Even without the other ecological drivers of mass species extinction, natural resource exhaustion and growing human population pressure, human-caused (anthropogenic) climate breakdown alone is enough to wipe out the human species by the end of this century, if governments do not immediately begin to reverse their extractivism and ‘growth’ -based economic policies.
This is why the Extinction Rebellion campaign has at its core a group of activists who are prepared to go to prison for peaceful civil disobedience, to get the necessary media coverage for long enough to leverage the government and the public into war-level mobilisation mode.
When you repeatedly come across the figure of 2 degrees i.e. limiting global warming to 2 degrees, think of what happens to a human body when it experiences a temperature increase of more than 2 degrees.
Climate Breakdown Bullet Points
-resulting from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks of 2015 in Paris.
• There are no binding enforcement mechanisms for countries to reduce their carbon emissions. In the words of James Hansen (see below) the agreement was ‘just promises’. Although there were very positive aims for governments to keep global warming to below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, in reality it is fossil-fuel invested corporations that need to agree emissions reductions, under threat of enforcement if they don’t comply. Otherwise these corps will carry on until we are all dead. As citizens we must pressure our governments to set legally binding, enforceable and immediate, greenhouse gas reduction measures. Mass civil disobedience to achieve this aim is now the safest and most viable option in the short time-frame that we have.
• In Naomi Klein’s excellent work ‘This Changes Everything’, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org summarises the findings of the London think-tank the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which analysed the reserves of fossil fuels claimed by all the fossil fuel companies combined.
‘What those numbers mean is quite simple. This industry has announced…in promises to shareholders, that they are determined to burn five times more fossil fuel than the planet’s atmosphere can begin to absorb’. (Klein, p148)
• We can afford by credible estimates to burn around 565 gigatons of carbon between now and 2050 to keep warming below 2 degrees. The fossil fuel companies combined have pledged to burn 2795 gigatons.
• We are currently at around 405-410 ppm (parts per million) CO2 in the atmosphere. SOURCE.
• Pre-industrial levels of CO2 hovered around 280 ppm. SOURCE
• We need to get back down to 350 ppm to keep warming to ‘safe’ levels under 2 degrees. SOURCE
• We are currently at around 1.2 degrees warming. SOURCE.
This is why the Paris Agreement looks pretty dismal.
• Secondly, Donald Trump has vowed to pull out of the Agreement. America is one of the biggest carbon dioxide emitters, so withdrawal of USA support would make a nonsense of the whole Agreement and could encourage other countries to also withdraw.
• released in June of 2018 showing a new all-time high for global carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, which were 426 million metric tons higher than in 2016. This was 1.6% higher than carbon dioxide emissions in 2016, and was higher than the 10-year average growth rate of 1.3%. Every international agreement so far has failed to reduce the year on year global growth of greenhouse gas emissions. In the traditions of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, it is time for mass civil disobedience.
• The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) failed to predict the rapid Arctic ice loss that has occurred over the past few decades.
• ‘The gap between public perception and scientific reality is now enormous.’ (p171)
• ‘Developed countries will need to complete…coal phaseout by about 2020. That is a tall order…We have all the ingredients we need to meet this challenge, except leadership.’ (p186)