SCOTUS halts youth climate case

SUBHEAD: With Kavanaugh in place on Supreme Court likely to close lawsuit against fed not controlling greenhouse gases.

By Jessica Corbetton 20 October 2018 for Common Dreams -
(https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/20/disgraceful-and-enraging-supreme-court-halts-youth-climate-case-after-last-ditch)


Image above: Demonstration in April 2017 in St. Paul MN by children wanting Federal Government take responsibility for not controlling greenhouse gases and imperiling life their lives. From original article.

In a move author and activist Naomi Klein denounced as "disgraceful and enraging," the U.S. Supreme Court has halted a lawsuit brought by 21 American children and young adults that aims to hold the federal government accountable for its ongoing failure to adequately curb greenhouse gas emissions to battle the global climate crisis.

The decision came in response to a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to kill the "potentially landmark" case ahead of the trial slated to begin in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon on Oct. 29.

The case has been tied up in the legal system for three years. Just this week, District Court Judge Ann Aiken reaffirmed that the youth plaintiffs can credibly claim that the government has violated their due process rights.

The Supreme Court, however, stayed discovery and the trial in an order (pdf) issued Friday, demanding a response from the plaintiffs' legal counsel by Wednesday afternoon.

Michael Gerrard, director of Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia, called the move "highly unusual" and "reminiscent of their stay of the Clean Power Plan."

Farron Cousins, a radio host and executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, tied the development to the upcoming midterms, tweeting:
There was one glimmer of hope this week when this case was allowed to proceed to trial, and in an instant, this guy took it away. Future generations are getting screwed, and I hope they remember who did this. Vote like your life depends on it! https://www.climateliabilitynews.org/2018/10/19/supreme-court-kids-climate-case-roberts/ 
While the high court's one-page order provoked public outrage, Julia Olson of Our Children's Trust, co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs, remained optimistic and said the team plans to file their reply on Monday.

"We are confident once Chief [John] Justice Roberts and the full court receive the youth plaintiffs' response to defendants' mischaracterization of their case, the trial will proceed," she said.
"As the Supreme Court has recognized in innumerable cases, review of constitutional questions is better done on a full record where the evidence is presented and weighed by the trier of fact. This case is about already recognized fundamental rights and children's rights of equal protection under the law."
As E&E News noted, "Roberts' action came hours after Jeffrey Wood, a top political appointee at the Department of Justice, said there is no such right. Speaking at a law conference in San Diego, Wood said the right to a safe climate that the plaintiffs demand 'simply does not exist,' adding that the government is still preparing for trial."

Several observers pointed out that the Supreme Court had previously allowed the case to proceed, back before the contentious new Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced now-retired Anthony Kennedy. Environmental attorney Jeffrey Gracer remarked: "A newly configured Supreme Court seems poised to close the courthouse doors. But the tide of #ClimateAction cannot be stopped."

Jeffrey Gracer tweeted;
Justice Kennedy previously denied a stay in this climate change case brought by children who simply want their day in court. A newly configured Supreme Court seems poised to close the courthouse doors. But the tide of cannot be stopped.
See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Case against Trump proceeding 10/18/18
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Living in a Shitstorm

SUBHEAD: Get over despair. The big problems won't be fixed. A planetary adjustment is at hand.

By Chris Jordan on 17 October 2018 for Huffington Post -
(https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/despair-environment-politics_us_5bc5d910e4b0a8f17ee5d240)


Image above: Man hanging onto "Caution" sign as braking storm wave breaks. From internet.

[IB Publisher's note: My advise to the author of this piece... Get over the despair. The big problems won't be fixed. A planetary adjustment is at hand. There is much work to be done by the survivors. Some places will be much safer than others. If you are not in one, find such a spot. Abandon your dependence on "The System" to a degree you never imagined (ditch the car,  the grid, discount retailing and the  information cloud as soon as possible. Hunker down with people you trust and can work or trade with. Entertain each other until the new dawn. P.S. This is the 7,000th post to this blog. Where does the time go?] 

Like all of you, I pay close daily attention to the increasingly grotesque environmental and political shitshow we are witnessing unfold before our astonished eyes. The question is how to respond.

I have never at the same time felt such a strong desire to make a positive difference and less empowered to do so.

In my own psyche, something has shifted on a foundational level.

Most conversations now, even among my wisest and most engaged friends, lead down familiar rabbit holes that end in shrugged shoulders, dumb jokes that mask disempowerment and worn out memes about “solutions” that are infinitesimal in proportion to the scale of the problems.

Ask young people what two words most characterize our future and the response is as instant as it is ubiquitous: “We’re fucked.”

The most relevant internet comment people seem to be able to muster is “vote,” which raises a whole separate conversation, but the crux for me is, “Of course ― and what else?” Politics is an increasing disaster that can be seen as both a cause and a symptom.

I try to step back to a meta-perspective in the hope of achieving a clearer-headed view, but the wide-angle picture becomes even more chaotic. The panopticon turns out to be a Halloween hall of mirrors.

And in this space I find myself steeped in the familiar feeling of dread that I had before going to Midway Island to photograph dead albatrosses whose stomachs are filled with plastic.

To take the next step forward, I know I must face something dark that lies inside of myself, but I can’t quite make out what it is ― something so taken for granted that I don’t see it, like the water we swim in, right in front of our nose but invisible.

Yet its presence is just strong enough to swing the needle of my internal compass in its direction.

The abyss I went to encounter on Midway was grief, which at the time I knew little about and thought was the scariest feeling there is to bear.

Now the form of a new monster emerges through the mist, a hundred times more frightening than grief, a lurking layer in the psyche that possesses the horrible power to drain individual and collective life force. It carries such strong cultural taboos that even naming it risks a kind of social suicide.

But I can no longer deny its residency in my consciousness, like a new roommate who showed up uninvited and now sleeps in my bed next to me and walks with me everywhere I go. I wonder if it accompanies you too. It is that state of mind we call despair.

On uttering the awful term, I realize I know barely anything about it. In my 14 years of individual and group therapy, I don’t recall any of the therapists or clients ever mentioning it, and I have rarely if ever read anything about it or heard discussion of it.

One thing I can observe about it right away is, in the same way I was grief averse, I am exponentially more despair averse. Admitting despair feels like surrendering the game for lost. An abhorrent kind of giving up seems to lie at its core.

At least grief expresses itself in the cathartic flow of tears, with the possibility of moving through to the other side.

Despair presents as an existential energy sink, like bleeding from an artery, a black hole that if approached pulls inescapably toward implosion and emotional collapse.

Acknowledging despair may amplify it, but denying it may feed it even more. The unconscious defense mechanism is avoidance:

Keep up a hopeful facade, say something positive, focus on trivia, talk about solutions, point to some small evidence of improvement somewhere, quote a self-help one-liner, any old cliche will do.

I wonder what it would mean to allow for some measure of despair as a natural response to the ever more fucked-up realities of our world.

Can despair be held and contained as a natural human experience alongside fear, anger, rage, grief, joy, beauty and love?

Or does it somehow diminish or cancel out everything else?

Perhaps there is something empowering and transformative that comes from standing in despair’s crucible.

Given we may create the very depression we fear by holding despair at bay, I want to know what happens if we take the risk of looking all the way into that darkness.

Let us consider the possibility that there may be value in exploring the territory of despair together, embracing it not as an exercise in negativity or capitulation but as a liberating doorway we can step through toward the healing of our relationship with each other and the world.

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Case against Trump proceeding

SUBHEAD: Blockbuster ruling on Children's Climate Change suit will proceed to trial October 29th.

By Julia Conley on 16 October 2018 for Common Dreams  -
(https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/16/blockbuster-ruling-judge-says-youths-climate-case-against-trump-administration-can)


Image above: A young gird holds a poster of Planet Earth supporting children's lawsuit.  From original article.

Twenty-one children and young adults were looking forward on Tuesday to bringing their climate lawsuit against the federal government to trial in the coming weeks, following a U.S. District Court ruling arguing that the plaintiffs have made a convincing case that the Trump and Obama administrations have failed to curb carbon emissions even as they knew of the pollution's myriad harmful effects.

Judge Ann Aiken handed down the ruling late Monday in a court in Eugene, Oregon, affirming that the plaintiffs can credibly claim that their due process rights have been violated by the government and fossil fuel companies—an argument the young people are more than ready to make in court starting October 29, when the case is set to go to trial.

Following the decision, 21-year-old Tia Hatton said in a statement, "My fellow plaintiffs and I have our eyes set on one thing: our trial date...We—my lawyers, our experts, and my co-plaintiffs and I—are ready to make our case against the U.S. federal government and their deliberate energy policy that cause catastrophic climate change."

The lawsuit, Juliana vs. The United States, was first filed in 2015 under the Obama administration, with the 21 plaintiffs, then ranging in age from eight to 19, arguing with the help of Our Children's Trust that the government's actions that have worsened carbon emissions have "violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources."

The children pointed to increasingly frequent and destructive extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and droughts in their hometowns across the U.S. as evidence of their claim, and since then have called expert witnesses including climate scientist James Hansen and economist Joseph Stiglitz to bolster their case.

The young people "proffered uncontradicted evidence showing that the government has historically known about the dangers of greenhouse gases but has continued to take steps promoting a fossil fuel based energy system, thus increasing greenhouse gas emissions," said Aiken in her ruling.

Aiken dismissed President Donald Trump as a defendant in the lawsuit, but she did so "without prejudice"—meaning the youths can bring a case against him later on. Other Trump administration officials who head government agencies can still be named in the current case.

"The District Court continues to provide well-reasoned decisions that narrow and appropriately frame the heart of this case for trial," said Julia Olson, executive director of Our Children's Trust. "We are ready to bring all of the facts forward and prove these youths' case once and for all."

The federal government has for three years attempted to have the case dismissed by arguing that extreme weather events and pollution levels happen around the world, not only in the U.S., and that, as one Justice Department lawyer put it in 2016, "There simply is no constitutional right to a pollution-free environment." Aiken vehemently rejected the argument:
Where a complaint alleges knowing governmental action is affirmatively and substantially damaging the climate system in a way that will cause human deaths, shorten human lifespans, result in widespread damage to property, threaten human food sources, and dramatically alter the planet's ecosystem, it states a claim for a due process violation. To hold otherwise would be to say that the Constitution affords no protection against a government's knowing decision to poison the air its citizens breathe or the water its citizens drink.
"Judge Aiken's blockbuster decision lays out in extremely precise detail the factual and legal issues in our case which remain to be resolved at trial," Alex Loznak, a 21-year-old plaintiff, said.

"Having contributed extensive personal testimony and research to help develop our case's factual record over the past several years, I am confident that our arguments on the remaining disputed issues will ultimately prevail in court. We still need a full and fair trial to prove our case. October 29, here we come!"

Three Deprivation Narratives

SUBHEAD: I’d like to think that it possible for everyone to have safe and comfortable shelter.

By Chris Smaje on 7 October 2018 for Small Farm Future -
(https://smallfarmfuture.org.uk/2018/10/three-deprivation-narratives/)


Image above: Poster from 1974 showing peasant life in rural China titled "Reporting to Chairman Mao". From (https://chineseposters.net/posters/e13-451.php).

I’ve been reading Lynn T. White’s book Rural Roots of Reform Before China’s Conservative Change (Routledge, 2018). I couldn’t honestly recommend it as a light bedtime read, but it’s absolutely fascinating nonetheless.

Here I just want to reflect on the case of a rural migrant mentioned by White thus:
“A twenty-five-year-old legal migrant from Henan to Suzhou explained in 1994 why he was so much more productive on the delta: “We used to spend three months doing farm work, one month celebrating the Spring Festival, and eight months in idle time every year.”
Now he was a restaurant waiter, working fourteen hours each day, seven days a week – but receiving 400 yuan (about US$50 a month, which was four times his previous Henan wage).
When asked whether he thought he was working too hard, he replied with great eloquence….“No, it is better than sitting idly by watching people in cities getting rich. The conditions here are not bad at all.
Color TV, electric heating, free meals – these are great. What I like most here is that I can take a shower every day. I was not able to take a bath during the entire winter at home. It would be too cold to do so in the river.” (p.354)
FIRST  DEPRIVATION
This example poses some potentially awkward questions for those like me who advocate for a small farm future – for more Henan and less Suzhou, so to speak. Could I look this man in the eye and tell him that he should have stayed on the farm? My answer to that, emphatically, is no.

But I think the implications of what he said are worth pondering. The first reason he gave for leaving the farm draws from a relative deprivation narrative – why molder away in rural poverty while city people make so much more money?
 
The last reason he gave draws from an absolute deprivation narrative – back home, he couldn’t even take a shower during the winter!

This individual story fits easily into the dominant narrative of our times – people naturally seek prosperity, and when the opportunity arises will therefore move from countryside to city, and also from poorer countries to richer ones in search of it.

Good luck to them – so long as the national and international economies are structured the way they are, I have zero sympathy for the anti-immigration rhetoric of right-wing populism, and little sympathy for left-populist peasant romanticism either.

But if you aggregate this one man’s journey across the global billions, urban and rural, who share his impoverished starting point, I can’t see this strategy of wealth-through-urbanization-and-economic-growth working.

For one thing, while the global economy is certainly capable of lifting millions of people out of poverty in some places – China foremost among them – I don’t think it’s structurally or physically capable of doing it adequately everywhere.

If, like me, you number among the top few hundred million in global wealth then that may not concern you much. Possibly it doesn’t concern a man like the Henan waiter either.

And much as I’d like to think that such persistent inequalities would prompt the poor into political action to achieve a fairer distribution of the world’s resources, the fact is this only happens in historically unusual circumstances, as occurred in early 20th century China.

If economist Minqi Li, whose book China and the 21st Century Crisis (Pluto, 2016) I’m currently ploughing my way through (it’s another bedtime no-no, I’m afraid), is to be believed, these circumstances are also likely to occur in the mid-21st century, and will probably result in the end of the global capitalist order.

SECOND DEPRIVATION
Let me throw in another China book while I’m at it – David Bandurski’s Dragons in Diamond Village: Tales of Resistance in Urbanizing China (Melville House, 2016) – a much better candidate for bedtime reading, which shows vividly why somebody like this waiter may get richer in the city but will always be watching other people get richer still.

Having corresponded recently with David (more on that anon), he pronounces himself pessimistic about the opportunities for resistance in Xi’s China. Time will tell.

Quite apart from the limited economic capacity of the global political economy to lift adequate numbers of people out of poverty, the other side of it is the limited environmental and energetic capacities to do so.

If you aggregate the single migrant journey from Henan to Suzhou I’ve described here among all those similarly lacking in the food, shelter, comfort and entertainment that many of us take for granted, the consequences will quite simply be environmentally catastrophic and untenable long-term unless you buy into ecomodernist fantasies that it’s all manageable through nuclear power, GM crops and the like.

THIRD DEPRIVATION
So here we come to a third deprivation narrative – contemporary people pursuing eminently justifiable and personally rational goals deprive others, most especially future generations, of the opportunity to do likewise.

The only way I see out of this morass is to detoxify the first and third of these deprivation narratives while focusing relentlessly on the second.

I’d like to think that it should be possible for everyone in the world to have safe and comfortable shelter (including access to tolerably warm bathing water) and an adequate diet (I’m not so sure about the color TV…or the free meals: isn’t there a capitalist story doing the rounds that the latter are a myth?)

But to achieve that sustainably so that future generations don’t go without I think we’re going to have to let go of the relative deprivation story, the “people in cities getting rich”, by sharing the wealth around much more fairly.

Well, it’s a plan – and it’s been tried before, notably in China by one Mao Zedong. The aforementioned Minqi Li seems to be among the cohort that’s reevaluating Maoism positively, for example analyzing Mao’s Cultural Revolution as an attempt to “save the revolution” through “the dictatorship of the proletariat” (p.18).

Personally, I struggle to justify the enormous destructiveness, misery and cruelty of it in those terms, when it seemed to be at least as much about saving the power of Mao Zedong through the dictatorship of Mao Zedong.

I find Lynn White’s analysis more interesting – in his view, the disasters of Mao’s Great Leap Forward followed soon after by the power vacuum created by the Cultural Revolution fostered considerable local economic autonomy in China from the 1960s, and it was this bottom-up economic dynamism rather than the top-down reforms of the post-Mao government that laid the foundation for the country’s transformation into today’s huge industrial-capitalist power.

I do find Li’s prognosis for how that transformation is likely to end in tears quite convincing, however.

So no, I’m not too keen on Maoist solutions to economic inequality. My preference is for agrarian populist solutions to it – which essentially means getting more people into farming and paying them better for it.

Low economic returns to agriculture have often been a historical fact, but they’re not intrinsically an economic one. Still, the questions remain – is such a populist solution likely to occur, and how could it happen?

My answers to that are ‘no’ and ‘with great difficulty’, but it’s the only solution that strikes me as likely to be successful long-term, so the long march back to Henan-with-hot-showers is the one I want to devote my thinking to.

White and Li’s books have helped me to see that a little more clearly, though still through a glass darkly. I’ll try to elucidate it more in future posts.

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Uncomfortable Truth about Hawaii

SUBHEAD: The illegal takeover of the Hawaii was an act of war and never resolved with peace.

By Keanu Sai on 16 August 2018 for University of Hawaii -
(https://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2018/10/uncomfortable-truth-about-hawaii.html)


Image above: Still frame from video of  Na Moolelo Lecture Series lecture at University of Hawaii-Windward Community College. See below.

[IB Publisher's note: A mahalo to Craig Davies, of Kauai, for the link to this lecture on Hawaiian history and loss of independence.]

Dr. Keanu Sai is a political scientist specializing in international relations and public law, as well as a faculty member at the University of Hawaii-Windward Community College and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Hawaii College of Education.

He addressed the concept of “act of war,” as well as its implications and consequences in the context of international law. The discussion, “An Uncomfortable Truth: Hawaii has been in a State of War with the United States since 1893,” took place on June 13.

Na Moolelo Lecture Series: The Na Moolelo Lecture Series is an opportunity for the public to learn from Hawaiian cultural experts, historians and other museum professionals who prompt discussion of Hawaiian history and culture as well as museum practices.

The free series supports Iolani Palace’s mission to preserve and share Hawaii’s unique cultural and historical qualities with the community.


Video above: Still frame from video of lecture "An Uncomfortable Truth: Hawaii in a State of War" by Dr. Keanu Sai.

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Capitalism and ecological collapse

SUBHEAD: Our consumer economy will be the "Final Solution" for organic life on Earth.

By Ed Simon on 9 October 2018 for History News Netrwork -
(https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170192)


Image above: Chiseled upside down into the stone embankment of the Elbe River four centuries ago, at a time of historic drought, are the words "If you see me, weep!" From (https://twitter.com/lfulg/status/1022831523920310279).

Four centuries ago, somebody starving in the drought afflicted Elbe region in what is today the Czech Republic, anonymously chiseled onto the stone of the receding river bank a warning.

Here, along the river where one day American and Soviet troops would meet on their duel approach to Berlin, a graffito made by unknown hand marks 1616 as the oldest year recorded on one particular “Hunger Stone”, and on that surface there is a memento mori which reads

“Wenn du mich sicht, dann weine.” 

This summer, among the hottest recorded, and the Elbe once again receded to the point where observers could read that ominous missive:

“If you see me, weep.”

Something to tattoo on the brain with the Monday release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change.

Authored by 91 scientists, representing 40 countries and based on over 6,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies, the conclusions of the commission are horrifying.

According to Coral Davenport at the New York Times the climatologists discovered that if “greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit” by 2040, radically earlier than had been thought, meaning that most readers of this article will bear witness to “inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty.”

A child born today will have just turned the drinking age in a world where close to all of the coral reefs will be extinct and where massive storms like Hurricane Florence or Hurricane Maria, which has nearly destroyed a Puerto Rico abandoned by the government of the United States, will be common.

Where the social, cultural, and economic affects of climate change will be recorded not on revealed hunger stones, but in pandemics, wars, famines, and genocides exacerbated by the effects of higher temperatures.

Brandon Miller and Jay Croft at CNN write that we’ll see in starker detail the horrific results of industrial man-made global warming earlier than in two decades, with the report concluding that humanity has “only till 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change.”

Alterations to human behavior which might hasten the worst effects of climate change are technically possible, though the study’s authors doubt such change is politically feasible, as it would require direct action on the part of the industrial economies of the world, something with “no documented historic precedent.”

Myles Allen of Oxford University explained that “we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime” if we’re to stave off an ecological apocalypse which we now understand isn’t centuries in the future, but rather mere decades, if not years.

We already see the effects in the increasing ferocity of storms, the droughts that mark not just the developing world, but increasingly North America and Europe, and in the wildfires, which have burnt their way across the west.

As the world’s temperature rises we see an equivalent political slow burn, nations increasingly moving toward the delusional reactionary nationalisms as a means of punishing refugee populations often affected either directly by climate change or by the civil strife made possible by it.

For as Mark Fishcetti describes the Syrian civil war in Scientific American, Human-induced drying in many societies can push tensions over a threshold that provokes violent conflict” – a reality that if the Trump administration pretends to deny, has long been acknowledged by the Pentagon.

Climate change has resulted in civilization catastrophe before.

Historian John Kelly notes in The Great Mortality, his book on the Black Death of fourteenth-century Europe, that pestilence was furthered by “climactic and ecological instability,” the bubonic plague encouraged by weakened immune systems brought on by drought and famine.

Polymathic anthropologist Jared Diamond has considered how climate change brought collapse in cultures as varied as the Anasazi and Maya or the medieval Norse settlements of Greenland, writing that the “collapse of industrial civilization… could assume various forms, such as the worldwide spread of diseases or else of wars, triggered ultimately by scarcity of environmental resources.”

Arguably the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia and the Indus River Valley were felled by climate change, and one wonders if the peasants of Sumer were as despondent as that German speaker on the Elbe who asked future generations to weep, or if they were rather as myopic as we are, saying of such changes that “This too shall pass” while what expires is civilization itself?

Humans are unable to imagine the actual passing of their way of life. A sense that history changes has been novel for most cultures, even apocalyptic minded ones, as medieval paintings which depict Christ as a Flemish peasant or ancient Judeans as Florentine nobleman can attest.

The idea that the past was radically different from the present and that tomorrow will be distant from today is an innovation of Renaissance humanism and then modernity.

Rather, it’s always been easier to imagine that your world will literally pass into oblivion than that the values your civilization holds dear might disappear (or need to disappear).

During those lean times on the Indus River, on the Euphrates, or the Elbe, women and men may have dreamt of the end of days, but they couldn’t have quite dreamt of us. The myths that structured their world precluded it.

Lest we be too arrogant, ours is not so different a perspective, for as the literary theorist Frederic Jameson famously noted, it is “easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”

Similar for the hungry penitent in the temple to all the gods of Sumer, or to the starving medieval pilgrim who could envision the return of Christ, but not that he might look different from those who populated his world.

Limited perspective is the wage of any totalizing ideology, and all eras are structured by such paradigms.

As a priest in Moloch’s temple or a monk in a medieval monastery had their religions, so have we ours, but the cracked gods of our world differ in one important respect – only capitalism’s Mammon has the capability of bringing about the apocalypse.

Only capitalism was able to inaugurate a new geological epoch in the Anthropocene; unique is our dominant ideology’s status in being able to obliterate all of humanity.

IPCC Co-Chair Debra Roberts said that the report is a “line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” but what should disturb us most is the authors’ accurate alarm at the lack of political will to avert catastrophe.

In the United States the coal, oil, and gas industries’ obfuscate, high percentages of Americans believe the lie that climate change is a hoax (while record heat affects the Midwest this October), and the Trump administration trashes the Paris Accords.

Noam Chomsky has said that the Republican “party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life."

There is no historical precedent for such a stand, with modern fascism directly correlated to the increasing chaos of climate change itself.

Roy Scranton in We’re Doomed. Now What? writes that as the “gap between the future we’re entering and the future we once imagined grows ever wider, nihilism takes root in the shadow of our fear…. [Y]ou can see it in the pull to nationalism, sectarianism, war, and racial hatred. We see it in the election of Donald Trump.”

What must be reckoned with is how this situation was directly engendered by industrial capitalism, and in particular by the partisans of its most extreme ideological manifestations of libertarianism and neoliberalism who have provided cover for policies that have enflamed the crisis.

Past centuries were circumscribed by their worldviews, be it medieval Catholicism, or classical Roman Augustan paganism, or the varied gods of Sumer in ancient Mesopotamia.

Even the most visionary of individual perspectives must be limited by a culture’s dominant way of thinking, but while our adherence to the market is as all-encompassing as a Babylonian’s loyalty to Marduk, it is only our dark religion which actually threatens Armageddon.

Unfettered, unregulated, capricious, vampiric capitalism has brought us to the brink, and the mass inability to comprehend this fact evidences how ingrained said ideology is.

Our blinders are such that human tragedy that is attributable directly to our economic system is often naturalized as simply being “The way that things are,” thus precluding even the possibility of different ways of arranging our world.

Death due to differing ideologies is always interpreted as conscious and preventable, but capitalist tragedy is simply understood as how life operates.

Consideration of those who have died because of capitalism (and those who will, which may yet include us all) doesn’t require a cover-up.

So inured are we to seeing capitalism as its own imposed ideology that we fail to understand its death toll. Franco-Bulgarian philosopher Tzvetan Todorovwrote that “remembrance of our own woes prevents us from seeing the suffering of others,” and while true, the converse is also accurate.

While admitting that capitalism provided for unprecedented class mobility and technological innovation, an honest consideration of its death toll in any hypothetical Black Book of Capitalism would have to include not just the obvious fatalities of those who died in industrial accidents or whose lives were shortened by their labor, but indeed the victims of colonialism, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and of fascismo corporativo, which is simply capitalism driven to its horrifying end.

Invisibility of such atrocities through normalization is a species of what the philosopher Louis Althusser termed “interpellation,” that is to say that we’re all molded subjects of the ideology that governs our world so that we mostly hold uncritical assumptions about capitalism’s normativity.

Writer William T. Vollmann addresses future generations in his new tome on climate change Carbon Ideologies, explaining that “We all lived for money, and that is what we died for.” As 2040 approaches our ignorance is a form of collective suicide.

The Editorial Board of theWashington Post writes that future “Historians will look in absolute astonishment” that not only did our governments and corporate elite fail to halt climate change, but that our policy makers “actually pushed in the wrong direction.”

That’s assuming that there will even be any historians left after the climate change horseman of pestilence, famine, war, and death gallop across the scorched and burning world, their riders named “Deregulation,” “Bottom Line,” “Market,” and “Profit.”

An August environmental impact statement prepared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concedes that far from being a “Chinese hoax” as Trump has alleged, the average temperature will rise seven degrees by century’s end.

Quite a wide gulf between what the Trump administration knows to be true and what his deluded believers will swallow.

Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis, and Chris Mooney at the Washington Post write that the Trump “administration did not offer this dire forecast … as part of an effort to combat climate change,” for their “analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.”

Why prevent collapse when Trump concludes that there is still so much money to be made in not averting disaster?

This is the nightmare logic of scarcity capitalism, the macabre calculus which is content to let millions of people starve in the third world and that will ultimately exterminate refugees who dare to escape a parched landscape, all so that the economic status quo can be maintained before the process kills us all.

The puritanism of corporate eco-individualism which configures environmental protection as simply a matter of driving a Prius or taking short showers is moral contrition or personal branding rather than policy, a quasi-theological sacrifice before the altar of the dying Earth.

What’s actually required is a massive, international, eco-socialist mobilization of governments and industries that are responsible for this calamity. Because right now capitalism’s final solution is nothing less than complete ecological collapse.

In his 1888 autobiographical Ecce Homo, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche eerily predicted that the 20th century would witness “wars as have never happened on earth.”

With chaos brought about by the scarcity resulting from climate change, we may reevaluate how prescient Nietzsche was about the last century, realizing that he was perhaps actually off by a hundred years.

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What's omitted in IPCC report

SUBHEAD: The scariest thing about the IPCC Report — it’s the watered down, consensus version.

By Jon Queally on 9 October 2018 for Common Dreams -
(https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/09/whats-not-latest-terrifying-ipcc-report-much-much-much-more-terrifying-new-research)

 
Image above: A burned truck and structures are seen at the Butte Fire on September 13, 2015 near San Andreas, California. California governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Amador and Calaveras counties where the 100-square-mile wildfire has burned scores of structures so far and is threatening 6,400 in the historic Gold Country of the Sierra Nevada foothills.Photo by David McNew. From original article.

If the latest warnings contained in Monday's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which included pronouncements that the world has less than twelve years to drastically alter course to avoid the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and that nothing less than keeping all fossil fuels in the ground is the solution to avoid future calamities—have you at all frightened or despondent, experts responding to the report have a potentially unwelcome message for your already over-burdened heart and mind:
It's very likely even worse than you're being told.
After the report's publication there were headlines like: "We have 12 years to act on climate change before the world as we know it is lost. How much more urgent can it get?" and "Science pronounces its verdict: World to be doomed at 2°C, less dangerous at 1.5°C" and "A major new climate report slams the door on wishful thinking."

But as Jamie Henn, co-founder and the program director for the international climate group 350.org, stated in a tweet on Tuesday, the "scariest thing about the IPCC Report" is the fact that "it's the watered down, consensus version. The latest science is much, much, much more terrifying."

Henn was actually responding to Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann who was pushing back against those criticizing the IPCC report as too "alarmist" in its declarations and warnings.

"If anything," Professor Mann declared, "it is the opposite. Once again, with their latest report, they have been overly conservative (ie. erring on the side of understating/underestimating the problem.)"

This is very possibly true and there is much scientific data and argument backing this up.

As Henn and Mann both indicate, the IPCC report is based on the consensus view of the hundreds of scientists who make up the IPCC – and its been consistently true that some of the most recent (and increasingly worrying) scientific findings have not yet found enough support to make it into these major reports which rely on near-unanimous agreement.

According to Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, speaking to The Guardian in the wake of the latest IPCC report, it "fails to focus on the weakest link in the climate chain: the self-reinforcing feedbacks which, if allowed to continue, will accelerate warming and risk cascading climate tipping points and runaway warming."

In August, as Common Dreams reported, research published by Johan Rockström and his colleagues at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden found that it is precisely these feedback loops and tipping points that should most frighten and concern humanity.

While nascent and not conclusive in its findings—two of the reasons you won't find it referenced in the IPCC report—the study warned that humanity may be just 1°C away from creating a series of dynamic feedback loops that could push the world into a climate scenario not seen since the dawn of the Helocene Period, nearly 12,000 years ago.

Quoted in Tuesday's Guardian article about the dangers of ignoring potential tipping points, Nobel prize laureate Mario Molina, who shared the award for chemistry in 1995 for his work on ozone depletion, said:
"The IPCC report demonstrates that it is still possible to keep the climate relatively safe, provided we muster an unprecedented level of cooperation, extraordinary speed and heroic scale of action. But even with its description of the increasing impacts that lie ahead, the IPCC understates a key risk: that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system, and the other sources of climate pollution."

The purpose of recognizing the terrifying predictions is not to instill fear, however, climate campaigners and advocates for bold solutions say.

In a paper authored last year—titled Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement—Margaret Klein Salamon writes that while a World War II-style mobilization is necessary to achieve the kind emission cuts and energy transformation that science now mandates, understanding the stakes does not necessarily mean being debilitated by that knowledge.

In an op-ed for Common Dreams, she argued "that intense, but not paralyzing, fear combined with maximum hope can actually lead people and groups into a state of peak performance.

We can rise to the challenge of our time and dedicate ourselves to become heroic messengers and change-makers."

And as Rajiv Sicora, senior manager of research for The Leap, wrote to his group's supporters in an email on Tuesday:
"This is not the time to turn away, whether in fear or in active denial of the facts. This is a time to use our fear as fuel: because the report also makes clear that the worst effects of global warming can still be prevented, and the urgency of transformative change should excite and empower all of us who are fighting for justice anyway."


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Walmart patents bee drones

SUBHEAD: Autonomous robotic insects owned by a rapacious soul destroying corporation are not the solution.

By Claire S. Bernish on 18 March 2018 for The Mind Unleashed -
(https://themindunleashed.com/2018/03/walmart-files-patent-for-autonomous-bee-drones.html)


Image above: Illustration of a hypothetical robotic bee. From original article.

With honey bee populations still in peril from one or several of a litany of hotly debated causes — neonicotinoid insecticides, changing climate, and more — Walmart appears to have joined the race for a technological solution to a potential looming disaster, filing a patent for robotic, drone bees earlier this month.

Technically called pollination drones, Business Insider points out, the tiny bee imposters’ capabilities would theoretically include crop pollination — managed remotely through sensors and cameras allowing precision maneuverability between crops and monitor, as well as to monitor that pollination was both sufficient and successful.

CB Insights, credited with first publicizing the patent filed on March 8, surmised Walmart is seeking further control of its supply chain, as the pollinator drones are among six “patents targeting farm automation. The applications propose using drones to identify pests attacking crops, monitor crop damage, spray pesticides, and pollinate crops.”

It continues, “Drones could spray pesticides across a more targeted set of crops, rather than the blanket approach used today. The patent notes that ‘chemical spraying of crops is expensive and may not be looked upon favorably by some consumers.’”

Walmart’s move might thus be considered proactive and positive — although an albeit eerie dystopian commentary on the state of the planet and its ecosystems, or humankind’s unfortunate myopathy — but criticism questions whether funds might be better spent identifying issues facing honey bees and working to conserve and rejuvenate dwindling populations, rather than essentially planning for the worst.

“On top of more practical arguments, such as costs to smaller farms,” Quinn McFrederick, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, told NPR, “I would not like to live in a world where bees are replaced by plastic machines. Let’s focus on protecting the biodiversity we still have left.”

McFrederick doesn’t deny the efficacy of drone pollinators, particularly in conjunction with the use of artificial intelligence, but sees the effort heaved at solutions for a problem which has yet to fully develop — without a coincident examination of the root problem — as somewhat misguided.

If bees die out, humans would face a drastically-reduced food landscape — according to Big Think, mirroring similar estimates, around a third of the food humans eat relies on honey bee pollination — and honey bees comprise a paltry 2 percent of all bees.

“Bee deaths have been on the rise, with losses outpacing colonies’ ability to regenerate,” NPR reported last year. “Last year, the U.S. lost 44 percent of all honeybee colonies — a species essential to commercial pollination in this country. Other species of bees have neared mass extinction, including the rusty patch [sic] bumble bee and seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees.”

Even with a slightly lessened decline in recent years, that’s an astoundingly high figure next to the generally-expected 17-percent decline in honey bee populations in a ‘typical’ year, Phys.org noted in 2016, adding that myriad environmental and biological factors likely contribute to colony collapse disorder — even though a solid cause has yet to be fully established.

Robotic bees, pollinator drones, would certainly stave off one of the more pernicious problems facing honey bees in recent years: a mite which acts like a vampire in the tiny insects. Phys.org explains,
“Beekeepers’ biggest challenge today is probably Varroa destructor, an aptly named parasitic mite that we call the vampire of the bee world. Varroa feeds on hemolymph (the insect ‘blood’) of adult and developing honey bees. In the process it transmits pathogens and suppresses bees’ immune response. They are fairly large relative to bees: for perspective, imagine a parasite the size of a dinner plate feeding on you. And individual bees often are hosts to multiple mites.”
Whether single issue as-yet undiscovered or a plethora of damaging factors acting insidiously, the decline of pollinators is a silent if impending doom whose fruition may yet be halted — even if by corporations and private entities like Walmart, whose self-interest in self-preservation in the matter is undeniable.

However, that in itself is a timely caveat for the state of food, wildlife, and the natural order — creating a robotic version of an evolutionary masterpiece bespeaks volumes of humans’ sad penchant for examining problems post mortem — rather than applying forethought..

Kavanaugh to Earth - "Drop Dead!"

SUBHEAD: Supreme Court lets stand an anti-EPA decision written by then Judge Kavanaugh.

By Jay Michaelson on 10 October 2018 for The Daily Beast -
(https://www.thedailybeast.com/kavanaugh-and-supreme-court-to-planet-drop-dead)


Image above: Illustration of grumpy, bitter Burt O'Kavanaugh smelling coal burning smokestacks. From original article.

In the same week that the world’s scientists declared global climate disruption has reached a “point of no return”, the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, and the Trump administration all agreed to do nothing about it.

On Monday, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report describing the effects of climate change that are already being felt today, and the disastrous effects that could come as soon as 2040 absent dramatic action.

Then on Tuesday, the Supreme Court, at the request of the Trump administration, dismissed an appeal of a D.C. Circuit decision that prevented the EPA from regulating a powerful greenhouse gas.

The author of that decision: Judge Kavanaugh.

For anyone waiting for the impact now-Justice Kavanaugh will have on the Supreme Court, you need wait no longer.

While Kavanaugh was not involved in the decision to dismiss this case, it is his opinion is now the law of the land — and is it a disaster for the environment.

David Doniger, who had argued the case for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that “Coming only a day after the world’s leading climate scientists called for urgent action to curb dangerous carbon pollution, the court’s decision lets irresponsible companies continue harming our planet.”

The regulation in question dates back to the good old days when the EPA accepted the global consensus of climate scientists that manmade gas emissions are causing the earth’s atmosphere to trap more heat – a phenomenon that, among other things, enabled life on earth to develop 2.5 billion years ago, but which is now causing the Earth’s climate to warm at a breakneck pace unlike anything in the history of the planet.

Among the gases doing the most damage are hydrofluorocarbons.

While HFCs are helpful in preventing ozone loss (they replaced chlorofluorocarbons, which cause it), they are nasty greenhouse gases – nicknamed “super-pollutants” because each molecule causes around 14,000 times as much warming as a CO2 molecule. And they are ubiquitous, found in millions of household products from air conditioners to hairspray.

So, in 2015, the EPA effectively banned companies from using HFC in their products when alternatives were available. A consortium of industries sued – although since the leading HFC alternative is manufactured by Honeywell, Inc., it sided with environmentalists.

In August, 2017, the D.C. Circuit court struck down the regulation, in a 2-1 opinion written by Kavanaugh. The court held that while the relevant provision of the Clean Air Act gave the EPA authority to ban ozone-depleting chemicals, it could not ban the replacements for those chemicals, such as HFCs.

That suited the Trump-era EPA just fine; they were planning to roll back the HFC regulations, part of Obama’s Climate Action Plan, anyway.

And so while Honeywell and environmental groups appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, the EPA filed a memo arguing that since they weren’t going to regulate HFCs anyway, there would be no point in the Court taking the case.

The Court agreed today – which makes sense, really. There would be little point going through the effort of a Supreme Court briefing, argument, and decision process if, at the end of the day, the regulation is doomed anyway. So they dismissed the case.

The larger contexts, of course, are Kavanaugh and climate change.

Kavanaugh’s opinion in Mexichem Fluor vs. EPA is the perfect example of his view that agencies may not act without specific statutory authority.

That sounds like a neutral principle, but in practice, it would spell the end for a huge swath of environmental, health, safety, labor, financial, commercial, and other regulations.

Congress has neither the time nor the expertise to specify every consequence of every law it passes.

That’s why it delegates that level of decision-making to agencies, who have teams of experts (until the Trump administration, anyway) to work out the details.

In the case of HFCs, the EPA noted that it had the authority to replace ozone-depleting chemicals with “safe substitutes.” HFCs, it said, are unsafe, because they are climate change super-pollutants. But Judge Kavanaugh called this a “novel reading” of the statute and struck down the regulations.




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The well-to-do wrecking our climate

SUBHEAD: Almost 50% of all carbon emissions arise from around 10% of the global population.

By Kevin Anderson on 8 October 2018 in Resilience -
(https://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-10-09/response-to-the-ipcc-1-5c-special-report/)


Image above: A car for every adult in the house in apocalyptic Phoenix, Arizona requires parking on what might have been meant to be a lawn. From (http://uglyhousephotos.com/wordpress/2014/06/10/soft-parking/).

The University of Manchester’s Professor Kevin Anderson responds to the recent report from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change in Manchester Policy Blogs.

The IPCC report meticulously lays out how the serious climate impacts of 1.5°C of warming are still far less destructive than those for 2°C.

Sadly, the IPCC then fails, again, to address the profound implications of reducing emissions in line with both 1.5 and 2°C. Dress it up however we may wish, climate change is ultimately a rationing issue.

The responsibility for global emissions is heavily skewed towards the lifestyles of a relatively few high emitters – professors and climate academics among them. Almost 50% of global carbon emissions arise from the activities of around 10% of the global population, increasing to 70% of emissions from just 20% of citizens.

Impose a limit on the per-capita carbon footprint of the top 10% of global emitters, equivalent to that of an average European citizen, and global emissions could be reduced by one third in a matter of a year or two.

Ignoring this huge inequality in emissions, the IPCC chooses instead to constrain its policy advice to fit neatly within the current economic model.

This includes, significant reliance on removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere much later in the century, when today’s senior scientists and policy makers will be either retired or dead.

Conjuring up such futuristic ‘negative emission technologies’ to help achieve the virtually impossible 1.5°C target is perhaps understandable, but such inter-generational buck-passing also dominates the IPCC’s 2°C advice.

To genuinely reduce emissions in line with 2°C of warming requires a transformation in the productive capacity of society, reminiscent of the Marshall Plan.

The labor and resources used to furnish the high-carbon lifestyles of the top 20% will need to shift rapidly to deliver a fully decarbonized energy system.

No more second or very large homes, SUVs, business and first-class flights, or very high levels of consumption. Instead, our economy should be building new zero-energy houses, retrofitting existing homes, huge expansion of public transport, and a 4-fold increase in (zero-carbon) electrification.

The Paris Agreement notes how it will take a little longer for poorer countries to fully decarbonize, raising the bar still further for the UK, USA and other wealthy nations.

Even for 2°C the maths points to such nations moving to zero-carbon energy by 2035-2040, with poorer nations following suit a decade later. For 1.5°C, such ‘real’ 2°C mitigation will need to be complemented with planetary scale negative emissions.

Whilst the IPCC’s 1.5°C report rightly emphasizes the urgent need to research these speculative technologies, it continues to run scared of the economic elephant dominating the room.

Until the IPCC (and society more generally) are prepared to acknowledge the huge asymmetry in consumption and hence emissions, temperatures will continue to rise beyond 1.5 and 2°C – bequeathing future generations the climate chaos of 3°C, 4°C or even higher.

• Prof Kevin Anderson is professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at The University of Manchester.



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Trump in your face

SUBHEAD: Local governments, corporations, organizations and individuals need  push back against Trump.

By Juan Wilson on 9 October 2018 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2018/10/trump-in-your-face.html)


Image above: The test message from President Trump to all cell phones as illustrated by FEMA. From (https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/02/politics/cell-phone-presidential-alert-fema/index.html).

A week ago today FEMA was used to send a test "Trump Alert" message to all US cell phones capable of receiving it. Thank God I have no "smart" phone to be so imposed on by a tyrannical egoist.

From CNN:
The "presidential alert" headed to Americans' cell phones won't actually be written by President Donald Trump, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday.

Wednesday afternoon's message is the first nationwide test of the system built by the government and cell phone carriers to push an emergency message to nearly all cell phones in the US, a senior FEMA official told reporters on a Tuesday conference call.

Despite the name, "the president will not originate this alert, say, from his mobile device," the official said. "You would not have a situation where any sitting president would wake up one morning and attempt to send a particular message."

That name had generated questions about how and when the system can be used. The official said the uses are limited, such as to a "coordinated attack on our major cities across the country" or "some other type of public peril that is ongoing in the country at the time."

The FEMA official spoke to reporters on a conference call the agency arranged on the condition of anonymity. FEMA did not elaborate on why the official could not be named.
 
The official said the system includes safeguards. In a real emergency, a FEMA official using a device "very similar to a laptop computer" will receive information from multiple federal agencies and the White House, and select one of several pre-written messages and update it to fit the circumstances.

The system requires passwords and the text will be "checked by two people before that message is sent. 
Donald Trump's first 'Presidential Alert,' an unblockable wireless alert warning to cellphones in the United States, was deployed last Wednesday, October 2nd at 11:18 a.m. PT/2:18 p.m. ET.

"THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,"

No emergency, just testing. Now a group of New Yorkers are suing the President and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stop the new practice, which many fear Trump will abuse.

From CNET:
Three New York residents last week filed a lawsuit in the Southern District Court of New York against President Donald Trump and William Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The residents want to halt FEMA's new Presidential Alert messaging system, which enables Trump to deploy alerts of national emergencies.

"Plaintiffs are American citizens who do not wish to receive text messages, or messages of any kind, on any topic or subject, from defendant Trump," the lawsuit (posted below) reads. "[Trump's] rise to power was facilitated by weaponized disinformation that he broadcast into the public information sphere via Twitter in addition to traditional mass media."

The White House, FEMA, and plaintiffs didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

(..) The plaintiffs' main complaint is that Presidential Alerts are compulsory -- there's no way to opt-out of receiving them. They argue that under civil rights law, government cannot use cellular devices to compel listening, "trespass into and hijack" devices without a warrant or individual consent.

The plaintiffs are also concerned Trump might use the alerts to spread disinformation because IPAWS doesn't regulate the content of the messages. That means Trump may be free to define "act of terrorism" and "threat to public safety," and may broadcast "arbitrary, biased, irrational" messages to "hundreds of millions of people," the plaintiffs say in the lawsuit.
If you do not think this is an unwarranted intrusion you've already taken the "Blue Pill" from the Matrix and everything is just fine:
"You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."
If you have read Ea O Ka Aina: Final call to save the world (10/8/18) and Ea O Ka Aina: Scientists outline paths to survival (10/4/18) then you know that Donald Trump will be in office and and in a daze of self delusion until it is too late to save the "Earth" from a transition to what Bill MCKibben has named "Eaarth"- a planet inhospitable to life as we know it.

States, counties, municipalities, corporations, organizations and individuals need to act on their own to push back against Trump's stranglehold on federal regulations and activities. For the moment the nation is lost. Trump has embraced worldwide extinction for a moment in the spotlight and in your face.

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Final call to save the world

SUBHEAD: We will need rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of human society.

By Matt McGrath on 8 October 2018 for the BBC -
(https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45775309)


Image above: View of Earth showing the "10,000 Mile Desert" spanning all of North Africa, across the Middle East and across much of Asia. Will all the planet look like Mars in the following decades? From the original article.

It's the final call, say scientists, the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures.

Their dramatic report on keeping that rise under 1.5 degrees C says the world is now completely off track, heading instead towards 3C.

Keeping to the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will mean "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society".

It will be hugely expensive - but the window of opportunity remains open.

After three years of research and a week of haggling between scientists and government officials at a meeting in South Korea, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5C.

The critical 33-page Summary for Policymakers certainly bears the hallmarks of difficult negotiations between climate researchers determined to stick to what their studies have shown and political representatives more concerned with economies and living standards.

Despite the inevitable compromises, there are some key messages that come through loud and clear.

"The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways," said Prof Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC.

"The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C - changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation."

What's the one big takeaway?

"Scientists might want to write in capital letters, 'ACT NOW, IDIOTS,' but they need to say that with facts and numbers," said Kaisa Kosonen, of Greenpeace, who was an observer at the negotiations. "And they have."

The researchers have used these facts and numbers to paint a picture of the world with a dangerous fever, caused by humans. We used to think if we could keep warming below two degrees this century, then the changes we would experience would be manageable.

Not any more. This new study says that going past 1.5C is dicing with the planet's liveability. And the 1.5C temperature "guard rail" could be exceeded in just 12 years, in 2030.

We can stay below it - but it will require urgent, large-scale changes from governments and individuals and we will have to invest a massive pile of cash every year, about 2.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP), the value of all goods and services produced, for two decades.

Even then, we will still need machines, trees and plants to capture carbon from the air that we can then store deep underground - forever.

What can I do?

The report says there must be rapid and significant changes in four big global systems:
  • energy • land use • cities • industry
But it adds that the world cannot meet its target without changes by individuals, urging people to:
  • buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter 
  • buy more locally sourced seasonal food
  • throw away less of the food you buy
  • drive electric cars but walk or cycle short distances
  • take trains and buses instead of planes 
  • use videoconferencing instead of business travel
  • use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer
  • insulate homes and businesses
  • demand low carbon footprint in every consumer product
Lifestyle changes can make a big difference, said Dr Debra Roberts, the IPCC's other co-chair.

"That's a very empowering message for the individual," she said. "This is not about remote science; it is about where we live and work, and it gives us a cue on how we might be able to contribute to that massive change, because everyone is going to have to be involved."

"You might say you don't have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use.

"We can choose the way we move in cities and if we don't have access to public transport - make sure you are electing politicians who provide options around public transport."

Five steps to 1.5ºC

  1. Global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030
  2. Renewables are estimated to provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050
  3. Coal is expected to reduce to close to zero
  4. Up to seven million sq km of land will be needed for energy crops (about the size of Australia)
  5. Global net zero emissions by 2050

How much will all this cost?

It won't come cheap. The report says to limit warming to 1.5C, will involve "annual average investment needs in the energy system of around $2.4 trillion" between 2016 and 2035.

Experts believe this number needs to be put in context.

"There are costs and benefits you have to weigh up," said Dr Stephen Cornelius, a former UK IPCC negotiator now with WWF. He says making big emissions cuts in the short term will cost money but be cheaper than paying for carbon dioxide removal later this century.

"The report also talks about the benefits as there is higher economic growth at 1.5 degrees than there is at 2C and you don't have the higher risk of catastrophic impacts at 1.5 that you do at two."

What happens if we don't act?

The researchers say that if we fail to keep temperature rises below 1.5C, we are in for some significant and dangerous changes to our world.

You can kiss coral reefs goodbye, as the report says they would be essentially 100% wiped out at two degrees of warming.

Global sea-level will rise about 10cm (4in) more if we let warming go to 2C. That may not sound like much but keeping to 1.5C means that 10 million fewer people would be exposed to the risks of flooding.

There are also significant impacts on ocean temperatures and acidity, and the ability to grow crops such as rice, maize and wheat.

"We are already in the danger zone at one degree of warming," said Kaisa Kosonen, from Greenpeace. "Both poles are melting at an accelerated rate; ancient trees that have been there for hundreds of years are suddenly dying; and the summer we've just experienced - basically, the whole world was on fire."



Is this plan at all feasible?

Analysis by David Shukman, BBC science editor

The countdown to the worst of global warming seems to have accelerated. Seriously damaging impacts are no longer on a distant horizon later this century but within a timeframe that appears uncomfortably close.

By the same token, the report's "pathways" for keeping a lid on temperatures all mean that hard decisions cannot be delayed:
  • a shift away from fossil fuels by mid-century
  • coal phased out far sooner than previously suggested
  • vast tracts of land given over to forests
It's mind-bending stuff and some will say it's hopelessly unrealistic, a climate scientists' fantasy. So is any of it plausible? On the one hand, the global economy relies on carbon and key activities depend on it. On the other, wind turbines and solar panels have tumbled in price and more and more countries and states such as California are setting ambitious green targets.

Ultimately, politicians will face a difficult choice: persuade their voters that the revolutionary change outlined in the report is urgently needed or ignore it and say the scientists have got it wrong.

Is all this about saving small island states?
The idea of keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5 is something very close to the hearts and minds of small island and low-lying states, which fear being inundated with flooding if temperatures go to two degrees.

But over the three years that the report was in preparation, more and more scientific evidence has been published showing the benefits of staying close to 1.5C are not just for island nations in the Pacific.

"If you save a small island country, then you save the world," said Dr Amjad Abdulla, an IPCC author, from the Maldives. "Because the report clearly states that no-one is going to be immune. It's about morality - it's about humanity."

How long have we got?

Not long at all. But that issue is now in the hands of political leaders. The report says hard decisions can no longer be kicked down the road. If the nations of the world don't act soon, they will have to rely even more on unproven technologies to take carbon out of the air - an expensive and uncertain road.

"They really need to start work immediately. The report is clear that if governments just fulfil the pledges they made in the Paris agreement for 2030, it is not good enough. It will make it very difficult to consider global warming of 1.5C," said Prof Jim Skea.

"If they read the report and decide to increase their ambitions and act more immediately, then 1.5C stays within reach - that's the nature of the choice they face."

Campaigners and environmentalists, who have welcomed the report, say there is simply no time left for debate.

"This is the moment where we need to decide" said Kaisa Kosonen. "We want to move to clean energy, sustainable lifestyles. We want to protect our forests and species. This is the moment that we will remember; this is the year when the turning point happened."

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Scientists outline paths to survival 10/4/18
Ea O Ka Aina: Mushroom at the End of the World 7/28/17
Ea O Ka Aina: The End of Growth  12/28/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Beginning of the World 12/30/12
Ea O Ka Aina: We Were Warned 12/21/12
Ea O Ka Aina: End of the Industrial Revolution
8/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: The Ends of the Earth 3/23/11
Island Breath: Lovelock says we're toast 5/11/07
Island Breath: No More Mr. Nice Guy 2/11/06
Island Breath: The Dead Zone 2/7/06
Island Breath: 20 Years to Fix Climate Change 1/20/06
Island Breath: Clinton on Global Warming 12/15/04
Island Breath: God Must Hate Florida 10/6/04
Island Breath: Gore on Global Warming 1/16/04
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Communicating Climate Emergency

SUBHEAD: We must stop emitting gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, as fast as possible.

By David Spratt on 3 October 20018 for Climate Code Red -
(http://www.climatecodered.org/2018/10/how-to-communicate-climate-emergency.html)


Image above: Methane gas blasts one of many large crater-like holes through melting Siberian tundra in 2017. From (https://www.livescience.com/59705-oozing-methane-blasts-craters-in-siberian-tundra.html).

What are effective ways of engaging people in conversation about the gathering climate crisis and the need for an emergency response? Let's start with some key content:

1. Urgency and courage   
 

The Earth is already too hot: we are in danger now, not just in the future. Warming will accelerate, and 1.5°C is only a decade away, yet annual emissions are still growing and the current, post-Paris emissions trajectory will result in catastrophic warming.

The Great Barrier Reef and other coral systems are dying. We are greatly exceeding Earth’s limits, and food and water shortages are contributing to conflicts and forced migration.

On current trends, following the Paris Agreement, we may face catastrophic warming within our children’s lifetimes, with large parts of the world uninhabitable and major food growing regions ruined by drought (such as Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, south-western USA) or rising seas (such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt).

In past periods when greenhouse levels were similar to the current level, temperatures were 3–6°C higher and sea levels around 25–40 metres higher than in 1900.

Climate warming is an existential risk to human civilisation, and on the current warming path we are heading towards outright chaos.

The failure of community and political leaders to talk about such concerns leaves unspoken fears lurking just below the surface of public life, sapping our strength. Fear and alarm should be welcomed as healthy reactions that show we’ve noticed something dangerous is going on.

Our response to the climate crisis is the courage to match actions to the size of the problem.

2.    Emergency response 

Many people realise we are heading for a social and planetary crisis. Three-quarters of Australians consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”.

Many people have experienced emergencies such as fires, floods or cyclones. In these times, we move into emergency mode. In emergency mode we stop “business-as-usual” because nothing else matters as much as the crisis.

We don't rush thoughtlessly in, but focus on a plan of action, which we implement with thought, and all possible care and speed, to protect others and get to safety. Everyone chips in, with all hands on deck.

Climate warming is now a planetary crisis or emergency, requiring courageous leadership and a coordinated society-wide response of a scale and speed never before seen in peacetime.

It is now too late for gradual, incremental steps to protect what we care about. The Titanic didn’t just need to slow its pace, but needed to turn at emergency speed. It’s the same for climate warming. When you are about to go off a cliff, you need to reverse out of the danger zone fast, not just slow your speed.

3. Peoples’ mobilisation 

A failure to properly recognise and communicate the full extent of the climate crisis has produced a dangerous complacency.

The danger we face didn’t just happen. It’s the result of decisions taken by people with vested interests who run the world’s biggest corporations and too much of the media, and their political colleagues.

People made this problem, not nature, and people can fix it. We have the capacity to solve this problem, and live in a safe climate.

Successful social movements are energised by the strength of purpose that comes with working together for a just cause. Popular movements have stopped tyrannical governments, won civil rights and better working conditions and better health services. They have closed down dirty coal and gas mining.

Change is already happening: new wind and solar are cheaper than new coal power. A transition  disrupting the old energy industries is well under way. We have the economic and technological capacity to succeed, but a failed politics is preventing the fast change that is now essential.

4. Fast solutions 

The planet is already too hot, so we must stopping emitting climate-warming gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, as fast as humanly possible. At emergency speed.

We are already in the climate danger zone, so we need to reduce or “draw down” some of the climate-warming gases in the air. Restoring degraded forests is a great starting point.

Achieving these goals fast is essential if we are to stop further ”tipping points” in the climate system that would lead to many metres of sea-level rise, drowning cities and rich coastal lands.

We have the knowhow to make change fast, and plans to support communities most directly affected by change.

And change can happen fast when we really apply our effort: from fighting natural emergencies and rebuilding cities, to going to the moon or building a digital economy.

The steps to a safe climate will also build a better and more livable world: clean energy, better-designed cities, comfortable homes, healthier food, less waste, regenerative farming and the recovery of the natural world.

Telling the story 

The story may be told in the following manner:

Framing.  Research on public health promotion campaigns shows that the messages that work best combine a personally relevant description of the threat (fear), a clear exposition of the solution with a clear path of achievable actions to address it (hope).

 Counterposing “fear” and “hope” narratives is a false dichotomy, because both are needed. Just reading a climate message that forthrightly describes the seriousness of our situation can increase commitment to taking action. Strong fear messages have been found to be more effective than weak fear messages.

 In their hearts, most people value the same things: good relationships with friends and family, providing for and supporting their families, and making a positive social contribution. The “health, wellbeing and livelihood” frame presents climate change in ways that connect to core values and issues familiar to people and decision makers.

It can activate and reinforce values of empathy, responsibility, protection, community, fairness and opportunity, These world views are commonly held by both conservatives and progressives .

The “health, wellbeing and livelihood” frame is an opportunity to spell out not just the centrality of the climate change threat, but how it impacts and threatens each and every part of our lives, including where we live, jobs, transport, energy infrastructure, the economy and even where we holiday.

Sample story. Here is an example:
Our climate is already too hot, with more dangerous heatwaves and bushfires, droughts and crop failures, and coastal flooding.
Accelerating climate warming could bring on social breakdown and global economic crisis.
But Australia’s government, held back by vested interests, is failing to protect us and the things we care about.
Like other emergencies, together we need to throw everything we’ve got at this to restore a safe, healthy climate.
We have the resources and knowledge to succeed.
Success means governments making climate the primary target of policy, and a whole-hearted community effort, to make big changes within a decade.

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