EcoEquity: Global Climate Justice » After the Catastrophe

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These are early thoughts. Comments are more than welcome. (Version of Jan 14)
Tom Athanasiou (toma) Download as PDF here

Trump’s election was a catastrophe. Coming on top of everything else, it more than justifies pessimism. But at the risk of
seeming ridiculous, let me add that our new position is not without its possibilities.

We would not have chosen this path. But if we’re both smart and lucky we may be able to slingshot out of it, and into a mobilization that would not otherwise have been possible.

But we’re going to have to be brave enough to take justice seriously. Among much else, we’re going to have to work out what the pretty phrase “climate justice” actually means.

Among much else.

Before Trump there was Paris, and its celebrated goal of “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C,” while pursuing efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” So here’s a question: When Dave Roberts, one of America’s premier climate bloggers, published a post-election reaction piece called “Trump’s election marks the end of any serious hope of limiting climate change to 2 degrees,” was he right?

I don’t think so. But I’ll grant that, if he’s wrong, he’s wrong in a complicated way. For one thing, the hope we had before Trump’s election was not itself entirely serious.

Here’s how Roberts described it:

“The truth is, hitting the 2-degree target (much less 1.5 degrees) was always a long shot. It would require all the world’s countries to effectively turn on a dime and send their emissions plunging at never-before-seen rates.

It was implausible, but at least there was a story to tell. That story began with strong U.S. leadership, which brought China to the table, which in turn cleared the way for Paris. The election of Hillary Clinton would have signaled to the world a determination to meet or exceed the targets the U.S. promised in Paris, along with four years of efforts to create bilateral or multilateral partnerships that pushed progress faster.

With steady leadership, the U.S. and China would exceed their short-term goals. Other countries would have their willpower fortified and steadily ratchet up their commitments. All this coordinated action would result in a wave of clean energy innovation, which would push prices down lower, which would accelerate the transition.”

Is this an accurate telling? I think it is, more or less, but it’s also radically incomplete. For one thing, “U.S. leadership” has not been an unambiguous force, and there are many people around the world who would object even to the phrase. More pressing, the “wave of clean energy innovation” that this story depends on was never going to be enough. On this front, see the bit where countries “steadily ratchet up their commitments.” This is a reference to the push for (jargon alert) an “ambition ratchet” or “ambition mechanism.” The two terms are almost interchangeable but the idea is critical, because both the Paris pledges of national action and the post-Paris pledges of international transition support are far too weak to actually achieve Paris’ “well below 2°C” temperature target

…(read more).

Inside Story – What’s behind growing economic gap?

The gap between the poor and the super-rich is growing.

The world’s eight richest people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the entire world.

That’s according to a new report by Oxfam which describes this trend as obscene, unfair and grotesque.

The eight men are mostly American, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffett, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Oxfam warns this economic inequality threatens to pull societies apart and undermine democracy.

Its report says people have lost trust in their governments and are no longer willing to accept the status quo.

The anti-poverty organisation suggests that may help explain Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.
And the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

So what needs to be done to reduce wealth inequality?

Presenter: Laura Kyle

Guests:

Deborah Hardoon – Deputy head of research at Oxfam.

Aly Khan Satchu – CEO of Rich Markets and an Emerging Markets Economist.

Ben Southwood – Head of Research at Adam Smith Institute.

Noam Chomsky – How to Deal with the Trump Presidency


Chomsky’s Philosophy

Published on Jan 16, 2017

One Year on Earth – Seen From 1 Million Miles


NASA Goddard

Published on Jul 20, 2016

On July 20, 2015, NASA released to the world the first image of the sunlit side of Earth captured by the space agency’s EPIC camera on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite. The camera has now recorded a full year of life on Earth from its orbit at Lagrange point 1, approximately 1 million miles from Earth, where it is balanced between the gravity of our home planet and the sun.

EPIC takes a new picture every two hours, revealing how the planet would look to human eyes, capturing the ever-changing motion of clouds and weather systems and the fixed features of Earth such as deserts, forests and the distinct blues of different seas. EPIC will allow scientists to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth.

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

For more information about DSCOVR, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Kayvon Sharghi

Music Credit: Beside You, Dominic Marsh and Giovanni Tria on Sound Pocket Music

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12312

The Earth from Space

Published on Jan 14, 2017

The view of Earth from orbit was the focus of this What’s New in Aerospace? presentation televised on NASA Television from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The program featured Piers Sellers, a climate scientist and former NASA astronaut, taking viewers on a tour of our home planet as never seen before.

Double Agent / Snap Judgment, “Backstory” in Backstory

During Apartheid-era South Africa, Olivia, a government spy, finds herself on the wrong side of history.

Producer: Eliza Smith

“I owe it to many people, and to myself, to set the record straight. There have been many versions of parts of the story in the press over the years, many lies overlaid with truths and truths overlaid with lies. Much of the truth is just a palimpsest, an echo that changes even in the act of repeating it, but this is my story.”

In the dying years of apartheid, a most extraordinary story hit the headlines. Agent Olivia Forsyth had escaped from ANC imprisonment in Angola. Upon her return home she was feted as a hero by the government. In a flurry of media appearances and press releases, Forsyth claimed to have infiltrated the ANC and passed on vital information.

Is that what really happened? In the world of espionage, truth is the first victim and nothing is as it seems. Here, for the first time and in her own words, South Africa’s most notorious female spy during apartheid lays bare the story of her life.

Olivia Forsyth was also known as agent RS407, codename Lara, lieutenant in the Security Branch of the South Africa Police, ANC comrade Helen Bronson, prisoner Thandeka, alias Christine Smith.

Future Sea Level Rise: Top 10 Countries In Danger


The Daily Conversation

Published on Jul 30, 2015

These are the top 10 countries threatened by the 6 meter sea level rise we are almost guaranteed to see in the not-too-distant future, according to the projected pace of global warming and ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica.