Washington states have already instituted closures of sport fishing due to the warmer waters and drought conditions persisting in both states.

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, a giant bloom of toxic algae that is a threat to the health of both ocean species and humans alike spans from southern California all the way up to Alaska. Researchers are linking the size and intensity of the bloom to ACD. The bloom is already killing off sea lions that inhabit the coast and is still not showing signs of going away. Researchers said it was the largest bloom they had ever seen.

A report showed how ACD is in the process of rapidly reversing a natural phenomenon of 1,800 years of ocean cooling, while another study revealed that ocean acidification will continue and likely worsen, even if carbon sequestration and cleanup efforts were to begin in an immediate and dramatic fashion.

Back on land, droughts around the globe continue to make headlines.

One in Puerto Rico, that continues to worsen, has caused that country’s government to extend its dramatic water rationing measures, which have now been ongoing for weeks.

A study published in Geophysical Research Letters unequivocally linked California’s severe drought to ACD, saying that ACD has already “substantially increased” both the frequency and intensity of future droughts.

More news around the California drought emerged, showing that the river that runs through San Jose, the 10th largest city in the US, has dried up completely, severely harming fish and wildlife dependent on the water for their survival.

NASA released findings showing that California’s Central Valley, where the bulk of all the farming in the state takes place, is literally sinking, due to how much groundwater is being drawn out to compensate for the drought conditions. It is yet another destructive feedback loop: ACD has caused the drought to be far more severe than normal, which has caused humans to over-pump groundwater, leading to the sinking of the land.

The world’s glaciers are in peril. A disturbing report has shown that they have shrunk to their lowest levels ever witnessed in the history of record-keeping. They are melting at an accelerating rate – two to three times faster than the 20th century average melt rate.

As if to punctuate the findings of the report, the world’s fastest-melting glaciers, located in Greenland, recently lost the largest amount of ice on record in just a 48-hour period.

As a result of the incredible melting rates of glaciers, snowpack and ice fields around the globe, sea levels are now rising faster than ever.

Thus, as recently released research shows, global communities and cities located on river deltas – which includes over a quarter of a billion people – are at risk and will have to relocate.

Fire

Given the extensive record-breaking drought that has afflicted most of the western US, the fact that this summer’s fire season came in with a roar came as little surprise. Hardly halfway through the summer, fires across California, Washington, Colorado and in Glacier National Park in Montana were making headlines.

By early August, nearly 10,000 firefighters in California alone were battling at least 20 wildfires that had already forced more than 13,000  people to evacuate their homes.

Shortly thereafter, thousands of wildfires were raging across drought-plagued California, and before the middle of the month, a staggering 300,000 new acres were burning each day up in Alaska, where fires had scorched over 6 million acres thus far in the year, and hundreds of fires continued to burn. That makes this year already the second-largest wildfire season in Alaska’s history, with more of the summer remaining.

Reports have emerged warning of the impact of the fires upon Alaska’s permafrost: They have removed millions of acres of the tundra and forest that previously protected the frozen ground.

In early August, the US Forest Service announced that for the first time in the history of that department, it needed to spend over half of its entire budget on fighting wildfires.

Despite this, given the record-breaking drought conditions across the west, large numbers of the fires were left to burn out of control, due to high winds, dry conditions, and lack of fire-fighting capabilities and resources.

Air

In case anyone had any doubt about how hot the planet is already becoming, the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr experienced a heat index of 165 degrees in August, nearly setting a world record for heat index measurements, which factor in humidity along with temperature.

In July, incredibly hot temperatures in Tajikistan caused a rapid melting of glaciers, which triggered flooding and mudslides that generated nearly 1,000 ACD refugees.

Meanwhile, across the Middle East in August, more than 20 people died and nearly 100 had to be hospitalized due to incinerating heat that baked the region, along with intense humidity levels. Basra, Iraq, saw 123 degrees, and the Iraqi government had to instate a four-day “holiday” so people wouldn’t feel obliged to work in the stifling heat.

Lastly in this section, a recent report stated that Texas will likely see a dramatic escalation in heat-related deaths and coastal extreme storm-related losses in the upcoming decades due to escalating ACD impacts.

Denial and Reality

There is never a dull moment in the “Denial and Reality” section.

Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton’s stated plan to address abrupt ACD, which amounts to federal subsidies for solar panels, was immediately labeled as “silly” in early August, just after Clinton’s plan was announced, by leading climate scientist James Hansen, who headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for more than three decades.

“You cannot solve the problem without a fundamental change, and that means you have to make the price of fossil fuels honest, “Hansen said of her plan. “Subsidizing solar panels is not going to solve the problem.”

During a recent forum, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz went on the record expressing full-on denial of ACD, saying that the debate about ACD was a “device” used by liberals to appeal to “environmentalist billionaires and their campaign donations.”

On another front, builders in San Francisco are moving forward with plans to construct major bay-front developments of office space and homes worth more than $21 billion, in areas that are extremely susceptible to flooding – despite dire warnings of imminent sea-level rise.

On the bad news front for the deniers, however, a recent study showed there is absolutely no link between sunspot activity and ACD … a fabricated argument the deniers enjoy trotting out to try to “disprove” reality.

More bad news for the deniers comes, once again, from the Pope, who set up an annual Catholic Church “day of care” for the environment. The Pope said the day would be a chance for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to “thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

And Catholics aren’t the only faith leaders working to do something to address ACD.

Islamic religious and environmental leaders from around the world recently issued a call to rich countries, along with those that are oil producers, to end all fossil fuel use by 2050 and to begin rapidly ramping up the institution and use of renewable energy sources.

The Islamic leadership, which issued “The Islamic Climate Declaration,” said the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have “a religious duty to fight climate change.”

The final blow to ACD deniers in this month’s dispatch comes from none other than the US Department of Defense, which issued a report to Congress that said that ACD poses a “present security threat” that is not only a “long-term risk,” but poses immediate short-term threats as well.

Apocalypse Now: A Thirsty, Violent World

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Photograph by Mauricio Lima/The New York Times/Redux

 

Oldspeak: “The various physical calamities that confront the world are hard to separate, but growing hunger and the struggle to find clean water for billions of people are clearly connected. Each problem fuels others, particularly in the developing world—where the harshest impact of natural catastrophes has always been felt. Yet the water crisis challenges even the richest among us… “Unfortunately, the world has not really woken up to the reality of what we are going to face, in terms of the crises, as far as water is concerned,” Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change, said at a conference on water security earlier this month. “If you look at agricultural products, if you look at animal protein, the demand for which is growing—that’s highly water intensive. At the same time, on the supply side, there are going to be several constraints. Firstly because there are going to be profound changes in the water cycle due to climate change.” -Michael Specter

“Things are going to shit much faster than most realize. We’re running out of the only natural resource that matters. Water. Omnicidally, We’re actively poisoning it in many places, for environment-destroying, dirty energy and agriculture. Actual shooting resource wars have already begun in other parts of the world, we have legally fought resource wars here in the U.S. As conditions deteriorate, and people get more thirsty, will they get more violent? Time will tell.” -OSJ

By Michael Specter @ The New Yorker:

Angry protesters filled the streets of Karachi last week, clogging traffic lanes and public squares until police and paratroopers were forced to intervene. That’s not rare in Pakistan, which is often a site of political and religious violence.

But last week’s protests had nothing to do with freedom of expression, drone wars, or Americans. They were about access to water. When Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Minister of Defense, Power, and Water (yes, that is one ministry), warned that the country’s chronic water shortages could soon become uncontrollable, he was looking on the bright side. The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950. As the country’s population rises, that amount is falling fast.

Dozens of other countries face similar situations—not someday, or soon, but now. Rapid climate change, population growth, and a growing demand for meat (and, thus, for the water required to grow feed for livestock) have propelled them into a state of emergency. Millions of words have been written, and scores of urgent meetings have been held, since I last wrote about this issue for the magazine, nearly a decade ago; in that time, things have only grown worse.

The various physical calamities that confront the world are hard to separate, but growing hunger and the struggle to find clean water for billions of people are clearly connected. Each problem fuels others, particularly in the developing world—where the harshest impact of natural catastrophes has always been felt. Yet the water crisis challenges even the richest among us.

California is now in its fourth year of drought, staggering through its worst dry spell in twelve hundred years; farmers have sold their herds, and some have abandoned crops. Cities have begun rationing water. According to the London-based organization Wateraid, water shortages are responsible for more deaths in Nigeria than Boko Haram; there are places in India where hospitals have trouble finding the water required to sterilize surgical tools.

Nowhere, however, is the situation more acute than in Brazil, particularly for the twenty million residents of São Paulo. “You have all the elements for a perfect storm, except that we don’t have water,” a former environmental minister told Lizzie O’Leary, in a recent interview for the syndicated radio show “Marketplace.” The country is bracing for riots. “There is a real risk of social convulsion,” José Galizia Tundisi, a hydrologist with the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, warned in a press conference last week. He said that officials have failed to act with appropriate urgency. “Authorities need to act immediately to avoid the worst.” But people rarely act until the crisis is directly affecting them, and at that point it will be too late.

It is not that we are actually running out of water, because water never technically disappears. When it leaves one place, it goes somewhere else, and the amount of freshwater on earth has not changed significantly for millions of years. But the number of people on the planet has grown exponentially; in just the past century, the population has tripled, and water use has grown sixfold. More than that, we have polluted much of what remains readily available—and climate change has made it significantly more difficult to plan for floods and droughts.

Success is part of the problem, just as it is with the pollution caused by our industrial growth. The standard of living has improved for hundreds of millions of people, and the pace of improvement will quicken. As populations grow more prosperous, vegetarian life styles often yield to a Western diet, with all the disasters that implies. The new middle classes, particularly in India and China, eat more protein than they once did, and that, again, requires more water use. (On average, hundreds of gallons of water are required to produce a single hamburger.)

Feeding a planet with nine billion residents will require at least fifty per cent more water in 2050 than we use today. It is hard to see where that water will come from. Half of the planet already lives in urban areas, and that number will increase along with the pressure to supply clean water.

“Unfortunately, the world has not really woken up to the reality of what we are going to face, in terms of the crises, as far as water is concerned,” Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change, said at a conference on water security earlier this month. “If you look at agricultural products, if you look at animal protein, the demand for which is growing—that’s highly water intensive. At the same time, on the supply side, there are going to be several constraints. Firstly because there are going to be profound changes in the water cycle due to climate change.”

Floods will become more common, and so will droughts, according to most assessments of the warming earth. “The twenty-first-century projections make the [previous] mega-droughts seem like quaint walks through the garden of Eden,” Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said recently. At the same time, demands for economic growth in India and other developing nations will necessarily increase pollution of rivers and lakes. That will force people to dig deeper than ever before into the earth for water.

There are ways to replace oil, gas, and coal, though we won’t do that unless economic necessity demands it. But there isn’t a tidy and synthetic invention to replace water. Conservation would help immensely, as would a more rational use of agricultural land—irrigation today consumes seventy per cent of all freshwater.

The result of continued inaction is clear. Development experts, who rarely agree on much, all agree that water wars are on the horizon. That would be nothing new for humanity. After all, the word “rivals” has its roots in battles over water—coming from the Latin, rivalis, for “one taking from the same stream as another.” It would be nice to think that, with our complete knowledge of the physical world, we have moved beyond the limitations our ancestors faced two thousand years ago. But the truth is otherwise; rivals we remain, and the evidence suggests that, until we start dying of thirst, we will stay that way.

 

 

Smoke & Mirrors Will Not Save Us From Anthropogenic Climate Disruption

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2015 at 1:27 am

(Photo: papadont)

Oldspeak: “Flashback to 2009. From the mouths of over 60 International Polar Year study scientists from the World Meteorological Organization who were speaking not for attributionally to the one reporter who showed up to their conference. …These scientists who had previously sworn that a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 was the only way to save the world, acknowledged that the figure was bogus. They continued by revealing that …the warnings which had been issued in the IPCCs fourth assessment must be seen as merely the minimal – least disturbing – assessment. The scientists painted a far different, and… far more realistic picture of what is happening…Asked what, then, a realistic prescription for survival would be, they were categorical: greenhouse gases must be reduced by 80 percent – by 2015. That was 6 years ago. So. there’s that. It’s 2015. Greenhouse gasses have not been reduced. They’ve steadily increased. Warming has continued unabated. The prescription for survival is not possible. Scientists are being compelled to publicize the least disturbing assessments of the situation. However, denial does not make the truth any less true.” -OSJ
By Robert James Parsons @ Truthout:

With 2015 billed as the make-it-or-break-it year for climate control, in anticipation of next December’s Paris conference, and in the midst of much vehement – if not downright virulent – controversy, it is worth proposing some perspective beyond what most of the media deign to serve up to us.

In an article that appeared in mid-November in the French online journal A l’encontre, Daniel Tanuro analyzed the “unprecedented” and “historic” agreement between the United States and China resulting from Barack Obama’s encounter with Xi Jinping just before the November G20 conference in Brisbane.

The insufficiency – to put it mildly – of this agreement, in comparison with the warnings issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its most recent report, is unbridgeable, he points out.

Citing the reduction of 26% promised by Obama for 2025, which ought to lower United States emissions to 5.368 gigatonnes (Gt), he notes: “According to the Kyoto Protocol (which the United States signed but never ratified), Uncle Sam should have reduced his emissions by 8% by 2012, relative to 1990. That means that the emissions should have dropped from 6.233 Gt (1990 figure) to 5.734 Gt – instead of which, they increased 0.2% per year, on average, to reach 6.526 Gt. In other words, Obama has committed the United States to reaching by 2025 a target that is almost no better than than the one that the United States was supposed to have reached two years ago.”

For China, it is similar: “Xi Jinping stipulated that China would begin to reduce its absolute emissions at the latest in 2030 and that ‘zero-carbon’ sources would then cover 20% of its energy needs. To take the full measure of this promise, one must bear in mind that these ‘zero-carbon’ energy sources, already in 2013, represented in China 9% of the primary consumption of energy and that the twelfth five-year plan has set a target of 15% for 2020. Given the current amounts being invested, an increase of a further 5% in over ten years is anything but a ‘performance’: US$ 65 billion have already been invested in ‘non-fossil’ energy.”

According to the Kyoto Protocol, the ratifying countries committed themselves to reducing their green house gas emissions between 8% and 20% relative to 1990. As these emissions have continued to increase, the reductions since then have been completely canceled out.

In 2007, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Science undertook the third International Polar Year (IPY) study, with the intention of exploring the role played by the polar regions in the world’s climate configurations. It was to be one of the biggest scientific studies ever undertaken, if not the biggest outright. More than 1,500 scientists took part during two years, thus completely covering the north and south polar cycles.

In March 2009, to present the IPY’s preliminary conclusions, the WMO organized a conference at its headquarters in Geneva involving some 60 of the IPY scientists, several of whom participated through video teleconference from the four corners of the earth. The Geneva media representatives – multitudinous, to say the least – had been invited (through several announcements), and a major section of the auditorium was reserved for them. In the end, this journalist – with an intern in tow – was the only one to turn up.

In view of the Copenhagen conference (considered “crucial”) scheduled for the following December, a succession of prep conferences had been held (with more planned) without ever coming anywhere near a tentative text to be presented in Copenhagen to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The target consistently sought in the new document, repeatedly proposed and scuttled, was a 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 – a target that the scientists at the Geneva gathering insisted was the only one capable of averting a cataclysmic warming of the planet.

However . . .

That evening, during the reception (with the superb Geneva wines ubiquitously and abundantly in attendance) following the closing of the conference, as is often the case in such situations, people relaxed, chatted amiably and even openly – some would say indiscreetly. The same scientists who that afternoon had sworn that a 40 percent reduction was the only way to save the world, acknowledged that the figure was bogus.

It is worth noting that there is a golden rule within governmental organizations, and it is that no official document may ever contain anything that displeases a member state. Thus, the conclusions made public there, just like those of the IPCC reports and any other report on a controversial subject, represented the least common denominator. In other words, it was the least that could be stated without losing credibility.

An example of how this works, regarding the first installment of the four-part series of the most recent fifth assessment report, was discussed by Justin Gillis, in his New York Times article “Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some.” He mentioned two areas where the IPCC went “a little bit conservative on a couple of issues related to both sea level and temperature.”

The estimates ranged from three to five feet for the rise in the oceans by 2100. The IPCC chose to use the lower estimate, he pointed out, even though the higher, although not endorsed by the majority of scientists, would be the more realistic one in view of the way that all estimates so far have been far below the reality (in keeping with the whole process of minimizing the message).

He continued. The majority of scientists say that the continued burning of fossil fuels, with a doubling of the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from the estimated preindustrial level (280 p.p.m.) will result in a temperature rise of 3.6° F. to 5°F., with the higher temperature likely. The minority are saying that the temperature rise could be well below 3°F. Here the IPCC chose to use the minority figure.

Thus, the warnings issued by the IPCC in the November fourth installment that has garnered so much attention must be seen as merely the minimal – least disturbing – assessment. The answers given this journalist that evening at the WMO – all most emphatically NOT for attribution – painted a far different, and, according to the scientists, a far more realistic picture of what is happening.

Asked what, then, a realistic prescription for survival would be, they were categorical: greenhouse gases must be reduced by 80 percent – by 2015.

That was almost six years ago. Everything seems to be on schedule for the worst, including the denial from most of those on the top on down to most of the grassroots. While climatologists making candid public assessments have been decried as “doom-and-gloom” people, they more and more appear to be the lucid voices of reality in a fantasy world.

Among them, Guy McPherson could be said to have one of the most reasonable approaches: Make the most, imperatively, of what we have and can do now, with an emphasis on excellence in every endeavor, all while accepting that everything is telling us that we are on our way to extinction (soon rather than later), and prepare to take leave of the good earth without losing our humanity – graciously, with dignity.

______________________________________________________________________________

Robert James Parsons, a freelance journalist based in Geneva, writes regularly on international affairs (among other things) for the Geneva newspaper Le Courrier, and Le Courrier has turned 147 years old and is the last independent daily in Switzlerland, supported, like Truthout, by its readers.

 

Earth Faces Sixth ‘Great Extinction’: Researchers Struggling To Assess How Bad It Is

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Oldspeak: “Studies that try to tally the number of species of animals, plants and fungi alive right now produce estimates that swing from less than 2 million to more than 50 million. The problem is that researchers have so far sampled only a sliver of Earth’s biodiversity, and most of the unknown groups inhabit small regions of the world, often in habitats that are rapidly being destroyed…. Nature pulled together the most reliable available data to provide a graphic status report of life on Earth (see ‘Life under threat’). Among the groups that can be assessed, amphibians stand out as the most imperilled: 41% face the threat of extinction, in part because of devastating epidemics caused by chytrid fungi. Large fractions of mammals and birds face significant threats because of habitat loss and degradation, as well as activities such as hunting…. Conservation policies could slow extinctions, but current trends do not give much comfort. Although nations are expanding the number of land and ocean areas that they set aside for protection, most measures of biodiversity show that pressures on species are increasing. “In general, the state of biodiversity is worsening, in many cases significantly.” –Richard Monastersky

“So it’s a given, the anthropocene extinction is underway. Scientists know it’s bad. They just aren’t quite sure how bad. They do know half of the biodiversity they know about has been rendered extinct in the past 40 years. They expect extinction rates to increase as conditions worsen, it is significantly worsening currently. As time passes, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore these realities. I’ve been struggling with some grief the past few days. Lots of interesting subconscious stuff has been working itself out in meditation. Feeling lighter, more serene, less fearful, more discerning. Accepting what is has been quite liberating.” -OSJ

By Richard Monastersky @ Nature:

Of all the species that have populated Earth at some time over the past 3.5 billion years, more than 95% have vanished — many of them in spectacular die-offs called mass extinctions. On that much, researchers can generally agree. Yet when it comes to taking stock of how much life exists today — and how quickly it will vanish in the future — uncertainty prevails.

Studies that try to tally the number of species of animals, plants and fungi alive right now produce estimates that swing from less than 2 million to more than 50 million. The problem is that researchers have so far sampled only a sliver of Earth’s biodiversity, and most of the unknown groups inhabit small regions of the world, often in habitats that are rapidly being destroyed.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlighted the uncertainty in the latest version of its Red List of Threatened Species, which was released in November. The report evaluated more than 76,000 species, a big increase over earlier editions. But that is just 4% of the more than 1.7 million species that have been described by scientists, making it impossible to offer any reliable threat level for groups that have not been adequately assessed, such as fish, reptiles and insects.

Recognizing these caveats, Nature pulled together the most reliable available data to provide a graphic status report of life on Earth (see ‘Life under threat’). Among the groups that can be assessed, amphibians stand out as the most imperilled: 41% face the threat of extinction, in part because of devastating epidemics caused by chytrid fungi. Large fractions of mammals and birds face significant threats because of habitat loss and degradation, as well as activities such as hunting.

Looking forward, the picture gets less certain. The effects of climate change, which are hard to forecast in terms of pace and pattern, will probably accelerate extinctions in as-yet unknown ways. One simple way to project into the future would be to assume that the rate of extinction will be constant; it is currently estimated to range from 0.01% to 0.7% of all existing species a year. “There is a huge uncertainty in projecting future extinction rates,” says Henrique Pereira, an ecologist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig.

At the upper rate, thousands of species are disappearing each year. If that trend continues, it could lead to a mass extinction — defined as a loss of 75% of species — over the next few centuries.

Conservation policies could slow extinctions, but current trends do not give much comfort. Although nations are expanding the number of land and ocean areas that they set aside for protection, most measures of biodiversity show that pressures on species are increasing. “In general, the state of biodiversity is worsening, in many cases significantly,” says Derek Tittensor, a marine ecologist with the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK.

Despite all the uncertainty, researchers agree that they need to devote more attention to evaluating current and future risks to biodiversity. One approach is to develop comprehensive computer models that can forecast how human activities will alter ecosystems. These general ecosystem models, or GEMs, are in their infancy: earlier this year, Tittensor and his colleagues published initial results from the first global model that seeks to mimic all the major ecological interactions on Earth in much the same way as climate models simulate the atmosphere and oceans (M. B. J. Harfoot et al. PLoS Biol.12,e1001841; 2014).

Building the GEM took 3 years, in part because the model tries to represent all organisms with body masses ranging from 10 micrograms (about the weight of small plankton) to 150,000 kilograms (roughly the size of a blue whale). “It needs a lot more development and testing, and ideally there will be a lot more variety of these models,” says Tittensor. But if they do a decent job of capturing the breadth of life in a computer, he says, “they have real potential to alert us to potential problems we wouldn’t otherwise detect”.

 

Why Good News For The Ozone Layer Is Bad News For The Climate

In Uncategorized on September 29, 2014 at 12:19 am

2014 927 ozone fwOldspeak: “The “good news” arrived via the Associated Press on September 11: Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, atmospheric ozone is recovering. Scientists have been monitoring atmospheric ozone since 1989, the year the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) came into effect (it was negotiated in 1987). The scientists released their latest assessment on September 10, the subject of the Associated Press report….According to NASA scientist Paul A. Newman, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up from 2000 to 2013… The very slight thickening of the ozone layer is, as claimed, due to the phase-out of CFCs and other bad ozone actors. But it’s also due to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases cool the upper stratosphere. As that region of the heavens cools, ozone is rebuilt. The good ozone news is thus bad climate news….Among the most powerful greenhouse gases are HFCs, the non-ozone-destroying substitute for CFCs. Some HFCs have a global warming potential (GWP) 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide (the most commonly used, R-134a, has a GWP of 1430). The growth in their use is clear… without global action, HFC use is expected to increase significantly over the next three or four decades with dire consequences for the climate…Pretending that miniscule improvement in atmospheric ozone levels is cause for celebration is not that big of a deal. The more serious problem is continuing to suggest that the Montreal Protocol is a model for international action on climate change. Dealing with CFCs and their problematic substitutes was, and is, infinitely easier than confronting climate chaos. Banning gases with especially high global warming potential (GWPs) is necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. Carbon emissions are the lifeblood of the global economy, of affluent life styles lived by the few but aspired to by the many. A vigorous climate convention requires far-reaching shifts in virtually every corner of daily life in the developed world.” -Steven Breyman

“This is what’s it’s come to in our sad state of affairs. Manufacturing a “victory” and “one of the great success stories of international collective action in addressing a global environmental change phenomenon.” out of something that actually signifies defeat and failure in addressing the global environmental change phenomenon. The reality, is the chemicals that were used to replace the chemicals found to deplete the ozone layer, are thousands of times more potent and harmful than carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas most of our attention is focused on. The use of these chemicals are expected to increase significantly over the next 3 to 4 decades. How can this reality be couched as good news? Only in a reality where words, artfully and duplicitously weaved together, mean their complete opposite. An Orwellian world, where “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery”, and “Ignorance is Strength”.  No matter how we choose to perceive reality, Earth’s 6th mass extinction keeps rolling along.” –OSJ

 

By Stephen Breyman @ Truthout:

We live in a world hungry for good environmental news. But that’s no excuse for journalistic or scientific spin passing as an unvarnished victory for the environment, nor for exaggeration of the value of a narrowly focused environmental treaty as a model for a universal agreement.

The “good news” arrived via the Associated Press on September 11: Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, atmospheric ozone is recovering. Scientists have been monitoring atmospheric ozone since 1989, the year the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) came into effect (it was negotiated in 1987). The scientists released their latest assessment on September 10, the subject of the Associated Press report.

Some background is in order. The Montreal Protocol is important on its own merits. A world of thinning atmospheric ozone is a world of increased skin cancer, eye problems and reduced agricultural yields and phytoplankton production. Every member state of the United Nations ratified the Protocol. But it is as a model for climate change negotiations and agreement that it takes on greater importance. The successful negotiation of the Montreal Protocol required agreement among policymakers, scientists and corporations, as will the replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.

The original Montreal Protocol achieved iconic status – Kofi Annan called it “perhaps the single most effective international agreement to date” – because it phased out production of five chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) known to destroy atmospheric ozone. CFCs were most widely used as refrigerants, solvents, blowing agents and fire extinguishers, as are their substitutes today. There have been five effectiveness-improving amendments to the original Protocol.

The Protocol and its amendments were possible for five reasons:

First, given the phase-in of the phase-out (zero production and use of the five CFCs was not required until 1996) DuPont, the dominant firm in the business, had time to research and manufacture the economical and less destructive substitute hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and the nondestructive hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), even though it had to be pushed hard to do so. Lacking a chlorine atom, HFCs do not attack the ozone layer. HFCs and HCFCs are also less persistent in the atmosphere than CFCs, from two to 40 years for the former, to up to 150 years for the latter.

Second, CFCs were going off patent, so it was in DuPont’s interest to protect the multibillion-dollar market by developing HCFCs and HFCs.

Third, the science was clear on the Antarctic ozone hole, with but a handful of companies, led by DuPont, working to deny it.

Fourth, other ozone killers – several halons and some other CFCs – were not phased out until 2010.

Fifth, mandated phaseout of HCFCs does not begin until 2015, with zero production and consumption required by 2030.

The Montreal Protocol came to be because it posed a minor challenge to the profits of but a few firms, allowed time for new substitutes to come to market, and permitted use of less dangerous ozone-destroying chemicals, or those posing no threat at all.

Now back to the alleged good news report: According to NASA scientist Paul A. Newman, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up from 2000 to 2013. (The tiny change for the better explains why it is hard to see much if any improvement between 1989 and 2010, or between 2006 and 2010, in the photos above.) The Associated Press does not tell us about ozone concentrations at other latitudes or other altitudes (except for 50 miles up, but no specific improvement figure is reported; this probably means the improvement was less than 4 percent elsewhere in the upper atmosphere).

The improvement is a “victory for diplomacy and for science, and for the fact that we were able to work together,” said Nobel Prize chemist Mario Molina, one of the scientists who first made the connection between certain chemicals and ozone depletion. Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program, hailed the slight recovery of atmospheric ozone as “one of the great success stories of international collective action in addressing a global environmental change phenomenon.” Political scientist Paul Wapner said the latest findings were “good news in an often-dark landscape.”

The very slight thickening of the ozone layer is, as claimed, due to the phase-out of CFCs and other bad ozone actors. But it’s also due to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases cool the upper stratosphere. As that region of the heavens cools, ozone is rebuilt. The good ozone news is thus bad climate news.

2014 927 chart 1Among the most powerful greenhouse gases are HFCs, the non-ozone-destroying substitute for CFCs. Some HFCs have a global warming potential (GWP) 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide (the most commonly used, R-134a, has a GWP of 1430). The growth in their use is clear in the graph below; without global action, HFC use is expected to increase significantly over the next three or four decades with dire consequences for the climate, according to MIT atmospheric scientist Susan Solomon. (Source: TEAP/EPA/UNEP)

Ready for more double-edged good news? The Obama administration appears intent on phasing out HFCs (just in time for the UN gathering and Peoples Climate March in NYC), and a chemical that is nondestructive to ozone, with only four times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide – the hydrofluoroolefin HFO-1234YF, also known as 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropene – is ready to go as the latest substitute for CFCs.

The plan (as under the Montreal Protocol) is to give giant producers (including DuPont and Honeywell which own most of the patents) and massive users (including, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Target and Kroger’s) time to phase in HFO-1234YF. The European Union directive that automotive air conditioners use refrigerants with global warming potential (GWPs) of 150 or lower had most European car makers begin shifting to HFO-1234YF in 2011 (a total ban on more powerful climate-changing chemicals comes in 2017). General Motors has been using HFO-1234YF in Chevys, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs since 2013. Chrysler reportedly plans to transition to HFO-1234YF as well.

Given the history of CFCs and their substitutes, at least some adverse effects from HFO-1234YF production and use, and some glitches in the transition are likely. German automakers worry that HFO-1234YF is both too expensive and too flammable (they’re investigating the use of carbon dioxide). In case of fire following a collision, HFO-1234YF releases highly corrosive and toxic hydrogen fluoride gas. One report had it that Daimler Benz engineers witnessed combustion in two-thirds of simulated head-on crashes. Considering the requirement that auto repair shops retool their air conditioning service equipment to use HFO-1234YF, it’s likely they’ll stick with the HFC R134a as long as possible. India is so far uninterested in moving toward replacing R134a by HFO-1234YF (China is working with the United States to jointly reduce emissions of HFCs). Canada, Mexico and the United States intend to propose amendments to the Montreal Protocol to command the phase-out of HFC production.

Pretending that miniscule improvement in atmospheric ozone levels is cause for celebration is not that big of a deal. The more serious problem is continuing to suggest that the Montreal Protocol is a model for international action on climate change. Dealing with CFCs and their problematic substitutes was, and is, infinitely easier than confronting climate chaos. Banning gases with especially high global warming potential (GWPs) is necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. Carbon emissions are the lifeblood of the global economy, of affluent life styles lived by the few but aspired to by the many. A vigorous climate convention requires far-reaching shifts in virtually every corner of daily life in the developed world.

Confronting ozone depletion permitted business as usual with but the smallest of tweaks that went unnoticed by most. Overcoming the ozone depletion denial industry was a trivial challenge compared to that posed by the forces arrayed to muddle climate science and stymie strong action.

Again: a climate change agreement that includes robust mitigation, a serious campaign to build resilience against a destabilized climate, and a foundation on the principle of climate justice requires genuine and widespread change.

Preventing catastrophic and irreversible climate change compels conversion of the complex systems of transportation, agriculture, generation of electricity, cooling and heating, waste management, manufacturing, technological innovation and more. It also requires transformation in developed countries’ sense of responsibility for past and future emissions. This is why we have yet to see one. Military budgets must be slashed and war machines stopped to free up the funds necessary for building clean green economies and to stop exacerbating the problem. How likely is that as the United States returns to Iraq for the third time in as many decades?

 

PricewaterhouseCoopers Report: We’re 20 Years Away From Catastrophe

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Oldspeak: “According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown, for the sixth year running.” The report adds that at current rates, we’re headed towards 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by the end of the century—twice the agreed upon rate….The report also found that the world is going to blow a hole in its carbon budget—the amount we can burn to keep the world from overheating beyond 3.6 degrees… Overall, PricewaterhouseCoopers paints a bleak picture of a world that’s rapidly running out of time; the required effort to curb global emissions will continue to grow each year. “The timeline is also unforgiving…This means that emissions from the developed economies need to be consistently falling, and emissions from major developing countries will also have to start declining from 2020 onwards.” G20 nations, for example, will need to cut their annual energy-related emissions by one-third by 2030, and by just over half by 2050.” -James West

“Hmmm… When even establishment corporations that profit from business as usual are seeing the writing on the wall of climate change, that’s not good. We’re running out of time. All the Hopium, marches, pledges, intergovernmental panels, and feckless wars in the world can’t obscure this reality anymore. It’s a safe bet, we conservatively have about 20 years left before the ecology collapses. Probably less. Multiple major emitters (including the U.S.) are emitting more than ever, and are showing no signs of slowing down. Can we really expect emissions to start consistently falling by 2020? Not bloody likely. Add to human emissions the ever accelerating naturally released greenhouse gas emissions as the planet warms, and it should be fairly obvious that there is no exit strategy for this. Enjoy the time remaining as fully and presently as you can. ” -OSJ

By James West @ Mother Jones:

With every year that passes, we’re getting further away from averting a human-caused climate disaster. That’s the key message in this year’s “Low Carbon Economy Index,” a report released by the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report highlights an “unmistakable trend”: The world’s major economies are increasingly failing to do what’s needed to to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. That was the target agreed to by countries attending the United Nations’ 2009 climate summit; it represents an effort to avoid some of the most disastrous consequences of runaway warming, including food security threats, coastal inundation, extreme weather events, ecosystem shifts, and widespread species extinction.

To curtail climate change, individual countries have made a variety of pledges to reduce their share of emissions, but taken together, those promises simply aren’t enough. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown, for the sixth year running.” The report adds that at current rates, we’re headed towards 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by the end of the century—twice the agreed upon rate. Here’s a breakdown of the paper’s major findings.

The chart above compares our current efforts to cut “carbon intensity”—measured by calculating the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per million dollars of economic activity—with what’s actually needed to rein in climate change. According to the report, the global economy needs to “decarbonize” by 6.2 percent every year until the end of the century to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. But carbon intensity fell by only 1.2 percent in 2013.

The report also found that the world is going to blow a hole in its carbon budget—the amount we can burn to keep the world from overheating beyond 3.6 degrees:

The report singles out countries that have done better than others when it comes to cutting carbon intensity. Australia, for example, tops the list of countries that have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP, mainly due to lower energy demands in a growing economy. But huge countries like the United States, Germany, and India are still adding carbon intensity, year-on-year:

Overall, PricewaterhouseCoopers paints a bleak picture of a world that’s rapidly running out of time; the required effort to curb global emissions will continue to grow each year. “The timeline is also unforgiving. The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and others have estimated that global emissions will need to peak around 2020 to meet a 2°C [3.6 degrees F] budget,” the report says. “This means that emissions from the developed economies need to be consistently falling, and emissions from major developing countries will also have to start declining from 2020 onwards.” G20 nations, for example, will need to cut their annual energy-related emissions by one-third by 2030, and by just over half by 2050. The pressure will be on the world’s governments to come up with a solution to this enormous challenge at the much-anticipated climate talks in Paris next year.

 

 

“Peak Water,” Giant Methane Blowholes And Ice-Free Arctic Cruises: The Climate Crisis Deepens

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Anthropogenic climate disruptionOldspeak:If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re fucked.” -Jason Box, Climatologist.

As the world burns, this month’s installment of Dahr Jamail’s climate disruption dispatch, is more of the same. Shitty. The latest illustration of the rapidly increasingly deterioration of earth to a state unsurvivable by life forms.  A day after this story was published marked Earth Overshoot Day, the day humanity had used up the carbon storing abilities and all the planet’s natural resources that Earth can provide in the year. Consider this information in the context of a brief description of the state of affairs from the latest IPCC report:

currently observed impacts might already be considered dangerous…. Extreme weather and rising sea levels, such as heat waves, flooding and droughts. It even raises, as an earlier report did, the idea that climate change will worsen violent conflicts and refugee problems and could hinder efforts to grow more food. And ocean acidification, which comes from the added carbon absorbed by oceans, will harm marine life…. Without changes in greenhouse gas emissions, climate change risks are likely to be high or very high by the end of the 21st century.”

The end of the 21st century projection is bullshit. It’s only purpose is to lead us to believe that the extinction inducing impacts are very far away. They are not.  The currently observed impacts will likely increase in a non-linear, exponential fashion, as more greenhouse gas emissions are released into the environment. It’s physics at this point, many of the conditions that existed during all of earth’s other mass extinctions exist now. Massive climactic shifts were the usual hallmarks of all previous extinctions. In short, as the esteemed climatologist said, we’re fucked. Burn baby burn!” -OSJ

By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” 

– Mahatma Gandhi

We begin this month’s climate disruption dispatch with comments from NASA’s Earth Observatory about the extreme juxtaposition of temperatures we are experiencing in North America this summer.

“If you live in the northern hemisphere, the past few weeks have been strange,” NASA states. “In places where it should be seasonably hot – the eastern and southern United States and western Europe – it’s just been warm. In places where weather is usually mild in the summer – northern Europe, the Pacific coast of North America – it has been ridiculously hot.”

To get a look at how this appears on a map of the northern hemisphere, click here.

NASA continues:

Records for high temperatures (mid-30s°C, mid-90s°F) were approached or broken in Latvia, Poland, Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, and Sweden in late July and early August. Searing temperatures also dried out forests and fuelled wildfires in Siberia; in the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington, and California; in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Northwest Territories; and even in Sweden. At the same time, cool air moved from high northern latitudes into much of the U.S., setting record-low daytime and nighttime temperatures as far south as Florida and Georgia. Temperatures dropped to the winter-like levels in the mountains of Tennessee.

The extremes generated by anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) were off the charts last year, as well, according to a recently released report from Live Science.

In 2013, global temperatures continued their long-term rising trend as the planet hit new records for greenhouse gases, Arctic heat, warm ocean temperatures and rising global sea levels. Additionally, Arctic sea ice extent was its sixth lowest and continued to decline by 14 percent per decade, Super Typhoon Haiyan recorded the highest wind speed for a tropical cyclone with sustained winds reaching 196 mph, record high temperatures were recorded in the Arctic, including record temperatures being recorded 60 feet down into the permafrost.

Indeed, when we observe what is happening in the Arctic, just one look at this before (1979) and after (2014) photo of the ice cap makes the stark reality of our situation clear.

A study recently published in Nature warns that the two-headed dragon of air pollution and ACD will likely result in 50 percent more people going hungry by 2050, due to damaged crop growth.

This month’s overview of how the four aspects of the planet are being impacted by ACD provides another sobering reality check, demonstrating how rapidly our world is moving toward an unsurvivable state.

Earth

Examples of the impacts of ACD across planetary species (including our own), which are struggling to adapt, are plentiful this month.

In the far south, Antarctic climactic variations are causing dramatic changes in fur seals that are being born smaller, showing genetic changes, and breeding later in life.

Speaking of the poles, ACD is causing fish and other ocean life to migrate into previously cooler waters, causing disruptions of the previously balanced ecosystems in both areas.

Southern Britain is now beginning to be invaded by birds and bugs from the Mediterranean, which are being drawn by the UK’s abnormally hot sun.

Across Africa, population growth and ACD are causing increasing competition for land, which is leading to increasing violence across much of that continent. One example of this is the al-Shabaab Islamist militants forcing people off their lands for farming purposes.

In southwest Florida, mangroves already on the move due to ACD are now appearing as though they will drown within the next 100 years due to ever-increasing sea-level rise.

In the North Atlantic, the numbers of codfish spawning are at an all-time low, and regulators are pointing towards ACD as the reason.

Salmon in Oregon are feeling the impacts, as diminishing river flows, higher water temperatures and the effects of drought are combining to take their toll on the Klamath Basin fisheries. Not surprisingly, drought-plagued California is also seeing large numbers of juvenile salmon die off due to low river flows and hotter-than-normal temperatures.

In Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee, a champion of working to both educate and mitigate the impacts of ACD is working overtime to inform people about how billions of baby oysters in his state are dying.

And finally, in what could easily be categorized as “disgusting human tricks,” ACD tourism is coming to the Arctic, where people can take a cruise ship for a trip through the now ice-free Northwest Passage.

Water

We know water is essential for the survival of all life – but it’s not just about drinking water. Seventy percent of world’s freshwater use is for irrigation. While each person drinks an average of one liter of water daily, it takes 2,000 liters per person to produce the food we eat.

Irrigated areas on the planet tripled to 700 million acres between 1950 and 2000, but after decades of constant and rapid increase, growth has slowed dramatically. This, coupled with a dramatic depletion of underground water resources, comprises an example of how “peak water” is likely upon us. The term frames our understanding around the growing lack of availability, quality and use of fresh water.

As of today, 18 countries that contain half the population of humans on the planet are over pumping their aquifers. China, India and the United States, which are the three largest grain producers on the planet, are included in these. Saudi Arabia has become the first country to predict that its aquifer depletion will shrink its harvest of grain, and will thus soon become completely dependent upon imports for all of its grain. Saudi Arabia has a population of 29 million.

Rivers that now run dry or are reduced to a tiny trickle before reaching the sea for at least part of the year now include the Colorado (a major river in the southwestern United States), the Yellow (the largest river in northern China), the Nile (the lifeline of Egypt), the Indus (which supplies the majority of Pakistan’s irrigation waters), and the Ganges (which is situated in India’s most populated area – the Gangetic basin).

Land grabs for farming are essentially water grabs, as demonstrated in Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan, where three-fourths of the Nile River Basin is located. These countries are already in a struggle with Egypt for that river’s water. This is but one example of dozens.

Speaking of conflicts over water, in India, armed bandits were recently threatening villagers with death unless they delivered 35 buckets of water a day. This is due primarily to the fact that since 2007, water in northern India has been scarce due to the annual monsoon delivering only half of what it used to.

In the United States, examples of “peak water” abound. Nowhere is peak water more evident than in California, where more and more farmers lack enough water to maintain their livelihoods. The record-breaking drought across the Golden State is hammering the lake and river tourism industry there, where marinas and boat ramps are becoming high and dry. Entire cities in California are now under threat of running completely out of water, and country groundwater levels are falling at higher rates than is normal as a result of the severe drought.

In fact, California’s drought has become one of the worst in North American history, as the state is short more than one year’s worth of reservoir water for this time of year. The streams continue to dry up, and crops are dying off as three years of persistent drought conditions continue. Recently, dire conditions forced the state to implement statewide emergency water-conservation measures to preserve what is left of the water.

The drought has continued to intensify relentlessly throughout much of the summer, transforming the global food market in the process, since California is the nation’s biggest agricultural state by value. Impacts have reverberated as far away as China, where the California drought has resulted in an increase in the price of milk.

The US Southwest is showing broader signs of “peak water,” as a recently published study by NASA and University of California, Irvine has revealed that groundwater in the Colorado River Basin is disappearing at a “shocking” rate.

Mapping the droughts across the United States over the decades reveals that in the last 10 years, droughts in some regions are rivaling the epic droughts of the 1930s and 1950s.

Nevada’s Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, is currently at an all-time low, which translates to water shortages likely being declared across a region that is home to 40 million people located in seven of the fastest-growing states in the country.

Other global examples of decreasing water availability include snow missing from New Zealand’s ski slopes, and severe drought in China looking as though it will end 11 years of harvest growth.

The other end of the water spectrum, too much water, is being impacted by ACD, including rising sea levels and ocean acidification. Boston city leaders are looking into building canals in order to mitigate and adjust to ACD as global sea levels continue to rise.

The city of Miami Beach is proposing an increase in storm water fees to fund city projects in an effort to deal with sea-level rise. In nearby Miami, the contrast is clear in a city leadership who is populated largely by ACD deniers, hence the low-lying city is looking like it will be the first American Atlantis for lack of acceptance, mitigation and adaptation measures.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are vanishing due to development and ACD, according to scientists, while up in Alaska, several communities that are fishing-dependent are under threat from increasing ocean acidification, which is what happens when large amounts of carbon dioxide are absorbed into marine waters.

Back in New Zealand, rising sea levels are threatening to drive Torres Strait Islanders from their homes as the low-lying islands are becoming engulfed by the ocean.

These are but a few examples of what is to come, as recent information published by the National Climatic Data Center shows that the planet set the new mark for the hottest June on record. This was due in large part to the planet having the hottest ocean temperatures since recordkeeping began over 130 years ago.

Air

The capital city of Texas is expected to see summertime high temperatures six degrees above its current average high, in addition to seeing temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the city more than 20 days per year by the end of this century, according to a recent study commissioned by the city of Austin.

New research has shown that tornadoes are becoming increasingly common over the last 60 years, and ACD is the driver of the change.

July saw new all-time heat records in the Siberian town of Norilsk, which is just above the Arctic Circle and known as one of the world’s coldest cities, where temperatures were on par with those in the Mediterranean.

Several massive methane blowholes that left craters in Siberia recently have left much of the scientific community scratching their heads, but the fact that methane is involved is extremely worrisome. One of the craters is 200 feet across, and appears bottomless. Russian scientists found extremely high concentrations of methane at the bottom of the first crater found.

In the atmosphere, methane is a greenhouse gas that, on a relatively short-term time scale, is far more destructive than carbon dioxide.  It is 23 times as powerful as carbon dioxide per molecule on a 100-year timescale, 105 times more potent when it comes to heating the planet on a 20-year timescale – and the Arctic permafrost, onshore and off, is packed with the stuff.

NASA has already reported about the threat posed by the distinct possibility of a massive amount of methane being released from the Arctic – which holds five to six times the carbon equivalent of that humans have burned in our entire existence on Earth – along with the fact that most of this carbon is located in thaw-vulnerable top soils within 10 feet of the surface.

However, the NASA report was from June 2013. Now, researchers surveying the Arctic Ocean’s seafloor are expressing even graver concerns over their findings, which include plumes of methane rising in bubbles from the sea floor.

Widely published climatologist Jason Box, who closely followed the research expedition, responded to what he saw with a tweet that quickly went viral: “If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.”

Moving beneath the Arctic Ocean where methane hydrates – often described as methane gas surrounded by ice – exist, a March 2010 report in Science indicated that these cumulatively contain the equivalent of 1,000 to 10,000 gigatons of carbon. Compare this total to the 240 gigatons of carbon humanity has emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began.

This is why Box’s abrupt and blunt statement is as prophetic as it is shocking, coming from a scientist of his caliber.

To underscore this point, a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesshows that the rapid rise in temperatures in the Arctic (since 2000, temperatures in the Arctic have risen twice as fast as the rest of the world) are linked directly to changes in extreme weather and global wind patterns.

Fire

It is now well known that ACD is generating larger, hotter wildfires burning earlier and later than their historic seasons. This summer we are witnessing “unprecedented” wildfires across Washington and Oregon, where evacuations are ongoing and homes continue to burn to the ground.

One of the fires in Washington smashed all previous records, becoming the largest that state has ever seen, so far. The governors of both Washington and Oregon declared states of emergency because of several major fires burning in their states. California’s Gov. Jerry Brown did the same, as he declared a state of emergency due to threats posed by several dozen wildfires in his state.

Just after California was declared in a state of emergency, the Obama administration released a video that linked the fires to ACD. In it, White House science adviser John Holdren said: “While no single wildfire can be said to be caused by climate change, climate change has been making the fire season in the U.S. longer and on average more intense.” He went on to say that annual western wildfires in the United States had “increased several-fold in the last decade” alone, and pointed out how the eight worst years on record for “area burned” by wildfires had all occurred “since 2000.”

In total, the amount of acres consumed by wildfires has doubled to more than 7 million annually, and the US fire season has expanded from 60 to 80 days since 1980.

Canada is being hammered by record-breaking wildfires as well. Large forest fires across the remote Northwest Territories are extending their reach far above average for the year, thus far. Canadian scientists are all too aware of the fact that fires like this are the new normal for their country, thanks to ACD. Across the globe, desertification is threatening what is left of the planet’s fertile lands, as extreme heat and aridity are spreading as ACD progresses.

Denial and Reality

The willful ignorance of the fossil-fuel industry-funded ACD denier/skeptic movement in the United States continues to astound.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) recently told reporters that “climate change occurs no matter what,” and that the EPA’s efforts to reduce emissions from existing power plants are “outside of the confines of the law,” and amount to no more than “an excuse to grow government, raise taxes and slow down economic growth.”

A poll involving 20 countries and more than 16,000 people revealed that the United States leads the planet when it comes to ACD denial, finding that 52 percent of US citizens agreed with this statement: “The climate change we are currently seeing is a natural phenomenon that happens from time to time.” The United States was tied by India, and China was a close second.

The United States also got the blue ribbon for having a scant 32 percent of its population disagree with this statement: “The climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity.” Australia, which just repealed its carbon tax, came in second with that statement, with 25 percent of its population saying they didn’t believe in ACD.

Back in the real world, the US military is not letting polls nor politicians hinder its planning for ACD as it is pushing forward on strategies with partner nations to mitigate security effects resulting from ACD.

NOAA recently released its 2013 State of the Climate, and said the planet continued to warm at an unhealthy pace last year, and in fact revealed, “The planet is changing more rapidly . . . than any time of modern civilization.” Meanwhile, Climate Central released an amazing tool, where you can view “1001 Blistering Future Summers,” enabling the user (us) to interact and see what 1,001 cities’ summers will be like by 2100. By way of example, using the tool you can see how, by 2100, summers in Phoenix (103.96 degrees Fahrenheit) will be like summers now in Kuwait (114.08 degrees Fahrenheit).

A recent NASA study showed that as climate models factor in temporary warming and cooling impacts of El Nino and La Nina, they are accurate predictors of global warming. This is consistent with recent studies that show how global temperatures appear to be set to rise rapidly.

As has been mentioned in these dispatches previously, the planet is now in the early stages of its sixth mass extinction event, and humans are indeed responsible, according to yet another published study, this one in Science.

According to the study, large vertebrate animals (megafauna), which include elephants and polar bears, face the steepest decline since they require large habitats and are targeted by human hunters. The loss of megafauna places ecosystems off balance and leads to consequences like massive rodent infestations that proceed to impact the well-being and stability of a large segment of species, including humans. The study highlights how the particularly steep decline of megafauna we are seeing now is characteristic of all the previous mass extinction events.

Massive climactic shifts (cooling or warming) were the signatures of the five worst mass extinction events of the planet, and each are believed to have been triggered by either asteroid impacts or volcanism.

Given the massive injection of carbon dioxide gasses into the atmosphere by humans and the fact that large amounts of methane are already being released in the Arctic which many scientists believe is already a runaway feedback loop that will add several more degrees warming to the planet, the current mass extinction event may closely resemble the Permian-Triassic extinction that happened about 251 million years ago.

During that extinction event, earth’s worst, 95 percent of all species were killed off.

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