Facts about our ecological crisis are incontrovertible. We must take action

By Dr Alison Green and Molly Scott Cato MEP.  From The Guardian:

We the undersigned represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their organisations. While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on one point: we will not tolerate the failure of this or any other government to take robust and emergency action in respect of the worsening ecological crisis. The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible, and it is unconscionable to us that our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of an unprecedented disaster of our own making.

We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or of science with impunity. If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.

Our government is complicit in ignoring the precautionary principle, and in failing to acknowledge that infinite economic growth on a planet with finite resources is non-viable. Instead, the government irresponsibly promotes rampant consumerism and free-market fundamentalism, and allows greenhouse gas emissions to rise. Earth Overshoot Day (the date when humans have used up more resources from nature than the planet can renew in the entire year) falls ever earlier each year (1 August in 2018).

When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The “social contract” has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.

We therefore declare our support for Extinction Rebellion, launching on 31 October 2018. We fully stand behind the demands for the government to tell the hard truth to its citizens. We call for a Citizens’ Assembly to work with scientists on the basis of the extant evidence and in accordance with the precautionary principle, to urgently develop a credible plan for rapid total decarbonisation of the economy.

(vist the original for a list of signatories)

Sustainable concrete wont save us #2

Headline from Treehugger.com:  Cement industry gets on board with Paris Climate Accord

Key takeaway from the article:  “Exactly how they will do this remains to be seen…” AND “…the launch of the effort did stipulate that as much as 50% of the technology needed to meet this daunting challenge has yet to be fully developed…” (emphasis mine)

In other words, the industry is slopping some greenwash on what is in reality a desperate situation for themselves.  Cement emissions must fall to essentially zero (as opposed to the near 10% of global emissions they are now). As cement production is highly CO2 intensive, the inescapable conclusion must be that concrete use must basically cease.  Nor is there is an honest possibility of off-setting cement emissions by planting trees.  The billions of trees that need to be planted will need to function to draw down existing emissions, not to offset continued emissions.

The world has yet to understand that all human caused CO2 emissions must be as near zero as possible, and that all our efforts must be directed toward removing the excess CO2 already in the atmosphere.  We dont get to keep cheating by offsetting continued emissions. Cement production is cheating.

Yet, how can the entire global civilization function without concrete?  What do we do for all new building projects, let alone how do we repair all the existing concrete structures, the vast majority of which have less than 100 year lifespans? THOSE are the key questions that bright minds must be focusing on, instead of trying to prop up an industry that is part of the problem.


15-20 sea level rise within 70 years not out of the question

By Jeff Goodall, Rolling Stone.

Another frightening mainstream media story about the impacts of climate change on sea level rise.  Key takeaway:  “As bad as you think climate change might be in the coming decades, reality could be far worse…..[Dr. Richard]Alley says, there’s some risk — small but not as small as you might hope — that the seas could rise as much as 15-to-20 feet.”

Read the rest here.

UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.

This is an excellent, although frightening, summary on what the October 2018 UN climate report means for the world. Key takeaway:  “The New York Times declared that the report showed a “strong risk” of climate crisis in the coming decades; in Grist, Eric Holthaus wrote that “civilization is at stake.”

If you are alarmed by those sentences, you should be — they are horrifying. But it is, actually, worse than that — considerably worse. That is because the new report’s worst-case scenario is, actually, a best case. In fact, it is a beyond-best-case scenario. What has been called a genocidal level of warming is already our inevitable future. The question is how much worse than that it will get.”

By David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine. (go to the source for links in the original article)

Just two years ago, amid global fanfare, the Paris climate accords were signed — initiating what seemed, for a brief moment, like the beginning of a planet-saving movement. But almost immediately, the international goal it established of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius began to seem, to many of the world’s most vulnerable, dramatically inadequate; the Marshall Islands’ representative gave it a blunter name, calling two degrees of warming “genocide.”

The alarming new report you may have read about this week from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — which examines just how much better 1.5 degrees of warming would be than 2 — echoes the charge. “Amplifies” may be the better Continue reading “UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.”

Technology won’t be the answer to climate change

This is an excerpt of a longer article from Motherboard about the October 2018 UN climate report.  Well worth a read.  Key takeaway:  “…relying on largely imaginary technologies to help us stave off the threat of extinction is astonishingly stupid.”

By Nafeez Ahmed

But other studies imply there is one glaring weakness in the IPCC report: its unbridled enthusiasm for geoengineering techniques to drawdown carbon from the atmosphere.

These play a major role in the report’s transition scenario pathways, and include ‘negative emissions’ technologies designed to drawdown carbon emissions from the atmosphere. The main technology being proposed is called ‘BECCS,’ which stands for ‘bioenergy with carbon capture and storage’. This basically proposes burning biomass for energy, and capturing the carbon emissions to be stored underground.

While the technology has been tested and proven at small-scales, commercial scale operations have yet to be built—and the key obstacle appears to be the massive costs associated with the technology.

A recent paper in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Environment, Energy and Science journal examines BECCS from a ‘net energy’ standpoint to measure how much energy it would require, compared to what it produces. The paper found that under current technologies, “more energy is used to operate BECCS than what is returned to society”, a serious problem which could result in greater use of fossil fuels to keep BECCS alive, and “an increase in CO2 emissions, with a potential offset of the carbon dioxide removal service provided by BECCS.”

The study identifies ways BECCS might be made more efficient, cheaper, and less energy intensive, but admits that the practical feasibility of those mechanisms is unclear and “the scope for unintended consequences is vast.”

The last word on the subject came in last month via a comprehensive study published in Nature Communications, evaluating a whole gamut of negative emissions technologies. While acknowledging that “several techniques may eventually have the physical potential to contribute to limiting climate change,” the study concludes that “all are in early stages of development, involve substantial uncertainties and risks, and raise ethical and governance dilemmas.”

Reviewing a range of ‘climate dioxide removal’ and’ radiative forcing geoengineering’ Continue reading “Technology won’t be the answer to climate change”

The Hope at the Heart of the Apocalyptic Climate Change Report

BY JASON HICKEL Foreign Policy.com

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a new special report last week, it came with both good news and bad. The good news is that the carbon budget for staying under 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is larger than we thought, so we have a bit more time to act. The bad news is that the consequences of overshooting that threshold are very, very bad. The catastrophes that we once believed would be triggered by only 2 degrees of warming are likely to occur at this lower threshold, including widespread collapse of food yields and extreme levels of human displacement.

The IPCC has issued a clear and trenchant call for action—its most urgent yet. It says we need to cut annual global emissions by half in the next 12 years and hit net zero by the middle of the century. It would be difficult to overstate how dramatic this trajectory is. It requires nothing less than a total and rapid reversal of our present direction as a civilization.

The challenge is staggering in its scale, and the stakes are even more so. As the co-chair of an IPCC working group put it, “The next few years are probably the most important in our history.” After decades of delay, this is our last chance to get it right. Most people hope that we’ll be able to prevent catastrophe by rolling out clean energy systems, ultimately decarbonizing the economy.

But so far this plan has not been working very well. Global emissions continue to rise, Continue reading “The Hope at the Heart of the Apocalyptic Climate Change Report”