ScienceAlert: Here Are Five of The Main Reasons People Continue to Deny Climate Change

MARK MASLIN, THE CONVERSATION 30 NOV 2019

Temperature differences from normal around the globe averaged over the last five years. (NASA)

The fossil fuel industry, political lobbyists, media moguls and individuals have spent the past 30 years sowing doubt about the reality of climate change – where none exists.

The latest estimate is that the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200 million a year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate policy.

Their hold on the public seems to be waning. Two recent polls suggested over 75 percent of Americans think humans are causing climate change.

School climate strikes, Extinction Rebellion protests, national governments declaring a climate emergency, improved media coverage of climate change and an increasing number of extreme weather events have all contributed to this shift. There also seems to be a renewed optimism that we can deal with the crisis.

But this means lobbying has changed, now employing more subtle and more vicious approaches – what has been termed as “climate sadism“. It is used to mock young people going on climate protests and to ridicule Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old young woman with Asperger’s, who is simply telling the scientific truth.

Read more at ScienceAlert.com …

TruthOut: Scientists Refute Biden’s Claim That No Scientists Think Green New Deal Can Work

Jon Queally, Common Dreams Published January 29, 2020

Joe Biden pulls on his bottom lip
Joe Biden talks to campaign volunteers during a stop at Jeno’s Little Hungary on January 28, 2020, in Davenport, Iowa.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

After former Vice President Joe Biden late last week falsely claimed that “there’s not a single solitary scientist that thinks” the kind of bold Green New Deal initiative put forth by his 2020 Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders “can work,” more than four dozen U.S. climate scientists responded Tuesday to make clear that just isn’t true.

Sanders’ Green New Deal is a sweeping proposal that calls for “100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization by at least 2050” while investing $16.3 trillion over ten years to create an estimated 20 million new jobs, support vulnerable communities and a just transition for workers, and fund a massive infrastructure project.

The Vermont senator has said such a plan is necessary to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Read more at TruthOut.org …

Read the letter from the scientists to Bernie Sanders here …

Truthout: Faced With Climate Disaster, Australian Prime Minister Plans to Open Coal Mine

Op-Ed: Thomas Klikauer, Truthout Published January 31, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tours a property hit by bushfires on January 3, 2020, in Sarsfield, Victoria, Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tours a property hit by bushfires on January 3, 2020, in Sarsfield, Victoria, Australia. James Ross-Pool / Getty Images

Born around the same time as the French student and workers’ uprising in May 1968, there is nothing revolutionary about the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, also known as “Scotty from Marketing.” An Australian satirical website penned the nickname (which the prime minister rejects) because Morrison had two jobs in marketing from which he was fired.

As a young boy, he attended the prestigious Sydney Boys High School and later studied economics at a local university. With his beloved conservatives in power under former Prime Minister John Howard, Morrison was appointed director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport from 1998 to 2000, and managing director of Tourism Australia from 2004 to 2006.

With his marketing skills and the powerful assistance of Australia’s Rupert Murdoch-owned press, Morrison got himself elected prime minister of Australia in 2018. Like most of Australia’s arch-conservatives, he relies rather heavily on Murdoch’s propaganda machine. As journalist George Monbiot notes, “On the day the nation’s lethal heat wave struck, Murdoch’s newspaper The Australian filled its front page with a report celebrating new coal exports and a smear story about the chiefs of the state fire services, who were demanding an immediate end to the burning of fossil fuels.”

Read more at Truthout.org …

Guardian: Let’s abandon climate targets, and do something completely different

Setting targets for climate action sounds sensible, but is actually impeding progress. There’s a different approach: maximisation

George Monbiot @GeorgeMonbiot Wed 29 Jan 2020 06.00 GMT Last modified on Wed 29 Jan 2020 13.42 GMT

An oil rig in the North Sea
‘The 2015 Infrastructure Act introduced a legal duty to ‘maximise the economic recovery’ of petroleum in the UK.’ An oil rig in the North Sea. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

The crisis is not imminent. The crisis is here. The recent infernos in Australia; the storms and floods in Brazil, Madagascar, Spain and the US; and the economic collapse in Somalia, caused in part by a devastating cycle of droughts and floods, are not, or not only, a vision of the future. They are signs of a current and escalating catastrophe.

This is why several governments and parliaments, the UK’s among them, have declared a climate emergency. But no one in government acts as if it is real. They operate within the old world of incremental planning for a disaster that has yet to arrive.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the reports of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the official body that began with such hope and promise of holding the government to account, but that now seems to have abandoned scientific realities in favour of political priorities.

Its latest report, on changing the UK’s land use, is so unambitious that, in some respects, it would take us backwards. For example, it calls for a 10% reduction in cattle and sheep numbers over the next 30 years. But it admits that over the past 20 years, their numbers have declined by 20%, so this would involve a slowing of the trend. Cultured meat and milk could replace these sectors almost entirely by 2050.

Read more at the Guardian …

Rabble.ca: New book fights neoliberal consensus on climate change

Sophia Reuss January 30, 2020

San Francisco youth climate strike, March 2019. Image: Marti Johnson/Wikimedia Commons

Of all the lessons that the architects of neoliberalism have imparted over the past four decades, perhaps the most insidious was the idea that there would not be losers along the road to 21st-century progress. Instead, the prospect of the end of history brought with it the promise that all of us would be winners.

The future was frictionless. Or so the political logic went.

Today, that logic has worn thin around the edges. The reality of climate breakdown has exposed the idea that a better, human future was inevitable for what it was: a new-fangled political cover to mask the realities of capitalist wealth concentration. A better future — or any future at all, it seems — must be fought for, vigorously.

If the very fact of climate change has mainstreamed the trickery of this neoliberal logic, then the authors of A Planet to Win (Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Thea Riofrancos, all prominent climate activists and scholars) put it to rest once and for all. Within the context of late-stage capitalism and climate collapse, the authors argue that the activist left must popularize a new moral and political calculus, one aimed at building a world where all people can live a good life. For Aronoff, Battistoni, Cohen and Riofrancos, this means fighting for — and winning — a radical Green New Deal. 

Read more at Rabble.ca …

CBC: What’s the connection between climate change and infectious diseases?

CBC News · Posted: Jan 31, 2020 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: January 31

(Sködt McNalty/CBC)

We still don’t know where the 2019 novel coronavirus came from. The leading suspicion is an animal host – a bat, likely – infected another animal that has more contact with humans. 

That’s how the 2012 MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak is believed to have played out. A bat, at some point in the past, infected a camel, which may have sneezed on a human. 

One of the reasons the human and animal worlds are bumping up against each other is a changing climate. Research suggests that warmer winters and springs are keeping bats, for example, around longer because the insects they feed on also like the warmth. And this may affect the spread of diseases bats carry.

“Climate change, coupled with other human environmental changes like urbanization and habitat destruction, is bringing us closer to wildlife,” said Dr. Katie Clow, a professor at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. “So there’s this very complex interplay of many different changes happening all at the same time.”

Read more at CBC.ca …

IPCC: Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15) [Wikipedia]

The following was copied verbatim from the Wikipedia article on the IPCC on 2020-01-31 for the purpose of giving us something up-to-date, brief and reliable to read based almost directly (Wikipedia) from the experts at the IPCC. The most cogent parts have been emphasized. All the links are working for those of you interested in reading further.

Main article: Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (published 8 October 2018)

When the Paris Agreement was adopted, the UNFCCC invited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to write a special report on “How can humanity prevent the global temperature rise more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial level”.[100] The completed report, Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15), was released on 8 October 2018. Its full title is “Global Warming of 1.5 °C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty”.[100]

The finished report summarizes the findings of scientists, showing that maintaining a temperature rise to below 1.5 °C remains possible, but only through “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure…, and industrial systems”.[100][101] Meeting the Paris target of 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) is possible but would require “deep emissions reductions”, “rapid”,[101] “far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.[102] In order to achieve the 1.5 °C target, CO2 emissions must decline by 45% (relative to 2010 levels) by 2030, reaching net zero by around 2050. Deep reductions in non-CO2 emissions (such as nitrous oxide and methane) will also be required to limit warming to 1.5 °C. Under the pledges of the countries entering the Paris Accord, a sharp rise of 3.1 to 3.7 °C is still expected to occur by 2100. Holding this rise to 1.5 °C avoids the worst effects of a rise by even 2 °C. However, a warming of even 1.5 degrees will still result in large-scale drought, famine, heat stress, species die-off, loss of entire ecosystems, and loss of habitable land, throwing more than 100 Million into poverty. Effects will be most drastic in arid regions including the Middle East and the Sahel in Africa, where fresh water will remain in some areas following a 1.5 °C rise in temperatures but are expected to dry up completely if the rise reaches 2 °C.[103][104][105]

Special Report on climate change and land (SRCCL)

Main article: Special Report on Climate Change and Land

The final draft of the “Special Report on climate change and land” (SRCCL)—with the full title, “Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems” was published online on 7 August 2019.[106] The SRCCL consists of seven chapters, Chapter 1: Framing and Context, Chapter 2: Land-Climate Interactions, Chapter 3: Desertification, Chapter 4: Land Degradation, Chapter 5: Food Security, Chapter 5 Supplementary Material, Chapter 6: Interlinkages between desertification, land degradation, food security and GHG fluxes: Synergies, trade-offs and Integrated Response Options, and Chapter 7: Risk management and decision making in relation to sustainable development.[107][108]

Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC)

Main article: Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

The “Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate” (SROCC) was approved on 25 September 2019 in Monaco.[109] Among other findings, the report concluded that sea level rises could be up to two feet higher by the year 2100, even if efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to limit global warming are successful; coastal cities across the world could see so-called “storm[s] of the century” at least once a year.[110]

CTVNews: Map- How big are the Australia wildfires and where are they burning?

Jesse Tahirali CTVNews.ca Digital Content Editor Published Tuesday, January 7, 2020 11:00AM EST

TORONTO — The wildfires raging in Australia have so far scorched an area larger than the province of Nova Scotia, and the continent’s wildfire season–which normally lasts through March–is nowhere near its end.

While rain and cooler temperatures are bringing some relief to communities, there are still more than 135 fires burning across the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales and higher temperatures are in the weather forecast for later in the week. Seventy of those fires are not contained.

As officials warn conditions may only worsen, CTVNews.ca puts into context the wildfires’ devastating toll to humans and wildlife, and how the size of the blaze compares to other recent major fires around the world.

Read more at CTVNews.ca …

See interactive map …