threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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TreeSisters: a global movement by women to reforest the planet

Full details of this new movement can be found at: https://www.treesisters.org/

TreeSisters is a grassroots network of women planting over a billion trees a year in the tropics.  Their vision is to reforest the tropics within 10 years.

From their website:

We cannot live without rainforests

With 80% of our primary global forests gone, we need to sequester atmospheric carbon as fast as we can. Trees replenish groundwater and rivers, protect biodiversity, soil and livelihoods, and support healthy ocean temperatures. They represent one of the best solutions we have to escalating climate disruption.

Fast growing tropical trees sequester carbon three times faster than temperate trees, which is why we are currently planting in Brazil, Madagascar, Kenya, and India with expansion into at least four more countries in 2017.

A video from the TreeSisters of Mount Kenya can be found on the website.

Deep-in-the-rainforest2

Women all over the world are invited to join the TreeSisters movement, either by donating funds to buy trees or by planting the trees themselves.  The Mount Kenya movement is rooted in the local community itself.


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Why climate change puts the poorest most at risk by Martin Wolf

Recent IMF data shows that low-income nations suffer most from climate change events for which they bear no blame

The full article can be read in the Financial Times of October 17th 2017:

https://www.ft.com/content/f350020e-b206-11e7-a398-73d59db9e399?accessToken=zwAAAV8-6xKQkdPzUAIOsgYR59OjmHPVnbnjmQ.MEUCIH-jAP7oSUrRyqSYscf2nVBKX9rr4YHI_SgvanV_vAs9AiEAnqpSsDiklqkL_JmnUR1VM_5glHn_O7Zrkzq_nc_RZlY&

There is a chapter in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, which concludes that the economic impact of weather shocks is felt most strongly in tropical countries, nearly all of which are low-income countries.  Thus, they are the innocent victims of changes for which they bear no responsibility.

Wolf states in his FT article that, if little or no action is taken on global warming, average temperatures could rise by 4°C or more above pre-industrial levels, by the end of the century. Aware of the lengthy lead times needed if effective action is to be taken, both to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it, he states that rational people would act now.

He then goes on to identify the obstacles to such immediate action: economic interests, especially of those in the fossil fuel industry; free-marketeers, who despise both governments and environmentalists and reject the science behind global warming, because of its policy implications; a resistance to change in living standards and inconvenience, which is necessary for the future and for people in poorer countries.

The article provides graphic evidence for global warming, caused by human activity, as well as a bar chart showing those countries which emit the most carbon dioxide per head.  The top four countries in this list are the US, Russia, Germany and Japan, with the US being way ahead of any other country.  Other graphs demonstrate the increasing frequency of tropical cyclones and heat waves.

Wolf then goes on to outline the serious implications of the IMF’s analysis, most of which involve mitigating the effects of weather shocks and helping poorer countries to adapt to them.

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Not the future but now

Letters to the Editor, Financial Times, 24th October 2017.

In a response to Wolf’s article, Chris Bain, director of CAFOD, states there is only one fault in Wolf’s analysis – that it describes the effects of climate change as being in the future, whereas Bain believes that it is impacting poorer countries right now. It is a present-day reality for countries in East Africa, who are experiencing drought, and others, like Bangladesh, where floods are forcing people from their homes.  He quotes Pope Francis’s recent encyclical, which describes the earth as our common home, the care of which requires a “new and universal solidarity.”

The biggest obstacle to achieving this solidarity is, of course, the hedonistic march of the fossil-fuel industry, and the rich, towards more and more profits at the cost of the planet and the poorest in society.

This theme is also echoed in my book, Three Generations Left, featured on this website, which suggests in chapter 9, the concept of global co-operation, without which global warming will never be reversed.  In Chapter 2, in a section entitled “Who are the worst polluters?”, I cite data, from Damon Matthews from Montreal, which clearly shows that it is the industrialised countries who are emitting the highest carbon emissions. He calculates the carbon debt of each of these countries, relating it to population size. Climate debt (those who pollute more than their fair share per head of population), also puts the US in the lead (highest climate debt), followed by Russia and Japan.  The UK is sixth in this list.

In terms of individuals, the richest people in the world contribute to 85% of total carbon emissions.



 

 

 

 


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Australia to abandon clean energy target

Recent reports from the Financial Times and the Washington Post suggest that Australia is following Trump’s US Energy policy by ditching their own clean energy target in exchange for cheaper power.  Conservation groups have condemned the ruling conservative coalition for abandoning the renewable energy target for 2030 that was recommended this year by Australia’s chief scientist to comply with the Paris climate change agreement.

The plan was to generate 42 percent of the country’s power from wind and solar energy, in compliance with climate change commitments. The new ruling will end subsidies paid to wind and solar generators from 2020, in order to help reduce energy costs for consumers. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told Parliament that coal and gas would generate 64 to 72 percent of Australia’s electricity by 2030.

This is a sad departure from former commitments by this country to reduce greenhouse gases but it is in line with other government policies to support mining developments which will damage the Great Barrier Reef.

See: https://www.fightforourreef.org.au/

and:

http://www.greenpeace.org › Home › What We Do › Climate
I find it difficult to justify the current stance of the Australian government, who appear to have no concern for the damage their policies will do to both the health of the planet and the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
In chapter 7 of my book on the Economy, I reproduce a graph (Figure 67), which shows how the carbon emissions in Australia reduced significantly during the two year period after they introduced a carbon tax in 2012. In July 2014, the carbon tax act was repealed.  The graph shows the carbon emissions  immediately rising again.  This latest ruling is likely to make the situation even worse.  It is difficult to understand why Australia politicians are failing to see the effects of their recent legislation.  The graph can be seen in the Chapter 7 blog on this website.
A huge mistake was made back in 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted through the United Nations (UNFCCC).  At that time, three countries, who were in the early stages of industrialising their economies (China, India and Australia) were exempted from complying with the Kyoto Protocol.  These three countries went on to become some of the worst polluters on the planet.  It would seem that China and India are making attempts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions but Australia is far from acting in a responsible manner in this respect.
Australians per capita are among the world’s worst greenhouse gas polluters because of the country’s heavy reliance on its abundant coal reserves for power. But no new coal-fired generators are being built because of uncertainty over how Australia intends to achieve its greenhouse gas cuts.
Perhaps they can be brought in line with other global economies during COP23.
coral bleaching
Bleached coral skeletons in the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas photographed on Feb. 20. 2017 – image from Greenpeace
However, on October 30th 2017 news came through from the Fight for the Reef campaign that, as one of their last acts before calling the election, the Queensland Government had banned dangerous trans-shipping of coal, petroleum and other substances in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.  This means that all coal ships and major vessels will be prohibited from loading in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
And three days later, Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced she will veto the $1 billion taxpayer loan for the Adani coal project!


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Draft London Environment Strategy – have your say

In August 2017, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a draft Environmental Strategy, which is currently out for consultation.  Responses need to be lodged by 17th November 2017.  An excellent document, it can be found through the following link:

Click to access draft_environment_strategy_-_executive_summary.pdf

The Mayor of London’s website introduces the consultation document as follows:

“The state of London’s environment affects everyone who lives in and visits the city – it helps Londoners to stay healthy, makes London a good place to work and keeps the city functioning from day to day.

Today London is facing a host of environmental challenges. Toxic air, noise pollution, the threat to our green spaces, and the adverse effects of climate change, all pose major risks to the health and wellbeing of Londoners.

We need to act now to tackle the most urgent environmental challenges facing our city as well as safeguard London’s environment over the longer term. We need to ensure that London is greenercleaner and ready for the future.

This is the first strategy to bring together approaches to every aspect of London’s environment. It is divided into the following areas:

•    Air quality
•    Green infrastructure
•    Climate change mitigation and energy
•    Waste
•    Adapting to climate change
•    Ambient noise

Mayor's Environment Strategy


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Brexit ‘threatens extinction of some animals and plants’ by Michael McHugh

This report focuses on the flora and fauna of Ireland and was published in The Times on 25th September 2017:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/brexit-threatens-extinction-of-some-animals-and-plants-39x2p2523

Environmentalists have warned that a fifth are already threatened and that a hard border (between Ireland and Northern Ireland) could weaken protection of those species most at risk.  Lobby groups have visited Brussels to voice their concerns.

According to Patrick Casement, chairman of the Northern Ireland Environment Link, more than 650 pieces of EU legislation have helped environmental protection on the island. An all-island green coalition said the Irish environment has benefited hugely from these laws. They created a more co-ordinated and consistent approach to addressing cross-border environmental issues, such as the conservation of species and habitats, the lobbyists said.

Brexit negotiations have so far focused on the economy, with little mention of the impact on natural heritage.

Ireland

Irish countryside in the area of Co. Cork from Travellerspoint Travel Photography


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The Uninhabitable Earth: a worst-case climate scenario

On July 9th 2017, New York Magazine published an article with this title, which led to a burst of media comment and controversy. It quickly became the most-read article in the magazine’s history.  See: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans-annotated.html, written by David Wallace-Wells which summarises the response to the original article.

Another, deeply thoughtful, response, written by David Korten for Common Dreams is entitled, ‘For the Love of Earth’ and can be found at:

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/02/love-earth

Korten discusses the concept of Earth being a living super-organism (from Lovelock – and discussed also in my book Three Generations Left). The concept is about the Earth being able to self-regulate its systems (discussed also in Chapter 1 of my book “Our Beautiful World in Harmony”, which can also be found on this website). It is widely believed by many that the earth will ultimately recover from human’s destructive behaviour, which in some has led to complacency.

Korten goes on to say that “We are destabilizing the climate through the release of sequestered carbons; disrupting natural habitats through ocean acidification and temperature change; destroying natural forest and grassland habitats; and depleting, degrading, and contaminating soils and sources of fresh water on which all species depend. This in turn drives species extinction and renders growing areas of Earth uninhabitable.”  His contention is that humans have become like an invasive species and he quotes from Clive Hamilton’s book, Defiant Earth: the Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene”, also reviewed in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/05/the-great-climate-silence-we-are-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss-but-we-ignore-it.

Korten’s view is that, having brought the earth and its species to the brink of extinction, it is now our responsibility to heal it – and that we do have this within our power.

burning

All this puts me in the mind of a piece I read this morning, some research by geoscientists, who have drawn the conclusion that the human species first left Africa to settle in Asia and Europe 60,000 years ago, in order to escape a climate change phenomenon. Using sediment samples from the Horn of Africa, the team found that Africa had undergone a major climate transformation at that time. Its previously fertile ‘Green Sahara’ had started to dry out, in fact at around the time humanity started to leave the Sahara was even drier than it is now, and a lot colder.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/humans-first-left-africa-because-of-climate-change_uk_59d5f911e4b0cde45873067e?

People are already saying that there is now nowhere on Earth that we can escape to this time, and suggesting that we need to find another planet to live on.

Can we heal the effects of what we have done here – or is it already too late?

Yet another take on it all was published in The Times on 19th September 2017 by their Environment Editor, Ben Webster.  His review suggests that senior scientists are now saying that the worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided, as the world is warming more slowly than they had forecast earlier using computer models.  New projections suggest that the world has now a better chance of meeting the 1.5 degrees target of global warming, than was previously thought. The study is published in Nature Geoscience. See the Times article at:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/we-were-wrong-worst-effects-of-climate-change-can-be-avoided-say-scientists-k9p5hg5l0

However, as mentioned above, I don’t think there is any room for complacency.  How do we know that these scientists have not come under political pressure from those with business interests and want to keep the status quo?  But it suggests that we still have time to heal the effects of what we have done. Perhaps we should listen to David Korten. But are enough of us fully motivated to make the lifestyle changes that are needed?