A Special Report on Global Warming has been released today by the IPCC, considered the international benchmark on climate change. Ahead of it, Donald Brown reviewed three independent studies which show that climate change is a much more urgent and serious threat than indicated by past IPCC reports, and examines the ethical questions they raise.
Kerry Emanuel writes: There are strong cultural biases against discussion of ‘tail risk’ in climate science; particularly the accusation of “alarmism”. Does the dictum to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” not apply to climate scientists? If we omit discussion of tail risk, are we really telling the whole truth?
From Financial Times: Antarctica is changing fast, including sections of the massive ice sheet that covers it. This holds so much water that if it ever melted completely, global sea levels would rise by nearly 60m. The race to understand Antarctica has become more urgent. Also watch, the documentary ‘The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning.’
From Nature: In this in depth investigation of India’s feeble fight against consumerist waste, are robust statistics, compelling history and telling case studies. The authors, anthropologist Assa Doron and historian Robin Jeffrey, also throw the occasional philosophical curve ball, such as: “waste is in the eye of the beholder”. The result is both beguiling and disturbing.
This latest news immediately brings some questions to mind: Does this mean that we should stop working toward mitigating climate change? Should we stop worrying and enjoy mindlessly by indulging ourselves in senseless consumerism? I really don’t know. But what I definitely know is that the window of opportunity to act is closing really fast.
From The Indian Express: Greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste disposal by India increased at the rate of 3.1% per annum between 2000 and 2010, and by China at 4.6% per cent between 2005 and 2012. In both cases it is likely that the figures are underestimated, since they don’t consider emissions from waste transportation.
From Ecosocialist Horizons: The First Ecosocialist International is not just another gathering, nor another reunion of intellectuals to define ecosocialism. Neither is it a single organization with a seal, or with the omnipresent danger of becoming a bureaucracy. It’s simply a common program of struggle, with moments of encounter and exchange, which anyone may join.
“This may take a while, but we’re going to win.” This is true about most political fights, but not for climate change. If we don’t win very quickly on climate change, then we will never win. That’s the core truth. It’s what makes climate change different from every other problem our political systems have faced.
From Grist.org: Two Antarctic glaciers act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise into the world’s oceans —an amount that would submerge every coastal city on the planet. Finding out how fast these glaciers will collapse is one of the most important scientific questions in the world today.
The Washington Post reports: Scientists have announced that a much-anticipated break at the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica has occurred, unleashing a massive iceberg that is more than 2,200 square miles in area and weighs a trillion tons. Also, Nagraj Adve on why India must heed the cracking of this Haryana-sized Antarctic ice shelf.
Here are the key findings from Centre for Science and Environment’s study of how India has warmed over the years, also plotted in animation. The analysis looks at temperature trends in the country –both annual and seasonal– from 1901 till recent years. It finds that the country has been getting warmer continuously, consistently and rapidly.
The determinant element in the concept of eco-socialism is the prefix eco. And that means the rejection of industrialism. A good socialist only needs to rejects capitalism. But to be an eco-socialist one must also reject industrialism as a future perspective for mankind, and agree to a program of de-industrialization (now often clumsily called de-growth).
From The Daily Conversation: This video shows the top 10 countries threatened by the 6 meter sea level rise we are almost guaranteed to see in the not-too-distant future, according to the projected pace of global warming and ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica. India is No. 3 on the list, and China No. 1.
In West Antarctica, a huge ice shelf called Larsen C has developed a rift 175 kilometres long and half-a-kilometre wide, which could soon set loose an iceberg the size of Haryana, at over 5,000 sq. km. We need to pay more attention because it could potentially gravely impact India in the near and long term.
There’s a fundamental difference between the ecology movement and social movements of the past. The demands of social movements could be fulfilled to a large extent, thanks to the growing cake. But with the emergence of the ecology movement, the situation has changed completely. Now, not only must the cake not grow, it must shrink.
Common Dreams reports: For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year ever recorded. In 2016, a total of 22 nations set all-time records for their hottest ever temperatures. This breaks the record of eighteen all-time heat records in 2010 for the greatest number of such records set in one year.
Hydropower is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions: a new study shows that the world’s hydroelectric dams are responsible for as much methane emissions as Canada. The study finds that methane, which is at least 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide, makes up 80% of the emissions from water reservoirs created by dams.
“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.” So begins Rowan Jacobsen’s moving obituary for the world’s largest living structure. With 2,900 individual reefs and 1,050 islands, it’s larger than the United Kingdom, and it contained more biodiversity than all of Europe combined.
According to an authoritative new report, some of the heat that accumulates in oceans over the years can get released back to the atmosphere. In a nutshell, the oceans were behaving less like heat sponges over the last year or more, instead releasing heat to the surface, and hence the spike in average global temperatures.
To fight climate change, a war-like mobilization a la McKibben is not necessary. Actually we are not at war at all. If we are, then it is we who are the aggressors, we are the enemy of nature. Then the first task for the transition is to end our aggression. We need only to withdraw.