It's a summons!
It's a call to action!
It's a wake up, freak out and get a grip experience on the "most important issue we face today".
In this engaging short film Leo Murray presents us with a bird's eye view on the science of climate change with clarity and charm. Despite being made in 2008, I have just discovered it and feel compelled to share it and celebrate it.
What is it that confuses public perception on this issue when 97% of the scientific community concur? Well, it's a wicked wicked problem, and that means time is short, no one is in charge, we're all responsible and we're all not responsible and we have an unrealistic faith that the future just gets better! Wicked problems are usually exorbitantly expensive and easier to leave to a future administration!
But Leo makes the wicked and complex simple and poetic. He leads us to a tipping point, and talks us through the positive feedbacks in the climate system. We swoop over the top of all this wickedness and land with a firmer grip on all that science! He shows us some doom but without dwelling, then leaps into some social theory and genuine empathy for the social and ecomomic systems that bind us. Our poor leaders? The lost and incoherent mainstream media? They are seduced by the Sirens of business and corporate interests. And well, so are we!
My favourite image in the film is you and me carrying big business on our backs and walking toward a cliff edge, hypnotised by a screen dangling under our nose. You'll know what I mean when you see it! Tell me if that doesn't resonate with you? Leo Murray portends what remaining asleep will bring .....
BUT..... all is not lost! We're watching and we're smart and now that we get it, we can do something about it! We've just gotta move it!
For those who wish to see the film with subtitles, it can be accessed on Leo Murray's site in many languages. Or here in English. I salute you and thank you Leo Murray. Explaining the big picture is so fundamental to motivating action and change. I highly reccomend reading Leo's About the film. Its an amusing reflection on the fact that he has chosen an old school-style direct transmission of information to viewer based on the Enlightenment Model that man is rational!. But in reality we don't seem to demonstrate much rationality and are instead guided by complex invisible pulls that are often unconscious and counterproductive.
Please share this video. The more we understand the importance of "now", the more we can collaborate to demand our leaders truly lead! We have everything at our disposal to replace fossil fuel energy and transport systems. We just need clear legislation to curb fossil fuel energy investment opportunities and greater incentives for renewable energy development and adoption.
Wake up, Freak out and get a grip! Now is the hour!
Postscript: My next five blogs will be devoted to solutions and pathways for change! Thats a promise!
I remember distinctly the reaction of disgust from a dear friend who saw my header image of a bumble bee a year ago and how I was at odds to persuade him differently. He saw something monstrous and ugly, irritating and upsetting in this creature.
The photo was taken in my mothers garden in 2005. And I realise how lucky I am and my children are to have been raised to marvel at and appreciate the contribution these little and not so little masterminds make to our world.
For their little minds are running amok right now! Of the 20,000 or so bee species that remain today, many are near extinction or declining in numbers alarmingly. This TED talk by Marla Spivak resonated very strongly with me for I have for years now noted particularly on beaches and urban footpaths that when I see a bee it is usually dopey, twitching or dead.
To flower planters and bee-keppers and gardeners like my Mum, I salute you and thankyou. I will now join you in the little way I can myself and try and do my bit for the bees... and ultimately for myself, lets face it!!
I will not dwell except to say that this TED is a must watch! We have oh so much to learn! These little and not so little masterminds are beautiful, essential and screaming for our help!!!!
"We do not like what we see there. Absolutely...we do not like!" Final words from this interview with Natalia Shakhova, oceanographer and marine geoscientist as she speaks about research of potential methane release on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Vast deposits of methane there threaten to escape into the atmosphere and only 1% of deposits would double whats presently up there! No small fry!
This interview was conducted at the EGU (European Geosciences Union), Vienna 2012 by Nick Breeze of Envisionation (I'm a big fan of their work communicating climate science and highly reccomend their blog and climate videos) and its a sober and honest presentation of scientific observation in one of the most volatile places in the planetary system at the moment. Presently we have about 5 Gt of methane in the atmosphere but an estimate of the methane presently sealed under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is between 100's-1000's Gt.
A very shallow water column and a weakening permafrost threaten to release these hydrocarbon stores, something that would pass a severely dangerous threshold for our warming world.
"Everything looks anomolous!", she says at one point in the interview...... nothing is behaving how it should.
Including the human species.... or so it would seem!
Are we so impervious?!!!!!
For much more detail on all this read Nick Breeze here.
An attempt to highlight the main points in documentary “Do the Math” featuring environmentalist and writer Bill McKibbon from 350.org
This number speaks without language or nation or border or creed or class. This number stands up by itself anywhere and is relevant to everyone!
This number is 350.
350 is the level of CO2 in the atmosphere recognized as a threshold if Earth is to stay within “manageable” warming. CO2 is causing current warming and 350.org is a movement started in 2008 by writer Bill McKibbon and university students to raise awareness of that warming, to raise awareness of what CO2 is doing, to raise awareness of why 350 is a wise measure to aim at.
350.org has established an active, sophisticated and powerful global network and made enormous progress in communicating these messages but unfortunately either the message is not getting through or we don't know what to do with the message when we get it. Two weeks ago on May 11th 2013 global records of CO2 hit 400! There was hardly a stir!
All our industry, transport, schools, healthcare, technology, the lighting, heating and constructions of our homes, all the things that make life easier or more efficient are almost entirely thanks to the energy we gain from burning coal, oil and gas. A side effect of burning coal, oil and gas is the emission of CO2 and too much CO2, (currently 400 parts per million) is overheating our world. Alarmingly quickly!
No one’s suggesting we give any of those things up! The technology and know-how to shift to cleaner energy sources exists. It just can't get a foot in because fossil fuel energy (coal, oil and gas) is currently too cheap.
Cheaper than fossil fuel energy actually should be! This industry is not paying it's real cost. It is enjoying the right to pollute for free and not being called to count on environmental harm it is causing. Environmental harm can be difficult to recognise, sometimes temporally and spatially removed from the source, as with the extraction of oil and its later invisible hovering somewhere in the atmosphere as CO2, months, maybe years later. But sometimes environmental cost is very clear, nearby and glaringly obvious as in the case of the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill.
And of course the fossil fuel industry generates exorbitant profits to investors when the "real" cost is not factored in. Last year the top five fossil fuel companies made 375 billion dollars. This industry once served a grand social function building our modern societies and facilitating the transport of people and merchandise, but it is now consumed fundamentally with its own immortality, with the generation of return to investors and profit! Millions are poured into lobbying governments each year to preserve the subsidies, the limited regulation and the status quo. Might is right ...even when it's wrong!
But you and I are more powerful than we realise! Exon, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips are all public companies. We can choose to divest in these companies or simply not to invest in them.
A significant factor in bringing down apartheid was international divestment in South African business and public companies. And likewise any one of us with an investment portfolio can choose to divest in these industries. Anyone of us who belongs to a church or a university can make it clear we don’t wish the institution that represents us to have an investment portfolio with fossil fuel investments. Yes we can be more powerful than we realise!
You can argue that we shouldn't have to take this on? Our governments should be taking steps to protect us, our children and our planet. And you'd be right but something in our democracies seems sort of broke right now. Science has been clear for more than 20 years but inertia, lack of action and a "you go first" attitude prevails. Political vision is rarely medium or long term and bottom line big business like the "fossils" seem to be holding governments in a gridlock.
So for the maths that matters!
In 2009 in Copenhagen a vague global agreement made a vague global commitment to keeping global warming under a vaguely acceptable level of warming. 2 degrees!
Scientists have now estimated CO2 levels can get to about 450ppm to remain under 2 degrees of warming.(N.B. you may have noticed that it's way higher than the 350 considered "manageable" but thats another whole blog!!!) Scientists have also worked out how many Gt of CO2 arriving at 450ppm allows us to burn!.
And it's 565 Gt. Quite a lot! At present emmission rates we should be there in 15 years. As in around 2028!
But wait! There's more!
The fossil fuel industry has 2795 Gt in its present reserves, ready to dig, burn and sell.
It's five times what we're allowed!!!!
so to recap!
565 Gt allowed
2795 Gt available
2795 Gt – 565 Gt = 2230 Gt
565 Gt allowed
2230 Gt not allowed! ...... but coming anyway!
2230 Gt making money and looking good on fossil fuel industry book value now. Business as usual will cause as Bill says the planet to "tank".
In the last 100 years the world has warmed by 0.8 degree Celsius. We are seeing a climate already more volatile. Now accelerate that and imagine another 5 degrees warming in the same timeframe! Business as usual has us heading that way!
Keep calm and quietly but urgently exit the building before it falls in. Get out of fossil fuel shares!!! Divest!! Divest!
The Forward On Climate rally saw more than 40 000 people gather at the White House on 17th February to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline and call on Obama and Congress for action on climate policy. Gary and Arlene were there and made the above video.
With scientific and economic indicators both in forecasts and in the playing out day by day of extreme weather events across the globe, 1 degree warming is already wreaking havoc with our planetary system and predictions of 4-6 degree warming in the next 80 years have consequences that will make tomorrow unrecognisable. We know how much room we've got in our atmosphere for CO2 to keep the planet under 2 degrees . And we know how much fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground if we're to keep within those limits. Time is short and the situation is urgent. Keystone could be a turning point.
Keystone may not be in itself the make or break of the climate system. There is already 2.3 million miles of pipeline and this is only 2000 miles more. The 800 000 barrels a day will make US more independent, provide a smattering of jobs, (TransCanada, pipeline operators argue 20,000, Cornell study argues 20 full time and 2000-5000 two year positions) and its emissions in isolation are possibly not truly significant!
But Keystone does present an opportunity for change. Bill McKibbon of 350.org will tell you that we are no closer to active policy action than we were in the 1980's. Nonetheless weaker by the naive assumption that the science would speak for itself and that politicians always do the right thing by the people! Think again! The fossil fuel industry and anonymously funded climate change doubt campaigns have had extraordinary power in stalling all attempts at mitigation and adaption to date.
"While the scientists were talking patiently into our leaders’ ear, the fossil-fuel industry has been screaming into the other,” Bill McKibbon
The 2000 page SEIS (Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement) released on Friday March 1st suggested that the next 10 year US energy budget could be met without Keystone so Keystone is not even really necessary on the American energy stage. However SEIS which is the advisory report to Obama essentially green lights the Keystone XL Pipeline albeit with weak reasoning. It suggests Keystone greenhouse emissions would be insignificant in the global picture (despite the fact any single energy project would pale in the face of global co2 emissions). It goes on to reason that stopping Keystone won't stop the tar sands extraction. Read if someones ganna dig 'em up, might as well be us!
If you were a betting person you might be wise to bet with them (political scientists arguing combatting climate change is too expensive) because we’ve been losing more or less for twenty years. But that is not a bet you are allowed to make. The only stance for a moral human being when the worst thing on earth is happening is to get up in the morning and figure out how you can change those odds.” Bill McKibbon (40.00min)
Keystone may be the point where words transform into action. And we can each decide if we promote it or hinder it. It's a highly visual and timely symbol of the climate fight. And it could just be the drop that turns the tide of public consciousness and heralds significant policy action.
"The argument of Keystone protestors is not that there’s One True Way, but that eventually there has to be some way. Somebody’s got to start taking these dire warnings seriously and do something, something specific and concrete". David Roberts
Obama will have the final word. Go here to have your say.
(The possibility to send public submissions opposing Keystone has expired now. Thanks to all those who contributed.)
Stuff I had to get off my chest about 2 women whose voices and courage touched me in 2012!
Elinor Ostrom (Nobel Laureate for Economics 2009) and Brittany Trilford (half the world!) both came to my attention during the uneventful Rio + 20 summit in June 2012. Between them I would argue they did more to empower people to counter the effects of climate change and apathetic global leadership that all official summit leaders put together (be it UN, Rio, Doha or other!) Thanks to them both and onwards and upwards Brittany!
Then a little challenge to us all for 2013! And big thanks to Daniele Lunghini for his image! Keep Calm but get informed!
Video making skills much to be desired so bear with me! Learning curve's steep! To a year of improvements in all realms...global and personal!!!
Brittany Trilfords Rio +20 speech June 2012
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim utube link
Turn Down the Heat pdf Report
summary World Bank
Price Waterhouse Cooper UK Report Too Late for Two Degrees? Low carbon economy index Nov 2012
IEA forecast- Energy Technology Perspectives
- The 6°C Scenario (6DS) is largely an extension of current trends. By 2050, energy use almost doubles (compared with 2009) and total GHG emissions rise even more. In the absence of efforts to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of GHGs, average global temperature rise is projected to be at least 6°C in the long term. The 6DS is broadly consistent with the World Energy Outlook Current Policy Scenario through 2035. IEA newsletter
Temperature rise forecasts
Gary sends his reply to Nicky about the Terrifying New Math that Rolling Stone rolled out. Time is short....but of course there is still time! So lets get cracking!
Nicky attempted to make it simple! Here Gary puts it into a timeframe!
Nicky changes hats and keeps changing tune til she finally settles into some mathematics.
2 degrees is as high as we're allowed to go but until the fossil fuel industry start to feel the pinch we're going towards 2 degrees in a hell of a hurry!
Gary gives us 16 years and has James Hansen drop in by way of his book to create a storm about Venus.
Taxing carbon gets people hot and angry but Venus is a whole heap hotter.
Gotta get informed folks! We've gotta move on this stuff!
Sending out an SOS! This week Nicky sings for the ice for the ice has no voice!
So ice melting kind of fast and newsflash that theres more unconventional fossil fuels that ever imagined and we have the technology to get it all if we want to.
All this would be fine if it wasn't accelerating global warming...so oh..oh..oh.... what to do about it! Gary has an idea.... well actually James Hansen had the idea first but he's really happy to share it.
Gary takes us to a little Rockerfeller legacy and talks us through fee and dividend! It might just put us on the path to offering large scale alternatives to fossil fuels.
pass the ball week 15-21 july 2012
Nicky tries to get some perspective on a global society dependent on fossil fuels and somewhat accustomed to the perils associated with their extraction. Is fracking just another one?
Seeing the bigger picture of what uncurbed fossil fuel activity may mean is much harder to gets one's head around. She asks Gary to elaborate on one area that global warming is indeed rearing its hot head -The artic!
Melting Artic sea ice and the predictions of an ice free Artic in just a few years. Gary tells us about albedo and seawater in 24 sun and frozen methane melting and how they all feedback to feedback to feedback and how this is perhaps happening faster than we'd like to imagine!
And Gary touches on the Great Disruption that Paul Gilding has written about. The world as we know it could suffer a little hiccup in the nature of things only to become of course a better place!! Eventually!
This week we talk about fracking. Nicky's worried about water contamination and maybe minor earthquakes and the fact that lots of stuff could go wrong. Gary is less concerned by the contamination at the large number of sites where fracking is taking place. He's more concerned by this sudden explosion of supply in natural gas bringing the price of natural gas down to a phenomenal $2-$2.50 a unit and thus being tauted politically as the safe cheap and viable future of American energy. Cleaner than coal maybe but a CO2 emitter nonetheless and what really worries Gary is that no politician is actually acknowledging the urgent need to reduce our emissions to zero if we want to avoid runaway climate change! Which brings me to the ice ...but thats the next question........