Sunday, April 21, 2019

"If our house were falling apart..." Greta Thunberg on the need to address climate breakdown

In the last week Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish climate activist, has travelled to Rome and met with Pope Francis, appeared before a 25,000 climate-strike Fridays for Future protest in Rome calling for increased climate action, and attended the Environment Committee of the Europoean Parliament in Strasbourg.

They were all significant events and highlighted her important role as a catalyst in speaking truth to power in facing the climate crisis and climate breakdown, in motivating change and action by politicians.

Environment Committee told to prioritise climate emergency over Brexit

Greta's speech to the Environment Committee of the European Parliament was wide ranging and hard hitting, and came packed with some emotion in the delivery.

"I want you to panic. I want you to act as if your house was on fire....To panic, unless you have to, is a terrible idea. But when your house is on fire and you want to keep your house from burning to the ground, then that does require some level of panic."

She brought up the tragedy of the Notre Dame fire in Paris and the plans for it's rebuilding, and compared it to the civilisational sand castles we have been building, cutting corners, with foundations that are already trembling.

She alluded to the IPCC 1.5C special report on global warming warning which warned that perhaps we have another 11 years to be well on the way to deep decarbonisation in all aspects of society to avoid passing tipping points in the climate system that would set off an irreversible chain reaction that would lead to the end of civilisation as we know it.

She highlighted that global targets and models don't factor in:
  • carbon negative technologies at scale have not yet been invented, for massive carbon drawdown
  • unforseen tipping points and feedback loops, such as permafrost release of methane
  • the boost to warming if we reduce current air pollution by reducing fossil fuels combustion
  • social equity and climate justice "absolutely necessary to make [the Paris Agreement] work on a global scale."

"We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, and the extinction rate is up to 10,000 times faster than what is considered normal, with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day."

Fighting to hold back tears, Greta listed some major accelerating disastrous trends:

  • "Erosion of fertile top soil
  • Deforestation of our great forests
  • Toxic air pollution
  • Loss of insects and wildlife
  • The acidification of our oceans"

"But hardly anyone knows about these climate catastrophes, or understand how they are just the first few symptons of climate and ecological breakdown. Because how could they. They have not been told." says Greta.

This is the heart of failing to listen to the scientists warning going back to James Hansen's testimony Congress in June 1988 (Yale Climate Connections Looking back 30 years), to the five Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that have been published reviewing all the science.

The Fossil fuel companies have actually fostered and paid for campaigns of denial to forstall action. The media, with few exceptions, have failed in their journalistic duty of care to present facts and not provide a platform for false arguments. They have failed to tell the truth and the whole story to ensure populations are aware of what we are facing with climate breakdown.

"If our House was falling apart..."

In comparing climate breakdown to our house being on fire Thunberg alluded to the priorities of Brexit rather than climate emergency by the European Union, which brought loud applause from the audience:

"Our house is falling apart and our leaders need to start acting accordingly...

"If our house was falling apart you wouldn't fly around the world in business class chatting about how the market would solve everything, with clever small solutions to specific isolated problems. You wouldn't talk about buying and building your way out of a crisis that has been created by buying and building things."

"If our house was falling apart you wouldn't be holding three emergency Brexit summits, and no emergency summit about the breakdown of the climate."

"If our house was falling apart you wouldn't be celebrating that one single nation like Ireland may soon divest from fossil fuels. You wouldn't celebrate that Norway has decided to stop drilling for oil outside the scenic resort of Lofoten Islands, but will continue to drill for oil everywhere else for decades. It is 30 years too late for that kind of celebrations.

"If our house was falling apart, the media wouldn't be writing about anything else. The omngoing climate and ecological crisis would make up all the headlines.

"If our house was falling apart, you wouldn't say you had the situation under control and place the future living conditions for all species in the hands of future inventions that are yet to be invented. And you would not spend all your time as a politician arguing about Texas or Brexit."

"Everything and Everyone has to Change"

Reminiscent of Naomi Klein's 2015 book "This Changes Everything", Greta argues everyone and everything has a duty to change.

"Everything and everyone has to change, but the bigger your platform, the bigger the responsibility. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty."

"When I tell politicians that they need to act now, their common answer is they can't do anything drastic because that would be too unpopular among the voters. And they are right of cause seeing that most people are not even aware of why those changes are required. That is why I keep telling you to unite behind the science. Make the best available science the heart of politics and democracy."

Greta raised the upcoming European elections, the fact that hundreds of thousands of climate strike students can't vote in these elections, that will determine their futures.

"Some parties do not even want me standing here today because they desperately do not want to talk about climate breakdown."

"Our house is falling apart. Our future, and what we have achieved in the past is literally in your hands now. But it is still not too late to act. It will take a far reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fear and fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details of how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking."

Greta was given a standing ovation.

Read the Guardian: Forget Brexit and focus on climate change, Greta Thunberg tells EU

Pope Francis urges Greta Thunberg to continue her struggle

At a brief meeting In St Peter's Square in Vatican City between Greta and Pope Francis:

"Thank you for standing up for the climate and for speaking the truth", said Greta Thunberg "And really, it means a lot"

Pope Francis replied: "God bless you, and continue to struggle. Continue." and shook Greta's hand.

A private meeting followed after the general audience.

In May 2015 Pope Francis issued an Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI’ which called for swift action to reduce emissions in taking care of our common home, Planet Earth.

Climatestrike speech in Rome

On Friday Greta was amid a crowd of 25,000 striking school students and youth in Piazza del Popolo.

"Ciao Roma, you should be very proud of yourselves.

Our future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time the adults said that the sky is the only limit and you only live once. They lied to us. They gave to us false hope. They told us the future was something to look forward to. Yes, some of us can have whatever we want, for now. Many of us can buy much more than we will ever need. But the only thing we really need is the future.

Humanity is standing at a crossroads. We are here today because we have decided which path we want to take, and now we are waiting for the others to follow our example.

In the last six months millions of school children, not least in Italy, have been school striking for the climate. To be honest there is no political change whatsoever in sight. That is why we have to prepare ourselves for that this will take a long time. We have to continue for a long time. This will not take weeks, this will not take months, this will take years.

We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this because we want them to act. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back. We should not be the ones fighting for the future, and yet here we are since basically no-one is doing anything.

Some would say we are wasting lesson time. We say we are changing the world, so that when we are older we will be able to look back and say we did everything we could. And we will continue to do so. We will continue to fight for our future and for the living planet. Grazie Roma, grazie."

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Greta Thunberg accepts German Golden Camera Award

Greta Thunberg was awarded a special Golden Camera award at Germany's media awards night. She dedicated the award in her speech to the activists fighting against the destruction of the Hambach Forest for lignite mining and to all activists fighting to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

She also called on the celebrities gathered to use their influence to raise awareness of the global crisis.

"I dedicate this award to the people fighting to protect the Hambach Forest. And to activists everywhere who are fighting to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.

We live in a strange world. Where all the united science tells us that we are about 11 years away from setting off an irreversible chain reaction way beyond human control that will probably be the end of our civilization as we know it.

We live in a strange world where children must sacrifice their own education in order to protest against the destruction of their future.

Where the people who have contributed the least to this crisis are the ones who are going to be affected the most.

Where politicians say it’s too expensive to save the world, while spending trillions of euros subsidizing fossil fuels.

We live in a strange world where no one dares to look beyond our current political systems even though its clear that the answers we seek will not be found within the politics of today.
Where some people seem to be more concerned about the presence in school of some children than the future of humankind.

Where everyone can choose their own reality and buy their own truth.

Where our survival is depending on a small, rapidly disappearing carbon budget. And hardly anyone even knows it exists.

We live in a strange world. Where we think we can buy or build our way out of a crisis that has been created by buying and building things.

Where a football game or a film gala gets more media attention than the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.

Where celebrities, film and pop-stars who have stood up against all injustices will not stand up for our environment and for climate justice because that would inflict on their right to fly around the world visiting their favorite restaurants, beaches and yoga retreats.

Avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown is to do the seemingly impossible. And that is what we have to do.

But here is the truth: we can’t do it without you in the audience here tonight.

People see you celebrities as Gods. You influence billions of people. We need you.

You can use your voice to raise awareness about this global crisis. You can help turn individuals into movements. You can help us wake up our leaders - and let them know that our house is on fire.
We live in a strange world.

But it’s the world that my generation has been handed. It’s the only world we’ve got.

We are now standing at a crossroads in history.

We are failing but we have not yet failed.

We can still fix this.

It's up to us."

Greta Thunberg has also won the inaugural Prix Liberté, according to a Facebook post, and also nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.

"The other final nominees have stood up for human rights in a way that I can’t even imagine. We must constantly be reminded of the sacrifices they have made. Lu Guang and Raif Badawi are true heroes of our time.

The climate crisis is not only threatening the living conditions for billions of people. It is indeed threatening our whole civilisation as we know it. And it is the ones who are the least responsible who are affected the most.

I have decided to donate all of the €25 000 price money to 4 different organisations dedicated to climate justice:

CARE - who is focusing on helping women and girls in the global south to cope with the effects of rising temperatures and a changing climate.

The Adaptation Fund - who help vulnerable communities in developing countries adapt and build resilience to climate change.

As well as and Greenpeace International who both fight for climate justice, the environment and to keep the fossil fuels in the ground."

Friday, March 29, 2019

Melbourne Airport Runway expansion, risk management and aviation emissions

A Response from Australia Pacific Airport (Melbourne) to my questions on runway expansion and aviation emissions.

On my first question, regarding factoring in the possibility for development of east coast high speed rail and it's impact on flight projections, they utterly failed to answer my question.

This is a big fail in their risk management and in their corporate business model.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Melbourne's Extinction Rebellion Declaration Day

About 150 people attended Extinction Rebellion Day in Melbourne in the Treasury Gardens.

There was no blocking of bridges, no arrests made. It was a pretty tame affair, really. The Climate Guardian angels were present and provided a note of solemnity. Composer and choir master Stephen Taberner was there and gave a quick workshop on street chants.

There was a short march up to Treasury Place where the declaration was read out. A copy of the declaration was also handed to a security officer between the locked bars of the Australian Government offices.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Domestic Aviation emissions are booming while Melbourne Airport plans ignore climate risk management

Growth in domestic transport emissions compared: note aviation emissions growth is well ahead of other transport modes. Source: Charting Update on Australian transport trends (December 2018)

Melbourne Airport Corporation had a drop in session on 13 March at the Hume Global Learning Centre at Broadmeadows. I dropped in to raise that Melbourne airport needs to address aviation emissions growth as part of their business model for airport expansion. This also needs to be dealt with as part of their Risk Management Plan.

My presence sends a signal that Melbourne Airport Corporation need to start to address the issue of airport expansion inducing growth in aviation emissions and non-CO2 climate impact.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Greta Thunberg: "We are school striking because we have done our homework...We need knew politics. We need knew economics."

While tens of thousands of children were climate striking and marching through the streets of Brussels, Greta Thunberg addressed the European Economic and Social Committee at the EESC event "Civil Society for rEUnaissance".

Greta articulated that it is time for politicians to listen to the scientists and the science, "We don't have any other manifestos and demands. Just unite behind the science. That is our demand." she said.

She argued cogently that politicians don't want to talk about the climate crisis, but raise conspiracies to mask their own inadequacy in addressing a problem that has gone on for decades with little action.

She accused the European Union of doing only half the emissions reduction that is needed Europe should double what its commitments for its fair share. (Read Guardian article: Greta Thunberg tells EU: your climate targets need doubling)

To answer the argument put forward that students should be in school, Greta suggested that adults should take the place of students on the street, striking for change, "or better yet, join us to speed up the process." she said.

Greta addressing the student climate strike rally in Brussels: "we will be a pain in the arse, we will keep on striking until they do something"

The student climate strike in Basel Switzerland, has resulted on Wednesday in the city declaring a climate emergency, passing the resolution by a two thirds vote (by 71 votes to 17 against and 6 abstentions). The resolution was drafted by climate strike kids.

Read Greta Thunberg's full speech below:

"Tens of thousands of children are school striking for the climate on the streets of Brussels. Hundreds of thousands are doing the same all over the world.

"We are school striking because we have done our homework. And some of us are here today.

People always tell us they are so hopeful. They are hopeful that the young people are going to save the world. But we are not. There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge, because by the year 2020 we need to have bended the emissions curve steep downwards. That is next year.

We know that most politicians don't want to talk to us.

Good, we don't want to talk to them either.

We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them. Because we are just repeating what they have been saying and saying for decades.

We want you to follow the Paris Agreement and IPCC reports.

We don't have any other manifestos and demands. Just unite behind the science. That is our demand.

When many politicians talk about the school strike for the climate, they talk about almost anything except the climate crisis.

Many people are trying to make the school strikes a question of whether we are promoting truancy or whether we should go back to school or not. They make up all sorts of conspiracies and call us puppets who cannot think for ourselves. They are desperate to remove the focus from the climate crisis and change the subject. They don't want to talk about it because they know they cannot win this fight, because they know they haven't done their homework, but we have.

Once you have done your homework you realise that we need knew politics. We need knew economics where everything is based on a rapidly declining and extremely limited global carbon budget.

But that is not enough. We need a whole new way of thinking. The political system that you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win, to get power. That must come to an end. We must stop competing with each other. We need to co-operate and work together and share the resources of the planet in a fair way.

We need to start living within the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species.

We need to protect the biosphere, the air, the oceans, the soil, the forests.

This may sound very naive, but if you have done your homework you know we don't have any other choice. We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change, because if we fail to do so then all our achievements and progress have been for nothing.

And all that will remain of our political leaders legacy will be the greatest failure of human history, and they will be remembered as the greatest villans of all time because they have chosen not to listen and not to act.

This does not have to be. There is still time.

According to the IPCC report we are about 11 years away from being in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control. To avoid that, unprecedented change in all aspects of society need to have taken place within this coming decade, including a reduction in our CO2 emissions by at least 50 percent by the year 2030.

And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which are absolutely necessary to make the Paris Agreement work on a global scale. Nor do they include tipping points, or feedback loops, like the extremely powerful methane gas released by the thawing Arctic permafrost.

They do however include negative emission techniques on a huge planetary scale that is yet to be invented, and that many scientists fear will never be ready in time, and will anyway be impossible to deliver at the scale assumed.

We have been told that the European Union intends to improve its emission reduction target. In the new target the EU is proposing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent below its 1990 levels by 2030. Some people say that is good, or that is ambitious. But this new target is still not enough to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This target is not sufficient to protect the future of children growing up today.

If the EU is to make its fair contribution to staying within its carbon budget of the 2 degree limit, then it means an 80 percent reduction by 2030, and that includes aviation and shipping. So around twice as ambitious as the current proposal.

The actions required are beyond manifestos or any party politics.

Once again they sweep their mess under the carpet for our generation to clean up and solve.

Some people say we are fighting for our future, but that is not true. We are not fighting for our future, we are fighting for everyones future.

And if you think we should be in school instead, then we suggest you take our place in the streets, striking from your work, or better yet, join us to speed up the process.

I am sorry, but saying that everything will be alright and continue doing nothing at all is just not hopeful to us. In fact, it is the opposite of hope, and yet this is exactly what you keep doing. You can't just sit around waiting for hope to come. Then you are acting like spoiled irresponsible children.

You don't seem to understand that hope is something you have to earn.

And if you still say we are wasting valuable lesson time, then let me remind you our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction.

And since our time is running out we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess, and we will not stop until we are done."

Monday, February 4, 2019

Politician responses to the record extreme heat for Australia January 2019

I've done some tracking on twitter across the political divide on climate and the heatwave events, going back to 22 December 2018 (the start of Christmas/New Year 1st heatwave event). December and January were record hot for Australia.

Australia's Hottest January on Record as we head into a climate election

Just as climate change has been driving up temperatures in Australia to record levels, the political temperature is also rising for a climate election for May 2019.

Australia has just experienced its hottest December on record, followed by its hottest January. It's already been a very hot summer with record breaking temperatures, and it's not yet over.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Heatwave round 3: climate diary of an Australian heat event

Welcome to my third daily diary of an Australian heatwave event. This heat event is marked by persistent heat from the Pilbara and Central Australia from mid December 2018 that sends out waves of heat to impact the south east population centres of Adelaide in South Australia, Melbourne and inland Victoria, western NSW spreading to include Canberra and Sydney.

Read my diary entries for the Christmas New Year heatwave: Climate Diary of an extreme heatwave across Australia and climate heat impacts, covering Dedcember 22 to January 6.

I followed this up with a second blog article documenting the heat event from January 14 - January 19: Take 2: Climate Diary of an Australian heatwave - January 2019
Heat Health alerts issued for Melbourne and Victoria
Over the weekend of 19-20 January the heat retreated to the Pilbara and Central Australia, but the heat event is far from dissipating. Heat Records continue to be broken.

Why am I documenting this? Because climate change is a primary driver of more extreme heat events. Read the Climate Council 2014 Report on Heatwaves: Hotter Longer, More often.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Climate change, Fish Die-offs, algal blooms, drought and water mismanagement in the Murray Darling Basin

Rob McBride and Menindee resident, Dick Arnold stand in the Darling river, holding Murray cod that have lived through decades of droughts and floods, but could not survive this human-made disaster. Image: Kate McBride

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair revealed the latest fish die-off has occurred at Lake Hume on the NSW-Victorian border. The numbers of dead fish are much smaller than at Menindee: perhaps about 1800 according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Cause of the deaths are still being investigated. Lake Hume is controlled by the Murray Darling Basin Authority and is currently 30 per cent full.

Niall Blair is trying to divert blame to drought and heatwave conditions rather than ongoing corruption (water theft) and mismanagement of water flows and over-allocation of water to upper Murray Darling basin irrigators (especially cotton), at the expense of environmental flows, to ensure the health of the Murray Darling river ecosystem through drought periods. The Australia Institute have now researched and published a discussion paper which holds the NSW Government and Murray Darling Basin Authority water mismanagement as culpable for the massive fish kill in the Darling river near Menindee.