Extinction or business as usual? Hmm – that’s a difficult choice.

Bill McGuire’s Climate Bombshells

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.

Well, it is if you are the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. Dead and buried PM, Theresa May seems keen to sign up to the government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommendation, which advocates a zero-carbon UK by 2050 – so as to leave something of a legacy other than a cocked-up Brexit. Her chancellor, however, has other ideas. In a speech a couple of weeks ago, he warned that achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century would cost ‘well in excess’ of £1 trillion; a vast sum of money that would take funding away from essentials such as schools, hospitals and the police and make our economy uncompetitive. Extraordinarily, the point he seemed to be making was that we couldn’t afford to cut emissions to zero. What an astonishing point of view – even for a Tory minister. Does he not understand that there is no choice here? It is something we can’t afford not to do. Without transitioning as fast as we can to become carbon-free, there won’t be any schools or hospitals, or an economy or society to speak of – for that matter.

His figures are a nonsense too. According to the CCC, the cost of a net zero 2050 target would be nothing like £1 trillion. In fact, the cost would fall within existing spending plans. There is no arguing with the fact that such a change will cost money, but – in addition to slashing emissions – it will be beneficial in all sorts of other ways. A wholesale switch to electric cars powered by renewable electricity, and a refocus on clean public transport, cycling and walking, would clean up our air and massively reduce the health impacts associated with atmospheric pollution and sedentary lifestyles. A mass programme to insulate new buildings and retrofit existing ones, would help older and vulnerable people stay warm and cut their energy bills. Such initiatives would be part of a Green New Deal aimed at transforming economy and society. Rather than making the UK economy uncompetitive, such a deal would drive the economy forward through investing in the low-carbon technologies and skills of the future. The result would be an economy that is sustainable and which improves society rather than destroys it. A Green New Deal is so beneficial, in fact, that there is simply no excuse for not launching it now – today. If we start now, then there is no reason why we can’t achieve net-zero emissions well before 2050, and the latest news on carbon levels in the atmosphere show why we need to do this.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere last month reached a whisker below 415 parts per million(ppm); a rise of 3.5ppm on the previous May. At this rate, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will break through the 450ppm barrier in May 2029 – a little less than a decade hence. Why is this important? Because keeping carbon dioxides levels below this figure provides our only chance of keeping the global average temperature rise (since pre-industrial times)below 2°C, above which all-pervasive catastrophic climate change will prevail. And even then, it is possible – perhaps even likely – that feedback effects will still result in the 2°C guardrail being smashed.

These new data throw a spanner in the works of the idea that we can still keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5°C. They also mean that net zero emissions by 2050 – in the UK and, in fact, right across the planet – is simply not sufficient to prevent devastating climate breakdown. We need massive emissions cuts far sooner, which is why Extinction Rebellion is still calling for net zero emissions in 2025. We can do it – we can’t afford not to.

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.