Club of Rome Global Assembly 2009, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t ij/Harbour Music Hall, Amsterdam, Netherlands. *Any statements relating to policy are personal opinion.
Global warming IS a time bomb.
There may still be time to defuse it, but that requires policy-makers to take the actions that are needed, not the ineffectual actions they are discussing.
Global Warming StatusDespite the publicity that global warming has received, there is a large gap between what is understood by the relevant scientific community, and what is known by the people who need to know, the public and policymakers.
1. Knowledge Gap Between
• What is Understood (scientists)
• What is Known (public)
2. Planetary Emergency
• Climate Inertia → Warming in Pipeline
• Tipping Points → Could Lose Control
3. Bad News & Good News
• Safe Level of CO2 < 350
• Multiple Benefits of Solution
Global warming is small compared to day-to-day weather fluctuations, so it is hard for people to recognize that we have a crisis – but we do.
The climate system has great inertia, caused, e.g., by the 4-kilometer-deep ocean and the thick ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland – they have only partly responded to the human-made changes of atmospheric composition. But that inertia is not our friend – it is a Trojan horse – by the time the public notices that change is underway the momentum of the climate system may be sufficient to guarantee much larger changes. The climate system can pass tipping points, such that large change continues out of our control.
The bad news is that we have already passed into a dangerous range of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The good news is that if we act smart and promptly it is still feasible to achieve a safe level of atmospheric gases, and the actions needed to achieve that would have multiple benefits in addition to climate stability. Continued...
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) will introduce an amendment to a bill in the House Financial Services Committee to raise the existing threshold to either $50 billion or $75 billion, he told Huffington Post on Wednesday night. Those thresholds could rise in the future should he make them inflation-adjusted, he said.
House pushes for sweeping audit of the FedBipartisan effort aims to get peek into secretive U.S. central bankWASHINGTON - House lawmakers want to pry open the books of the famously secretive Federal Reserve with legislation that would subject the U.S. central bank to a sweeping congressional audit.The effort is overwhelmingly bipartisan. Hardline conservatives and liberal Democrats have banded together in their criticism of the Federal Reserve as a major power broker in the financial system that does not answer to Congress.Continued...
While the U.S. Capitol is not the National Cathedral, members of Congress are the custodians of a sacred trust: to protect the vitality and integrity of the extraordinary experiment the Founders began. For example, the debate about climate change isn’t just about polar bears and energy prices. It’s about whether a free people will be a responsible people, a capitalist economy will be a caring economy and a democracy will protect the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone, even those not yet born.
Some of this sacred trust is codified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Some is unwritten and implied. And although the Constitution dictates that we keep government and religion separate, there are places in public policy where secular values and moral values overlap. Stewardship of nature and its resources – called “creation care” in religious circles – is one of those places.
Government’s stewardship responsibility is recognized in the body of laws past congresses developed once we realized that burning rivers, poisoned water, dangerous air, carcinogenic fish and toxic wastes were not in the national interest. In the landmark National Environmental Policy Act, for example, Congress declared:
It is the continuing responsibility of the Federal Government to use all practicable means, consistent with other essential considerations of national policy, to improve and coordinate Federal plans, functions, programs, and resources to the end that the Nation may . . . fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations . . . Continued...
Rob Hopkins, “The Transition Handbook”
During his 10 months in office, President Barack Obama and his team have assembled a respectable list of accomplishments on energy and climate policy. One might conclude the President has done about all he can do with the powers of his office.
One would be wrong. What energy and climate security require – what the future of the American Dream demands – is audacious big-picture ideas that capture the imagination, stir the emotions, speak to the souls, rally the support and win the involvement of the American people. That’s been lacking so far in the President’s climate leadership.
I don’t see evidence that the American people have reached a “yes, we can” moment on climate action. My bet is that most people are still asking “yes we can what?” President Obama speaks of a “new energy economy”, but that’s an abstraction for many of us. Unless you’re a policy wonk, the climate debate probably is mumbo-jumbo, all about carbon pricing, cap and trade architecture and auction allowances. This is not the rhetoric that ignites a mass movement.
I suspect there is a sizeable segment of the American people waiting to be engaged, waiting to have their imaginations triggered, waiting to understand what a new energy economy looks like and what they can do to build it. I’m not saying that citizens can’t act without top-down leadership. Indeed, as President Obama hinted recently in his “Grab a Mop” speech, there’s fundamental unfairness, guaranteed stasis and more than a little buck-passing when we citizens stand on the sidelines, some expecting the White House to do everything, others protesting it is doing far too much. Continued...
One prospective hero is The Citizen-Consumer. Consumers are not the first group that pops to my mind when I think about environmental leadership. Unbridled consumption without regard for consequences has much to do with the mess we’re in.
Then came a poll by TIME magazine over the summer. It found that nearly four of every 10 American consumers over age 18 regularly and deliberately choose products made by “socially responsible” companies. If conspicuous consumption got us into this mess, can it be that conscionable consumption will get us out? Maybe. Based on its poll and several other factors, TIME concludes:
In America, we are recalibrating our sense of what it means to be a citizen, not just through voting or volunteering, but also through what we buy…We are seeing the rise of the citizen consumer – and the beginnings of a responsibility revolution.We might be tempted to assume these green consumers – TIME calls them the “responsibles” – come from the liberal wing of America’s vast customer base. We’d be wrong. According to TIME’s poll, “responsibles” are almost equally divided between people who classify themselves as conservatives, moderates and liberals.
The second unlikely hero is The Corporation. New evidence suggests that companies around the world are beginning to discover that “green” is golden. A significant number of companies apparently are committing to social responsibility and sustainability. Continued...
Conducted by Climate Risk Pty. Ltd. of Great Britain and Australia, the study concludes:
Runaway climate change is almost inevitable without specific action to implement low-carbon re-industrialization over the next five years (emphasis mine)…World governments have a window that will close between now and 2014. In that time they must establish fully operational, low-carbon industrial architecture. This must drive a low-carbon re-industrialization that will be faster than any previous economic and industry transformation…Today, only three out of 20 industries are moving sufficiently fast enough.By “low carbon re-industrialization”, the authors mean energy efficiency and clean generation technologies, low-carbon agriculture, and sustainable forestry. They have identified 24 critical resources and industries the world will need to develop quickly to avoid climate catastrophe. Among their conclusions:
o By itself, emissions trading will not be enough to cause the necessary re-industrialization of the world economy. We will need massive private investments; tens of trillions of dollars from the investment community; and more aggressive government action to create a stable long-term investment environment.
“Starting with the least-cost mitigation solutions and working our way forward to higher-cost solutions as carbon prices rise – that approach will take too long,” says Sean Kidney, Climate Risk’s manager in Europe. “We need to tackle all solutions at the same time.” Continued...
Climate change will be one of the critical forces shaping the coming century…it will fundamentally alter the way we live, the risks we face and how we interact in an increasingly interdependent world.
The Changemakers initiative aims to identify and engage the leading activists, elected officials, authors, bloggers, actors, musicians and thought leaders who have the greatest capacity to spark change on issues of importance..
In this strained metaphor, the music is the increasing pace of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. As it turns out, the scientific evidence on which negotiators and policy makers have depended – particularly the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – significantly underestimated the speed at which global warming is occurring.