Losing earth: the decade we almost stopped climate change

The New York Times has published a remarkable article by Nathaniel Rich about the decade from 1979 to 1989 when it appeared that climate change could have been addressed.  The story centers on environmentalist Rafe Pomerance and scientist James Hansen and their efforts to publicize the climate change issue and then to work toward legislation to address it in the 1980s. Obviously, they were unsuccessful.  The article gives some hint as to why, but stops short of what we know to be the real reasons:  Republican intransigence and the beginnings of a concerted effort by fossil fuel companies to cast doubt on the science.  (In fact the author literally says that Republicans weren’t to blame, despite his own reporting that suggests otherwise.) In the intervening 30 years from the end of the story, humanity has nearly doubled its annual burning of CO2 causing materials.

Naomi Klein has an excellent rebuttal here. In her view, it is not “human nature” that we failed to stop climate change.  Rather, she explains:  “It is absolutely true that the global unleashing of the unbound form of capitalism known as neoliberalism in the ’80s and ’90s has been the single greatest contributor to a disastrous global emission spike in recent decades, as well as the single greatest obstacle to science-based climate action ever since governments began meeting to talk (and talk and talk) about lowering emissions.” 

Climate disaster is here.

In this article, Global Heatwave is Symptom of Early Stage Cycle of Civilizational Collapse, Nafeez Ahmed lays out in stark, but honest terms, what the extreme weather events of summer of 2018 mean for our future:  “They are early stage warnings of a protracted process of civilisational collapse as industrial societies face some of the opening symptoms of having already breached the limits of a safe climate.”

How did the end of the world become old news?


That is the title of an analysis article written by David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine.  In it, Mr Wallace-Wells lays out the case that while climate change caused disasters and death are rapidly increasing – this summer, right in front of our eyes – the news media are not making the connection.  Yes, they do report on the various fires, heat waves, droughts, and floods, but no, they do not attribute the causation to climate change.  The article offers possible explanations as to why.

The Most Important Chart for the Future of Landscape Architecture

I wrote a commentary piece about what the below zero era means for landscape architecture on Land8 landscape architects network.  The purpose of the piece is to make landscape architects – especially young ones – of the implications for materials and construction processes, and thus design and education, of a world without fossil fuels.

This chart is the essence of this site – first timers start here


By Steve Austin

We have 12 years to avoid climate catastrophe.  The chart above shows in stark relief exactly the world we must transition to if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This chart shows how we must essentially cease the use of fossil fuels and other climate changing activities. That in turn means the end of the industrial age.

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