Category Archives: Fossil Fuel Emissions (FFE)

“There Is No Way To Fool Physics”: Climate Breakdown And State-Corporate Madness

In the terrifying opening to his 2020 novel, The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson depicts an intense heatwave in India. In an ‘ordinary town’ in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, people are struggling to cope with unbearable heat and humidity. It is the combination of the two, measured by the so-called ‘wet-bulb temperature’, that is potentially fatal. When it approaches the core body temperature of 36C, sweat cannot evaporate and humans can no longer cool themselves down. Dehydration rises to dangerous levels. Vital organs become seriously stressed, especially the heart. Unless the body temperature is reduced, death follows in a matter of hours.

In the novel’s opening scenes, there are shouts of:

‘Go to the lake! Get in the water!’

One man shakes his head:

‘That water is in the sun. It’s as hot as a bath. It’s worse than the air.’

Nevertheless, people jump in the lake, hoping it will help. But a catastrophe is unfolding.

‘People were dying faster than ever. There was no coolness to be had. All the children were dead, all the old people were dead. People murmured what should have been screams of grief; those who could still move shoved bodies out of the lake, or out toward the middle where they floated like logs, or sank.’

It is a nightmare vision of what may lie ahead for humanity in the very near future.

This month, an intense heatwave did indeed hit northern India with temperatures reaching a record high of 49.2C in parts of Delhi. This was the fifth heatwave in the Indian capital since March.

Last month was India’s hottest April in 122 years and Pakistan’s for 61 years. Jacobabad hit nearly 50C with night-time temperatures often staying above 30C. Exhausted and dehydrated birds fell from the sky, an apocalyptic portent if ever there was one. A UK Met Office study has concluded that global warming makes record-breaking heatwaves in northwest India and Pakistan 100 times more likely.

Meanwhile, the highest daily level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere was recorded. On 11 May, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, measured 421.37 parts per million of carbon dioxide. The previous record of 418.95 ppm was set in May 2021.

‘It is very concerning, extremely worrisome,’ Peter Tans, senior climate scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Financial Times.

‘This last decade, the rate of increase [of carbon emissions] has never been higher, and we are still on the same path. We’re going in the wrong direction at maximum speed.’

Scientists are warning that the 1.5C global heating limit set by governments is about to be breached. The probability of one of the next five years surpassing the limit is now 50 per cent. This is up from 20 per cent in 2020 and zero per cent in 2015.

A new report this week from the UN World Meteorological Organization revealed that 2021 was a record year for breaking critical global indicators of the climate crisis. These include rising sea levels and the amount of heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere.

António Guterres, the secretary general of the UN, said:

‘Today’s State of the Climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption. Fossil fuels are a dead end – environmentally and economically.’

On top of all that, climate scientists recently reported that global warming could cause the most cataclysmic extinction of marine life in the past 250 million years.

Her Majesty’s ‘Opposition’

If the news media were not owned and run for the benefit of state-corporate elites, all this would be huge headline news – day after day, month after month. There would be vigorous debate across all the main media outlets, building pressure on governments to implement the urgent radical changes required to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis.

But instead the general population is being held captive, caught in a tight death grip by powerful forces masquerading as our benefactors and protectors. As Jonathan Cook observed:

‘Corporate media is the glue holding our corrupt world together. They promote the Ukraine arms bonanza, helping the corporate war industries profit from mass death. Then they normalise profiteering from the resulting fuel crisis as “bumper” profits for the corporate energy sector.’

Is it any wonder we are in an era of climate breakdown when Business-As-Usual – characterised by short-term corporate greed, compliant mass media and careerist government politicians – is such a dominant factor in human ‘civilisation’?

For example, Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit research and campaign group which monitors and exposes corporate lobbying on EU policy making, recently warned that:

‘Fossil fuel giants are shaping the EU’s response to the energy crisis.’

Six big energy companies were named: Shell, BP, Total, ENI, E.ON and Vattenfall. Pascoe Sabido of Corporate Europe Observatory said:

‘The European Commission has been in bed with these corporations for decades. If we want to end our reliance on gas, Russian or otherwise, then we need to end the relationship between the fossil fuel industry and decision-makers, cutting fossil fuel interests out of our political system. In short, we need fossil free politics.’

There is little chance of that under the Tories. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has just drafted in the former UK boss of BP to supposedly oversee the UK’s transition to ‘a low-carbon economy’. Would a former CEO of Big Tobacco be rewarded by leading a reform of the NHS? Would a former slave owner be put in charge of the abolition of slavery?

In the never-ending corporate quest for profit, even as the planet’s life support systems are failing, oil and gas corporations ‘are planning scores of vast projects that threaten to shatter the 1.5C climate goal.’ If governments allow the projects to proceed, these ‘carbon bombs’ will ‘trigger catastrophic climate breakdown.’

As mentioned above, the head of the UN has called for an end to new fossil fuel projects, warning that climate change poses ‘an existential threat to us all – to the whole world.’ Speaking at a recent press conference, António Guterres said:

‘Main emitters must drastically cut emissions, starting now. This means accelerating the end of our fossil fuel addiction and speeding up the deployment of clean renewable energy.’

The UN chief’s urgent comments align with the aims of campaign groups, such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, so often labelled by ‘mainstream’ media as ‘eco-zealots’, ‘eco maniacs’, ‘eco yobs’ or a ‘mob of environmentalists’. Indeed, on Twitter, Guterres effectively gave climate campaigners his support:

‘Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.’

In this country, the madness extends to all three of the main political parties – Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservative – calling for climate protesters to be ‘cracked down on’ and for their rational demands to be rejected.

Last month, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demonstrated yet again that he is a faithful ally of established power. Referring to Just Stop Oil protesters’ blockade of 11 fuel depots in southern England, Starmer tweeted:

‘The government must stop standing idly by and immediately impose injunctions to put an end to this disruption.’

He was later confronted publicly by Lauren MacDonald, a 21-year-old Scottish climate activist. According to one newspaper report, Starmer:

‘appear[ed] visibly flustered and fle[d] the scene without addressing the topic of the injunction.’

Fatima Ibrahim from campaign group Green New Deal Rising said:

‘We feel betrayed by Keir Starmer and the Labour Party for calling for more police powers to prevent young people worried about their future from peacefully protesting.

‘At a time when the country is desperate for a different vision of the future, the Labour Party could be calling for a massive shift towards renewables to bring down energy bills and deliver new jobs. Instead, they’ve relegated themselves to government cheerleaders.’

Starmer had shown once again how paper-thin are the differences between Her Majesty’s ‘Opposition’ and Her Majesty’s Government.

‘The Demise Of Civilisation Is Well And Truly In Sight’

Veteran climate scientist James Hansen, who warned the US Congress of the dangers of global warming as early as 1988, injected some reality missing from ‘mainstream’ reporting:

‘There is no indication that incumbent governments are even considering the fundamental actions that are needed to slow and reverse climate change.’

As we wrote at the time, last year’s UN Climate Summit in Glasgow was a greenwashing festival, full of empty rhetoric. Last month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said it was ‘now or never’ to save humanity.

Climate scientist Simon Lewis observed of the most recent IPCC report:

‘the full 3,000-page report contains an astonishingly frank assessment of the organised efforts used to thwart climate action, noting: “opposition to climate action by carbon-connected industries is broad-based, highly organized, and matched with extensive lobbying”.’

Earth scientist Bill McGuire warned that:

‘it is now practically impossible to have any chance of staying this side of the 1.5C guardrail. The truth is that we can no longer sidestep dangerous, all-pervasive, climate breakdown.’

He added:

‘The demise of civilisation is well and truly in sight.’

These are remarkable and frightening statements from a senior scientist; in other words, the kind of sober, conservative, even ultra-cautious figure that the public has traditionally regarded as unwilling to speak out for fear of being seen to be too ‘political’.

McGuire also commented:

‘I have concluded that there will be no real pressure on governments to seriously tackle the #ClimateEmergency until we are all terrified. We are simply not sh*t scared enough – yet.’

In similar vein, Nasa climate scientist Peter Kalmus urged large-scale citizen action to pressure governments around the world. Last month, he wrote that:

‘Climate scientists are desperate: we’re crying, begging and getting arrested.’

He warned:

‘Earth breakdown is much worse than most people realize. The science indicates that as fossil fuels continue to heat our planet, everything we love is at risk.’

Kalmus continued:

‘Nothing has worked. It’s now the eleventh hour and I feel terrified for my kids, and terrified for humanity. I feel deep grief over the loss of forests and corals and diminishing biodiversity. But I’ll keep fighting as hard as I can for this Earth, no matter how bad it gets, because it can always get worse. And it will continue to get worse until we end the fossil fuel industry and the exponential quest for ever more profit at the expense of everything else. There is no way to fool physics.’

All this has motivated Kalmus to become involved in climate activism:

‘I’ve joined the ranks of those who selflessly risk their freedom and put their bodies on the line for the Earth, despite ridicule from the ignorant and punishment from a colonizing legal system designed to protect the planet-killing interests of the rich. It’s time we all join them. The feeling of solidarity is a wonderful balm.’

‘Our Morality Must Catch Up With Our Intelligence’

Noam Chomsky has also urged widespread participation in climate actions:

‘What we face is the greatest imposition of suffering and injustice in the history of civilization…I support the actions of the Just Stop Oil coalition. It’s imperative for us all to do so.’

He added:

‘Brave humans from all walks of life have chosen to not give up. We are fighting back because it’s the fight for all life. It’s now or never. It’s time for action. We need you to join us. We need everyone, everywhere. Now. Just stop oil.’

It will take truly massive, sustained public activism – perhaps on a scale never seen before in human history – to shift course away from climate catastrophe. Meanwhile, governments and corporations will claim their destructive policies, actions and threats are intended to ensure ‘security’ of energy supplies, or ‘security’ of the general population in ‘defending’ the West against Official Enemies.

In a recent interview, aptly titled ‘To Tackle Climate, Our Morality Must Catch Up With Our Intelligence’, Chomsky identified such elite statements as propaganda:

‘Whatever is driving policy, it is not security — at least, security of the population. That is at best a marginal concern. That holds for existential threats as well. We have to look elsewhere.’

Chomsky suggested that to understand why this happens, one could start with ‘the best-established principle of international relations theory’. This dates back to the 18th century and economist Adam Smith’s observation that:

‘the “Masters of Mankind” — in his day the merchants and manufacturers of England — are the “principal architects of [state] policy.” They use their power to ensure that their own interests “are most peculiarly attended to” no matter how “grievous” the effects on others, including the people of England, but most brutally the victims of the “savage injustice of the Europeans.” His [Smith’s] particular target was British savagery in India, then in its early stages, already horrifying enough.’

But in an era of climate breakdown and mass extinction of species, including perhaps our own, surely this principle no longer applies? Chomsky disagrees:

‘Nothing much changes when the crises become existential. Short-term interests prevail. The logic is clear in competitive systems, like unregulated markets. Those who do not play the game are soon out of it. Competition among the “principal architects of policy” in the state system has somewhat similar properties, but we should bear in mind that security of the population is far from a guiding principle, as the record shows all too clearly.’

The historical record also shows that improvements in society are rarely, if ever, bestowed as gifts from above. Power typically only ever makes concessions when it is forced to do so by pressure from below.

Time is running out too rapidly to fundamentally reform society and create a real democracy that people deserve. The immediate priority is to exert insurmountable pressure on existing power structures, not least our own governments, to change course away from climate catastrophe. If we cannot do that, there will be no human civilisation to reform or restructure.

The post “There Is No Way To Fool Physics”: Climate Breakdown And State-Corporate Madness first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Slaying the Dragon of Net Zero Emissions

The Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan is a jewel of parochialism, a darling of nutty consternation.  As a member of a party historically hostile to cutting fossil fuel emissions, he has been, for the most part, at home.  But some of his colleagues have had environmental conversions, hammering out an understanding with their Liberal counterparts about a net zero emissions target by 2050.

This understanding was only reached after much hollering and fuss prior to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s visit to the climate change conference in Glasgow in 2021. But Canavan was having none of it and was delighted by the conference’s end that countries had agreed to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal burning.

The communique of COP26 was, according to the Queensland Senator, a “green light” for Australia to keep digging and “supply the world with more coal because that’s what brings people out of poverty.”  There had “never been a higher demand” for coal and a virtuous Australian fossil fuel market would be happy to feed it.

With an election campaign in full swing, Canavan has again attempted to slay the net zero emissions dragon, taking the lead from LNP candidate for the seat of Flynn, Colin Boyce.  Boyce had suggested that the commitment to net zero was flexible, permitting “wiggle room” and a distinct lack of fidelity.

On the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing program, Canavan went one further in roundly proclaiming that “net zero is … dead.”  With such remarks, the accord reached between the Liberals and Nationals about achieving net zero emissions by 2050 seemed not only shaky but erased.  “[UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson said he is pausing the net zero commitment, Germany is building coal and gas infrastructure, Italy’s reopening coal-fired power plants.  It’s all over.  It’s all over bar the shouting here.”

With the election campaign in full swing, these remarks proved unwelcome to his government colleagues.  “This is not the party’s position, that’s not the Coalition’s position and it’s not the government’s position,” Morrison confirmed.  “That’s his view, it’s no surprise, he’s held it for a long time, it’s been resolved and our policy was set out very clearly.”

The Nationals MP Michelle Landry was less diplomatic.  “Pull your head in, Matt,” she waspishly chided, while Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester suggested that Canavan had lost not merely the argument but a sense of perspective.  “Matt Canavan is becoming like the Japanese intelligence officer who refused to accept World War II was over and hid in the Philippines jungle for 30 years.”

Former Nationals leader, Michael McCormack, did the media rounds suggesting that Canavan’s remarks were “not helpful”.  The issue of emission targets had been resolved.  “There are enough sensible people in the National Party to ensure people know we are committed to it.”

The discordance in government ranks was a boon to the Labor Party.  “The Liberal and National Parties are in open warfare about their net zero emissions policy, in the middle of an election campaign,” came the assessment from Labor Senator Murray Watt.

Anyone familiar with the Canavan copy book will be touched and dismayed by his entertainingly grotesque readings of climate change.  In 2021, he tweeted photos of snow filled scenes in regional New South Wales mocking the idea that there was a rise in global temperatures.  He has also been unsparing about the authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  “One of the IPCC authors was quoted as saying he hoped this report would scare people so it would help change their vote,” he recalled.

The senator has also become a socialist of sorts, at least when it comes to fossil fuel polluters.  Far from being demonised, those in the industry should be coddled and cushioned from the predatory behaviour of banks refusing to fork out financing for new mines.  “Global banks that want to control who has a job in Australia should be locked out of our country.”  Australians should well “pay higher interest rates but that would be worth it to protect our independence”.

In 2020, he told an Australian national program that the idea of zero emissions was never something that had been put to the electorate.  “The Australian people have never voted for net zero emissions… We seem to try and get bullied into these positions that the Australian people didn’t vote for.” He also attacked the Paris climate agreement as “transferring industrial wealth from the west and from Australia to China, a country that’s bullying and threatening us.”  (It must surely strike Canavan as ironic that China’s demand for Australian commodities, notably iron ore, remains insatiable.)

With such attitudes, Canavan is bound to win a fair share of votes. His unabashed hostility to environmental activists and his adoration of coal continues to sell well as a message in parts of his home state.  It is proving less convincing in Australia’s metropolitan centres, increasingly terrified by a planet on the boil.

The post Slaying the Dragon of Net Zero Emissions first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest

A wall of logs that will become wood pellets sits at a mill in Houston, B.C. (Stand.earth)

The wood-pellet industry has full-scale operations smack dab in the heart of British Columbia’s Inland Temperate Rainforest, the last rainforest of its kind in the North.

The fabled rainforest contains cedars of up to 12-15 feet in diameter and up to 2,000 years old. Its extraordinarily rich ecosystem is home to 2,400 plant species and numerous wildlife species.  It is one of only three inland temperate-boreal rainforest in the world. The others are in southern Siberia and Russia’s Far East.

Of significant concern, according to criteria by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) BC’s inland rainforest is endangered, susceptible to ecological collapse within only one decade, assuming current logging rates continue. Remarkably, a study found that 95% of the rainforest’s “core habitat” has been lost since 1970. 1

However, the wood-pellet industry says, “not to worry.” Pacific BioEnergy, the major wood-pellet manufacturer in the rainforest, claims the wood-pellets are made from low-grade timber. Accordingly, they claim to make pellets that are, “sustainable by-product of forests already being cut by using lumber waste such as sawdust and slash.” meaning larger debris left by loggers.

But, according to the independent NGO Sustainable Biomass Program, the use of whole logs has ballooned from 6% in 2019 to 50% in 2020. That is not slash or sawdust as represented by the company.

Moreover, satellite imagery by the Living Atlas of the World “confirmed a shift to whole trees.”

A 2021 Google Image shows log piles around the wood-pellet plant that’s equivalent to four soccer fields, which is an eye-opening 6xs the area of wood residuals on the property.

According to IUCN, ‘despite evidence to the contrary,’ the pellets are marketed as ‘clean, renewable energy’ by Pacific Bioenergy located near Prince George, BC and by bioenergy facilities in Europe.” 2

The Inland Temperate Rainforest is called the “forgotten rainforest” because, unlike its coastal counterpart, which is protected by the “Great Bear Rainforest Agreement” with 85% under conservation protection, it is does not have conservation protection status. It’s wide-open for development.

The Inland Temperate Rainforest needs similar protection. It’s a key part of Canada’s efforts to meet climate mitigation objectives, notably Article 5 of the Paris ’15 climate agreement that calls for conservation measures to enhance “carbon sinks,” especially forests.

Then, what purpose does woody biomass serve… other than as a profit source for private industry and serving as a faux alternative green energy source for electricity plants in Europe?

Wood-pellet manufacturing, a multi-billion dollar global industry, is expected to double again in the next five years. “European power plants have been among the biggest consumers—pellet-fired power plants are uncommon in North America—but demand from Japan and South Korea has also increased in recent years.” 3

Canada is knee-deep in the woody biomass industry. According to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, BC’s forests produce more pellets than anywhere else in the world.

But, how is it possible with a straight face for anybody to claim burning trees is a substitute for fossil fuels? Wood-pellets emit carbon the same as coal. And, it’s pure poppycock to claim that new trees are planted to replace the cut downs to sequester the carbon released when the pellets burn. The science does not supp0rt that flimsy argument; it’s not even close!

“A forest of saplings may take a century or more to mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one it replaced. An open letter from 500-plus scientists and economists sent last year to world leaders warned that burning pellets ‘is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels.’ Nearly 800 scientists and academics, including two Nobel laureates and three winners of the US National Medal of Science, signed a similar letter in 2018.4

The whole thing boils down to the obvious fact that burning things emits carbon quickly and regrowing things to sequester carbon takes a long time, according to Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, a US-based environmental nonprofit critical of the pellet industry: In other words, climate change will have wreaked havoc long before those young trees mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one they replaced. 4

The UN and several nations classify woody biomass as “carbon neutral”. Yet, it is not carbon neutral, which isn’t even a scientific term. It is a carbon emitter, plain and simple!

“The wood pellet industry is a monster out of control… Burning wood puts out more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced then coal does.” 5

A letter from 500 scientists and economists: “Overall, for each kilowatt hour of heat or electricity produced, [burning] wood initially is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels,’ refuting the policy and industry claims of biomass zero emissions.” 6

“Because the combustion and processing efficiencies for wood are less than coal, the immediate impact of substituting wood for coal is an increase in atmospheric CO2 relative to coal. This means that every megawatt-hour of electricity generated from wood produces more CO2 than if the power station had remained coal-fired.”7

Stop woody biomass: (1) “The influx of 1/3 more trees would buy humanity time by adding 20 years to meet climate targets.”8; (2)  Carbon is emitted in the biomass combustion process, resulting in a net increase of CO2 9;  (3) Woody biomass power plants actually produce more global warming CO2 than fossil fuel plants. 10

An article entitled “The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet” appeared in Politico in March 2021:

Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into wood pellets, which are then driven to a port and shipped across the ocean to be burned for electricity in European power plants—does it warm the planet? Most scientists and environmentalists say yes.

Yet, as the article suggests, governments around the world, as well as the UN, have embraced “biomass power” as a legitimate zero-emissions renewable energy. Europe now generates more energy from burning wood that from wind and solar combined, even though solar produces 100 times as much power per acre as biomass.

Biomass power is now a $50B global industry and growing fast, as it is now spreading to Asian countries. Policy-makers throughout the world believe they’ve discovered an answer to meeting carbon mitigation goals. Eureka! Burn wood!

But, what if woody biomass, like fossil fuels, causes global warming?

Academics and scientists say, yes, it does. Woody biomass blends with fossil fuels as a radical enhancement of global warming emissions.

It’ll put global warming on a rip-snorting bender. Buckle up!

  1. Brian J. Barth, “Burning Up: The Controversial Biofuel Threatening BC’s Last Inland Rainforests”, The Whale, 2022,
  2. “Primary Forest Case Study – British Columbia’s Forgotten Inland Temperate Rainforest”, IUCN.
  3. The Whale
  4. The Whale.
  5. Bill Moomaw, emeritus professor Tufts University and co-author of several IPCC reports — 2019 Mongabay interview.
  6. 500+ Experts Call on World’s Nations to Not Burn Forest to Make Energy, Mongabay, February 16, 2021.
  7. John Sherman, Complex Systems Analyst, MIT.
  8. ETH Zurich
  9. Columbia University
  10. Earth Institute
The post Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest

A wall of logs that will become wood pellets sits at a mill in Houston, B.C. (Stand.earth)

The wood-pellet industry has full-scale operations smack dab in the heart of British Columbia’s Inland Temperate Rainforest, the last rainforest of its kind in the North.

The fabled rainforest contains cedars of up to 12-15 feet in diameter and up to 2,000 years old. Its extraordinarily rich ecosystem is home to 2,400 plant species and numerous wildlife species.  It is one of only three inland temperate-boreal rainforest in the world. The others are in southern Siberia and Russia’s Far East.

Of significant concern, according to criteria by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) BC’s inland rainforest is endangered, susceptible to ecological collapse within only one decade, assuming current logging rates continue. Remarkably, a study found that 95% of the rainforest’s “core habitat” has been lost since 1970. 1

However, the wood-pellet industry says, “not to worry.” Pacific BioEnergy, the major wood-pellet manufacturer in the rainforest, claims the wood-pellets are made from low-grade timber. Accordingly, they claim to make pellets that are, “sustainable by-product of forests already being cut by using lumber waste such as sawdust and slash.” meaning larger debris left by loggers.

But, according to the independent NGO Sustainable Biomass Program, the use of whole logs has ballooned from 6% in 2019 to 50% in 2020. That is not slash or sawdust as represented by the company.

Moreover, satellite imagery by the Living Atlas of the World “confirmed a shift to whole trees.”

A 2021 Google Image shows log piles around the wood-pellet plant that’s equivalent to four soccer fields, which is an eye-opening 6xs the area of wood residuals on the property.

According to IUCN, ‘despite evidence to the contrary,’ the pellets are marketed as ‘clean, renewable energy’ by Pacific Bioenergy located near Prince George, BC and by bioenergy facilities in Europe.” 2

The Inland Temperate Rainforest is called the “forgotten rainforest” because, unlike its coastal counterpart, which is protected by the “Great Bear Rainforest Agreement” with 85% under conservation protection, it is does not have conservation protection status. It’s wide-open for development.

The Inland Temperate Rainforest needs similar protection. It’s a key part of Canada’s efforts to meet climate mitigation objectives, notably Article 5 of the Paris ’15 climate agreement that calls for conservation measures to enhance “carbon sinks,” especially forests.

Then, what purpose does woody biomass serve… other than as a profit source for private industry and serving as a faux alternative green energy source for electricity plants in Europe?

Wood-pellet manufacturing, a multi-billion dollar global industry, is expected to double again in the next five years. “European power plants have been among the biggest consumers—pellet-fired power plants are uncommon in North America—but demand from Japan and South Korea has also increased in recent years.” 3

Canada is knee-deep in the woody biomass industry. According to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, BC’s forests produce more pellets than anywhere else in the world.

But, how is it possible with a straight face for anybody to claim burning trees is a substitute for fossil fuels? Wood-pellets emit carbon the same as coal. And, it’s pure poppycock to claim that new trees are planted to replace the cut downs to sequester the carbon released when the pellets burn. The science does not supp0rt that flimsy argument; it’s not even close!

“A forest of saplings may take a century or more to mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one it replaced. An open letter from 500-plus scientists and economists sent last year to world leaders warned that burning pellets ‘is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels.’ Nearly 800 scientists and academics, including two Nobel laureates and three winners of the US National Medal of Science, signed a similar letter in 2018.4

The whole thing boils down to the obvious fact that burning things emits carbon quickly and regrowing things to sequester carbon takes a long time, according to Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, a US-based environmental nonprofit critical of the pellet industry: In other words, climate change will have wreaked havoc long before those young trees mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one they replaced. 4

The UN and several nations classify woody biomass as “carbon neutral”. Yet, it is not carbon neutral, which isn’t even a scientific term. It is a carbon emitter, plain and simple!

“The wood pellet industry is a monster out of control… Burning wood puts out more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced then coal does.” 5

A letter from 500 scientists and economists: “Overall, for each kilowatt hour of heat or electricity produced, [burning] wood initially is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels,’ refuting the policy and industry claims of biomass zero emissions.” 6

“Because the combustion and processing efficiencies for wood are less than coal, the immediate impact of substituting wood for coal is an increase in atmospheric CO2 relative to coal. This means that every megawatt-hour of electricity generated from wood produces more CO2 than if the power station had remained coal-fired.”7

Stop woody biomass: (1) “The influx of 1/3 more trees would buy humanity time by adding 20 years to meet climate targets.”8; (2)  Carbon is emitted in the biomass combustion process, resulting in a net increase of CO2 9;  (3) Woody biomass power plants actually produce more global warming CO2 than fossil fuel plants. 10

An article entitled “The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet” appeared in Politico in March 2021:

Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into wood pellets, which are then driven to a port and shipped across the ocean to be burned for electricity in European power plants—does it warm the planet? Most scientists and environmentalists say yes.

Yet, as the article suggests, governments around the world, as well as the UN, have embraced “biomass power” as a legitimate zero-emissions renewable energy. Europe now generates more energy from burning wood that from wind and solar combined, even though solar produces 100 times as much power per acre as biomass.

Biomass power is now a $50B global industry and growing fast, as it is now spreading to Asian countries. Policy-makers throughout the world believe they’ve discovered an answer to meeting carbon mitigation goals. Eureka! Burn wood!

But, what if woody biomass, like fossil fuels, causes global warming?

Academics and scientists say, yes, it does. Woody biomass blends with fossil fuels as a radical enhancement of global warming emissions.

It’ll put global warming on a rip-snorting bender. Buckle up!

  1. Brian J. Barth, “Burning Up: The Controversial Biofuel Threatening BC’s Last Inland Rainforests”, The Whale, 2022,
  2. “Primary Forest Case Study – British Columbia’s Forgotten Inland Temperate Rainforest”, IUCN.
  3. The Whale
  4. The Whale.
  5. Bill Moomaw, emeritus professor Tufts University and co-author of several IPCC reports — 2019 Mongabay interview.
  6. 500+ Experts Call on World’s Nations to Not Burn Forest to Make Energy, Mongabay, February 16, 2021.
  7. John Sherman, Complex Systems Analyst, MIT.
  8. ETH Zurich
  9. Columbia University
  10. Earth Institute
The post Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Truth About IPCC Reports

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in many respects, is a Delphic institution whose reports are a function of political discretion as it provides justification for nation/state policies that are seldom fulfilled; e.g., only a handful of the 193 signatory nations to Paris 15 have met commitments. This scandalous outright failure at a dicey time for the climate system only serves to hasten loss of stability and integrity of the planet’s most important ecosystems.

That provocative depiction is examined in a recent Nick Breeze ClimateGenn podcast interview: Existential Risk Management with David Spratt, research director of the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Melbourne. Dr. Spratt is highly regarded for solid research, which is evidenced throughout his refreshingly straightforward interview.

Spratt’s interview tackles: (1) failings of the IPCC, (2) tipping points, and (3) a nearly out of control global warming challenge that’s not realistically understood, even as wobbly ecosystems start to falter.

The truth is the IPCC has been politicized to such an extent that its reports unintentionally confuse public opinion whilst misdirecting public policy issues for mitigation. At the center of the issue the IPCC does not expose the full extent of existential risk, which happens to be such an unthinkable event so hard to accept that nobody believes it will ever really truly happen. More on this later.

During the interview a tipping point is discussed in the context of reduction of Arctic summer sea ice to 3/4ths of its volume, as the Arctic’s highly reflective ice melts into a dark background of sea water that easily absorbs almost all of the incoming solar radiation, in turn, absorbing warmth that would otherwise be 80%-90% reflected back to outer space via the long-standing albedo effect of ice. In turn, a warming Arctic causes excessive warmth to hit Greenland, which, according to Dr. Jason Box (professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) is already “past the point of system stability,” meaning past a tipping point of no return. Recently Box publicly warned of abrupt climate change forthcoming. Meanwhile, Greenland’s melt releases cold water into the Atlantic, in turn, slowing down the Atlantic Gulf Stream, and, as follows, weakens Atlantic circulation that, in turn, negatively impacts precipitation in the eastern Amazon.

Like a series of dominoes falling one onto another, one initial event (a) loss of Arctic sea ice brings (b) warmer Arctic waters (c) cascading into more Greenland melt-off, causing (d) slower Atlantic circulation, triggering (e) loss of precipitation for the eastern Amazon. The net result because of one non-linear event; i.e., loss of Arctic sea ice triggers four additional major events. Ipso facto, those five events reinforce each other for who knows how long?

According to Spratt: “So, we see that a change in one system; i.e., Arctic ice volume echoes or has domino effects through other systems,” which triggers a tipping point that, in fact, is already at a seminal stage.

Regarding the IPCC’s approach to risk, first it is important to emphasize the fact that big risks must be the key to successful climate change analysis. By definition, big risks are at the top end of a range of possibilities. But, the IPCC does not see risks that way. Their view is more generalized and this has become normalized over the past 20 years; e.g., we have a 50% chance of not exceeding 2°C with our current carbon budget. According to Spratt: That is catastrophically wrong. That type of risk assessment has been normalized now for 20 years in policy-making, and “it is horribly wrong.”

When risks are existential, and they clearly are in this particular instance, everybody knows if it gets to the range of 3C to 4C pre-industrial (and 60% of scientists say we’re already headed for 3C plus) “we’ll destroy human civilization.”

Therefore, when risks are existential, you can’t look at an on-average analysis. Rather, you must look at the worst possible outcome as your primary calculation. It’s the only way to approach an existential risk.

In that regard, and interestingly enough, the foreword of the IPCC report of a few years ago actually said: “Critical instances calculating probabilities don’t matter. What matters is the high-end possibility.”

But nowadays a figure such as “50% probability” introduces a fundamental problem with the assessment process. More realistically, the proper way to look at existential risks is by stating x-amount of additional carbon has a 50% chance of reaching 2C but also has a 10% chance of 4C, or in other words, a 50% chance of staying below 2C is also a 10% chance of reaching 4C.  Would you take an elevator ride with a 10% chance of the cable breaking at the 75th floor?

When it comes to existential risks, the expectation should be: “Why should we accept risks with the climate system that we would not accept with our own lives?” They are really one in the same.

Thus, the core of existential risk management must focus on the high-end not middling ranges of probability. The focus must be, and this is an absolute: “What is the worst that can happen, and what do we have to do to prevent it?”

That assumption is not part of the latest IPCC report. When it comes to non-linear responses of cascades, the IPCC says: “There is no evidence of such non-linear responses at the global scaling climate projections for the next century. But, according to Spratt: “This is just wrong.”

After all, “everybody knows, for example, that emissions from permafrost are non-trivial at the moment. We know that warming in the last decade has been higher than in previous decades and the system is about to warm at an accelerating rate as major systems are already changing state. And the IPCC says there is no evidence of moving into non-linear climate change.  This is absurd!” (Spratt)

Ipso facto, because of a badly misjudged bias, IPCC models can’t deal with non-linear processes. As a result, they’re missing the big picture by a country mile. And, mitigation policies, for what that’s worth, are inadequate.

Yet, according to Dr. Spratt: “The paleoclimate record tells us that, in the long run, each one-degree of warming brings 10-20 meters (32- 66 feet) of sea level rise. Frankly, that would be a legitimate statement for the IPCC, but they do not deal with non-linear events.”

All of which leads to inadvertent problems for policy makers because people judge the IPCC report as pure science. “It is not. The IPCC is a political body. Diplomats of 190 governments run the IPCC. They appoint the lead authors for reports. The IPCC is the intersection of policy and politics.” (Spratt)

Meanwhile, as if misdirection by the IPCC is not enough of a problem, change is happening so much faster than forecasts. For example, early IPCC reports said Antarctica would be stable for a thousand years. But, back in 2007, Richard Alley (Penn State) said it’s already melting 100 years ahead of schedule.

Of special concern in the near future, when the Arctic goes Full Monty, a 100% ice-free summer, “it will drive changes that will be unstoppable.” This existential risk is already capriciously inconstant across the entire northern horizon.

Furthermore, it’s already apparent to many scientists that we’ll be at 1.5C a decade from now, regardless of emissions over the next 10 years. In fact, 1.5C around 2030 looks to be locked-in in part because of the aerosol dilemma. If so, we’re only a decade away from Hot House Earth becoming reality.  Thenceforth, the climate system will accelerate much faster than ever before.

Fourteen years ago Spratt published a book Climate Code Red, which codified the idea of a climate emergency by conceptually stating that the climate problem could not be solved “with business as usual.”  (It’s still business as usual, but bigger.)

A review of the book states: Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action is a 2008 book which presents scientific evidence that the global warming crisis is worse than official reports and national governments have so far indicated.

Based upon this current interview, Spratt seems to indicate that it is even worse (actually bigger) today than it was in 2008.

To avert what looks to be an inevitable existential event requires an enormous commitment of resources comparable to a wartime economy with single-minded focus on climate policy, and it also requires a major change in the way society works. Those are awfully big requests, so one has to wonder what’s truly feasible.

As things now stand current mitigation stems from the IPCC’s embedded idea that there can be “incremental non-destructive change as a solution… This will not work.” (Spratt)

The harsh truth is global emissions are continuing to go up, as all of the decarbonization efforts like wind, solar, electric cars, and energy efficiency only serve to produce “more energy for growth.” For example, if the global economy grows 2% per year and 2% of the energy system converts to renewables, then the same amount of fossil fuel energy is used every year. That is a very rough facsimile of what has been happening. Fossil fuel use as a percentage of all energy is essentially the same today as 50 years ago.

Moreover, “there is no way that a system with ‘hands-off’ government, other than a few token regulations, and ‘the free market deciding the outcome’ is going to work.” In fact, the evidence is already telling us it does not work. Not even close.

A true fixit requires overwhelmingly powerful political leadership. In that regard, according to Spratt: “What I really fear and my experience is that those in the elite, whether it’s in business or in politics, simply, I think, do not understand the problem as it really exists.”

There’s a profound ignorance because of the IPCC telling a story that incrementalism is a successful approach when it’s clearly not.

A collateral problem is a large segment of the professional climate advocacy NGO community has been “swallowed by the whale,” meaning they buy into the lame Conference of the Parties “COP” meetings and swallow the corporate-origin net zero nonsense by 2050, over and over again, umm, but it’s too little too late, horribly misdirected. Whereas, according to several scientists, 2030 is the deadly deadline, not incremental movement to 2050.

The crux of the matter is that the most prominent existential risk in human history does not conform to scientific models. It’s almost always ahead of the scientific models, sometimes by several decades. Then, why would it wait around for net zero by 2050?

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Climate Breakdown

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — IPCC — has issued its direst warning of all-time: “Climate breakdown is accelerating rapidly.” Additionally, they readily admit to overly conservative predictions: “Many impacts will be more severe than originally predicted.” 1

The crowning blow of this heavy-hitting report is a chilling statement: “There is only a narrow chance left of avoiding its worst ravages.”

Moreover, the IPCC claims that even at current levels dangerous widespread disruptions threaten devastation of swathes of the natural world: “Many areas will become unlivable.”

Interestingly enough, the world is fully aware that climate change is on a collision course with life.  At some level people know this. This is true because of media exposure of organized climate marches and protests across the globe for decades now. It’s doubtful that you could find one person that has not heard about global warming and climate change, although almost all chose to ignore the details. Indigenous people live with it on a daily basis. The climate change/global warming story is decades old.

However, what is different now is the emphasis and tone of the IPCC. Clearly, climate scientists are running scared of what the future holds. There’s no more time to waste. The window to do something is rapidly closing.

All of which leads to the conclusion that the warning, as dreadful as it sounds, by one of the most noteworthy institutions in the world, may not be enough to change the course (curse) of climate change soon enough. For example, some things never change, the climate change/global warming issue has been a storyline for far too long, and worn thin, and not taken as seriously as the situation warrants. It is a hackneyed complexity that people easily brush off.

Oh sure, people will talk about it on the radio and comment about how horrible things are, yadda-yadda-yadda (Greta Thunberg effectively used that phrase in reference to all of the ‘hot air’ at climate conferences). And, she was right to couch it that way because greenhouse gases far outpace any kind of mitigation efforts by nation/states. In reality, greenish tokenism is all that’s been accomplished.

According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) Paris July 2021 press release: “Global electricity demand is growing faster than renewables, driving strong increase in generation from fossil fuels… notably coal, threatening to push CO2 emissions from the power sector to record levels in 2022.”

Meanwhile, surging demand has fossil fuels at $100/barrel and headed in that direction well before Russia invaded Ukraine. Spending for oil and gas exploration is on the rise as CO2 rises in tandem, knocking on the door of 420 ppm for the first time in human history, lo and behold, it’s accelerating! Does this mean that nobody is serious enough about mitigating the impact of CO2?

It sure looks that way as the most recent year over year change in CO2 emissions from February 2021 @416.51 ppm to February 2022 @ 419.63 ppm equals +3.12 ppm, or 28% above the last 10-year average.

CO2 growth, or ppm/year data for 60 years from the Keeling Curve demonstrate decadal average annual rates registered at Mauna Loa Observatory (est. 1965) elevation 11.135 feet on the north flank of Mauna Loa Volcano on the Big Island, Hawaii:

Average annual rate of CO2 (ppm) over past 60 years:

Past 12 mos+3.12 (as of February 2022)

2011-2020 + 2.43

2001-2010 + 2.04

1991-2000 + 1.55

1981-1990  + 1.56

1971-1980  + 1.35

1961-1970  + 0.91

Over the past 60 years CO2 has increased every decade, and of even more concern, acceleration has picked up steam since the turn of the 21st century. Recent CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa are at all-time new record highs. Furthermore, today’s rate is 250% above its average annual rate of +0.91 ppm from 50-60 years ago.

As of March 2022, there is no evidence that mitigation efforts have slowed down the rate of increase of CO2 even though scientists and the IPCC have been warning of excessive levels of CO2 in the atmosphere for decades. In fact, Dr. James Hansen (Columbia University, but with NASA at the time) warned the US Senate of threatening greenhouse gases way back in the 1980s, a warning that made NYT headlines.

A perspective on the growth rate of CO2 is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography: “Today’s rate of increase is more that 100 times faster than the increase that occurred when the last ice age ended.”

Which means what? It means urgent mitigation must be employed, or buckle up.

Here’s what 100 times faster looks like, according to Dr. Katey Walter Anthony, Aquatic Ecosystem Ecologist and Professor, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska/Fairbanks: “It was 14,000 years ago, as the climate warmed, when permafrost thermokarst lakes flared up on the landscape, bringing 4°C warming over a period of 8,000 years.” Nowadays, according to Dr. Anthony, a similar 4°C warming will likely occur over only 80 years, which is 100-times faster than 14,000 years ago. 2

When will 4C happen? Answer: Nobody knows for certain, but Dr. Anthony suggests, unless strong mitigation efforts are taken, this century. Is 4C above pre-industrial a killer, lights out? Indeed, humanity is playing with fire.

Already, the IPCC warning contains a long list of potential horror stories, especially if global temperatures are allowed to exceed 1.5C pre-industrial versus 1.2C today from (1) shortages of food and water owing to climate change, and even at current levels of temperatures, (2) to mass die-offs of species, including die-offs of trees and corals, (3) as key ecosystems, like rainforests, lose carbon sink capacity, becoming sources of carbon emissions directly into the atmosphere in concert with cars, trains, planes, and cows in a powerhouse CO2-fest. Under those circumstances Earth’s innate beauty becomes unrecognizable.

The degree of danger has become so unbearably conclusive to climate scientists that they are letting it all hang out, for example:  “Dave Reay, the director of Edinburgh Climate Change Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘Like taking a wrecking ball to a set of global dominoes, climate change in the 21st century threatens to destroy the foundations of food and water security, smash onwards through the fragile structures of human and ecosystem health, and ultimately shake the very pillars of human civilization,” 3

A feature story in the February 28th edition of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine by Megan Lowry is entitled: “Latest IPCC Report Says Impacts of Climate Change Are Irreversible and Widespread; Urges Efforts to Cut Emissions and Adapt”:

In a statement released today, IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said, ‘This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.

The IPCC’s report also finds that nations are not doing enough to reduce emissions and protect themselves from climate hazards and few countries escape unscathed.

Based upon several unnerving descriptions in the IPCC report, one would expect the world community to convene an emergency all-hands-on-deck meeting with checkbooks in hand to fund a rapid transition to a fossil-free world.

Otherwise, IPCC warnings of destruction of the core sources for life on this planet will materialize and maybe sooner than expected. In the chilling words of the authors of the report: “The assessment report is the sixth since the IPCC was first convened by the UN in 1988, and may be the last to be published while there is still some chance of avoiding the worst.” 4

Repeating that IPCC statement: “… while there is still some chance of avoiding the worst” is a message of foreboding that reverberates across land and sea, all of which, for the first time since humans gathered around fires, depends upon humanity to defend, protect, and husband. Will it happen, soon enough?

Here’s what the failure of countries to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions has wrought. New York Times March 1st headline: “These Climate Scientists Are Fed Up and Ready to Go on Strike”. According to the article: “Evidence on global warming is piling up. Nations aren’t acting. Some researchers are asking what difference more reports will make.”

Climate scientists on strike!

Who can blame the scientists for frustration and anger when record-setting CO2 emissions follow in the footsteps of 26 COPs (Conference of the Parties) and six Assessment Reports, all starting in 1988, and decades of warnings to leaders of the world foretelling what has now become so obvious.

  1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group II Sixth Assessment Report, 2022.
  2. “Thawing Arctic Permafrost-Regional and Global Impacts”, National Academy of Sciences, May 11, 2020.
  3. Ibid.
  4. “IPCC Issues ‘Bleakest Warning Yet’ on Impacts of Climate Breakdown”, The Guardian, February 28, 2022.
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Dangerous Heat Across the Globe

The planet is heating up like never before, as “ground temperatures” hit all-time records in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the Southern Hemisphere, and ocean temperatures threaten the world’s major fisheries of the Far North, which are imperiled beyond any known historical precedent.1

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) July 2021 was the hottest month in recorded history for the world. The European Union (EU) satellite system also confirmed that the past seven years have been the hottest on record.

Too much heat brings unanticipated problems of unexpected scale, putting decades of legacy infrastructure at risk of malfunctioning and/or total collapse. Nobody expected so much trouble to start so soon. Nobody anticipated such massive record-breaking back-to-back heat, north and south, to hit so soon on the heels of only 1.2C above estimated baseline for global warming.

In that regard, and with deep concern, the Council on Foreign Relations (founded, 1921) stated: “More than one-fifth of the global population now lives in regions that have already experienced warming greater than 1.5°C (2.7°F), an increase that almost all nations have agreed should be avoided to significantly reduce the risk of harm from climate change.” 2

Moreover, as further stated by the Council: “Exposure to a sustained wet-bulb temperature of 35°C (95°F), a point of intense heat with extreme humidity (90+), has been identified as the limit for human survival. When wet-bulb conditions develop, sweat can no longer evaporate off a person’s skin and the body cannot cool down. Just a few hours of this kind of heat exposure can lead to death… Some regions, including southwestern North America, South Asia, and the Middle East have already endured conditions at or near this limit, and certain areas will experience the effects more intensely than others. One projection indicates that, by 2030, this type of heat wave could afflict over two hundred million people in India alone.”

Notably, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA): Only 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world have air conditioners.

Furthermore, the Council claims: “The infrastructure of today was not built to withstand surging temperatures.” As follows, global heat is rapidly outpacing infrastructure capacities. This is a surefire pathway to disaster on a scale seldom, if ever, witnessed.

Over time, excessive heat impairs and/or destroys infrastructure. Hot weather, when too hot, causes power lines to sag. When water used to cool power plants becomes too hot, electricity production measurably decreases, and drought conditions lower water levels beyond effectiveness for hydropower plants. This is already threatening in Brazil where hydro amounts to 62% of its total installed electric generating capacity. 3

In America, the Hoover Dam, which serves electrical power to 8 million people, is at it lowest level since 1937 when its lake was still being filled.

And, too much heat causes steel-comprising damage to drawbridges. Train tracks can bend under intense heat, which actually caused train cancellations in Europe in 2019. 4  And, planes can struggle to fly in extreme heat conditions.

According to the EPA, when cities are exposed to extreme heat, it can magnify heat conditions by up to 15C above surrounding rural conditions, effectively turning major cities of the world into furnaces of trapped heat.

Already, South America’s summer of 2022 is hot as blazes: “Practically all of Argentina and also neighboring countries such as Uruguay, southern Brazil, and Paraguay are experiencing the hottest days in history.” This is according to Cindy Fernández, meteorologist at the official National Meteorological Service.5

Argentina, as of January 12, 2022 reported: 129°F ground temperatures that brought blackouts. “This is a heat wave of extraordinary characteristics, with extreme temperature values that will even be analyzed after its completion, and it may generate some historical records for Argentina temperatures and persistence of heat,” according to meteorologist Lucas Berengua.6

Thereafter, Argentina’s infrastructure sagged and 700,000 people were without power, and drinking water purification systems went on the blink. Argentina’s ground temperatures echoed readings from the Northern Hemisphere of only 6 months ago, which, in retrospect, served as a foreboding for the southern continent, as it now begins its summer.

The heat has been so bad in Argentina that it was briefly the hottest place in the world, surpassing parts of Australia that usually carry that dubious honor during austral summer.

According to BBC News, Australia equaled its hottest day on record at 50.7C or 123.26F in Onslow, Western Australia on January 13th, 2022. The normal average temperature for Onslow (a coastal town) this time of year is 36.5C, not 50C. Additionally, Mardie and Roebourne, two other towns in the area, reported temperatures over 50C. And, in South Australia Oodnadatta reported 50.7C on January 2, 2022.  7

The summer of 2021 up north found the Anthropocene, the geological period of human influence, turn into the Pyrocene, when a shocking number of wildfires consumed vast areas of the Northern Hemisphere. It was “the summer of hell.” Global warming dried out grasslands and forests turned to tinder. The chief of the US Forest Service declared a “National Wildfire Crisis.” 8

Oregon and California fires were powerful enough to create stand-alone weather systems. The town of Lytton, British Columbia burned to the ground like a smoldering matchstick. Ground temperatures in Washington State in June 2021 hit 145F (63C) during an unprecedented Pacific Northwest heat wave too hot to even walk near concrete or squishy asphalt.

In Canada’s northwest, Ontario and Manitoba experienced 157 severe wildfires intense enough to create stand-alone weather systems.

Siberia experienced Biblical-scale fires like nobody has ever seen. A study showed the extreme heat driving the fires to levels calculated as 600 times more likely to occur because of climate change. Siberia at its most northern reaches registered a shocking 118 degrees F (48C) in June.

In the Mediterranean region, the summer of 2021 experienced wildfires raging out of control in Turkey and Greece with ground temperatures of more than 127F degrees (53C).9

There is a point to be made about this disheartening litany of the world succumbing to heat since it’s happening with global warming at only 1.2C above pre-industrial. But, is pre-industrial (same as post-industrial) really since 1880 or 1950, or should it be 1750, or is the entire affair really worse than we’ve been told at any rate? Answer: Look at the evidence and make a judgment.

The aforementioned facts are about climate conditions over the past 12 months throughout the world, which are worse than anybody projected, especially at only 1.2C above the alleged pre-industrial level. Along those lines, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established a red warning at 1.5C beyond which serious climate trouble will occur with 2C as an extreme limit not to be exceeded, but based upon the challenging climate conditions already evident at 1.2C, how challenging will things be at 1.5C?

The fact is at only 1.2C the world has got its hands full of infrastructure failures combined with an emergent Wet Bulb potentiality of people dropping dead in the streets.

All of which points to the upcoming significance of the US midterm elections this year. If Republicans, aka: Deniers, gain control, you might as well “pack it in.” In other words, global heat will celebrate!

On the other hand, if the Democrats gain enough control to actually do something constructive about greenhouse gases and provide global leadership towards net zero emissions within the decade, there’s a slim chance for survival, but the odds are rapidly diminishing.

So far, excessive levels of damaging global heat, in part, have been the result of the failure of political leadership of both major parties that have repeatedly been warned by scientists to minimize CO2 emissions. The warnings have been ongoing for decades, like a scratched record that replays the same song over and over again but to no avail.

America’s leaders have miserably failed to safeguard the American people from the most advertised, the most talked about, the most obvious existential threat the country has ever experienced!

Human-generated global heat is easy to describe: Whether it’s emissions via carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4) from cars, trains, planes, trucks, cows, power plants, oil and gas wells, or industry that blankets the atmosphere, thus trapping heat; i.e., “the greenhouse effect,” it predictably and relentlessly causes global temperatures to increase, which have now surpassed all-time highs going back to when humans first rubbed two sticks together.

  1. See: “The Oceans Are Overheating“, January 14, 2022.
  2. “A World Overheating”, Council on Foreign Relations, October 18, 2021.
  3. “Brazil Hydro Plants May Go Offline From Drought, Bolsonaro Warns”, Bloomberg News, August 27, 2021.
  4. “Sag, Buckle and Curve: Why Your Trains Get Cancelled in the Heat”, Wired, July 26, 2019.
  5. ‘Another Hellish Day’ ”South American Sizzles in Record Summer Temperatures”, The Guardian, January 14, 2022.
  6. Copernicus Sentinel 3 Satellite data discussion.
  7. “Australia Equals Hottest Day on Record at 50.7C”, BBC News, January 13, 2022.
  8. “Here are the 6 Major Regions Literally on Fire Right Now”, Gizmodo, July 20, 2021.
  9. EU Earth Observation Program, Copernicus Sentinel 3 Satellite.
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COP26: Greenwashing, Plutocratic Misadventures and the Possibilities of Radical Transformation

COP26 reaffirmed what has been obvious from the beginning: the Northern colonial and capitalist states most responsible for creating the climate crisis are unwilling to place people before profits in order to address the planet’s looming ecological collapse and humanitarian catastrophe.

We need justice. But that word — Justice! — despite all of the philosophical pontificating from John Locke to John Rawls, is a concept incompatible with the rapacious civilizational logic of a colonial/capitalist system based on self-interest, greed, and social Darwinism. Yet, without a firm commitment to the institutionalization of a just world order in which the gifts of mother-earth are equally shared along with respect for the earth and its natural order, the evidence is now irrefutable – human society will not survive.

The elementary logic of this observation suggests the necessity for a radical divergence from production processes, consumption patterns, destructive relationships to the natural world and degrading social relationships, is denied by powerful Northern capitalist countries.

What does this mean? It means that the appeals to reforms, finance and rationality coming out of the COP process are not enough to overcome the entrenched short-term interests of the international capitalist plutocrats.

It means recognizing that the fight for climate and environmental justice is, in fact, a revolutionary project, requiring mass-global resistance and the expropriation of economic and political power of finance and corporate capital. Without this recognition, the COP process will continue to be nothing more than a public relations stunt geared to convincing the public that green capitalism and saving the planet are compatible.

In his piece that appears in the Black Agenda Report’s special edition on COP26, Anthony Rogers-Wright points out that “the cataclysms of the interlinked crises of COVID and climate change were elucidated this past year in ways that cannot be repudiated.” That is true. But there were other connections that were made that are transforming the consciousness of peoples in the global South and the nationally oppressed and workers within the core capitalist nations that were exposed during the COVID crisis. The most immediate connection being that the lives of ordinary people mean nothing to the lords of capital.

At the height of the COVID outbreak nations in the global South experienced the consequence of disrupted global production and supply chains in ways even more severe than the economic disruptions that caused so much suffering among workers and the poor in the Northern nations.

With massive unemployment and stretched state budgets trying to provide minimum economic support to their populations and healthcare systems ravaged by structural adjustment policies imposed on them by the colonial powers, nations in the global South attempting to survive — but without the ability of the US to print money that is accepted as a global currency — asked the Northern nations to suspend, just postpone, not forgive their overwhelming debt payments during the covid crisis. They were rebuffed.

COVID revealed the hidden reality of the dictatorship of capital and the fact that no lives matter to capitalists beyond their ability to provide labor or buy capitalist products. Those revelations explain why the comforting rhetoric of liberal reformism that mollified some activists involved in the COP process in the past is no longer working.

COP26 might be a turning point. One of those inflection points in history where conditions force a transformation of consciousness and thus a new politics that can usher in epochal change.

In Glasgow, the people saw how the colonial gangsters lobbied to weaken proposals to phase out subsidies for coal, oil, and gas. The people understood clearly what was really being said and what kinds of interest were really important when the powerful tried to explain why the target of a measly 100 billion a year to assist the nations who were not even responsible for the climate crisis was not realized. Especially when the people were aware that these same G20 nations who could not meet their obligations had subsidized fossil fuel industries to the tune of 3 trillion dollars just since 2015.

Radicalization occurs when all of the liberal options are proven to be untenable and unsupportable by objective reality. A political crisis for the continued rule of capital is being produced by the imposition of debt, the subversion of democratic projects, the militarism and wars, the environmental destruction, and the exploitation of resources and labor by capitalist nations.

It is this realization that is reflected in new forms of resistance and a steeled opposition, especially among the young, from indigenous, nationally oppressed, and racialized colonized peoples that are inoculated against the liberal obscurantism that has dominated so many of these global gatherings and resulted in so many being funneled into liberal reformism.

Imperialism, in the historic form of the Pan-European colonial/capitalist white supremacist patriarchy is the enemy. This is a revelation and a position that the internationalist African revolutionary movement recognized some time ago. It is an affirmation of the correctness of that position that so many, while not yet using those terms, have, nevertheless, come to understand that unless we disarm the colonial/capitalist West, we are all doomed.

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Saving Capitalism or Saving the Planet? 

The UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team helped to push the public towards accepting the COVID narrative, restrictions and lockdowns. It is now working on ‘nudging’ people towards further possible restrictions or at least big changes in their behaviour in the name of ‘climate emergency’. From frequent news stories and advertisements to soap opera storylines and government announcements, the message about impending climate catastrophe is almost relentless.

Part of the messaging includes blaming the public’s consumption habits for a perceived ‘climate emergency’. At the same time, young people are being told that we only have a decade or so (depending on who is saying it) to ‘save the planet’.

Setting the agenda are powerful corporations that helped degrade much of the environment in the first place. But ordinary people, not the multi-billionaires pushing this agenda, will pay the price for this as living more frugally seems to be part of the programme (‘own nothing and be happy’). Could we at some future point see ‘climate emergency’ lockdowns, not to ‘save the NHS’ but to ‘save the planet’?

A tendency to focus on individual behaviour and not ‘the system’ exists.

But let us not forget this is a system that deliberately sought to eradicate a culture of self-reliance that prevailed among the working class in the 19th century (self-education, recycling products, a culture of thrift, etc) via advertising and a formal school education that ensured conformity and set in motion a lifetime of wage labour and dependency on the products manufactured by an environmentally destructive capitalism.

A system that has its roots in inflicting massive violence across the globe to exert control over land and resources elsewhere.

In his 2018 book The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequalities and its solutions, Jason Hickel describes the processes involved in Europe’s wealth accumulation over a 150-year period of colonialism that resulted in tens of millions of deaths.

By using other countries’ land, Britain effectively doubled the size of arable land in its control. This made it more practical to then reassign the rural population at home (by stripping people of their means of production) to industrial labour. This too was underpinned by massive violence (burning villages, destroying houses, razing crops).

Hickel argues that none of this was inevitable but was rooted in the fear of being left behind by other countries because of Europe’s relative lack of land resources to produce commodities.

This is worth bearing in mind as we currently witness a fundamental shift in our relationship to the state resulting from authoritarian COVID-related policies and the rapidly emerging corporate-led green agenda. We should never underestimate the ruthlessness involved in the quest for preserving wealth and power and the propensity for wrecking lives and nature to achieve this.

Commodification of nature

Current green agenda ‘solutions’ are based on a notion of ‘stakeholder’ capitalism or private-public partnerships whereby vested interests are accorded greater weight, with governments and public money merely facilitating the priorities of private capital.

A key component of this strategy involves the ‘financialisation of nature’ and the production of new ‘green’ markets to deal with capitalism’s crisis of over accumulation and weak consumer demand caused by decades of neoliberal policies and the declining purchasing power of working people. The banking sector is especially set to make a killing via ‘green profiling’ and ‘green bonds’.

According to Friends of the Earth (FoE), corporations and states will use the financialisation of nature discourse to weaken laws and regulations designed to protect the environment with the aim of facilitating the goals of extractive industries, while allowing mega-infrastructure projects in protected areas and other contested places.

Global corporations will be able to ‘offset’ (greenwash) their activities by, for example, protecting or planting a forest elsewhere (on indigenous people’s land) or perhaps even investing in (imposing) industrial agriculture which grows herbicide-resistant GMO commodity crop monocultures that are misleadingly portrayed as ‘climate friendly’.

FoE states:

Offsetting schemes allow companies to exceed legally defined limits of destruction at a particular location, or destroy protected habitat, on the promise of compensation elsewhere; and allow banks to finance such destruction on the same premise.

This agenda could result in the weakening of current environmental protection legislation or its eradication in some regions under the pretext of compensating for the effects elsewhere. How ecoservice ‘assets’ (for example, a forest that performs a service to the ecosystem by acting as a carbon sink) are to be evaluated in a monetary sense is very likely to be done on terms that are highly favourable to the corporations involved, meaning that environmental protection will play second fiddle to corporate and finance sector return-on-investment interests.

As FoE argues, business wants this system to be implemented on its terms, which means the bottom line will be more important than stringent rules that prohibit environmental destruction.

Saving capitalism

The envisaged commodification of nature will ensure massive profit-seeking opportunities through the opening up of new markets and the creation of fresh investment instruments.

Capitalism needs to keep expanding into or creating new markets to ensure the accumulation of capital to offset the tendency for the general rate of profit to fall (according to writer Ted Reese, it has trended downwards from an estimated 43% in the 1870s to 17% in the 2000s). The system suffers from a rising overaccumulation (surplus) of capital.

Reese notes that, although wages and corporate taxes have been slashed, the exploitability of labour continued to become increasingly insufficient to meet the demands of capital accumulation. By late 2019, the world economy was suffocating under a mountain of debt. Many companies could not generate enough profit and falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cashflows and highly leveraged balance sheets were prevalent. In effect, economic growth was already grinding to a halt prior to the massive stock market crash in February 2020.

In the form of COVID ‘relief’, there has been a multi-trillion bailout for capitalism as well as the driving of smaller enterprises to bankruptcy. Or they have being swallowed up by global interests. Either way, the likes of Amazon and other predatory global corporations have been the winners.

New ‘green’ Ponzi trading schemes to offset carbon emissions and commodify ‘ecoservices’ along with electric vehicles and an ‘energy transition’ represent a further restructuring of the capitalist economy, resulting in a shift away from a consumer oriented demand-led system.

It essentially leaves those responsible for environmental degradation at the wheel, imposing their will and their narrative on the rest of us.

Global agribusiness

Between 2000 and 2009, Indonesia supplied more than half of the global palm oil market at an annual expense of some 340,000 hectares of Indonesian countryside. Consider too that Brazil and Indonesia have spent over 100 times more in subsidies to industries that cause deforestation than they received in international conservation aid from the UN to prevent it.

These two countries gave over $40bn in subsidies to the palm oil, timber, soy, beef and biofuels sectors between 2009 and 2012, some 126 times more than the $346m they received to preserve their rain forests.

India is the world’s leading importer of palm oil, accounting for around 15% of the global supply. It imports over two-­thirds of its palm oil from Indonesia.

Until the mid-1990s, India was virtually self-sufficient in edible oils. Under pressure from the World Trade Organization (WTO), import tariffs were reduced, leading to an influx of cheap (subsidised) edible oil imports that domestic farmers could not compete with. This was a deliberate policy that effectively devastated the home-grown edible oils sector and served the interests of palm oil growers and US grain and agriculture commodity company Cargill, which helped write international trade rules to secure access to the Indian market on its terms.

Indonesia leads the world in global palm oil production, but palm oil plantations have too often replaced tropical forests, leading to the killing of endangered species and the uprooting of local communities as well as contributing to the release of potential environment-damaging gases. Indonesia emits more of these gases than any country besides China and the US, largely due to the production of palm oil.

The issue of palm oil is one example from the many that could be provided to highlight how the drive to facilitate corporate need and profit trumps any notion of environmental protection or addressing any ‘climate emergency’. Whether it is in Indonesia, Latin America or elsewhere, transnational agribusiness – and the system of globalised industrial commodity crop agriculture it promotes – fuels much of the destruction we see today.

Even if the mass production of lab-created food, under the guise of ‘saving the planet’ and ‘sustainability’, becomes logistically possible (which despite all the hype is not at this stage), it may still need biomass and huge amounts of energy. Whose land will be used to grow these biomass commodities and which food crops will they replace? And will it involve that now-famous Gates’ euphemism ‘land mobility’ (farmers losing their land)?

Microsoft is already mapping Indian farmers’ lands and capturing agriculture datasets such as crop yields, weather data, farmers’ personal details, profile of land held (cadastral maps, farm size, land titles, local climatic and geographical conditions), production details (crops grown, production history, input history, quality of output, machinery in possession) and financial details (input costs, average return, credit history).

Is this an example of stakeholder-partnership capitalism, whereby a government facilitates the gathering of such information by a private player which can then use the data for developing a land market (courtesy of land law changes that the government enacts) for institutional investors at the expense of smallholder farmers who find themselves ‘land mobile’? This is a major concern among farmers and civil society in India.

Back in 2017, agribusiness giant Monsanto was judged to have engaged in practices that impinged on the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food and the right to health. Judges at the ‘Monsanto Tribunal’, held in The Hague, concluded that if ecocide were to be formally recognised as a crime in international criminal law, Monsanto could be found guilty.

The tribunal called for the need to assert the primacy of international human and environmental rights law. However, it was also careful to note that an existing set of legal rules serves to protect investors’ rights in the framework of the WTO and in bilateral investment treaties and in clauses in free trade agreements. These investor trade rights provisions undermine the capacity of nations to maintain policies, laws and practices protecting human rights and the environment and represent a disturbing shift in power.

The tribunal denounced the severe disparity between the rights of multinational corporations and their obligations.

While the Monsanto Tribunal judged that company to be guilty of human rights violations, including crimes against the environment, in a sense we also witnessed global capitalism on trial.

Global conglomerates can only operate as they do because of a framework designed to allow them to capture or co-opt governments and regulatory bodies and to use the WTO and bilateral trade deals to lever influence. As Jason Hickel notes in his book (previously referred to), old-style colonialism may have gone but governments in the Global North and its corporations have found new ways to assert dominance via leveraging aid, market access and ‘philanthropic’ interventions to force lower income countries to do what they want.

The World Bank’s ‘Enabling the Business of Agriculture’ and its ongoing commitment to an unjust model of globalisation is an example of this and a recipe for further plunder and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few.

Brazil and Indonesia have subsidised private corporations to effectively destroy the environment through their practices. Canada and the UK are working with the GMO biotech sector to facilitate its needs. And India is facilitating the destruction of its agrarian base according to World Bank directives for the benefit of the likes of Corteva and Cargill.

The TRIPS Agreement, written by Monsanto, and the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, written by Cargill, was key to a new era of corporate imperialism. It came as little surprise that in 2013 India’s then Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar accused US companies of derailing the nation’s oil seeds production programme.

Powerful corporations continue to regard themselves as the owners of people, the planet and the environment and as having the right – enshrined in laws and agreements they wrote – to exploit and devastate for commercial gain.

Partnership or co-option?

It was noticeable during a debate on food and agriculture at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow that there was much talk about transforming the food system through partnerships and agreements. Fine-sounding stuff, especially when the role of agroecology and regenerative farming was mentioned.

However, if, for instance, the interests you hope to form partnerships with are coercing countries to eradicate their essential buffer food stocks then bid for such food on the global market with US dollars (as in India) or are lobbying for the enclosure of seeds through patents (as in Africa and elsewhere), then surely this deliberate deepening of dependency should be challenged; otherwise ‘partnership’ really means co-option.

Similarly, the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) that took place during September in New York was little more than an enabler of corporate needs. The UNFSS was founded on a partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum and was disproportionately influenced by corporate actors.

Those granted a pivotal role at the UNFSS support industrial food systems that promote ultra-processed foods, deforestation, industrial livestock production, intensive pesticide use and commodity crop monocultures, all of which cause soil deterioration, water contamination and irreversible impacts on biodiversity and human health. And this will continue as long as the environmental effects can be ‘offset’ or these practices can be twisted on the basis of them somehow being ‘climate-friendly’.

Critics of the UNFSS offer genuine alternatives to the prevailing food system. In doing so, they also provide genuine solutions to climate-related issues and food injustice based on notions of food sovereignty, localisation and a system of food cultivation deriving from agroecological principles and practices. Something which people who organised the climate summit in Glasgow would do well to bear in mind.

Current greenwashed policies are being sold by tugging at the emotional heartstrings of the public. This green agenda, with its lexicon of ‘sustainability’, ‘carbon neutrality’, ‘net-zero’ and doom-laden forecasts, is part of a programme that seeks to restructure capitalism, to create new investment markets and instruments and to return the system to viable levels of profitability.

The post Saving Capitalism or Saving the Planet?  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Saving Our Planet Requires Systemic and Behavioural Change

The natural environment has been poisoned, vandalized and trashed in accordance with the demands and values of the all-pervasive socio-economic system, and as long as it persists it is impossible to imagine the steps required to save the natural world being taken. Economic considerations and short term self-interest will continue to be applied and the devastation will continue.

Neo-liberalism is an extreme form of capitalism, like its founding ideology but darker, even more unjust and brutal. It sees every aspect of life – waterways, forests, the air, people, you name it –  as a potential product to be exploited, profited from, drained of all value and discarded. The “free market” (does such a thing exist, anywhere?), and its power to regulate supply and demand, is a cornerstone, as is competition and private ownership of everything, including health care, education, even prisons. Whatever area, the aim is the same, maximize production, limit costs and generate wealth for the business, most importantly the shareholders, no matter the impact on the environment and society.

A value system and integrated way of life has evolved consistent with the ethos of this poisonous ideology: individual ambition – personal success over group well-being; greed or excess; sensory pleasure; materiality; tribal nationalism (strengthened by competition); distrust of others who are different, and a fabrication of individuality. True individuality is impossible within the constraints of the doctrine which demands conformity, assimilates and dilutes creative expression to the mechanics and trends of the machine, and like all ideologies, moves towards crystallisation, maintains itself supreme and claims there are no viable alternatives.

Societies have been fashioned around these ideals and values, as has individual and collective behavior; behavior resulting from conditioned ways of thinking about ourselves, of other people, of the environment and the purpose of life, which, whilst openly undeclared, is hinted at from the values promoted: Purpose it says is related to pleasure, sensory gratification and material success; all of which are sold as means to achieving self-happiness and self-fulfillment, without ever questioning what this “self” is.

Such self-centred happiness is derived from pleasure and the quelling of desire, which, as the architects of the system know well, is not possible, because desire is insatiable. This fact is instinctively known, but the messaging to the contrary is relentless and for many, most perhaps, the trials of daily living are so great, the separation from oneself and the natural world so acute, that relief is essential. The diverse and endlessly malleable World of Consumerism provides the means of momentary alleviation: Alcohol, drugs, (legal and illegal), sex, shopping, TV, sport, more shopping, holidays, organised religion, shopping and food. And to excess; greed, ownership of things (homes, cars, clothes etc.), and the general accumulation of stuff is insisted upon, for the simple reason that it is consumerism that feeds the monster. This very same consumerism, which is perpetuating unhappiness and fuelling ill health, is also the underlying cause of the environmental emergency.

It is the irresponsible consumption of animal-based foodstuffs and manufactured goods, many of which are made in the Asiatic world (where the West has outsourced its production-based greenhouse gas emissions), that is driving the crisis.

A massive “if”…

Complacency, ignorance and selfishness have been the principal weapons of environmental destruction wielded by western governments, big business and the rich for decades. Adopted now by nations in other parts of the world, the global environmental impact has been devastating, in many cases catastrophic: destroying ecosystems, massacring animal life, poisoning the air and water, draining the soil of all goodness and disrupting natural climate patterns.

In order to stop the carnage and begin to heal the planet, a radical change is needed, not just more pledges and corporate greenwashing; fundamental change in behavior and attitudes that will usher in a kinder, more considerate way of living. The needed values and actions, however, are incompatible with Neo-Liberal capitalism, or any form of capitalism, and the greedy, selfish behavior that it promotes: cruel modes of living fashioned in rich nations, where the most extreme levels of consumerism occur.

It is not after all the villagers in India, China or Sub-Saharan Africa where rabid consumption is taking place, it’s the rich that are overwhelmingly responsible – the obscenely rich in particular; the private jets, numerous homes, cars, constant travel and piles and piles and piles of things. A study by Oxfam, published in 2015, found that, “Fifty percent of the world’s carbon emissions are produced by the world’s richest 10%, while the poorest half – 3.5 billion people – are responsible for a mere 10%.” In the 25-year period studied (1990-2015), global carbon dioxide emissions rose by 60%, and “the increase in emissions from the richest 1% was three times greater than the increase in emissions from the poorest half” of the world’s population, that’s around 3.6 billion people.

Wrapped in selfishness and protected by governments, it is the really rich, and the corporations (which they own) that own everything and are consuming most of everything. This overindulged, hideously wealthy collective, have benefitted enormously from the socio-economic machine and are extremely resistant to the systemic change that is needed if, and at this stage it’s a massive “if”, the natural world and all that lives within it, is to be saved.

The structural limitations (financial, political, social) and behavioral expectations of the Ideology of Greed and Exploitation, prohibit the needed changes taking place within the time frame required, hence the perpetual procrastination, excuses and delays, even as the planet burns. The inherent constraints and relentless demands – to consume, to exploit, to compete, to divide –  run completely contrary to the needs of the environment, and indeed the health of humanity; sacrifice is required, it is not possible to have our materialistic consumer filled cake and eat it; sacrifice of a materialistic way of life that has resulted in divided societies of unhappy anxious people and the destruction of the natural world.

Last year, as with each year during the previous decade, global greenhouse gas emissions were the highest ever recorded; this, despite an economic quietening resulting from Covid restrictions and high levels of awareness of the environmental emergency throughout the world. As COP26 draws to an unimpressive close, governments haggle over emission targets, funding of fossil fuels and money for the global south, and a new poll reports that most people  (in the 10 countries polled, including UK, US, Germany, France) say they are unwilling to alter their way of life to save our planet. We must once again ask, what will it take for humanity to wake up and change?

For the environmental emergency to be faced with the intensity needed, and healing to occur, a dramatic shift is required. A systemic shift, together with a fundamental change in attitudes, values and behavior, particularly among those living in the rich nations. A shift away from complacency and selfishness towards responsibility, cooperation and simplicity of living; united action rooted in love, as Elizabeth Wathuti (youth climate activist,) from Kenya told COP26 in her wonderful speech,“please  open your hearts….care deeply and act collectively.”

The post Saving Our Planet Requires Systemic and Behavioural Change first appeared on Dissident Voice.