It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over

By Dr. Richard Hil

How To Mobilise Against The Climate Violence Perps

“An effective response to climate change requires collective action by all countries and sectors.”
– Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Australia… remains one of the most carbon-intensive OECD countries and one of the few where greenhouse gas emissions (excluding land use change and forestry) have risen in the past decade.”
– OECD, January 2019.

Is it just me, or have you noticed how conversations have changed over recent weeks/months? The climate emergency seems to have crept into every discursive nook and cranny. There’s talk of floods, fires, droughts and associated calamities, and of the prospects for survival as the climate emergency goes through what one commentator refers to as an “escalation crisis”, meaning that the pace and scale of change is far in excess of what the climate models are telling us. The upshot is that we simply don’t know where all this is heading. It’s a wicked problem, on steroids – a problem over which we (apparently) have less and less control.

Not surprisingly, there’s panic in the air. The world’s leading scientists – including the 15,000 from 184 countries who signed an open letter in 2017 – have exhausted themselves in pleading to governments and corporations to take the necessary action to avoid “runaway climate change”. In many instances such pleas have been either ignored, dismissed or entangled in webs of sectional interests and realpolitik obfuscation.

The growing sense of concern among scientists, however, has not gone unnoticed among my friends and acquaintances. When the “climate thing” comes up, I’ve seen perfectly well-adjusted people start chewing their nails, fidgeting, staring into the distance, and more than occasionally, quietly weeping. We shouldn’t be too surprised by such reactions – or what psychologists refer to as “ecoanxiety” – as there is growing evidence that the threat posed by the climate emergency is generating severe mental health problems – anxiety, depression and suicide ideation, to name a few.

The fact is that people are becoming more and more attuned to what is happening around them. My own mind is swirling with terrifying predictions about the extinction of all life on earth in a few decades, or, as some are predicting, in 12 years or less. Its hair rising stuff.

And as if all that isn’t enough, we still have to put up with so-called “denialists”-cum-conspiracy-merchants who peddle spade loads of aberrant nonsense that merely deplete one’s energies. I don’t bother with them, frankly – the people or theories. Why would I? It’s like arguing over whether the world is flat or if smoking leads to lung cancer. It’s a waste of time. There’s no ‘debate’.

Common global experiences

Most days I chat with my older brother, Henryk, who lives in Lima, Peru. We talk about this and that – Brexit, the state of the Peruvian economy, Donald Trump’s latest buffoonery, and whether our prostates are in good shape. But since the middle of last year all that has changed. Now we both wrestle with the climate emergency, its consequences, the tragedy of it all. This is what he said during our last Skype chat:

“Does anyone [in Peru]care that we have the highest temperatures ever recorded in parts of Lima, or that there’s flooding in the north and south east of Peru? Roads have been blocked and bridges downed, communities are often cut off. Farm land is being destroyed in many parts of the country. Power consumption is at record highs to keep household temperatures down, with electrical goods in high demand. The snow is melting in the Andes, a source of drinking water for the capital. This is all the result of climate change. It’s an unfolding tragedy. I have been in a permanent sweat for 15 days. This is very unusual, uncomfortable and it’s difficult to sleep at night.”

A quick browse through the Internet confirms what Henryk is saying. In 2017, heavy rainfall (10 times more than the average) fell in the northern Piura region of Peru, leading to the deaths of 67 people, mainly as a result of mud slides, with thousands more having to evacuate their homes. In total, over 100,000 homes were damaged and more than 100 bridges destroyed, bringing chaos to that part of the country.

Floods and droughts have had severe impacts on farmlands across Peru, impacting its food supply. To make matters worse, the Ausangate glacier in the Andes is melting, threatening water supplies to Lima’s 10 million people. Many other extreme climate effects have been noted, not least unprecedented snow falls in parts of the Andes, forcing the government to declare a state of emergency. As in Australia, records are tumbling, year on year. The projections for both countries are similarly depressing.

The Ausangate Glacier Lake in the Andes Mountains within Peru. (IMAGE: junaidrao, Flickr)

On some of our better days Henryk and I hope things aren’t as bad as we think, although we’re not silly enough to put our faith in geo-engineering which, as Naomi Klein has wryly observed, is using pollution to neutralise pollution. On other days, Henryk and I get so depressed that we take to packing our existential bags. In short, we veer from naïve optimism to bone-jarring panic, seething anger and everything in-between.

But somehow, we always end up with the “so what can we do to stop this before it’s too late” question. Yesterday we both agreed that given the severity of the crisis – my brother keeps an eye of the doomsday clock which is set at two minutes to midnight – all of global civil society should take radical action.

Radical action

Ok, so what does that look like? We echo various activist suggestions, like mobilising people to surround our parliaments with human chains, mass protests outside the homes of fossil fuel CEOs, heckling at shareholder meetings, chaining ourselves to mining equipment at extraction sites, stopping coal trains, and so forth. We both laud the actions of activists who have prevented CSG mining in NSW, or the open-cut mine in Gloucester, NSW, and those brave souls in Peru who have been killed or criminalised for seeking to protect the environment. We know that the rich and powerful are worried by all this, that’s why they’ve introduced draconian anti-protest laws across the globe, including in my own state of NSW.

Henryk and I also talk about changing the language we use in order to sheet home blame for the crisis to where it belongs: governments, lobbyists, corporate heads, mainstream media etc. Phrases like “policy violence”, “climate disaster”, “climate criminals” and “climate genocide” have crept into our vocabulary.

Like many others, we also think that citizens tribunals should be created to prosecute the guilty parties – or at least to identify who they are (as happened in the wake of the invasion of Iraq) – and that the criminal and environmental courts should do the same. We’ve ruled out violence as a tactic but we’re all for civil disobedience of the Extinction Rebellion and 350.org variety, if only to raise public awareness about the scale of the impending catastrophe.

All these actions and more are urgently needed to tackle the climate violence being perpetrated against us, even though it might be too little, too late. The window is shutting, and fast.

These are unprecedented times, much worse than the nuclear crisis because, even with the egregious policy of Mutually Assured Destruction, human agency could still intervene to draw us back from the brink. But if the runaway climate emergency takes hold then no-one knows what will happen and no amount of geo-inventiveness will pull us back from the abyss.

Lake Hume, in southern NSW. (IMAGE: Tim J Keegan, Flickr)

I often laugh at this prospect, in the same mad way that occurs when all hope is lost. At other times, I’m virtually catatonic, especially when reading those doom-laden reports. My brother and I also rant at the self-censorship of the corporate media, the marginalisation of voices calling for radical action – independent journalists, climate scientists, environmental activists – and the way the plutocratic elites have turned the climate emergency into an infotainment sideshow or a business opportunity.

The deceit and vacillation of governments across the globe when it comes to emissions reduction is nothing less than scandalous: an act of wilful violence perpetrated against us all.

Our choices

We have choices about how to respond to all this. My worry is that too many people are opting to carry on regardless (because life is demanding, or the story of finality is too much, or because we want to shelter our nearest and dearest). Others have retreated into fatalism (the party’s over, time to hunker down in gated communities, survivalist enclaves and nirvana-like hamlets), and yet others are talking of armed resistance when strangers come looking for food and water.

But there are other ways of responding which we see, for instance, in litigation cases through the courts, mass protests, actively shutting down mines, divestment, and so on. The current reality demands that these and other actions intensify, and that the coalitions and networks that make up the global environmental movement name the guilty parties and compel them, through organised civic action, to take the necessary decisions to prevent climate catastrophe.

Ultimately of course, what this means is system change and a radically different way of thinking about democracy and our relationship with the planet. Conference resolutions, non-binding targets, trading schemes and the rest will not be enough in the short term to prevent the slide to catastrophe – after all, carbon emissions are at record levels as I write.

That should tell us all we need to know about what the abuse of power looks like.

Cooking the books?

What about Australia’s commitment, or lack thereof, to reducing carbon emissions? A recent OECD report, Environmental Performance Review of Australia, suggests that our actions are ruinous when it comes to greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In a press release, the OECD notes that: “The country will fall short of its 2030 emissions target without a major effort to move to a low-carbon model…. Australia needs to develop a long-term strategy that integrates energy and climate policies to support progress towards its commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions.”

Reflecting on the review in The Conversation, Alan Pears, senior industry fellow, RMIT, concludes that the government’s current targets, “fall far short of what is really necessary and responsible”, a conclusion backed by the Climate Council and respected researchers like Anna Skarbek, CEO at Climate Works Australia, Monash University.

Rio Tinto’s Warkworth Mine, near Bulga. (IMAGE: Lock the Gate Alliance, by D. Sewell, FLICKR)

The OECD review notes Australia’s’ continued heavy reliance of fossil fuels far exceeds those of other wealthy countries: “[Australia is] reliant on coal for two-thirds of its electricity [and]has one of the highest levels of non-renewable energy use of advanced economies, with fossil fuel consumption still benefitting from government support. Coal, oil and gas make up 93% of the overall energy mix compared to an OECD average of 80%. The share of renewables in electricity generation has risen to 16% but remains below the OECD average of 25%. Australia’s power sector – the country’s top emitting sector – is not subject to emission reduction constraints.”

As one of the worlds’ leading per capita GHG emitting nations and coal exporters, Australia stands out as a pariah state. But, like other countries, it is paying the price. As the review notes: “Australia has warmed by 0.9ºC over the past 60 years, with the warmest years occurring since 2005. Both rainfall and drought are likely to grow more extreme, and bushfire smoke and dust will increasingly affect air quality. The oceans around Australia are warming, rising, and are expected to become more acidic, exacerbating pressures on the Great Barrier Reef. Better water management is needed to respond to the changing climate and prevent further toxic algae blooms forming and killing fish in the drought-hit Darling River”.

The review outlines a range of recommendations to lesson GHG emissions and the destruction (among the worst on the planet) of biodiversity and ecological systems.

Despite such tragedies, the current Coalition government remains committed to coal as part of its “energy mix” into the foreseeable future, and new mines are in the offing in various parts of the country. It may not be official policy, but Australia is, in effect, committed to worsening the globe’s biosphere, thereby inflicting spectacular violence on all species.

Coal of course is only one, albeit hugely significant, contributor to GHGs. It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that globally, about 7.5 million people die avoidably (prematurely) each year due to the effects carbon burning pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine carbon particulates that lodge in the lungs) and 500,000 perish as a result of extreme weather events caused by anthropogenic climate change. Yet, as Melbourne-based scientist, Dr Gideon Polya, observes, “This latter estimate of presently about 0.5 million climate change-related deaths may be an under-estimate because UN Population Division data indicate that presently 15 million people die avoidably (prematurely) each year (half of them children) due to poverty and deprivation in the Developing World (minus China), with these impoverished, tropical or sub-tropical countries already being severely impacted by global warming.”

Australia’s contribution to this unfolding tragedy is manifestly evident. It’s up to the global environmental justice movement to ratchet up the struggle for survival.

Disrupting Earth’s climate is to awaken a sleeping beast

By Zeeshan Hasan

Fixing Climate; The Story of Climate Science and How to Stop Global Warming by eminent climate scientist Wallace Broecker (who unfortunately just passed away)and his co-writer Robert Kunzig is an informative look at the science of global warming as well as a summary of the options for solving it. Wallace Broecker was professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, and through his research first discovered one of the primary regulators of the planet’s climate; namely the “thermo-haline conveyor,” the network of ocean currents which circulates hot and cold water over much of the Earth’s surface.

A recurrent theme in Broecker’s writing is his view of Earth’s climate as a sleeping beast which we awaken at our peril. The relative stability of climate for the past ten thousand years (since the end of the last ice age) is exactly what allowed humans to develop agriculture and create civilisation. Thus, we have greatly benefited from the long sleep of the climate beast. However, the carbon dioxide emissions created by our modern society’s dependence on fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas risk disrupting the climate and waking the climate beast. The consequences could be sudden and drastic.

Whereas we may think of climate change as being gradual and taking place over centuries or millennia, climate science has shown that drastic changes have happened very quickly in the past. A prime example is the end of the “Younger Dryas” ice age, a cold period which lasted from 12,800 to 11,500 years ago.

“The [ice] measurements … had shown that the warming at the end of the Younger Dryas had been abrupt … the ice layers were suddenly half as thick … most of that change had taken place in just a few years” (page 141).

So the scientific evidence is that climate change of sufficient magnitude to end an ice age can occur naturally in “just a few years,” not centuries or even decades. This bodes ill for our future, as our burning of coal, oil and gas is now changing the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere faster than any time in history. If a similarly quick global warming were to happen now, humanity would have little time or ability to adapt to it. The results would be catastrophic in terms of increased desertification, reduced food production and famine.

Aside from temperature rise, the biggest threat to Bangladesh in particular is from sea level rise. This is another area where research in climate science has made it clear that big changes can happen at a frightening pace.

In the 1980’s a colleague of Broecker’s, Richard Fairbanks, thought he could pinpoint a time when sea level rose twenty metres in a single century (page 171).

The above is indeed a stark contrast with the scientific conservatism of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of sea likely sea level rise being 59 centimetres by 2100.

The IPCC scientists specifically did not take into account the recent observations of accelerated ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica — essentially because they didn’t know what to make of them (page 183).

The problem is that scientists are generally cautious by nature, and unwilling to talk about possible worst case scenarios until that outcome is virtually certain. Unfortunately, if we wait until the worst case global warming scenario is inevitable before we start doing anything, it will be too late; the climate will have already changed, and humanity will have to suffer the awful consequences. Scientific conservatism in this case is lulling the public and world governments into a misplaced sense of security. So what is to be done? The answer is clear.

Which brings us to the one absolute certainty; no significant solution to the [carbon dioxide] problem can emerge until governments worldwide, and especially that of the United States, follow the lead of Norway and the European Union and impose either an emissions cap or a direct tax on [carbon dioxide] (page 266).

Broecker’s conclusion is shared by most climate scientists. To prevent dangerous climate change, carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by replacing fossil fuels rapidly with nuclear, wind and solar energy. This will require huge investments, and the only way the money can be raised is through a carbon tax. Those of us who care about what the future holds for our children need to start thinking about how to bring about this colossal change in the world economy. The only way to solve the climate crisis is to put continuous and increasing public pressure on politicians around the world to transition away from fossil fuels.

ASIA – CLIMATE BREAKDOWN’S NEW FRONT LINE

By Bill McGuire

In my last blog I reported on the unsurvivable heatwaves that lie in wait, later this century, for unsuspecting populations, particularly across Asia. Without serious efforts to slash global carbon emissions now, three quarters of the population of India will be exposed to ‘extremely dangerous’ levels of humid heat, while four hundred million inhabitants of China’s northern plain will be at severe risk of heat death.

This is shocking enough in its own right, but this week brought more bad news for the region that looks, increasingly, as if it will occupy an unenviable position in the front line as our world’s climate continues to break down. The huge populations of nations like India, China and Pakistan are only sustainable while there is a reliable food supply. This, in turn, is critically dependent upon a trustworthy supply of water for irrigation. There have been worries for some time that a failing climate will result in a more sporadic monsoon, or even – on occasion – its failure. The new research, however, brings an even greater threat.

According to the results of a new landmark study1, the glaciers of the 3,500-long Hindu Kush Himalaya mountain chain are in such a precarious state that a business as usual emissions scenario will see two-thirds of them gone by the century’s end. Even if we really pull our fingers out and slash emissions so as to keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5°C, one third of the ice will still be gone by 2100.

The reason why this scenario is so potentially cataclysmic is that the great rivers draining the Hindu Kush Himalaya – including the Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow – provide the water that irrigates the crops that feed two billion people across a region stretching from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the west to China and Myanmar in the east. Cut off this water supply and the stage is set for a prodigious famine far beyond biblical proportions. The study is the work of more than 200 scientists and peer reviewed by a further 150, so it stands as a formidable work of climate science that cannot and must not be ignored.

With 15 percent of the ice already gone, since the 1970s, problems are already becoming apparent due to more erratic river flow. By the middle of the century, the authors of the report predict, river flow will ramp up as more and more meltwater cascades down from the mountains. Flood events will occur far more frequently, while population centres will also face existential danger from catastrophic deluges arising from the breaching or overtopping of high-altitude meltwater lakes.

The real problems will set in, however, from around the 2060s onwards, as river flows start to drop off in earnest as the source ice fields fade away. Not only will this have a devastating impact on agriculture, it will also ensure that hydro-power dams on the rivers can no longer function, cutting power across the region. The prospects of billions being unable to feed themselves while at the same time having insufficient power to attend to the basics of life, doesn’t bear thinking about. This is a pending human catastrophe on the grandest of scales, and yet another reason why we can’t afford to dither any longer. The honest truth is that, even if we manage to achieve net zero emissions by 2025, this still won’t be enough to stop climate breakdown in its tracks. But failing to do this will doom vast tracts of our world to the heat, dust and despair of Hothouse Earth.

1The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment

https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-319-92288- 1

Bill McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL and author of Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanic Eruptions. He was a contributor to the IPCC 2012 report on Climate Change & Extreme Events and Disasters.

The Evolution Of Language

This was going to be a fairly straightforward re-post of a story in Cambridge about a new word. Then it started to get more complicated and to go beyond a single word. The use of language to explain why the system needs to change and the motives and reasoning to underpin that change are evolving.

We did not seek permission to re-post but consider it ‘fair use’ to re-post in full and credit the original source. Please get in touch if you are the original author and would like the post altered or taken down -The Editors.

This is a reprint, published on 1st February, 2019, by Mike Scialom mike.scialom@iliffemedia.co.uk:

‘Nepocide’ coined by Cambridge Professor

https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/nepocide-coined-by-cambridge-professor-9060783/


Extinction Rebellion on Parker's Piece. Picture: Finlay Cox
Extinction Rebellion on Parker’s Piece. Picture: Finlay Cox

A new word to describe the willingness of the current generation to sacrifice the wellbeing and even survival of future generations has been coined by Professor Tony Booth, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Commonwealth Education at the University of Cambridge.

“Nepocide” takes the word “nepotism”, which is defined as “any favour granted to relatives in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities” and splices it with genocide, which is described in Article Two of the UN Convention on Genocide as “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.

“Nepocide is the conscious willingness to sacrifice future generations for current convenience.”

“I originally started thinking about the dynamics of cross-generational responsibility during the Thatcher era. Back then I called it ‘grandchild murder’ – the conscious willingness to sacrifice future generations to poverty, but with climate change it’s become literally a reality for everyone, so I coined a name for it.”

Professor Tony Booth, speaking at an Extinction Rebellion event outside Parkside police station on January 31st, 2019

Extinction Rebellion is a movement which began in October, 2018. Its aim is to galvanise governments and councils to declare a climate emergency. Some UK councils have already done so, including Cornwall.

A petition to request that Cambridge City Council declares a state of climate emergency is due to be handed in this month.

The protest at Parkside police station centred on campaigner Ms Angela Ditchfield (twitter @GreenKingsHedgs), who belongs to King’s Hedges Green Party. Ms Ditchfield was requested to attend Parkside in connection with events at Shire Hall last month when graffiti was sprayed on a wall.

“They watched while the spray painting happened and didn’t arrest me. They then contacted me a couple of days later to ask me in for a chat and I had an interview under caution. Accepting a caution means accepting criminal guilt and that didn’t happen. They’ve called me back in to charge me.”

Ms Ditchfield, speaking to the Cambridge Independent before entering the police station.
Angela Ditchfield of King's Hedges Green Party with Professor Tony Booth. Picture: Mike Scialom
Angela Ditchfield of King’s Hedges Green Party with Professor Tony Booth. Picture: Mike Scialom

“Criminal damage against property is a crime, but what about criminal damage against the planet – who can I talk to about that?”

Ms Ditchfield spoke to the Police Officier on the front desk, accompanied by a group of campaigners who also enquired as to who else would be arrested for criminal damage.

The officer replied: “I agree with a lot of what you’re saying but this isn’t the platform to express those views.”

“We would like to plead guilty to criminally damaging the world by living a privileged western lifestyle involving flying and driving, eating the products of the meat and diary industry, using plastic products and consumer electronics and buying unsustainable supermarket products.

All of these practices have caused irreparable damage to the world’s ecology. The glittering wealth grown in Britain’s economy is built on the extraction and theft of resources from countries in the global south.

It is built on the endless extraction of fossil fuels, a resource for which we have hideously violated human rights, started brutal wars, and killed millions.

The wealth and privilege has caused loss of life and irreparable damage to the world’s ecology, and we have benefited from it. We have enjoyed the fruits of the destruction of others.

Charge us with all of that.”

Read out to the Police Officer by one of the group

The officer explained that there would be no charges. “We’ve just taken in a lot of people and it’s full now.”

Extinction Rebellion campaigner reads statement at Parkside police station. Picture: Finlay Cox
Extinction Rebellion campaigner reads statement at Parkside police station. Picture: Finlay Cox

“Can we come back later?” the spokesperson asked.

“No.”

Another officer then asked: “Why don’t I just have a chat with two of you?”

“Well we’re all guilty,” was the response.

“OK,” the officer replied, “but if there’s two of you who you trust I can listen to them.”

Two campaigners then stepped forward and were taken through.

The officer later reported that the chat went “very well”

“I thought they were going to charge me but they’re doing it in a different way. Technically I’ve not been charged yet but I’ve just been notified that I’ve been reported to be charged.”

Ms Angela Ditchfield

Ms Ditchfield awaits postal confirmation of the next stage of the case.

Angela Ditchfield's homemade armband. Picture: Mike Scialom
Ms Angela Ditchfield’s homemade armband. Picture: Mike Scialom

You can find a personal account by one of those attending the police station here.

Evolution, as one by one everyone in the country turns up at their local Police Station to hand themselves in like good citizens.


Climate Changed: a comic book warning of global warming

p238ClimateChanged

p247ClimateChanged

by Zeeshan Hasan

French cartoonist Philippe Squarzoni has taken on the huge task of trying to convey the complexity of climate science and the global emergency that it implies in the form of his autobiographical/documentary graphic novel, Climate Changed. Hopefully this will enable the general public, which does not always seem inclined to wade through dense texts on scientific topics, to get a better appreciation of the challenges of global warming.

The book starts with the author contemplating the difficulties of tackling the subject of global warming in comic book form; unlike most comic book stories, it’s a scientific phenomenon without the conventional beginning and end of most stories. His solution is to place a fairly detailed exposition of climate science in the context of an autobiography. The end result is illuminating. It serves to remind the reader that climate change is not just happening to the globe. It’s happening to all of us, since we all live on this planet that is rapidly heating up, and is already presenting us with real consequences in the form of record high temperatures, droughts and deadlier storms. His visit to his childhood home and his observation of how much smaller and different it seems as an adult illustrates that the comfortable planet we knew even a few decades ago is gone forever; the climate has changed, and it’s now a new, more dangerous world that we live in.

As a low-lying country which is both densely populated and incredibly vulnerable to sea level rise, Bangladesh gets two mentions in the book. Squarzoni quotes climatologist and World Bank economist Stephane Hallegatte: with ‘a rise in sea level of a little over 3 feet (1 metre)… numerous densely populated coastal regions such as the Ganges and Nile deltas could be flooded. Millions of people will be driven out, and agricultural production will be severely affected. 20% of Bangladesh could be flooded.’ Bangladesh comes up again when Hallegatte discusses the potential effect of millions of climate refugees on the international arena: ‘If 20 million people leave Bangladesh and head for India, what do we do?… What will the India and Bangladesh of 2060 be like? Will tensions between them have eased? Or will they be at war?’. Even in Bangladesh, such critical long-term concerns are rarely addressed in the short-term daily news cycle.

Unfortunately, the effects of climate change will be felt disproportionately by the poor; this is made clear by Squarzoni’s account of the severe flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans in 2005. The wealthier sections of the city all evacuated upon hearing storm warnings a day in advance. The poor had no means to escape, and had to survive for days on the roofs of their submerged houses with most of the city being flooded with up to 23 feet of water. 30,000 people took shelter above the flood waters in the city stadium, until being finally evacuated by the government to the surrounding states. Desperate people started looting shops for supplies, with the result that a curfew was imposed; US soldiers freshly returned from Iraq were called in with orders from the state governor to shoot to kill. Total deaths numbered 1293, and 2 million were displaced; hundreds of thousands for over a year. Immense numbers were left in financial ruin with no means of rebuilding their flood-damaged homes. All this in the richest country in the world. The question arises as to how poorer countries would deal with similar storms and floods, which will grow more common everywhere as global warming adds heat and power to storm systems. How will wealthy countries treat poor countries suffering from climate change, which has been caused primarily by the carbon emissions of the rich? Will rich countries treat poor countries any better than they treat the poorest of their own citizens?

‘So, how to end this book?’ Squarzoni asks as he draws to a close. He observes that so far humanity has failed to deal with the existential threat of climate change by curbing fossil fuel use, and thus nearly closes on a pessimistic note; but as he says, ‘The story isn’t over’. Everything depends on how successfully we the public are able to lobby governments of the world to act over the next decade (which according to the 2018 International Panel on Climate Change report is all the time we have left to make severe cuts to fossil fuel use and thus prevent catastrophic climate change of over 1.5C).

 

Dear BBC -by an ex-BBC journalist

Dear BBC
When I was a trainee journalist at BBC news, I was taught – rightly – that there is an inevitable hierarchy when it comes to reporting national and world events.
Yet today, as the world finds itself in the throes of the biggest emergency ever faced by humankind, the corporation I once respected and admired is consistently failing its viewers and listeners.
The current chain of events is already leading to catastrophic sea level rise, burning forests, and ecocide. To trivialise or downplay this – ignoring the warnings of 98% of climate scientists – is to do a criminal disservice to the people of Britain and the world.
Your viewers and listeners are not stupid, and they deserve full coverage of the truth in order to prepare for the future.
Please do not miss this opportunity to be fully and wholeheartedly on the right side of history, and to save human lives, wildlife and ecosystems.
What the world needs now is clear vision. As the world’s greatest broadcasting organisation, the BBC can and must pick up this challenge – or lose its reputation as a responsible broadcaster.
I urge you to pay heed to Extinction Rebellion’s call to reform your coverage and re-balance the news agenda to reflect the reality of the crisis. But most of all, I call on you to rise to the occasion of our rapidly-changing times.
Yours sincerely
Liz Jensen
SOME EXAMPLES OF THE BBC IGNORING/NOT COVERING THE SEVERITY OF CLIMATE CHANGE
  • The BBC refused to cover reports on the UN Security Council special conference on climate change in July 2018. Dire warnings were given about the security implications of mass migration caused by climate change.
  • In September, the UN Secretary General appealed to news outlets to cover his upcoming speech on climate change and on 10 September he then delivered it, warning that we now face “a direct existential threat” and warned of “runaway climate change”. The BBC refused to cover that on TV or radio news.
  • Following a string of stinging complaints, the BBC has given ground and promised to improve its coverage of news but it still refuses to allow the public to hear the really frightening material in connection with the various climate feedbacks and tipping points.
  • Many campaigners fear the BBC has a policy of not frightening the public but we need to stop the censorship if people are to realise the seriousness of the situation and call for dynamic action to prevent catastrophe

I’m Preparing for Climate Collapse

I’m Preparing for Climate Collapse – We’re in the Anthropocene Now #DeepAdaptation

By Gecko Tango

I have been aware that planetary ecosystems have been unravelling for some time now. For a long time, I was afraid, alone in the dark, but after taking action with a number of groups which included Campaign against Climate Change and Reclaim the Power, I finally found a group of people who really understood the end-to-end problem. They call themselves Rising Up! and they became my friends. We support each other. That support gives me hope.

Other members of the group are fearless. They tell the truth and act as if that truth is real. Their actions gave me courage to act too. So, I locked-on and was arrested. We shut down a frack site; four of us, in a chicane in the road. After a trial and re-trial the charges were dismissed. I’d broken the law and walked away. Vindicated! The sweet taste of victory. But it wasn’t enough. We blockaded that frack site for a month and it wasn’t enough to stop them.

I’m ready to act again. That’s the path were on now. We all have to take direct action. That doesn’t mean we all need to be arrested. But we all have to believe in it. Anything else is just denial; walking away from the problem; I can’t accept that.

Some of my friends were arrested more than 10 times last year. Yet it seems to have made them stronger, more determined. It’s empowering, but I’m under no illusions. It’s going to take a lot more of us to stop this Sixth Extinction event and the climate crisis that we’ve entered.

We have begun to build support structures. We have developed a holistic, Regenerative Culture. We soon realised that we’re fighting for our survival; that there was a looming war of sorts. For me, it had started with the onshore expansion of extreme energy or fracking; for others it was the wanton destruction of ancient woodland or erosion of social justice. So, we built affinity groups and designed actions. It’s kinda fun but it’s also breaking our hearts. There is a shared grief and trauma but the healers, mystics and storytellers have found us at the right time. We all help each other.

We survived last Winter and decided we needed to be more assertive this year. So, we plotted a Rebellion. We collectively came up with the name. I didn’t like it at first, but it’s caught on now. We called it Extinction Rebellion. It’s starting to pop-up in unusual places. Even on the TV and I see stickers of the Extinction Symbol in pubs that don’t look like the usual activist hangouts.

We declared the Rebellion in Parliament Square. We blocked the road outside the Houses of Parliament with a thousand people. It was the right place to start. Some of my friends were arrested; taken away in police vans and then released. I don’t think anyone was charged. It was the best Halloween I’ve ever had. I woke up on the Day of the Dead and felt alive. I started to believe again.

A few weeks later the Extinction Rebellion shut down 5 bridges with 6,000 people. I was at a small gathering in West Wales, but I could feel the energy 250 miles away. I felt connected to it; connected to them.

Lots more people were arrested. I think it the final count on that day was 84, but does it really matter? We were all over the news.

Almost. Every. Single. News Outlet.

Well, apart from The Telegraph of course! I mean you can’t expect the Torygraph to cover it. How can the Barclay Brothers possibly know what’s happening on the mainland? They live on one of the those small Channel Island Secrecy Jurisdictions, in a bubble; disconnected.

I’m not expecting everybody to understand it.

We did a funeral march from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace. There was Guerrilla Gardening and two of my friends glued themselves to the Queen’s railings. You should have seen the police. They’ve never looked dafter. Standing there like pawns on a chessboard. I’ve never seen Bronze and Silver Commanders look so dumbfounded. Normally they stand there bossing all the lower ranks around. But they were powerless, almost. We completely outnumbered them. It was surreal; enriching.

I’m not expecting it to remain this way. There’ll be a backlash at some point. We need to prepare for that. I hope we’ll be ready. We have the courage but are we prepared? Only time will tell.

Just this last week, new groups have formed in India, Brasil, Uganda and the Pacific Islands; and that’s in addition to what’s going on in the Global North. I can’t believe it really. I have to pinch myself. It feels unreal. Then I launch my Twitter feed and watch the news. I read the stories. I see Rebellion breaking out over a tapestry of climate chaos and the horrors of ecocide.

It makes me cry. I fall asleep. Then it’s 6am and I’m waking before the alarm and it’s another day.

It’s Monday morning.

We need to prepare; Deep Adaptation is where it’s at now.

We’re preparing for collapse. But we’re survivors. Will we be alive at 1.5? I don’t know.

I think of the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve met, and I hope that they’re still alive: Nepal and Bolivia; the Philippines and Cambodia; South Africa and Lesotho; Morocco and Cuba.

What does their Deep Adaptation strategy look like? And then I remember, the tales they told me. Years ago, when airplane travel was just something I almost took for granted. That bright white day on the Salar de Uyuni; talking to those children in a small village in Lesotho; my Nepalese guide telling me that Maoist insurgents were gathering in the hills and how the rice terraces were collapsing from erosion and ecological degradation.

They were already enacting it. Ecological breakdown had already reached them.

The last time I left Europe was 3 years ago. I flew to Costa Rica.

I promised myself that was the last one. The last long haul flight.

I said I’d review it in 4 years. But I know now, it has to be the last one. I can still travel overland and a little by sea. I’m not gonna confine myself to England, Wales and Scotland. I can travel slowly to Portugal, Finland and Poland. But that’s for next year maybe, or 2020. In the meantime we’ve lots to do. We have to ban fracking and end coal; stop the expansion of Heathrow Airport; show that nuclear is not an option; restructure our broken farming system.

We can do this. We have the numbers. We have to believe. We have to empower others to act.

I want A Better Apocalypse too. I’m not the only one.