threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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10:10 Climate Action – helping people tackle climate change

The organisation 10:10 Climate Action runs positive, practical projects focused on tackling climate change at the community level, and turn these local actions into a force for bigger changes.  This small registered charity is based in North London.  Their website:

https://1010uk.org/climatehope?utm_source=2006chemail

features examples of projects that they support across the world.  Climate Hope gives inspiring stories of people taking positive action on climate change.  Here are two examples:

https://1010uk.org/happening/japan-starts-work-on-solar-farm-the-size-of-monaco

 

 

Further details of other projects can be viewed on their website – address listed in first paragraph above.


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Heat waves in UK and US – effects of global warming? What about India? The Middle East? Pakistan? Iran? Portugal? Africa?

June has been really hot here in the UK and there are reports that the USA is experiencing similar high temperatures. In July and August in Europe, temperatures have risen into the 40s, with a heatwave named ‘Lucifer’, and reports that snow is melting in the Italian alps and increased deaths due to heat stroke.

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USA: A report from USA Today has said that due to the heat, American Airlines have had to cancel several flights from Phoenix, as follows:

The extreme heat forecast for Phoenix on Tuesday has caused the cancellation of 20 American Airlines flights out of Sky Harbor International Airport. 

According to a statement from American Airlines, the American Eagle regional flights use the Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which has a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees. Tuesday’s forecast for Phoenix included a high of 120 degrees, and the flights that are affected were to take off between 3 and 6 p.m. MT.

Customers affected were told to contact American Airlines for rebooking options or to request a refund.

Extreme heat affects a plane’s ability to take off. Hot air is less dense than cold air, and the hotter the temperature, the more speed a plane needs to lift off. A runway might not be long enough to allow a plane to achieve the necessary extra speed. “

Are we to experience more and more of these excessive temperature events? After all, every one of the last three years has been the hottest on record. Will this be enough to change Donald Trump’s mind about the Paris Agreement?

In the UK, it has been the hottest June since 1976.  I can remember the heat in that year – but somehow it felt like a dryer heat then. Still uncomfortable if you were out in the sun but not quite as sticky and debilitating as this June has been.

And whilst we are feeling the effects here in a temperate country, let us not forget those hotter countries where they are experiencing even higher temperatures than normal. And the devastating forest fires in Portugal and France.

IRAN

Iran, having the highest ever recorded temperature in June, with Pakistan not far behind, both well into the 50s Celsius.

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Ahvaz in Iran, which reached the highest ever recorded temperature on 29th June 2017, a staggering 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit

Heat waves are more easily attributable to climate change, according to scientists, because there is a clear connection between carbon absorbed in the atmosphere and temperature rises. Such extreme heat put the residents of Ahvaz in serious danger for dehydration, heat fatigue, heat cramps, heat stroke, and other illnesses. For the elderly, these risks are amplified.

Parts of Iran have also struggled with extreme droughts in recent years, which is threatening the country’s water sources and harming agriculture. Lake Urmia, for instance, once the sixth-largest saline lake in the world, has lost 90% of its water since 1970.  Taken together, Iran is experiencing climate change more intensely than many other countries in the world.

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India

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My book finishes with a quote from Devinder Sharma from India. Here is part of what he wrote in 2016 (and 2017 has been even worse):

It has now become even more obvious than before that the world we are living in has
changed profoundly in the last five years. Every passing year is turning out to be hotter
than the previous. It is just the middle of April but vast tracts of India are reeling under
scorching heat with temperatures zipping past the 40 degrees mark. In 13 States, April
temperature is higher by 8 degrees from the average. This will only intensify, as the
season warms up.  India is on the boil, literally………….

“We are now in mid-April and I can already feel the average temperatures creeping up. While we can survive, my thoughts go out to the 700 million people reeling under two consecutive years of drought. With wells almost dry and walking on a parched land they will now have to confront an unkindly hot sun. Some reports say wells have dried to a level in Marathwada not seen in past 100 years. Another report tells us that 133 rivers have dried in Jharkhand. To make matters worse, a BBC report indicated that the government might pipe Himalayan water and carry it all the way to the parched lands. After all, this is the surest way to add to GDP!

The relatively well-off in the cities, towns and suburbs have the facility to switch on an air conditioner or an air-cooler but imagine the plight of majority population who have no
other option but to survive under shade, be it at home or under the tree.
Water bodies have dried up. Many studies point to a steep fall in water levels in major
reservoirs to the levels that are lowest in a decade.”

Sharma also reports that, in the previous year (2015), there were 1,500 deaths from the effects of heat wave in Andhra Pradesh alone.

Pakistan has also felt the effects of extreme heat.  The photograph below shows people in Lahore cooling off in a water channel.

PAKISTAN-WEATHER

AFRICA

And in Africa, there are more famines and drought and more starving children.  Also, from the following website:

https://newrepublic.com/article/143019/one-meal-day-lake-chad-vanishes-seven-million-people-starvation

came this report:

Not so long ago, Lake Chad was one of the largest bodies of water in Africa. The thick reeds and vital wetlands around its basin provided vast freshwater reserves, breeding grounds for fish, fertile soil for agriculture, and grasslands where farmers grazed their animals. In 1963, it spanned almost 10,000 square miles, an expanse roughly the size of Maryland. But as climate change has taken its toll, the lake has shrunk by 90 percent. Today, only 965 square miles remain. Wetlands have given way to sand dunes. Farmers have abandoned their fields. Those who still live by the lake struggle to survive, beset by chronic drought and the slow onset of ecological catastrophe.”

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Can we continue to ignore these facts and behave as if nothing is happening?

I believe that we are seeing the beginnings of climate change effects that can only get worse if nothing is done to reverse the trend.


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Open Letter to Party Leaders on Climate Change and the UK Economy – from Scientists for Global Responsibility

Open letter sent to the eight political party leaders at the UK parliament on 13 June 2017:
Dear Madam/ Sir

In the wake of the inconclusive general election result and bearing in mind the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, we are writing to leaders of UK parliamentary parties to urge you to unite around a common cause – tackling climate change – as a way of helping to provide major economic, social and environmental benefits at this time of uncertainty. Not only does there continue to be there very strong scientific evidence on the urgency of this global threat, but measures to tackle it offer major opportunities to exploit science and technology to create jobs, tackle fuel poverty, reduce local air pollution and provide many other co-benefits for British society. The UK could capitalise on the renewed international commitment to tackling climate change in the wake of the ill-informed decision of President Trump to withdraw the USA from the Paris Agreement.

We have noted the widespread commitment to tackling climate change in the party manifestos. While there is some diversity in the approaches, there are many common factors. Hence, as a priority, we urge strong support for:

  • Home energy conservation programmes. These will both reduce carbon emissions and help to tackle fuel poverty, which is estimated to be responsible for nearly 8,000 UK deaths a year.1
  • Renewable energy projects – especially wind, solar, marine and biogas technologies and community-led projects. With costs for many of these falling rapidly, the potential economic and employment benefits are very large2 – and government opinion polling shows these technologies are especially popular.3
  • Energy storage technologies, including batteries, power-to-gas systems, and pumped hydro storage. Many of these technologies are already rapidly falling in cost, and they have high potential to complement the variable renewable energy sources.4 Electric vehicles will play a key role here, and their widespread adoption will help to reduce the number of UK deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution, currently estimated at 40,000 per year.5

We further recommend the following additional actions, which we strongly believe will complement those above:

  • End subsidies for fossil fuels, especially for unconventional sources like shale gas. The growth of a large-scale shale gas industry in this country is likely to seriously undermine Britain’s climate targets, as the Committee on Climate Change has warned.6 Furthermore, the technique of hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) is not popular with the British public,7 partly as it creates significant risks for the local environment.
  • End new commitments to nuclear power stations. These create unique and unresolved economic, security, environmental and safety risks.

Finally, we urge you to use any political influence you have in the USA to try to convince President Trump that climate change is a serious threat to his country as well as the world, and that his government needs to change course. Indeed, his failure to support cleaner industries in his own country is very likely to have a negative impact on the economy there.

We would be interested to hear your thoughts on our recommendations.

 

Your sincerely

Dr Stuart Parkinson

Executive Director

Dr Philip Webber

Chair

 

References

1. Energy Bill Revolution (2015). Fuel poverty. http://www.energybillrevolution.org/fuel-poverty/

2. REN21 (2017). Renewables 2017 Global Status Report. http://www.ren21.net/gsr-2017/

3. BEIS (2017). Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/public-attitudes-tracking-survey

4. Goodall C (2016). The Switch: How solar, storage and new tech means cheap power for all. Profile Books.

5. Royal College of Physicians et al (2016). Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution. https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution

6. Committee on Climate Change (2016). The compatibility of UK onshore petroleum with meeting the UK’s carbon budgets. https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/onshore-petroleum-the-compatibility-of-uk-onshore-petroleum-with-meeting-carbon-budgets/

7. As note 3.

 http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2989043/open_letter_to_party_leaders_on_climate_change_and_the_uk_economy.html


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Energy security is possible without nuclear power or fracked gas by Keith Barnham

Prof. Keith Barnham, a member of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) and an emeritus professor and distinguished research fellow at Imperial College London, published an article in the Comments section of the New Scientist on 6th June 2017:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2133760-energy-security-is-possible-without-nuclear-power-or-fracked-gas/

There is a mantra that nuclear and natural gas power stations are essential to keep the lights on in the UK. It’s a myth, says Keith Barnham and states that an all-renewable supply is a viable way forward.  He goes on to say, “Here’s a fact you won’t have heard from the main parties during the UK’s election campaign: the nation doesn’t need a new generation of expensive nuclear reactors or a dash for shale gas to keep the lights on. An all-renewable electricity supply can provide energy security.”

The arguments he provides for this can be seen in the New Scientist article (via the link above), which provides the evidence to support this claim.

 an offshore wind farm

Offshore Wind Turbines

Further information about alternative forms of renewable energy can be found on the website of  Alternative Energy (AE) News, which publishes articles about renewable energy, new technologies, and anything that will help  civilisation to use energy and natural resources in a more sustainable and efficient way. See:

ww.alternative-energy-news.info

 

 

 

 


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The US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord will hit Africa the hardest: Quartz Media report

 

African countries contribute little to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but, along with island nations, they still bear the brunt of global warming. Seven out of the world’s 10 countries considered the most threatened by climate change are in Africa.

Temperatures are expected to increase 2°C by the last two decades of this century, a scenario that would put over half of the continent’s population at risk of undernourishment. Already, some 20 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria are at risk of starving to death. Researchers believe rising temperatures contribute to an increase in conflict.

US president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, an agreement signed by 195 countries, including all 55 African countries, is likely to make this worse. Trump has promised to “stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs.” Under the Paris accords, developed countries like the US were to contribute to a $100 billion annual fund for developing countries by 2020.

African countries especially need these funds to expand clean energy and deal with climate change. By 2050, the costs of adapting to climate change may cost the continent as much as $50 billion a year, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). That’s assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2°C this century continue.

How African countries deal with climate change is also important to the survival of the accord. As African cities and populations expand the continent’s global share of emissions is expected to grow from 2% to 3% by 2040. The Paris agreement now accounts for 65% of all emissions, compared to more than 80% with the US.

Coastal African cities most at risk of flooding, due to the rise in sea level are:

Abijan (Cote d’Ivoire); Lagos (Nigeria); Cape Town and Durban (South Africa); Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and the coastal cities of North Africa, such as Alexandria, Casablanca, Tripoli and Tunis.

Other parts of Africa are at risk of rising temperatures and drought.

FEWS_Eastern_Africa_July-September_projection

The FEWS (Famine Early Warning Systems) projection of the 2011 East Africa drought for October-December, using the IPC scale:  copied from Wikepedia.

Effects of drought in Somalia

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Climate change isn’t just a concern for the 1% – but it often seems so: Kate Aronoff (The Guardian)

Bankers and celebrities are often on the forefront of climate change discussions. Does that harm, rather than help, the cause?

See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/01/climate-change-impact-on-wealthy-paris-deal

All signs now point to Donald Trump withdrawing the US from the Paris agreement, the closest thing the international community has to a plan for dealing with climate change.

In the lead-up to this week’s expected decision, the nationalist, Steve Bannon-led wing of the White House has tried to paint climate change – and the agreement, by extension – as a concern of elites.

Headlines on Breitbart over the weekend derided Gary Cohn (“Carbon Tax Cohn”, to some) for trying to change Trump’s mind about pulling out of the deal, complete with a globe emoji alongside the Goldman Sachs veteran’s name – a double entendre for his belief in globalization and global warming.

Billionaires such as Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio have become some of the most recognizable faces of the fight against climate change for producing high-profile documentaries on the subject and jetting around the world to spread their gospel. Elon Musk – the Tesla CEO now under fire for mistreating his workers – has been celebrated by environmentalists for building electric cars and batteries to store solar power.

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Climate change is a frequent topic of conversation at 1% confabs such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, where this year’s 15 sessions on climate featured 60 CEOs. Over the past several weeks, greens such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have touted the fact that corporations including Walmart, BP and Unilever all favor sticking with Paris.

Even JP Morgan Chase head and Trump adviser Jamie Dimon has joined the fold, signing a letter with Musk and business magnates in the Wall Street Journal expressing their “strong support for the United States remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement”.

Especially given the scale of change needed, “believes in climate change” – or in remaining in the Paris agreement, for that matter – is a godawful litmus test for deciding who gets to be called a climate hero. If there is a pragmatic economic case to be made for switching over to renewables and divesting from fossil fuel assets, then elites will chase profits. They don’t need to be lauded for doing so.

Moreover, continuing to praise bankers and billionaires for symbolic statements on climate helps do Bannon and Breitbart’s work for them. In populist times, salvaging any hope for real progress on climate change “post-Paris” – domestically and internationally – will mean making the case for taking on climate change in strictly populist terms.

“If you are genuinely serious about shifting to a low-carbon society within the timeframe we have, then it is an absolute agenda for jobs,” climate scientist Kevin Anderson said earlier this year. “You are guaranteeing full employment for 30 years if we think climate change is a serious issue. If we don’t, we can carry on with structural unemployment.”

Climate policies can improve people’s lives in the here and now while preventing a truly catastrophic end to the 21st century. So don’t chide Trump and the rest of his party for denying climate change when they pull out of the Paris agreement. Chide them for denying millions of Americans the well-paying jobs and stable future they deserve.

The silver lining of the climate crisis is that it may be the United States’ greatest opportunity yet to upend its vastly unequal economy, and kick the executives who engineered both out of power. It’s one of history’s greatest “us v them” scenarios, pitting a handful of oligarchs and profit-hungry fossil fuel CEOs against the rest of humanity. Let’s not let those optics go to waste.