Blog Archives

Inaction over climate change is shameful: Martin Wolf

Martin Wolf, former senior World Bank economist who left after becoming disillusioned with its policies, reminds readers that a goal of the Paris agreement of 2015 was to limit the global average temperature rise to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. He comments:

“Achieving it means drastic reductions in emissions from now. This is very unlikely to happen. That is no longer because it is technically impossible. It is because it is politically painful.

He refers to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the implications of warming of just 1.5C, making plain the risks the world runs if this limit is ignored and concluding that life will survive, but not life as we know it, continuing:

“We are the shapers of the planet now. This ought to transform how we think. Unfortunately, it has not”.

Wolf believes that the theoretical and empirical arguments for man-made climate change are overwhelming, supporting this and other points made with graphs in his recent Financial Times article. The rise in average temperatures above the pre-industrial average is already about 1C. That shows how hard it will be to keep the final increase below 1.5C, or even 2C. Under the “nationally determined contributions”, he adds, we are in fact on a track towards warming of 3-4C by 2100.

if we are to have a high chance of keeping the ultimate temperature rise to below 1.5C:

  • net global CO2 emissions would need to fall to zero not long after 2040
  • and other sources of climate change — emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, for example — would also need to fall from 2030.

Emissions from industry would need to fall by 75-90 per cent by 2050, relative to 2010. This would need a combination of electrification, hydrogen and product substitution. These options are technically proven, but their deployment on a planetary scale is another matter. Emissions reductions by efficiency improvement will be inadequate.

(Ed) One reservation: many will disagree with Wolf’s assertion that generating energy from bio-based feedstocks is necessary and that agriculture will need to shift to production of energy crops on a huge scale.

He calls for planning changes in urban infrastructure and carbon capture and storage on a large scale, shifting the world on to a different investment and growth path right now and commenting, “This is more technically possible than we used to think. But it is politically highly challenging”.

The natural tendencies are either to do nothing, while insisting there is no problem, or to agree there is a problem, while merely pretending to act. It is not clear which form of obfuscation is worse.

Wolf points out that to preserve our planet requires co-operative effort on a planetary scale – a challenge human beings have historically only met in times of war. Climate change involves huge distributional issues between countries that caused the problem and those that did not, and, not least, between people today, who make the decisions, and people tomorrow, who suffer the results.

He warns that the chances of co-operative action seem near zero in today’s nationalistic world . . . Donald Trump has already repudiated the US pledge – other countries may fail, too:

“It is five minutes to midnight on climate change. We will have to alter our trajectory very quickly but appear to be set on running an irreversible bet on our ability to manage the consequences of a far bigger rise even than 2C, risking a world of runaway — and unmanageable — climate chaos.

“Our progeny will see this as a crime”.

 

 

 

o

Media 35, IPCC report: misgivings confirmed

Deceptive, reassuring propaganda peddled by corporate media and corporate politics

Media Lens reminds us that for more than 25 years, since the IPCC was set up in 1988, there have been numerous scientific ‘wakeup calls’ and nothing significant has changed. (Below, Professor Ray Wills’ sketch)

IPCC warnings

In fact, ML continues, turbo-charged, fossil-fuel driven capitalism has proceeded to run amok. And, for the vested interests who are the winners in the global economy, the tiny ‘one per cent’ or less, it is vital that nothing stops their continued ‘success’. Their cynical propaganda campaign is often dressed up as the need to be ‘sensible’ and to take measures that do no ‘harm’ to the economy.

IPCC vol 1 coverMedia Lens reports that the new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that the impacts of climate change are likely to be ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible’. Impacts include droughts, floods, heat waves, endangered species, crop failure, food insecurity, famine and even war.

However BBC reports preferred to highlight the reservations expressed by Richard Tol, one of  seventy researchers: ‘Is climate report overly alarming?’

This headline linked to a piece by its environment correspondent, Matt McGrath, who trailed it on Twitter: ‘Dissent among scientists over key climate impacts report’. But, as several Twitter users observed, the ‘dissent’ among ‘scientists’ amounted to the objections of only one individual, Professor Richard Tol, only one IPCC author out of 70.

Tol is not a scientist but an economist who previously published research showing that climate change may have some benefits at lower levels of warming and has worked with Bjorn ‘Skeptical Environmentalist’ Lomborg and others to downplay the importance of tackling the climate crisis.

Leo Hickman, chief adviser on climate change at WWF-UK, retorted: ‘Hey, BBC, I’ve fixed the headline for you: “One go-to contrarian scientist dissents over key climate impact report”.

BBC News at Ten’s Huw Edwards, BBC science editor David Shukman, Channel 4 News and ITV are arraigned by Media Lens, the latter having chosen a most misleading headline, ‘UN report hopes to show opportunities climate change may present’.

Medial Lens condemns the media arm of a corporate system ‘that is very clearly out of control’ as being as stupid and irresponsible:

“Humanity simply will not survive much more business-as-usual. And yet, all around us we see immense global economic forces hell-bent on charging ahead ever faster with no interest whatever in the near-term consequences.

“If we continue to look to corporate media and corporate politics for hope, this deceptive, reassuring propaganda may well continue to the bitter end. Ordinary people will have to take action . . . This is not hype; it is that serious, that late. The choice is ours”.

Main source: http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/761-the-neverending-wakeup-call.html