Fossil Fuels

The Climate Crisis Is Starting to Create a Global Consciousness Shift – David Suzuki

July 20, 2015

When an assassin killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914, no one called it the start of the First World War. That happened years later, after the implications, consequences and scale of the response could be assessed. It’s often the way. That’s why historians are important; they put events in context. Similarly, I doubt anyone knew how our world would change after Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built their first computer in Jobs’ parents’ garage in 1975. In 1988, when climate scientist James Hansen testified in Washington that human-caused global warming was kicking in, people might have been excused for failing to grasp the significance of his early warning. But there’s no excuse for humanity’s subsequent dismissal and denial of the reality of his statements and the deliberate, aggressive opposition to any action to reduce the threat. For years, environmentalists have called for an urgent response to runaway climate change. Evidence has poured in from around the world to corroborate Hansen’s conclusions, from melting glaciers, sea level rise and ocean acidification to increasingextreme weather events and changes in animal and plant behaviour and ranges. Read

Climate Change And Our Historic Calling By Kathy Kelly

July 20, 2015

Last weekend, about 100 U.S. Veterans for Peace gathered in Red Wing, Minnesota, for a statewide annual meeting. In my experience, Veterans for Peace chapters hold “no-nonsense” events. Whether coming together for local, statewide, regional or national work, the Veterans project a strong sense of purpose. They want to dismantle war economies and work to end all wars. The Minnesotans, many of them old friends, convened in the spacious loft of a rural barn. After organizers extended friendly welcomes, participants settled in to tackle this year’s theme: “The War on Our Climate.” They invited Dr. James Hansen, an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, to speak via Skype about minimizing the impacts of climate change. Sometimes called the “father of global warming”, Dr. Hansen has sounded alarms for several decades with accurate predictions about the effects of fossil fuel emissions. He now campaigns for an economically efficient phase out of fossil fuel emissions by imposing carbon fees on emission sources with dividends equitably returned to the public. Dr. Hansen envisions the creation of serious market incentives for entrepreneurs to develop energy and products that are low-carbon and no-carbon. “Those who achieve the greatest reductions in carbon use would reap the greatest profit. Projections show that

Koch-backed Group Calls for End of National Parks By Joan McCarter

July 9, 2015

The National Park system is broke, argues Reed Watson, the executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in an op-ed, so the only thing to do about it is stop creating national parks [3]. Because, of course, actually funding them is out of the question. “True conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have, not insatiably acquiring more and hoping it manages itself,” the op-ed reads. “Let’s maintain what we’ve already got, so we can protect it properly,” it concludes. Of course “hoping it manages itself” was never the aim of Congress in creating national parks, which is why they also created the National Park Service to manage them. The fact that the Service is horribly underfunded and has a huge backlog of projects is because a Republican-dominated Congress has starved it. That’s part of the whole destroying government in order to prove that government doesn’t work agenda. But in terms of the parks, it’s part of the Kochs’ real agenda: While the authors seem to push for “true conservation” from the federal government, in reality, PERC has a long history of advocating for the privatization [4] of America’s national parks and other public lands, and has significant

Now Is the Time to Eliminate Fossil Fuel Energy Dr. David Suzuki

July 6, 2015

If nothing else, the G7 countries’ recent agreement to end fossil fuel use for energy by 2100 signals a shift in the way we talk and think about global warming. Previous agreements were about reducing carbon emissions from burning coal, oil and gas. This takes matters a step further by envisioning a fossil fuel–free future. There are reasons for cynicism: the long time frame means none of the politicians involved in the commitment will even be alive, let alone held accountable, for meeting the target in 2100;Canada and Japan watered down Germany’s proposal to end fossil fuel energy by 2050; and many governments, including Canada’s, haven’t met even their current weak commitments. But in calling for deep emissions cuts by 2050 and an end to fossil fuel energy by 2100—“decarbonization”—the non-binding pledge at least shows governments recognize the need to confront climate change. Canada could show it takes the commitment seriously by heeding the advice of 100 scientists (including 12 Royal Society of Canada fellows, 22 U.S. National Academy of Sciences members, five Order of Canada recipients and a Nobel Prize winner, from a range of disciplines) whoreleased a statement with 10 reasons why “No new oil sands or related infrastructure projects should proceed unless consistent with an

Not ‘If’ But ‘How': New Study Shows Why All Extreme Weather Is Climate Related – Nadia Prupis

June 24, 2015

The debate over climate change has long focused on determining attribution—whether rising greenhouse gases and global warming caused a particular storm, drought, flood, or blizzard. Now, a new study inNature Climate Change published Monday seeks to shift the underlying question from “if” to “how.” “The climate is changing,” wrote National Center for Atmospheric Research scientists Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo and University of Reading physicist Theodore Shepherd in their study, Attribution of Climate Extreme Events. “The environment in which all weather events occur is not what it used to be. All storms, without exception, are different. Even if most of them look just like the ones we used to have, they are not the same.” As keen observers have noted for years, attributing extreme weather events to climate is the easy part. Trenberth and his team say it’s time to start analyzing events from the assumption that climate change does influence all weather systems—and focus instead on how it influences them. Trenberth explained to the Washington Post on Monday that “the attribution community has been very conservative, they always start from scratch, from a null hypothesis that there’s no influence of humans. Yet we’ve proved over and over that there is, so why do we do it that way?”

“Care For Our Common Home” Mother Earth By Pope Francis

June 19, 2015

An extract from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilised in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected. These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesise nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet

Channelling the Joy By George Monbiot

June 17, 2015

In defending the natural world, we should be honest about our motivations – it’s love that drives us, not money. Who wants to see the living world destroyed? Who wants an end to birdsong, bees and coral reefs, the falcon’s stoop, the salmon’s leap? Who wants to see the soil stripped from the land, the sea rimed with rubbish? No one. And yet it happens. Seven billion of us allow fossil fuel companies to push shut the narrow atmospheric door through which humanity stepped. We permit industrial farming to tear away the soil, banish trees from the hills, engineer another silent spring. We let the owners of grouse moors, 1% of the 1%, shoot and poison hen harriers, peregrines and eagles. We watch mutely as a small fleet of monster fishing ships trashes the oceans. Why are the defenders of the living world so ineffective? It is partly, of course, that everyone is complicit; we have all been swept off our feet by the tide of hyperconsumption, our natural greed excited, corporate propaganda chiming with a will to believe that there is no cost. But perhaps environmentalism is also afflicted by a deeper failure: arising possibly from embarrassment or fear, a failure of emotional honesty.

Long-lived carbon dioxide warms the world for many millennia By Tim Radford

June 16, 2015

Gun the engine, and the ignition of fossil fuel produces not just working energy but heat that dissipates quickly into the atmosphere. But it also produces carbon dioxide that dissipates into the atmosphere. And in less than two months, according to new research, that pulse of carbon dioxide will have engendered more heat for the planet than the original touch of the accelerator. Xiaochun Zhang and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution at Stanford, California, in the United States report in Geophysical Research Letters that the carbon dioxide warming exceeds the heat released by a single act of oil combustion in just 45 days. Light the gas in the cooking stove and the heating cost to the planet is exceeded in 59 days. Burn a lump of coal, and the atmosphere feels the greater heat in just 34 days. And in all three cases, the pulses of carbon dioxide will go on heating the planet – and on, and on. “Ultimately, the warming induced by carbon dioxide over the many thousands of years it remains in the atmosphere would exceed warming from combustion by a factor of 100,000 or more,” said Professor Caldeira. No escape Caldeira and another colleague only

Fossil Fuel Subsidies To Hit $5.3 Trillion In 2015, Says IMF – Ed King

May 21, 2015

Subsidies for fossil fuels that cause climate change have soared since 2013, a new study from the International Monetary Fund has revealed. Oil, gas and coal costs will be subsidized to the tune of US$5.3 trillion a year in 2015. The last time the IMF ran the data it calculated they were worth $1.9 trillion. Economists say the latest figures are more accurate as they represent the “true” cost of energy, which includes the environmental, health and climate impacts of burning fossil fuels. “Over half of the increase is explained by more refined country-level evidence on the damaging effects of energy consumption on air quality and health,” IMF officials Benedict Clements and Vitor Gaspar wrote in a blog. The figure is larger than the health spending of all the world’s governments combined, a reckoning the pair called “shocking”. Coal is the biggest recipient of polluting subsidies, the IMF found, given its combined impact on air quality and high carbon emissions. “The most dramatic difference, compared with the pre-tax figures, is for coal which is the biggest source of post-tax subsidies, amounting to 3.0% of global GDP in 2011 and rising to 3.9% in 2015,” says the study. The World Bank

Governments Giving Fossil Fuel Companies $10 Million a Minute: IMF – Nadia Prupis

May 19, 2015

The fossil fuel industry receives $5.3 trillion a year in government subsidies, despite its disastrous toll on the environment, human health, and other global inequality issues, a new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published Monday has found. That means that governments worldwide are spending $10 million every minute to fund energy companies—more than the estimated public health spending for the entire globe, IMF economists Benedict Clements and Vitor Gaspar wrote in a blog post accompanying the report (pdf). “These estimates are shocking,” Clements and Gaspar wrote. “The number for 2015 is more than double the US$2 trillion we had previously estimated for 2011.” Subsidies occur in two ways, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department directors Sanjeev Gupta and Michael Keen explained in a separate blog post published Monday: “[P]re-tax” subsidies—which occur when people and businesses pay less than it costs to supply the energy—are smaller than a few years back. But “post-tax” subsidies—which add to pre-tax subsidies an amount that reflects the environmental, health and other damage that energy use causes and the benefit from favorable VAT or sales tax treatment—remain extremely high, and indeed are now well above our previous estimates. The damages from energy use include “premature deaths through local air pollution, exacerbating congestion and other
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