human activity and the destruction of the planet

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WEF: The World’s Greatest Threat is not the Coronavirus

The World Economic Forum, on it’s web page has made the announcement in the title of this post.  They say that true sustainability will only be achieved through drastic lifestyle changes.

The article is headed by a massive photograph of landfill rubbish and goes on to state the following:

  • Affluence is the biggest threat to our world, according to a new scientific report.
  • True sustainability will only be achieved through drastic lifestyle changes, it argues.
  • The World Economic Forum has called for a great reset of capitalism in the wake of the pandemic.

A detailed analysis of environmental research has revealed the greatest threat to the world: affluence.


That’s one of the main conclusions of a team of scientists from Australia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, who have warned that tackling overconsumption has to become a priority. Their report, titled Scientists’ Warning on Affluence, explains that true sustainability calls for significant lifestyle changes, rather than hoping that more efficient use of resources will be enough.


This assertion is taken from an article published in Nature Communications 11, Article 3107 (2020), the Abstract of which is as follows:

For over half a century, worldwide growth in affluence has continuously increased resource use and pollutant emissions far more rapidly than these have been reduced through better technology. The affluent citizens of the world are responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions. We summarise the evidence and present possible solution approaches. Any transition towards sustainability can only be effective if far-reaching lifestyle changes complement technological advancements. However, existing societies, economies and cultures incite consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change.

The reference for the article is:

and it is published by Thomas Wiedmann, Thomas Lenzen, Lorenz T. Keysser and Julia Steinbergen,

The figure below is taken from the article and is entitled “The Safe and Just Space for Humanity” and is reproduced on the WEF website.


Fig. 2

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Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

Extinction Rebellion has worked together with other experts and working groups to put together a draft of a Bill, containing their three demands.  The plan is to put it to government as a Private Member’s Bill. They are currently contacting various MPs in order to get it introduced in Parliament.  The draft Bill is currently as follows:

Extinction Rebellion Universities group in UK calls for eco ...



Require the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK achieves specified objectives regarding climate change, ecosystems and biodiversity; to give the Secretary of State a duty to draw up and implement a strategy to achieve those objectives; to establish a Citizens’ Assembly to work with the Secretary of State in drawing up that strategy; to give duties to the Committee on Climate Change regarding the objectives and the strategy; and for connected purposes. 

  1. Duty of the Prime Minister – climate change and biodiversity 

(1) It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK achieves the following objectives, 


(a) reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with the provisions of the UNFCCC and the 

Paris Agreement regarding— 

(i) common but differentiated responsibilities, and (ii) respective capabilities taking into account different national circumstances, 

to a level that would, in the opinion of the Committee on Climate Change, be consistent with keeping global average temperature increase to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels; (b) restores and regenerates soils, biodiverse habitats and ecosystems and, wherever possible, 

expands these in area, for the purpose of optimising their carbon sink capacity and resilience to climate change and conserving biodiversity; (c) reduces its overall anthropogenic impact on the variety, abundance and health of both soil and biodiversity. (2) In this section— 

(a) “the UNFCCC” means the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted 

on 9 May 1992; (b) “the Paris Agreement” is an agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on 

Climate Change adopted on 12 December 2015; (c) “pre-industrial levels” is the mean temperature over the period 1850–1900; (d) “biodiverse habitats” are habitats that are abundant in living species; (e) “carbon sink capacity” is the ability of natural reservoirs includingwithout prejudice to the 

generalitywoodlands, wetlands, peatlands and soil to absorb more carbon than they emit; and (f) “anthropogenic impact” is the direct and indirect negative influences of human action on soils and biodiversity. 

  1. Duty of the Secretary of State 

(1) The Secretary of State must within 12 months of the passing of this Act publish a strategy (‘the strategy’ 

specifying the measures that will in their opinion but subject to section 4 of this Act achieve the objectives.

(2) For the purpose of achieving the objectives, the strategy must— 

(a) include all UK consumption- and production-related emissions, including— 

(i) those relating to imports and exports and arising from aviation, shipping and land-based transport, and (ii) any other consumption- and production-related emissions;

(b) only use natural climate solutions (NCS) as the CO2 removal measures for the purpose of achieving the objectives;

(c) ensure that any negative emissions technologies to increase the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere that are considered would be additional to the objectives, thus increasing its overall ambition, and are only used to— (i) compensate for warming arising from emissions that cannot be completely eliminated from agricultural and industrial systems, or (ii) rectify the UK’s historical contribution to global warming;

(d) ensure that negative emissions technologies are not used to compensate for CO2 emissions from the energy system; these emissions need to reach zero without contributions of the aforementioned negative emissions technologies;

(e) ensure that the variety, abundance and health of UK ecosystems, and the ecosystem services they generate, are enhanced through active restoration and minimising the adverse impacts of domestic consumption and production;

(f) ensure that all necessary steps are taken so that supply chains of imports and exports minimise adverse impacts on ecological systems, including inter alia soils and biodiverse habitats overseas, and implement conditions that protect their health and resilience;

(g) ensure that (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) are applied to every five-yearly carbon budget that the CCC recommends to the UK Government.

(3) In this section— 

“natural climate solutions (NCS)” includes but is not restricted to reforestation, sustainable land management and restoration of wetlands, peat bogs and coastal ecosystems.

(4) Before publishing the strategy, the Secretary of State must issue a call for tenders for an independent body to establish a Citizens’ Assembly called the Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency (the ‘Citizens’ Assembly’) to work in cooperation with the Secretary of State and to recommend measures to be included in the strategy. 

  1. Functions of the Citizens’ Assembly 

(1) It shall be the duty of the Citizens’ Assembly to— 

(a) consider information provided by experts, and any other persons who have submitted evidence;

(b) deliberate and make recommendations on the measures needed for the United Kingdom to achieve the objectives;

(c) publish a report, or reports, on any decisions reached and the reasons for them, as soon as is reasonably practicable;

(d) advise the Secretary of State on measures to be included in the strategy pursuant to section 2(4);

(e) ensure that the measures adopted to achieve the objectives— 

(i) take into consideration the United Kingdom’s present and historical role in global emissions and comparative economic situation as indicated by the Paris Agreement;

(ii) do not disproportionately impact deprived communities;

(iii) do not disproportionately impact people with protected characteristics contained within section 4 of the Equality Act 2010; and

(iv) include adequate financial support and retraining for workers in greenhouse gas emission-intensive sectors and industries which are impacted upon by the proposed measures.

(2) In this section— 

“a deprived community” is a community with a high rating using government indices of deprivation. 

  1. Decisions by the Secretary of State 

(1) On receiving the recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly, the Secretary of State must— 

(a) include in the strategy those recommendations that have the support of at least eighty percent of the Citizens’ Assembly that are not measures requiring— 

(i) the disbursement of public funds, or (ii) charges upon the people;

(b) consider and try to reach agreement with the Citizens’ Assembly regarding recommendations that have the support of at least eighty percent of the Citizens’ Assembly that are measures requiring— 

(i) the disbursement of public funds, or (ii) charges upon the people; (c) consider measures that have the support of more than two thirds of the Citizens’ Assembly but less than eighty percent.

(2) The Secretary of State must publish their decisions regarding recommendations by the Citizens’ Assembly and the reasons for them.

(3) The Secretary of State must implement the strategy to achieve the objectives. 

  1. Review of the strategy 

(1) If in the opinion of the Secretary of State or the Citizens’ Assembly the objectives will not be achieved by the strategy, the Secretary of State must review the strategy and revise it so that the objectives will be met.

(2) The Citizens’ Assembly may make recommendations regarding the revision of the strategy and in such a case section 4(1) and (2) shall apply.

(3) The Secretary of State must implement any revised strategy. 

  1. Duty of the Committee on Climate Change 

The following section shall be inserted into the Climate Change Act 2008: 

“33A It is the duty of the Committee on Climate Change to— 

(1) give the opinion specified in section 1 of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Act 2020;

(2) decide on a methodology for calculating the United Kingdom’s total CO2 consumption emissions

(3) develop its advice based upon the perspectives of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and methodologies from The Biodiversity Metric 2.0 (4) decide on a methodology for calculating the health of ecosystems, including measures of species’ abundance, the quality and scope of biodiverse habitats and soil quality and contamination;

(5) set annual carbon budgets that supersede the existing carbon budgets and publish an annual report showing the progress towards meeting the objectives and implementing the recommendations; and

(6) base its advice only on a transparent scientific and mathematical interpretation of the objectives and explicitly communicated related value judgments. 

  1. Short title, Extent and Commencement 

(1) This Act may be cited as the Climate and Ecological Emergency Act 2020

(2) This Act extends to the whole of the UK provided that the Secretary of State shall secure the consent of the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Parliament before taking any action in Wales and Scotland respectively on devolved matters.

(3) This Act shall, subject to subsection (2), come into force on the day it receives Royal Assent. 

The drafting of the CEE bill gratefully acknowledges the expert contributions and insights of 

Prof. Kevin Anderson 

Dr. James Dyke 

Dr. Charlie Gardner 

Prof. Dave Goulson 

Prof. Tim Jackson 

Dr. Joeri Rogelj 

Prof. Graham Smith 

Mr. Robert Whitfield 

Update 3rd September 2020:

The CEE Bill was successfully tabled today with the maximum number of 11 co-sponsors from across 7 political parties covering all 4 nations in the UK. On top of this, more than 10 MPs have already backed the Bill as well.

Sadly, the date for the next ‘reading’ of the Bill isn’t until March 12th, 2021 – far too far away. It’s not good enough.

We need to get as many MPs as possible to back the bill. Join rebels in Westminster and call or email your MP now.

4th September 2020:

From Extinction Rebellion:


We’ve done it—the first stage of the CEE Bill campaign is complete!

On Wednesday, 2nd September, Caroline Lucas MP tabled the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill in Parliament. As anyone watching on Parliament TV can tell you, bill presentations are quick—blink and you miss it! But make no mistake, this was a historic moment. 

Caroline Lucas has sent us this message of gratitude for all of us who helped pass this milestone:

Twelve MPs can be named on a private member’s bill when it’s introduced, and we managed to get cross-party support from six political parties. Here are the co-sponsors of the CEE Bill, who supported Caroline yesterday:

  • Alan Brown (Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
  • Stephen Farry (Alliance, North Down)
  • Claire Hanna (Social Democratic and Labour Party, Belfast South)
  • Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat, Bath)
  • Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion)
  • Clive Lewis (Labour, Norwich South)
  • Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
  • Tommy Sheppard (Scottish National Party, Edinburgh East) 
  • Alex Sobel (Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West)
  • Zarah Sultana (Labour, Coventry South)
  • Nadia Whittome (Labour, Nottingham East)

But it doesn’t stop there—more and more MPs are also supporting the Bill. The momentum is growing. Has your MP stepped up yet?

  • Fleur Anderson (Labour, Putney)
  • Paula Barker (Labour, Wavertree)
  • Richard Burgon (Labour, Leeds East)
  • Ian Byrne (Labour, Liverpool West Derby)
  • Wendy Chamberlain (Lib Dem, North East Fife)
  • Daisy Cooper (Liberal Democrat, St. Albans)
  • Rosie Cooper (Labour, West Lancashire)
  • Rosie Duffield (Labour, Canterbury)
  • Lilian Greenwood (Labour, Nottingham South)
  • Kim Johnson (Labour, Liverpool Riverside)
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey (Labour, Salford and Eccles)
  • Kenny MacAskill (Scottish National Party, East Lothian)
  • John McNally (Scottish National Party, Falkirk)
  • Layla Moran (Liberal Democrat, Oxford West and Abingdon)
  • Brendan O’Hara (Scottish National Party, Argyll and Bute)
  • Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Labour, Streatham)
  • Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party, Strangford)
  • Claudia Webbe (Labour, Leicester East)
  • Dr. Philippa Whitford (Scottish National Party, Central Ayrshire)
  • Mick Whitley (Labour, Birkenhead)
  • Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru, Arfon)
  • Mohammad Yasin (Labour, Bedford)

Please show your love and send a ‘thank you’ by email, phone or social media (using #CEEbill) if you’re a constituent of any of these MPs. We need to let them know that we appreciate their backing!

We’ll keep you posted on the next stage of the campaign, but for now, it’s really important to keep getting the support of as many MPs as possible. 

So if you haven’t already, ask your MP to support the CEE Bill and—if they are—whether they’ll also add their name to the Early Day Motion 832 (which is one way to demonstrate their backing). For tips on tweets and letter writing, check out the campaign resources on our website. 

23rd September 2020

The CEE Bill now has its own website, which lists which MPs are supporting it (currently 50+)


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Thousands Calling for a Just Recovery

Today, the following email was received from, a global climate movement.

“Last week, we reached out for help in telling some of the most powerful people in the world to spend coronavirus recovery money on people, not polluters.

Thousands of us took action. 350 supporters and volunteers across the globe tweeted, emailed, made face masks and even took to the streets for COVID-19 safe actions. From Brazil to Belgium we rose up together and made it impossible for politicians to look away. In Frankfurt, climate activists blockaded the European Central Bank in protest at their funding of polluters. In the heart of London, youth strikers projected demands for change onto the Treasury and the Bank of England.

We showed world leaders that we’re not stopping until we get the just recovery we asked for. We will keep taking action online and offline over the coming months to ensure that recovery money spent by governments and central banks goes towards building back better – rather than returning to a business-as-usual that wasn’t working.

So take a few moments out of your day to appreciate the power of this movement and strengthen your commitment to the fight for a #JustRecovery. Watch and share the inspiring wrap-up video from last week’s actions that happened around the world.

Last week two summits took place, similar in that they were both gatherings of immensely powerful people making decisions regarding trillions of euros which would affect all of us and our post-coronavirus future. One was a gathering of European leaders and the other a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s twenty richest countries.

What was the outcome of these meetings, you may ask? Did we get the Just Recovery we asked for? The short answer is: not yet. But we knew going in that a real just recovery wouldn’t be about any one meeting. It’s a struggle that will continue until we’ve won a better, brighter future for everyone.

Last week, together, we achieved something very special: we changed the conversation, and we showed world leaders the power of this growing movement for a just recovery. 

We will keep fighting, keep pushing, keep shouting until we get what this world needs and deserves. A recovery that prioritises workers over polluters, that puts the health of people over the profits of corporations and that builds solidarity and community across borders. Thank you for being part of this fight! “


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Greta Thunberg: World must ‘tear up’ old systems, contracts to tackle climate change

gretathunberg in davos

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said that the world needs an economic overhaul to have a chance of beating climate change and that countries should be prepared to tear up old deals and contracts to meet green targets.

The 17-year-old spoke to Reuters TV after she and other activists sent an open letter to European leaders urging them to take emergency action and saying people in power had practically “given up” on searching for a real solution.

“We need to see it as, above all, an existential crisis. And as long as it’s not being treated as a crisis, we can have as many of these climate change negotiations and talks, conferences as possible. It won’t change a thing,” Thunberg said, speaking via video from her home in Stockholm.

Demands in the letter, released before the European Council summit, included an immediate halt to all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, in parallel with a rapid ending of fossil fuel subsidies.

The letter also called for binding annual “carbon budgets” to limit how much greenhouse gas countries can emit to maximise the chances of capping the rise in average global temperatures at 1.5C, a goal enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

This week (21st July 2020), it has been announced that Greta Thunberg has received an award for €1 million from the Gulbenkian Rights award. She has pledged that this money will be given to climate change activist groups, working to protect the environment and halt climate change.


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Global Heating and Climate Breakdown: a report from Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR)


Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards, University College London, argued at the Responsible Science conference that mainstream climate science reports downplay the scale of the threats currently faced, especially from sea-level rise, extreme heat, shutdown of the Gulf Stream, and increased seismic activity. Here he spells out why.

Article from Responsible Science journal, no.2; online publication: 6 July 2020

Also to be found on the website of SGR, of which Bill McGuire is a patron:

“A very fine line separates alarmism from what a risk expert colleague of mine likes to refer to comically as Compulsive Risk Assessment Psychosis (CRAP) – scaremongering as it is otherwise known. This distinction applies to global heating and ensuing climate breakdown as much as anything else; probably more so given the imminent and desperately serious ramifications of the climate emergency. My concern, however, is that – up until now at least – the message reaching the ears of both the great and the good, and the general public, is simply not alarmist enough. We have alarms for a reason, after all, they save lives. What I mean by this is that it doesn’t set the alarm bells ringing about just how bad things could get as hothouse Earth becomes an ever more likely reality.

In other words, the picture that people see and take on board, of what a broken climate will look like, is not complete. It ensures that the general view of the global heating threat is watered down, one that fails to encompass scenarios involving more deleterious impacts on society. In so doing, a sense of false security is engendered and the ‘call to arms’ to tackle global heating, diminished.

The problem can be traced to the very top. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) undoubtedly has done vital work in building understanding and appreciation of the global heating threat, flagging likely future scenarios, and signalling what needs to be done, and how quickly – to stave off the worst of climate breakdown. Without it we would already be in a very dark place indeed. But there are downsides too.

The IPCC’s periodic reports are conservative and compiled to reflect a broad consensus. This means that they fail to address global heating and climate breakdown scenarios that, although currently regarded by the climate science community as less likely, are – nonetheless – perfectly possible. Because the IPCC reports form the climate bible that drives news stories in the press and broadcast media, this incomplete picture is – inevitably – the one pitched to the public.

The blame cannot, however, be placed at the door of the IPCC. Every report it publishes is scrutinised line-by-line by representatives of all 197 nations and groupings signed up to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These include the United States, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Russia and others, who have a history of playing down the climate emergency. As a matter of course, objections are raised to any elements of the text that such signatories regard as pushing too far the envelope of what global heating and climate breakdown might bring. As a consequence, much peer-reviewed climate change science fails to make the reports and, as a consequence, goes largely unnoticed by most of the media and the public.

Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the area of future sea-level rise. In its 2019 Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere (SROCC)1, the IPPC’s worst case likely range for sea-level rise by the period 2081-2100 is 51 – 92cm, with a figure of up to 110cm provided for 2100. In stark contrast, peer-reviewed research, not addressed in the report, forecasts that more rapid break-up of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could see global sea levels 292cm higher by the end of the century2. Such an order of rise is supported by polar ice melt doubling times at the lower end of the 10-40 year range3 and by a tripling in the rate of Antarctic ice loss between 2012 and 20174. If maintained, such a tripling time of five years would see sea level climbing by around 5cm a year by the mid 2040s.

Another possible consequence of global heating that is underplayed in the IPCC reports is the collapse of the Gulf Stream and associated currents – known in oceanographic circles as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). In the aforementioned 2019 SROCC report, the IPCC recognises that ‘…the AMOC has weakened relative to 1850-1900….’ but that there is ‘….insufficient data to quantify the magnitude of weakening…’ or to ‘…properly attribute it to anthropogenic forcing.’ The report goes on to say that the ‘….AMOC is projected to weaken in the 21st century….although collapse is very unlikely.’ Other research, reported in a range of peer-reviewed papers is, however, more worrying. The strength of the AMOC has declined by 15 percent since the mid-nineteenth century and is now at its weakest for 1500 years and probably since it last collapsed 11,500 years ago5,6. Shutdown, should it occur, could happen extremely rapidly, perhaps over the course of just a year or two, leading to major cooling of the North Atlantic region and serious knock-on effects on sea level and weather patterns.

In it’s 5th Assessment Report, published in 20147, the IPCC notes that ‘…it is very likely that heat waves will occur with a higher frequency and duration.’ It does not, however, say anything about the terrifying prospect of so-called humid heat waves. These arise when the wet bulb temperature – a measure of the combination of heat and humidity – reaches 35°C. Such conditions, if sustained, are unsurvivable, so that even a fit and healthy human in the shade has only about six hours to live. The required combination of heat and humidity has not been encountered in modern times, but the conditions were almost met in parts of Iran in July 2015. Looking ahead, the second half of the century is forecast to see humid heat waves affecting the Ganges and Indus valleys of South Asia8, the Persian Gulf and China. Most at risk is the North China Plain, where widespread irrigation is predicted to contribute to the occurrence of humid heat waves later this century that could affect up to 400 million people under a business as usual emissions scenario9.

Other elements of global heating and climate breakdown research are omitted from IPCC publications too, or at least soft-peddled. The key question then, is how can this information be made generally available and how can it’s profile be raised so as to present a more complete picture of what a hotter world might look like. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an easy solution. One way forward might be for the IPCC to openly acknowledge the existence of relevant and important peer-reviewed research that supports non-consensus findings, and to publish this material in addenda to the main reports. This would, or course, require the agreement of the signatories of the UNFCCC, which is likely to prove difficult, if not impossible.

Another way forward could be the establishment of an independently-vetted, non-political website, perhaps validated by national academies of science, on which peer-reviewed research findings not included – for one reason or another – in IPCC publications, could be lodged.

Building a more complete picture – for both stakeholders and the public – of what global heating and climate breakdown could mean, would also benefit from more climate scientists sticking their heads above the parapet and saying in public, what they currently reserve for private conversations. Many climate scientists clearly have an issue with telling it like it is, as high-lighted in a recent analysis10.

This showed that later observations of the climate system (e.g. ice extent and sea-level rise) were typically worse than earlier predictions made by climate scientists, and that key climate indicators were often underestimated. The study also unearthed a general feeling within the climate science community that it needed to give the impression of univocality – speaking with one voice – and a consensus outlook. The analysis also revealed that – when the world is watching – climate scientists worry about how they will be perceived. Taken together, all this means that most researchers working on global heating and climate breakdown tend to play down worst-case scenarios, thereby presenting an unrepresentative picture of their impacts and consequences. What the climate science community should be doing is not making consensus a goal. If it exists, it will emerge in its own right. If it doesn’t, then clear differences of opinion need to be acknowledged and clarified. The time for sweeping inconvenient research findings under the carpet and keeping heads down for fear of reputational damage or derision are long gone. We all have a right of access to the complete picture of the world our children and grandchildren could inherit. Failing to provide this may well mean that the actions we take in this critical decade fall short of what is needed to avoid catastrophic, all-pervasive, climate breakdown.”


Bill McGuire’s novel – SKYSEED – an eco-thriller about geoengineering gone wrong, is published in September 2020.


1 IPCC 2019, Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

2 Le Bars, D. et al. 2017 A high-end sea-level rise probabilistic projection including rapid Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss. Environmental Research Letters 12.

3 Hansen, J. et al. 2016 Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming could be dangerous. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3761-3812.

4 The IMBIE Team 2018 Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet 1992 – 2017. Nature, 558, 219-222.

5 Caesar, L. et al. 2018 Observed fingerprint of a weakening Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation. Nature 556, 191 – 196.

6 Thornalley, D. J. R. et al. 2018 Anomalously weak Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic overturning during the past 150 years. Nature 556, 227-230.

7 IPCC 2013-14 5th Assessment Report.

8 Im, E., Pal, J. S & Eltahir, E. A. B. 2017 Deadly heatwaves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia. Science Advances 3 (8), e1603322.

9 Kang, S. & Eltahir, E. A. B. 2018 North China Plain threatened by deadly heatwaves due to climate change and irrigation. Nature Communications Article 2894.

10 Oppenheimer, M. et al. 2019 Discerning experts: the practices of scientific assessment for environmental policy. University of Chicago Press. 304pp.


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Net Zero: CCC recommendations on how to achieve it

The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s statutory advisor, published its progress report at the end of June.


According to the report, a number of areas need urgent attention, if the government is to reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  These are:

  • Energy Efficiency – insulating Britain’s homes;
  • Domestic Heating – looking at low carbon alternatives;
  • Electric Vehicles –  the CCC suggests that a complete switch to electric vehicles can be achieved by 2032, earlier than the government’s target of 2035, though car manufacturuers are opposing this;
  • Carbon Tax – this would not hit consumers but could raise £15 billion a year, according to the CCC;
  • Agriculture and Land Use – such as tree planting and nature-friendly farming, which could change agriculture from a major source of emissions to a net absorber;
  • Reskilling and Retraining Programmes – a new workforce will be required to install low-carbon boilers, home insulation and offshore wind farms;
  • Behavioural Changes in Lockdown – showed that many people can work from home, reducing emissions from transport emissions. A new infrastructure to encourage people to cycle or walk to work needs developing;
  • Targeted Science and Innovation Funding – for the development of low-carbon technologies;
  • Adaptations to the Effects of the Climate Crisis – flood defences, protecting homes from hotter summers etc.


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In Antarctica, Thwaites Glacier is melting at an alarming rate

Last December, I posted a piece about the Greenland ice melting much quicker than expected.  Now, it would appear that a similar – and alarming – phenomenon is happening in Antarctica and in particular to the Thwaites Glacier.  A long description of the studies going on in Antarctica are published in the Financial Times:

The location, and comparative size, of the glacier can be seen in the following image, sourced from the Norwegian Polar Institute and included in the FT article.

Thwaites glacier

Thwaites Glacier is only a small part of the Antarctic ice but, in size, approximates to the size of England and Wales (see insert above).  According to the article, it is the most vulnerable place in Antarctica because several chunks of ice have already broken away from it. The studies of the glacier are part of a joint effort between British and American scientists.  The glacier is being studied in order to predict how much the sea level will rise in the future.

Antarctica holds around 90 per cent of the ice on the planet and is equivalent to the size of Europe.  It is covered in a blanket of ice, 2km thick. And as the planet heats up due to climate change, the polar regions warm much faster. This puts the icy continents of Antarctica and Greenland, in the Arctic region, right at the forefront of the effects of global warming. The South Pole has warmed at three times the global rate since 1989.

Scientists believe that, if Thwaites glacier is removed, other ice which it is holding back, will start draining into the ocean. By itself, Thwaites could raise sea levels about 65cm as it melts. But if it goes, there will be a knock-on effect across the western half of Antarctica, which could lead to between 2m and 3m of sea level rise, a rise that would be catastrophic for most coastal cities.