Sunday April 28th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
A Note From Britain- What’s Necessary To Win The Climate War
From one perspective Britain and most of Europe are far ahead of the United States, at least taking a lead on climate vacated by Trump’s America. In Britain recently there have been massive street protests from Extinction Rebellion inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Most European countries have pledged to get to zero emissions by dates well before 2050 while the U.S. continues to treat the atmosphere as an open sewer, with no real federal, central government plans to curb carbon. Most U.S. polls show that Americans are concerned, but is climate change near the top of lists of issues that voters care about? Sadly no. Yes, both the U.S. and Europe are sprouting wind and solar farms practically every week, but will Europe’s lead be enough to win the Climate War?
Britain was nearly invaded by Germany in both World Wars, so Britons know a thing or two about war mentality. It would appear that Britain is gearing up for the Climate War, but this time the enemy is dominating the planet already. Big oil and coal corporations with a sizeable arsenal of money will continue to interact with central governments, some would say in a civilization killing, corrupt manor. Special interests will also continue to pay for disinformation campaigns, and as history will show, these will be more egregious than most produced by Goebbels and the Nazis during World War Two, particularly if deaths that can be blamed on eventual climate change factors exceed one billion. The new “fascists” of this day are winning the Climate War. Churchill would be appalled in 2019.
What are some writers from Britain penning currently about what their country should be doing to fight the Climate War? Today’s featured article comes from Business Green to let my readers know what some current thought on the climate crisis:
Here is an excerpt:
Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg have reinvigorated the climate movement and revealed the utter paucity of their critics’ arguments – but what happens now?
What’s the plan?
It is the question that ricochets around every corner of the debate sparked by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) and its protests. It is the question asked of the government, the police, and the Mayor’s Office as they mull the conundrum of how to handle resolutely peaceful, but hugely disruptive protesters intent on the biggest act of mass civil disobedience in modern British history. It is the riposte to those in the political and commentariat class who patronisingly acknowledge the protestors’ ‘worthy’ aims, before condescendingly insisting they should be telling a more positive story or embracing a reheated Thatcherist credo of innovation and carbon pricing or towing their pink boat to China or whatever. And it is the legitimate challenge for XR and its supporters, as it considers how to best utilise the public awareness and political space it has created and perhaps starts to recognise that the demand for a net zero emission economy by 2025 is at the counter-productive/all but impossible end of the ambition spectr
One of the many useful services Extinction Rebellion has performed is to establish a heuristic to determine whether or not a politician, business leader, or media commentator takes climate action seriously through their reaction to the protests. The angry and just plain nasty response from the usual climate sceptic noises off was to be expected, but what has been far more disappointing has been the faux concern and limited engagement from those the US climate hawk David Roberts refers to as the ‘Very Serious People’ – the high profile and hugely influential commentators who insist they take climate change seriously, but it is best tackled through modest policy tweaks that amount to little more than business-as-usual.
Such tepid hot takes have been out in force this week. We’ve had repeated assurances market-led innovation will save us, without the slightest acknowledgement the UK and the world has been collectively pursuing such an approach for over a decade, during which time global emissions have just kept climbing.
We’ve had government pleas to praise the UK’s decarbonisation record, with barely a nod to the fact the UK is now on track to miss its emissions target, has axed key emission reduction policies, and has what Greta Thunberg described this week as a “creative” approach to carbon accounting.
We’ve had whataboutery with China, without even a glancing reference to why China’s emissions are so high (hint: they make everyone’s stuff), how the country has become the world’s biggest clean tech market, nor what another country’s emissions has to do with the UK’s domestic decarbonisation aspirations.
We’ve had sage advice for XR activists to tell a more positive story about the benefits of sustainable living so as not to scare and demotivate the public, without any awareness of the level of disruptive change deep decarbonisation will likely require, nor engagement with the fact positive green messaging has been used repeatedly throughout the past decade and, again, emissions have kept climbing. Don’t worry everyone, the climate crisis can be solved if environmentalists were just a bit more chipper when stopping traffic.
We’ve even had fearmongering that the protests will usher in an era where climate deniers are locked up for thought crimes, without any serious explanation as to how the biggest authoritarian threat to our society currently is not the people proposing the proroguing of parliament, but the people outside with the bongos.
A touch of humility
You would think anyone who accepts the science on climate change and understands the civilisation-threatening scale of the risks spelled out in the most recent IPCC report would look at people willing to get arrested in their desperation to drive bolder action against those risks and recognise the least they deserve is an honest and engaged response, perhaps even characterised by a touch of humility and a guilty acceptance decarbonisation efforts to date are yet to make so much as the slightest dent in global emissions trajectories. But apparently not. Glib Tweets about China are obviously easier.
The response to the critical ‘what’s the plan’ question seems to be ‘more of the same, with a touch more ambition perhaps, but let’s not scare the horses; look, we’re doing our best here, we’ve got the message, no we haven’t got any better ideas, can you please put the superglue down and let us get back to business-as-usual’. It is disappointing, a dereliction of duty, and in no way commensurate to the scale of the climate crisis, to put it mildly.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry mounted a robust defence of the government’s approach yesterday, arguing that the promoting of the UK’s successful decarbonisation track record should not be read as complacency, but a strategy to demonstrate to the wider public and other countries that deep emissions cuts could be achieved in a way that does not undermine economic gains.
It is a compelling argument, but it would be on much firmer foundations if the government was on track to meet binding emissions targets and if the Prime Minister and rest of Cabinet invested proper political capital in advancing the clean growth argument. Instead May ignores climate change in her conference speeches, betrays complete complacency in her PMQs responses, lets Cabinet Ministers basically ignore their decarbonisation responsibilities, signs off on new high carbon infrastructure, and, if rumours are to be believed, is allowing a Spending Review to advance with next to nothing new for the environment.
However, none of this is to give XR a free pass. You can welcome XR’s ambition and catalysing impact, as the CBI has done this week, and still critique their tactics and precise demands. Against the goals set by the organisers the protests have been a huge success to date, driving climate change into the national conversation in a completely unprecedented manner, forcing all those Very Serious People to actually discuss a topic they profess to take seriously before ignoring it for 51 weeks of the year. The polling results are hugely encouraging, with fully 60 per cent approving of the group’s aims even if a slim majority disapprove of the disruptive tactics. As XR confirms it is to bring the latest wave of protests to an end it is now reporting it has secured 30,000 new supporters in the past nine days.
But like any new movement XR’s impact remains fragile. Much of its success has been drawn from the moral authority that comes from well-intentioned, unerringly polite, peaceful protest and the carefully cultivated impression that it is not like the cookie-cutter left-leaning protests of the past. It has been encouraging to see the few missteps that risked turning the campaign into a more familiar howl of anti-capitalist outrage – the threat to ‘shut down’ Heathrow, the prospect of mass disruption to the Tube, the smashing of windows at Shell HQ – have not escalated. It has chosen to close the current wave of action at precisely the right time and in a constructive manner. ‘We are not Occupy’, the group declares. But the risk remains that even one misjudged action could badly undermine the surprisingly high level of public support the protests have enjoyed to date.
The group’s three core demands – the declaration of a climate emergency, a 2025 net zero emission target, and citizens’ assembly to determine how to meet the new goal – are also not without their risks. The declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ feels apposite at a time when temperatures are soaring and even financial giants such as Legal & General are warning of looming catastrophe. We are already signed up to the Paris Agreement and what, after all, is that if not a global recognition that we are facing an epoch-shaping crisis. There is nothing to be lost and a huge amount to be gained from the government telling the truth and declaring this emergency an emergency.
However, a People’s Assembly could either prove an effective means of breaking the political logjam and creating space for sufficiently bold decarbonisation policies or a mechanism for demonstrating quite how difficult it is to sell transformational emissions cutting programmes to the public.
There is encouraging evidence from around the world that deliberative democracy tends to deliver sensible, rational, and effective policy development. Climate policy with its huge reach and real world impact feels like an appropriate topic for such deliberation. But the risk remains that it simply highlights the same conflicting pressures that have hamstrung politicians’ efforts to date. At the same time were a People’s Assembly to come forward with a sufficiently robust net zero emission plan it would face inevitable questions over its democratic legitimacy from its many critics. It will be fascinating to see how the upcoming experiments in this area, such as Oxford City Council’s newly announced Citizens Assembly, will pan out.
Net Zero by 2025
And then there is the vision of achieving net zero emissions in the UK by 2025. Such a goal is, how shall we put this, bullish? Optimistic? Absurd? Counterproductive?
Can a major industrialised economy become net zero emissions within six years? Well, nothing is impossible; but also, no. The only way to have a shot at such rapid decarbonisation would be genuine state of emergency, wartime measures: energy and fuel rationing; mass insulation, EV deployment, and tree-planting programmes; cars banned and seized; boilers torn out of homes at the rate of thousands a day; an unprecedented increase in debt or quantitative easing to pay for it all; wind turbines and solar panels literally everywhere; heavy industry shuttered as you await carbon capture technologies to emerge. Even after all that, you wouldn’t make the deadline.
It is a common campaign tactic to demand the stretch target and then declare victory when a slightly less demanding version is agreed. But a target of such sweeping ambition does risk alienating the public and politicians with the sheer scale of the disruption it entails. Is there anyone, really, who believes the public is sufficiently signed up to climate action to give their democratic consent to a programme of such rapid transformation?
Moreover, XR feels like a force that will be with us for years to come. What happens in two years’ time when 2025 is four years away? What happens when the target is inevitably missed?
I’ve stopped reposting here, but I invite all to continue reading this article. I have highlighted a key written paragraph in red. I agree with the author, James Murray, that if the world is going to get serious fighting the Climate War, not raising white flags, climate change should literally be looked upon as a crisis or, if you will, an emergency.
Back in World War Two car factories had to be retooled so that tanks could be produced, literally within a few weeks. The same must be true to replace internal combustion engines with all electrics for the Climate War. Yes, I do know that we would have another at on our hands if cars were confiscated, though. The planet is starting to gear up for climate change phenomenon that would make the Blitz look like proverbial child’s play. I’m afraid that we will eventually lose practically all of the planet’s coastal cities given the current state of action.
I’m grateful, though, to at least have lived long enough to start to see large protests in the streets worldwide mostly from youth. When I retired in 2015 I was thinking that this level of protest would not be seen until at least the year 2030. As James Murray writes, now comes the hard part, turning protests into policy action such that society clearly knows what to do and how much sacrifice is needed. Once all agree on policy and action the Climate War can still be won. Hopefully a few more Churchill’s will arise to lead the world towards victory.
Here is some more climate and weather news from Sunday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)
We are seeing some ETs from India today:
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Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”