threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Irresponsible engineering and science

https://theecologist.org/2020/mar/10/irresponsible-engineering-and-science

A report in The Ecologist from Scientists for Global Responsibility, written by Dr Stuart Parkinson.

Exxon Mobil Refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“Britain’s largest science and engineering event for young people – the ‘Big Bang Fair’ – attracts 80,000 people a year. Its main organiser is EngineeringUK, the professional body responsible for the public promotion of engineering.

So far, so good. But there’s a catch. The ‘lead sponsor’ for 2020 – and indeed for every year since the fair’s inauguration in 2009 – is BAE Systems, the biggest arms corporation outside of the USA, key supplier of strike planes to the Saudi Arabian military – whose bombing raids have killed so many civilians in Yemen – and the lead contractor for the new UK’s new nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines.

Disturbingly, this is not an isolated case of significant financial links between some of the world’s most controversial corporations and the UK’s professional bodies in engineering and science. Other examples are provided by the school education programmes run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the nation’s most prestigious engineering body.

Funding 

Data published in the Academy’s own annual report showed that over 70 percent of the external funding it recently received for its school education programmes was from fossil fuel corporations.

Furthermore, almost all of the downloadable teaching resources provided by the academy on its website involved arms corporations, the armed forces and/or promoted military technologies.

Then there’s the Energy Institute, the professional body for those working across the energy supply and demand sectors. Its most high-profile activity each year is ‘International Petroleum Week’ – one of the world’s biggest events for the oil and gas industry, generating income for the institute measured in the millions of pounds. Recent sponsors included Rosneft, Russia’s controversial state-controlled oil company.

These are some of the findings of a new report by Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) on the financial links between the fossil fuel and arms industries on the one hand, and some of the UK’s leading professional engineering and science organisations on the other. The range and extent of the links has not been documented until now.

Investments

Nine PESOs ran school education programmes which had some involvement with the fossil fuel industry, the arms industry or both. Three of these nine bodies had especially high levels of involvement – the Royal Academy of Engineering, EngineeringUK, and the Energy Institute.

In addition to the examples mentioned above, EngineeringUK has received funding of at least £1m from Shell for its programme, ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers’.

We found that four PESOs, including the Energy Institute and EngineeringUK, held high levels of investments in the fossil fuel industry.

As we were launching our report, we were able to extract additional data on the investments held by the Royal Society. The society admitted that it held a minimum of £16 million in the fossil fuel industry, and that the actual holdings could be a lot higher. Of 20 PESOs in our study, only one – the British Psychological Society – had an ethical investment policy which restricted investment in the fossil fuel or arms industries.

Five other PESOs held no investments in these industries due to their practice of not holding investments listed on stock exchanges or similar. …..”

The full article can be found through the link at the top of this article.


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Natural Climate solutions

Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot have made a video that they would like everybody to share.  It talks about using natural solutions – nature itself – to restore balance in the world.  They urge that funding currently being used to subsidise fossil fuels should instead be used in projects designed to green the planet.  See it here:

 



 


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Australian PM waters down Pacific Islands declaration on climate change

The 50th meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum met in Tuvalu on 13th – 16th August 2019.  During the meetings a declaration was produced on the climate change crisis. Australian PM, Scott Morrison, and his parliament had been working to dilute the language in the declaration; they succeeded in removing the word “crisis”, as well as removing all but one reference to coal.  Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, said that it looked as if Pacific leaders would not be successful in getting the language of “climate change crisis” into the declaration, with the words “climate change reality” being substituted.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, middle, watered down a climate crisis resolution this week at the Pacific Islands Forum.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, (centre) at the Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific leaders have been strident in their calls for urgent action on the climate crisis at the forum in Tuvalu, one of the countries most at risk due to climate change. It is affected by rising temperatures as well as rising sea levels, erosion, tide inundations and salinity in the water table that makes growing food very difficult. Many on the islands believe their country will be submerged within their lifetimes, forcing them to leave.

On Monday, the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, called for Australia “to do everything possible to achieve a rapid transition from coal to energy sources that do not contribute to climate change”, saying coal posed an “existential threat” to Pacific islands.

“Watered-down climate language has real consequences,” said Bainimarama, “like water-logged homes, schools, communities, and ancestral burial grounds.”

After a joint press conference, Enele Sopoaga said he had told the Australian prime minister during the retreat: “You are concerned about saving your economies, your situation in Australia, I’m concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu and likewise other leaders of small island countries.”

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was similarly critical of the declaration’s stymied content.

It was reported that the Prime Minister of Tonga had cried at the retreat while talking about two young women who had presented to leaders on Monday about the impacts of the climate crisis in Tonga.

Further information about the plight of many Pacific Island groups can be found in another blog on this site entitled: “The effects of rising sea levels on island nations”.



Tuvalu’s plight:

2Tuvalu

Climate change on Tuvalu

From: http://klima-tuvalu.no/tuvalu-and-climate-change/the-consequences-of-climate-change-on-tuvalu/

The nine islands of Tuvalu are located in the middle of the Pacific. Funafuti, the main island and capital, is at 1000 km North of Fiji. Tuvalu became, notably thanks to the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, the international symbol of the consequences of climate change. Sea-level rise, one of the most known consequences, is a major threat for Tuvalu, considering that this country’s highest point is 4,5 meters over sea-level (whereas most of the land is way below that point). The consequences of climate change will have and already have considerable impacts on these islands.

In the National Adaptation Programme of Actions (NAPA), the government of Tuvalu has identified seven main and immediate threats for the livelihoods of Tuvaluans. These seven adverse effects are presented here:

Coastal: Following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea-level has already risen by 20 centimetres between 1870 and nowadays. Considering the low-lying position of Tuvalu, this trend is going to dangerously affect the islands. The objective of the government is to increase the resilience of coastal areas and settlement to climate change.

Agricultural: Due to sea-level rise, the ground of Tuvalu is prone to increasing salinization, threatening the habitats of some plants, such as pulaka and coconut trees. Considering that Pulaka traditionally is the staple food in Tuvalu, the adaptation strategy is to introduce salt-tolerant pulaka.

Water: The islands of Tuvalu have progressively lost their fresh groundwater resources, not only due to sea-level rise, but also because of human pollution. In consequence, Tuvaluans only rely on rainwater storage to meet their needs. However, the seasons on Tuvalu are getting irregular and difficult to forecast, leading to droughts and water shortage. In order to ameliorate this situation, the adaptation plan recommends improved and increased water collection and water conservation techniques.

Health: Vectors breeding grounds will have an increasing availability in the next years and decades because of higher tides, inundations and tropical cyclones. The increased availability will exacerbate the exposure of the Tuvaluans to water borne diseases and will increase the epidemic potential of the islands.

Fisheries: Climate change, heating the ocean water, impacts the corals and consequently the marine fauna. The biodiversity of the ocean, and also, in the case of Tuvalu, of the atolls will decrease. In order to prevent this irreparable lost of species due to heat, fragile ecosystems have to be protected.

Fisheries: The biodiversity of the atoll and particularly in the shallower water in the lagoon, will not be the only affected by the impacts of the rising surface water temperature. The rising temperatures will also considerably reduce the shellfish and available fish resources. Considering that the Tuvaluans, on average, eat 500 grams of fish per capita every day, a reduction of the resource will have a disastrous impact of the livelihoods and, thus, also on development.

Disaster: Tuvalu has been increasingly exposed to tropical storms and cyclones since 1990.  Between 1970 and 1990, only three tropical storms, hurricanes or cyclones struck Tuvalu. However, between 1990 and 2005, the islands experienced thirteen similar meteorological events. In order to ease the impacts of the population, the country will have to implement disaster alerts and response systems.

These different threats that Tuvalu is or will be experiencing in the next years or decades are similar to all Small Island Developing States.



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Conversation between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg

July 9th 2019

Last weekend The Guardian published a long-distance conversation between AOC and GT.  It can be found here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/29/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-met-greta-thunberg-hope-contagious-climate?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMTkwNzA1&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GreenLight&CMP=greenlight_email

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (29) is the youngest ever US congresswoman and Greta Thunberg is a 16 year-old Swedish schoolgirl.  Both of them overtly campaign against climate change and, in the conversation, discuss the issues and difficulties they have experienced whilst doing so.

In February, Ocasio-Cortez submitted the Green New Deal to the US House of Representatives, calling for, among other things, the achievement of “net-zero” greenhouse gases within a decade and “a full transition off fossil fuels”, as well as retrofitting all buildings in the US to meet new energy efficient standards. Thunberg has been campaigning both in Sweden and internationally for people to recognise the urgency of doing something about global warming and climate change.

In the course of their conversation, Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg discuss what it is like to be dismissed for their age, how depressed we should be about the future, and what tactics, as an activist, really work. Ocasio-Cortez speaks with her customary snap and brilliance that, held up against the general waffle of political discourse, seems startlingly direct. Thunberg, meanwhile, is phenomenally articulate, well-informed and self-assured, holding her own in conversation with an elected official nearly twice her age and speaking in deliberate, thoughtful English. They are, in some ways, as different as two campaigners can get – the politician working the system with Washington polish, the schoolgirl working from her bedroom to reach the rest of the world. There is something very moving about the conversation between these young women, a sense of generational rise that, as we know from every precedent from the Renaissance onwards, has the power to ignite movements and change history.

Do click on the link above and read the full conversation.  It will inspire you to keep going in your own activism.

AOCGretaThunberg2

                      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez                           Greta Thunberg



 


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Revoke legislation which obligates maximising economic recovery of UK oil & gas: petition to government

The UK Infrastructure Act 2015 makes it a legal obligation to “maximise economic recovery of UK petroleum” – committing this and future governments to maximise emissions from UK fossil fuels.

At the same time, they have legal obligations to minimise them: essential because of the climate crisis.


The Infrastructure Act was passed in 2015. 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/7/section/41/enacted

The Climate Change Act was passed in 2008.
It is legally-binding national legislation to address climate change. UK also signed the Paris Agreement.

More on UK legal duties on climate change:
https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/the-legal-landscape/

Prof. James Hansen on the planetary emergency:
https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Hansen-letter-to-general-public.pdf

Both Acts appear to contradict one another and the Infrastructure Act operates against the need to be reducing (or stopping altogether) the use of fossil fuels.

Please read all the links and the letter above and sign the petition.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/259116

At 10,000 signatures…

At 10,000 signatures, the UK government will respond to the petition

At 100,000 signatures…

At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament



 


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Guardian calls for the nationalisation of the oil companies in order to tackle global warming

oilfields

Owen Jones, writing in the Guardian, discusses what measures British politicians can take in order to respond to the XR demands made over the Easter period:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/climate-change-oil-companies-extinction-rebellion

He states that Extinction Rebellion has got the ball rolling but more radical action is needed if changes are to be made.  He believes that the focus must now shift to the fossil fuel companies and the banks and states: “As long as they remain under private ownership on a global scale, humanity’s future will be threatened.”

Apparently, ExxonMobil plans to “pump an astonishing 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than it did in 2017″

According to the United Nation’s IPCC, oil and gas production has to fall by 20% by 2030, and 55% by 2050.  But Owen Jones states that the economic self-interest and political power of the fossil fuel industry is deliberately sabotaging this goal. He provides evidence of vast sums of money being spent in the US 2016 elections, to lobby for subsidies to continue for the fossil fuel industry.

And the banks do not have clean hands either. Since the 2015 Paris climate agreement, 33 global banks – led by big US financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase – have provided $1.9tn in finance to the fossil fuel industry. HSBC is funding the expansion of coal plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam; while Barclays bank has shelled out $85bn of financing for fossil fuels since 2015 alone.

bankimage.JPG

Owen Jones believes that the banks and the fossil fuel companies must be brought under public ownership, if the Paris targets are to be achieved. Otherwise, “they will continue to place short-term profit for elite investors ahead of the future of the planet and continued existence of humanity.”

He ends his article with the words:

 What do we value more: an economic system which privileges profit above all other considerations, or the continued existence of human civilisation as we recognise it? A reckoning is coming.”



 


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Oil giants spending millions to block climate change action

A report, cited in msn news and The Guardian, states that most of the top oil companies are lobbying on social media advertisements proclaiming the virtues of fossil fuel production.  The report was published by InfluenceMap.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/news/top-oil-firms-spending-millions-lobbying-to-block-climate-change-policies-says-report/ar-BBV4Dn4?ocid=spartanntp

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/22/top-oil-firms-spending-millions-lobbying-to-block-climate-change-policies-says-report

The report’s author, Edward Collins, analysed corporate spending on lobbying, briefing and advertising, and assessed what proportion was dedicated to climate issues. He found that the largest five stock market listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m (£153m) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.  Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil were the main companies leading the field in direct lobbying to push against a climate policy to tackle global warming. Increasingly they are using social media to successfully push their agenda to weaken and oppose any meaningful legislation in the USA to tackle global warming.  In the run-up to the US midterm elections last year $2m was spent on targeted Facebook and Instagram ads by global oil giants and their industry bodies, promoting the benefits of increased fossil fuel production.

But the report said these campaigns were misleading the public about the extent of the oil companies’ actions because, while publicly endorsing the need to act, they are massively increasing investment in a huge expansion of oil and gas extraction. In 2019 their spending will increase to $115bn, with just 3% of that directed at low carbon projects.

The Guardian article provides graphic data to support these statements.