Monday, July 9, 2018

High-Level Political Forum

High-Level Political Forum #HLPF2018 begins today at the @UN. @IRENA is at this High-Level Political Forum to help bring renewable energy solutions to the forefront of addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs). Details on some of our key events, here: bit.ly/2MkSSe5

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Capitalism is killing the planet warns GMO's Grantham

Capitalism is killing the planet warns GMO's Grantham: capitalists need to wake up to climate change reality

Jeremy Grantham, the longtime investor famous for calling the last two major bubbles in the market, is urging capitalists and "mainstream economists" to recognize the looming threat of climate change.

"Capitalism and mainstream economics simply cannot deal with these problems. Mainstream economics largely ignore [them]," Grantham, who co-founded GMO in 1977, said Tuesday in an impassioned speech at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago. "We deforest the land, we degrade our soils, we pollute and overuse our water and we treat air like an open sewer, and we do it all off the balance sheet."

This negligence is due in large part to how short-sighted corporations can be, Grantham said. "Anything that happens to a corporation over 25 years out doesn't exist for them, therefore, as I like to say, grandchildren have no value" to them, he said. Read More

Costa Rica Becomes the First Nation to Ban Fossil Fuels


Today, Costa Rica took steps to eclipsing even these amazing countries in terms of sustainability. President Carlos Alvarado announced they would be banning fossil based fuels altogether. This makes Costa Rica the first country in the world to completely decarbonize.

"Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that's starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies," Costa Rican economist Monica Araya said.

As unlikely as going carbon-free in today's modern world might seem, Costa Rica already derives 99% of its energy from renewable sources. Their biggest hurdle will be in the transportation industry, where there is very little in the way of development in that sector and demand for cars is growing. Read More

Monday, July 2, 2018

(Why) American Collapse is Extraordinary – Eudaimonia and Co

Does anyone know what’s going to happen to America? Does America have a future? Or does it just collapse into…wait, what is it collapsing into, anyways?


Let me ask you that another way. Are they authoritarians? Fascists? Nazis? Religious extremists? “Ethno-nationalist nativists”? Which one of these terms, ideas, which are also explanations, would you pick?
I’d pick all of them.
American collapse is more like a megacollapse. A supercollapse. A hypercollapse. It combines elements of all the previous collapses which we know about in modern history — and then some of its own, too — and melds, combines, and blends them together into something like a a titanic, earth-shattering, historic, once in a millennium implosion. Think of it as a supervolcano that’s capable of taking down a whole continent, changing the world’s climate, tilting the globe off its axis, and darkening the sun itself for an age, erupting.
All that is precisely what it really is. Let’s go through all the elements American collapse combines, and why they matter — and if it frightens you to read this, well, the truth is: you should be scared. American continue to underestimate American collapse. They don’t really understand the first thing about it, yet.
Like Irani or Turkish collapse, American collapse is theocratic. It has obvious strands of fundamentalist theocracy woven into it. Regressive movements have sprung up to reverse institutional and legal progress for gays, women, minorities, all in the name of religious piety. American decline has always been driven by a hardcore fundamentalist minority, many of whom seem happy with Taliban style restrictions on basic civic freedoms. Read More

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Biodiversity is the 'infrastructure that supports all life'


Dr Cristiana Pașca Palmer, UN assistant secretary general and executive secretary of the convention on biological diversity, discusses Half Earth, a future biodiversity agreement and where to find the money to save life on Earth

In my view, we need to ensure that the entire planet is used sustainably. That is, 100% of the Earth, the “Whole Earth”, has to be managed in a way that will allow continuous healthy functioning of the ecological systems that support life on Earth, including human life.
We can think of biological diversity as the “infrastructure” that supports all life on the planet. When we lose species through extinction the web of life is destroyed and this in turn affects the resilience of the ecosystems and nature’s capacity to provide the services that humans benefit from – ensuring our food, the air we breath, the water we drink, or the moments of peace and serenity we enjoy in nature.

Conservation and protection of nature, ecosystems, and species is one essential pillar of any strategy to ensure fully functional natural systems in the long term. Ecological restoration of degraded lands through natural means should be another key component. Ultimately, the paradigm shift that perhaps is necessary is the wide-understanding that the Earth is one system of interconnected elements, and that humans’ social and economic systems are embedded in the larger nature’s system, and not the other way around. Read More

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thirty years later, what needs to change in our approach to climate change


27 June 2018

Dr. James E. Hansen’s opinion in the Boston Globe


Source: 1965-2017 BP Statistical Review of World Energy; 1900-1965 Department of Energy Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center (Energy unit: Gt = gigatons = billion tons of oil equivalent)

THIRTY YEARS AGO, while the Midwest withered in massive drought and East Coast temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I testified to the Senate as a senior NASA scientist about climate change. I said that ongoing global warming was outside the range of natural variability and it could be attributed, with high confidence, to human activity — mainly from the spewing of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. “It’s time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” I said.

This clear and strong message about the dangers of carbon emissions was heard. The next day, it led the front pages of newspapers across the country. Climate theory led to political action with remarkable speed. Within four years, almost all nations, including the United States, signed a Framework Convention in Rio de Janeiro, agreeing that the world must avoid dangerous human-made interference with climate.

Sadly, the principal follow-ups to Rio were the precatory Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement — wishful thinking, hoping that countries will make plans to reduce emissions and carry them out. In reality, most countries follow their self-interest, and global carbon emissions continue to climb (see graph above).

It’s not rocket science. As long as fossil fuels are cheap, they will be burned and emissions will be high. Fossil fuel use will decline only if the price is made to include costs of pollution and climate change to society. The simplest and most effective way to do this is by collecting a rising carbon fee from fossil fuel companies at domestic mines and ports of entry.

Economists agree: If 100 percent of this fee is distributed uniformly to the public, the economy will be spurred, GNP will rise, and millions of jobs will be created. Our energy infrastructure will be steadily modernized with clean energies and energy efficiency.

The clinching argument for a carbon fee, as opposed to ineffectual cap-and-trade schemes dreamed up by politicians, is that the fee can be imposed almost globally via border duties on products from countries that do not have a fee, based on standard fossil fuel content of the products. This will be a strong incentive for most countries to have their own fee.

Any cap approach, by contrast, leaves the impossible task of negotiating 190 caps on all the world’s nations. Governments of some countries may keep a carbon fee as a tax. However, in democracies uniform 100 percent distribution of the funds will be needed to achieve public support.

A carbon fee is crucial, but not enough. Countries such as India and China need massive amounts of energy to raise living standards. The notion that renewable energies and batteries alone will provide all needed energy is fantastical. It is also a grotesque idea, because of the staggering environmental pollution from mining and material disposal, if all energy was derived from renewables and batteries. Worse, tricking the public to accept the fantasy of 100 percent renewables means that, in reality, fossil fuels reign and climate change grows.

The United States and Europe burned most of the global carbon budget that we are permitted to burn if climate is to be stabilized. As such, we have a moral obligation to the developing world, and a practical problem, because we all live on the same planet.

Young people are puzzled that, 25 years ago, President Clinton terminated R&D on next-generation safe nuclear power, the principal alternative to fossil fuel electricity. It is not too late. My advice to young people is to cast off the old politics and fight for their future on technological, political, and legal fronts.

It will not be easy. Washington is a swamp of special interests and, because of the power of the fossil fuel industry, our political parties are little concerned about the mess they are leaving for young people.

Young people have great potential political power, as they showed in their support of Barack Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders in 2016. However, it is not enough to elect a leader who spouts good words. It is necessary to understand needed policies and fight for them.

The best way to fight for the carbon fee and dividend is to join Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which now has more than 90,000 members but needs more, especially young people. CCL members are appropriately polite and respectful as they cajole politicians in Washington. If they were joined by the fire of young people that was demonstrated in 2008 and 2016, even the mighty fossil fuel industry would take notice.

The fossil fuel industry afraid of kids? They might be when they notice who is standing behind the kids: the United States Constitution. Kids are people with constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.

Many lawsuits are being filed, in the United States and around the world, on behalf of young people. They include stopgap efforts, such as a suit to block the Trump administration from opening the Powder River Basin in Montana to coal exploitation (with potential to exceed US emissions of the past 50 years), and the Our Children’s Trust lawsuit, demanding government policies to reduce fossil fuel emissions at a rate that the science indicates is needed to support a healthy climate.

Chances of winning lawsuits grow as incontrovertible evidence of climate change grows. The judiciary is less subject to bribery from the fossil fuel industry than are the other branches of government. Yet in this case, justice delayed may be justice denied. Young people cannot afford the “all deliberate speed” that followed the Brown v. Board of Education decision regarding civil rights in 1954.

Young people and old people must understand the implications of the accompanying graph. The fight to phase down fossil fuel emissions is not yet being won. We all must understand needed energy policies and fight for the future of our young people. We must use all the levers of our democracy to force the fossil fuel industry to become a clean energy industry.

James Hansen, retired director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, directs the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program in the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The online version available on Boston Globe: http://bit.ly/2tIKFK7

The PDF version available: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2018/20180627_BostonGlobeOpinion.pdf

Thank you for your support and please LIKE and SHARE my article.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Building back better: achieving resilience through stronger, faster, and more inclusive post-disaster reconstruction

A FOLLOW-UP TO THE UNBREAKABLE REPORT

New publication by @GFDRR "Building back better: achieving resilience through stronger, faster, and more inclusive post-disaster reconstruction" a lot of interesting data and insights to many countries and the private sector Read More