threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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The money behind the climate denial movement

Source:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/meet-the-money-behind-the-climate-denial-movement-180948204/?fbclid=IwAR0WzMd3LacjLTilr0UG_00vCHRTdX4ZJU7XaBS5lFQYPGSYX2d6CpnMliU

Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement.

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists, international governmental bodies, relevant research institutes and scientific societies are in unison in saying that climate change is real, that it’s a problem, and that we should probably do something about it now, not later. And yet, for some reason, the idea persists in some peoples’ minds that climate change is up for debate, or that climate change is no big deal.

Actually, it’s not “for some reason” that people are confused. There’s a very obvious reason. There is a very well-funded, well-orchestrated climate change-denial movement, one funded by powerful people with very deep pockets. In a new and incredibly thorough study, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle took a deep dive into the financial structure of the climate deniers, to see who is holding the purse strings.

According to Brulle’s research, the 91 think tanks and advocacy organizations and trade associations that make up the American climate denial industry pull down just shy of a billion dollars each year, money used to lobby or sway public opinion on climate change and other issues.

“The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires,” says the Guardian, “often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change.”

“This is how wealthy individuals or corporations translate their economic power into political and cultural power,” Brulle said. “They have their profits and they hire people to write books that say climate change is not real. They hire people to go on TV and say climate change is not real. It ends up that people without economic power don’t have the same size voice as the people who have economic power, and so it ends up distorting democracy.”

placards

Brulle stated that his project is the first of three; in the future he’ll turn a similar eye to the climate movement and to the environmental movement. But for now, the focus was on the deniers.

Now, what you can see in the movement itself is that it has two real roots. One is in the conservative movement itself, in that you see a lot of conservative foundations that had been funding the growth of the conservative movement all along now appear as funding the climate countermovement. You also can see dedicated industry foundations that come in to start funding the climate countermovement. So it’s kind of a combination of both industry and conservative philanthropies that are funding this process, and what they did was they borrowed a great deal of the strategy and tactics that came out of the tobacco industry’s efforts to prevent action on the health impacts of smoking.

What you see is the tactics that this movement uses were developed and tested in the tobacco industry first, and now they’re being applied to the climate change movement, and in fact, some of the same people and some of the same organizations that were involved in the tobacco issue are also involved in climate change.

Here’s where the money is coming from:

The climate denial movement is a powerful political force, says Brulle. They’ve got to be, too, to outweigh in the public’s mind the opinions of pretty much every relevant scientist. Brulle:

With delay and obfuscation as their goals, the U.S. CCCM has been quite successful in recent decades. However, the key actors in this cultural and political conflict are not just the “experts” who appear in the media spotlight. The roots of climate-change denial go deeper, because individuals’ efforts have been bankrolled and directed by organizations that receive sustained support from foundations and funders known for their overall commitments to conservative causes. Thus to fully understand the opposition to climate change legislation, we need to focus on the institutionalized efforts that have built and maintain this organized campaign. Just as in a theatrical show, there are stars in the spotlight. In the drama of climate change, these are often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians, such as Senator James Inhofe. However, they are only the most visible and transparent parts of a larger production. Supporting this effort are directors, script writers, and, most importantly, a series of producers, in the form of conservative foundations. Clarifying the institutional dynamics of the CCCM can aid our understanding of how anthropogenic climate change has been turned into a controversy rather than a scientific fact in the U.S.

With acknowledgements to Colin Schultz, a Canadian writer and editor.



Following on from this is an interesting piece of research in the UK, reported in The Guardian. The analysis found that Conservative MPs were five times more likely to vote against climate action than MPs from other parties.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/11/tory-mps-five-times-more-likely-to-vote-against-climate-action

Written by Jonathan Watts and Pamela Duncan, it gives details of parliamentary voting over the last decade on climate-related issues by UK MPs.  Sadly, the current Prime Minister does not come out well in it, despite the fact that his father has spoken publicly in support of Extinction Rebellion. Boris Johnson scored zero in the analysis.

The Guardian, in collaboration with the investigative environmental journalism group DeSmog UK, rated MPs from 0% to 100% based on 16 parliamentary votes since 2008. The selection sought to cover a range of measures that would affect the UK’s carbon emissions, with an emphasis on votes where MPs were willing to break ranks and put the climate before their party.


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Denouncing climate activists will not save the planet

The Financial Times has been increasingly drawing attention to the issues of climate change and I applaud them in this.  However, they have a policy of not wanting their readers to copy and distribute the text of articles published in their paper.  To me, this is a contradiction in terms.  If they really support actions against climate change, they ought to support the duplication of the vital messages they publish.

I am therefore just copying below a portion of a very interesting article, published in the Financial Times on 11th October 2019 and written by Camilla Cavendish, a former head of the Downing Street policy unit and a Harvard senior fellow, in the hope that the readers of this website will want to read the whole article and therefore subscribe to the FT.



“Extinction Rebellion draws the ire of those who refuse to change their own habits

Will a few Happy Meals break the planet? As Extinction Rebellion continued its genteel, witty, highly effective climate change protests this week, one commentator tried to shame some activists queueing at a London branch of McDonald’s. History does not relate whether Big Macs were ordered (more likely the spicy veggie wraps), but that did not dampen the indignation. We humans are brilliant at distracting ourselves from uncomfortable truths.

While a majority of the public now agree that climate change is an urgent issue, there is still resentment of the messengers. Hence the widespread carping that activists haven’t made sacrifices in their own lives — which is somewhat unfair, given that more than 1,000 have been arrested in London this week, at least 100 in Amsterdam and 30 in Sydney. Not everyone is merrily camping in “hemp-smelling bivouacs”, as UK prime minister Boris Johnson suggested. Many I met were cold, tired and dreading jail. It’s the rest of us bystanders who are the real hypocrites — we project sympathy but continue to freeride on the planet. I can’t count the number of commuters, drivers and friends who have told me this week that they agree about the climate, and feel that “someone should do something”, but haven’t made a single change in their own habits. At least the conversation has started. The climate movement is rapidly turning Big Oil into the new Big Tobacco……

When I studied environmental economics 20 years ago, it was axiomatic that we should tax pollution. But ferocious lobbying by vested interests has prevailed, partly because governments fear voters are addicted to cheap fuel, food and flights. Hence, the UK’s trumpeted carbon budgets do not include emissions from shipping or aviation. Now, climate activists have created a willingness to hear inconvenient facts about how much manufacturing pollution we have outsourced, for example, to low-cost countries like China…..

The west’s record is not as rosy as we pretend. Denial from the White House does not justify inaction elsewhere. If European societies stick together and tread more lightly on the planet, we could be a model — while, incidentally, selling the world our low-carbon technologies. Analysis by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change suggests that to get anywhere near zero carbon we must ration our driving, flying and meat consumption. If we won’t do so voluntarily, it may eventually be imposed on us, and not only by a government of the left.

There is a growing literature about “climate grief”, the overwhelming sadness at what is happening as species and habitats are wiped out. The enormity of the task makes it natural to feel like giving up and having a Happy Meal. But watching footage of 91 year-old protester John Lynes hobbling into a police van, I remembered what my great-aunt used to say: “A society grows stronger when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” There is something profoundly moving about watching different generations campaigning together for a better future. Rather than attack them, is it so outrageous to ask that we each start making some changes in our own lives?”

John Lynes

John Lynes (91) being arrested for supporting Extinction Rebellion

A video of him being arrested can be found in the Metro newspaper online news.



 


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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:

https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/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?


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Countries prepare for a 2018 meeting to check on the progress of the Paris Agreement

This information has been copied from the website of the UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

http://newsroom.unfccc.int/paris-agreement/countries-prepare-how-to-check-paris-progress-in-2018/

“Preparations for an important formal discussion next year between countries – known as the “facilitative dialogue” – on progress to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement were advanced at a meeting in Rabat, Morocco, on September 7-8, 2017.

The detailed results can be seen in this meeting note from the Presidencies.

Preliminary thinking announced at the meeting by country heads of climate change delegations and the incoming and outgoing UN Climate Change Conference Presidencies Morocco and Fiji would structure the dialogue around three key questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

The presidencies will continue to engage with countries on preparations before reporting on this to the next COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, on 7-16 November 2017.  During this conference, delegates, journalists and observers are invited to visit 18 beacon projects, which demonstrate the energy transition that Germany is currently going through. See: http://www.energieagentur.nrw/english/cop23.

In Paris, in 2015, countries agreed to hold the dialogue which, among other objectives, will be focused on solutions to meet the Paris Agreement goals and will look to encourage rising ambition of country’s national climate plans (NDCs).

The in-coming Fiji Presidency is keen for countries to engage in the spirit of Talanoa, a Fijian term that refers to a mutually beneficial building of relationships and sharing of ideas. This underpins the objective of the dialogue where countries aim to gather information and resolve problems with each other, in an atmosphere of transparency and inclusiveness.

The dialogue will consist of two phases:

  • The Preparatory phase will start at the UN sessional climate change meeting period in May, 2018, and will end at the beginning of COP24, at the end of the year. However, it is expected that Parties will start work earlier through national and regional discussions.
  • The Political phase will take place at COP24 and is intended to attract high-level political attention and focus on the objectives of the dialogue, in particular, how to achieve more in the next NDCs from countries.

To help transparency and inclusiveness in the process, the UN Climate Change secretariat will be creating an online platform before May to gather all inputs to the dialogue.

 


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Predictions: climate refugees to reach 50 million by 2050

From the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/climate-refugees-rising-seas_uk_59b7d86fe4b027c149e2564e?

It has been predicted that by 2050, the number of climate refugees could rise to 50 million.

The global sea level rose about eight inches in the last century. The rate in the last twenty years, however, is nearly double that of the last century.

Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of sea water as it warms. The current NASA estimation is that by 2100 the sea levels will rise by up to four feet – depending on how quickly land-based glaciers melt.

Small island nations and cities built on water will be affected the most.

50 million people will be displaced from their homes due to sea level rise.  That is 10 times the number of Syrian refugees.

The question is – where will they go?

The full 32-minute video, covering an expedition to Antarctica, can be seen here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/end-of-the-earth-watch-huffpost-uks-first-documentary-here_uk_59bbe848e4b0edff971b86eb?

It has been made to look at the issue of climate change from a different perspective, though I find that the style of  presentation and editing, though not meant, tends to trivialise the whole issue.  However, it includes some important footage of Trump and other climate change deniers, as well as interviews and footage from people from a variety of countries across the globe, including the Marshall Islands and India.

November 2017:  A new approach to the issue of climate refugees is being pioneered by New Zealand.  See the full report at:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-11-03/new-zealand-considers-climate-migration-visa-pacific-islanders-fight-stay

New Zealand could become the first country in the world to recognize climate change as a valid reason to be granted residency, according to an interview with a government minister on Tuesday.

The nation’s newly elected government is considering creating a new visa category for Pacific Islanders displaced by climate change. If implemented, New Zealand’s proposal would offer up to 100 humanitarian visas per year as an experimental — and unprecedented — trial.

The 1951 Refugee Convention does not cover people displaced across borders due to climate change. Though Fiji had previously committed to providing future climate refuge to Pacific neighbours, the New Zealand proposal marks the first time a developed country has considered addressing the international legal protection gap with a regional visa agreement.

Further discussion of this offer, with especial reference to Kiribati, can be found in the blog entitled The Effects of Sea Level Rise on Island Nations.

woman_kiribatiA woman swimming at high tide near her house in Kiribati 2017