Category Archives: Climate Change

Drawdown – a comprehensive plan to reverse global warming

Paul Hawken has edited Drawdown,  a comprehensive review and analysis of tangible actions that can mitigate the destruction of the natural environment which is now being precipitated by anthropogenic pollution and is most visible in global warming.  Drawdown is the work of many professionals collaborating to synthesise practical mitigation actions.

Yesterday he collaborated with The Security and Sustainability Forum to present a summary of the book via webinar.  The video is shared below and you can follow through the slides shared by Edward Saltzberg MD of SSF here: https://www.slideshare.net/esaltzberg/drawdown-60-minutes-with-paul-hawken  The slides include summary financial and carbon data of the impact of various remedies.

Drawdown – 60 Minutes with Paul Hawken from Security & Sustainability Forum

The sun stood still, and it all began again …

Solstice moon at Ballin Temple.
Solstice moon at Ballin Temple.

The solstice passed today at 4 in the morning (UTC).

For most people, it is ignored or unknown, while for a few it is recognised as the event that gives rise to all the other seasonal holidays at this time of year – Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Saturnalia, and the calendar new years like Hogmany and New Year …  I used to be in the former group, but now, living closer to nature, find that recognising the solar cycle helps me stay in touch with the reality of our world.

While you celebrate the traditions of your culture it is fun to recognise the foundation for them.  Solstice, Yule, saturnalia and so on might be labelled pagan, but that is not as bad as it sounds.  It merely means “of the countryside”.  Well, isn’t that just nature?

If you’re fond of Christmas, this year is a good one to recognise our connection to nature because Pope Frank’s encyclical, Laudato Si (Praise be to Him), is all about respecting nature and treating the gift of nature with appropriate Christian humility.  Spare a prayer for nature which is so squashed by humanity that even cynics are now admitting the fact of human induced climate change.  (Even state media reported that 2015 temperatures are 3° above normal and the manager of the largest state nursery is startled by rain intensity he hasn’t experienced in 40 years.)

In nature there is no beginning or end.  At least not practically speaking.  The cycle continues around and around.  When we have the shortest day (today), with the sun directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, our antipodean friends have the longest.  As our days begin to lengthen, theirs begin to shorten.  The date is an illusion but the perspective of the sun on our planet is not.  The sun is the timepiece of nature and one of the signals for plant life to regrow.  Other signals, like cold weather, also tell plants when to regrow, and they are changing, but the solar cycle does not.   The sun stands still (sol stice) and then bounces back in the other direction (of course it is Earth that is tilted as it spins around the sun which is stationary relative to Earth, making one circuit every year).

What does the coming year hold?  The trends of weather volatility and climate change will continue, so now we plan for a different growing cycle, a more Mediterranean one.  The impacts of civilisation continue to increase and the future of current economic, industrial and social systems is limited – they will change by force or choice because there are limits to the capacity of nature to absorb pollution and limits to the capacity of people to be cheated.

People are becoming more thoughtful as social media spreads memes and as access to education grows so the brainwashing of traditional mores becomes less persuasive and the natural curiosity of people to ask “does it have to be like that” is enlivened.  That is evidenced by the popularity of conservative politicians around the world, like Trump, who express people’s dissatisfactions.  (Sadly their solutions are ignorant and ineffective but since more moderate leaders are not supporting enlightened system change, the radical populists are drowning out all others.)

For our part we will continue to explore new, whole systems.  Ways of living that engage body, mind and spirit.  Lifestyles that give us the delights of human culture and the bounties of nature, as one.  It is not always easy to retrain the cynic, but even I have started to do yoga regularly (5 minutes a day) so there is hope even for the most egregious suits among us.

Happy new year to all!

Numbers That Matter – COP21

Is the scale of marches for change today a significant number?  They are certainly the largest individual marches and the largest globally coordinated march, and the first to include a virtual march which allowed people to participate without travelling long distance.

Marching (without marching) - the Avaaz virtual march. https://secure.avaaz.org/en/paris_virtual_march/
Marching (without marching) – the Avaaz virtual march.
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/paris_virtual_march/

They say about 600,000 marched (excluding virtual marchers) around the world. That’s a lot of people bothering to go out to do a chore.

Maybe the number is higher.  There are more on virtual marches.  And many who were there in thought and spirit if not body.

It might not be enough. Politicians listen to money.  Businesses might see opportunities, but are good at greenwash and we’re good at being blind-sided by advertising and mod cons – phones to cars, fast food to fast clothes, … must haves?

So we must remember tomorrow that we must still say no to more than enough.  Less consumption.  Less flying and driving.  Less packaging and chemicals.  Less deception and greed.  It’s easy.  We all know what to do if we think.

Does it matter?

Yes, in many ways.  Climate is just one.  Everything is connected.  We must change the system to bring dignity to humanity, fix the financial system, clean up the food system, stop the waste of corruption and redress the pain of war.

melting-EarthLooking at climate alone, the temperature rise since 1850 has been 1 o C, while 2 o C is agreed ‘gateway’ to dangerous global warming.  We’re well on the way to tipping point, if not there already.
We can emit up to 565 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.  At this rate we’ll have done that in 15 years.  That means we’ve got 15 years to stop, not we’ve got to stop in 15 years.  By the way, oil companies have in their current reserves 2,795 gigatonnes worth of carbon dioxide – so they have an incentive to sell that stuff, which will kill the planet as we know it.  (Living on Mars might be better…)  And just so you know how much they want it the CEO of Exxon gets paid $100,000 a day, yes a DAY.  And you’re paying it.
There’s been a 4% decline in Arctic sea ice per decade since 1979
9 out of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000

It’s not a debate.  If you’re smart it’s immoral to question whether humans are the cause or if fossil fuels are the problem.

There are other important facts.  Like that the human population has doubled while half the wildlife has been wiped out in my life.  Like the 30 million millionaires owning more than 3 billion people.  Like the suicide rate among farmers.  Like not being able to afford the food you buy.  It’s not about religion.  We’re all in this together.  It’s crazy.  We need common sense.  We need to take a breath and do the right thing the right way.

We need to say no to the bad things and use alternatives.  Drive less, travel less, turn the thermostat down, eat less junk, throw away less (and don’t buy it in the first place), cheat less, …  Eat more veg, run and bike more, say sorry, say I’m wrong, be with family and friends more.  And if we’re in charge, we’ve really got to do better.  We all are part of the system and we need to change the system.

Avaaz.org

350.org

Are you beginning to get it? The what, why and how of system change.

parisattack20151115There has been an outpouring of love and solidarity because of the tragic and terrific blood-letting in Paris this weekend.  It has been a synchronous focus on thought, feeling and action by millions around the world.  That is good.

The answers proposed have ranged from black to white, from vengeance to forgiveness.  (My preference is at the “healing the wounds” end of the spectrum, rather than at the “ripping more flesh apart” end.)  The personal grief is inevitably traumatic.  The reasons for young people to wreak blood and havoc and kill themselves are difficult to imagine, let alone comprehend.  But there are answers – there must be: we are humans and we can do it all.atomtoworld2

So what will we choose?

Walking around the garden as the light fades and the wind builds to another stormy night, it seems clear that the warnings are coming thick and fast.  It seems as though everyday another report comes in of violence, terror, corruption and injustice, and of storm, drought, flood, habitat destruction and species loss.  You can  see, hear, feel the immorality of human systems and the pain of nature.  Do we look, listen, touch?

There are two kinds of people: People who can see what’s going on and do something about it (i.e. you, people with access to media, educated etc).  The more resources they have, the more they can do something about it.  The other kind of people who are those who are too poor to be able to know what’s going on (most people know corruption when they see it and crazy weather when it passes), or if they do, live subsistence lives so have fewer choices.

It is increasingly evident that of those of us who can act, some act and others don’t.  Some have realised that the system must change and others continue to turn a blind eye.  Those who have realised it start with awareness and gradually start to change their behaviour, from diet to lifestyle to job to investment, commitment and philanthropy.

eatingmoneyOthers who turn a blind eye, should open them.  Elites – the people who influence and control human system (millionaires etc) – seem to be predominantly in the blind eye department.  That’s bad.

It must be that rich people are ignoring the obvious because they are the ones that determine the system, which is not working, and they remain largely ignorant of how to change the system and what to change it to.  Even when the how and what are obvious, admission of the need and course are slow, implementation is sluggish and patchy.

Here’s a quick example:  behaviour change is nurtured with education,  but education systems are well behind the curve. (Many observe that terrorism is inculcated by misinformation which would be hindered if critical thinking, even thinking, was a basic product of universal education.)

And a biosphere dysfunction example: 2015 is the hottest year on record and climate has risen 1 degree already yet fossil fuel companies are still subsidised and the so called “Sustainable Development Goals” are still talking about growth.

That’s the situation in a nutshell.  Things are bad.  We know how to change.  Too few of the people at the top are changing.

That’s a dangerous recipe.  You, like me, can make a difference.  Let’s all take a step in the right direction.  Slow down.  Take a breath.  Say sorry.  Change the system from fear and greed to love and sharing.  Do it now.  May be we’ve still got time.world02

CO2 levels exceed safe limit globally. Another sign we’ve broken the biosphere.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) reported that global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have reached 400 parts per million – levels that haven’t been seen for about two million years!

world02Isn’t it wonderful that a little monkey can upset nature so violently?!  We wield such power!

CO2 has risen more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times and half of that rise has occurred since 1980.  That’s a spike that isn’t going to slow down unless we CHANGE BEHAVIOUR.

In case you’re wondering, that means fewer people, consuming less.  Reversing the population explosion isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but everyone can cut their consumption by eating less meat (livestock farming is the #1 cause of climate change), travelling less (for work or pleasure), lowering the amount of chems we use on our selves (cosmetics) and our homes (laundry, detergents etc).

On the other hand we can love nature more, enjoy the company of friends,  and feel better about our world, … while we still have it.

BBC: CO2 levels reach monthly record

 

Don’t watch “Earthlings”. You can’t handle it.

Three stages of TRUTH:
Ridicule.
Violent opposition.
Acceptance.

Earthlings is a docudrama drawing attention to vile, uncivilised behaviour in which we all play a role.  It focuses on the torture of animals which modern society condones and from which we distance ourselves, covering five aspects: pets, food, clothing, entertainment, science.

earthlings4Be warned.  It is graphic.  You might have a pet which you rescued, you might eat only organic produce, you might avoid leather and fur, you might not go to the races and you might not wear make-up, but the atrocities shown in the film still go on today, in your community and are endorsed by governments, leaders and “everyone”.

The point is: Just say NO.  Humanity can not survive if it does not extend the rationale of justice to nature.  That means treating animals with care, even if you are going to eat them, though plainly that in itself is far from necessary.  In fact, a simple fix for climate change is veganism/vegetarianism because the livestock industry in the number one cause of greenhouse gases and a major contributor to biodiversity loss and environmental contamination. (See “The Facts” about sustainability, the environment and your future.)earthlings9

I watched the movie last night (mostly with my eyes closed) because Ellen said “Food Inc is “Disney compared to Earthlings”.  She wasn’t kidding.

I used to make fun of vegetarians and tofu.  One day I realised I didn’t like killing animals.  (Duh!)  So I stopped killing them and became vegetarian.  That was nearly two decades ago.  I’m still alive, a little overweight in fact.  And now it is science that a plant based diet is healthier and the meat industry is killing the planet.   It should be that we can eat a bit of meat, but the impact on the biosphere of a meat focused food industry  has become so violent, that a simple avoidance policy is really the only option.

You don’t have to watch Earthlings, but humankind must slow down and drastically reduce its consumption of the biosphere (our habitat which we need for life) and that includes consuming fewer animals.

syria-christian-massacre-3Is it going to happen?  Well, this is today’s headline: Syria conflict: Aleppo civilians suffer ‘unthinkable atrocities’, in which accounts of civilian torture and massacre are reported.  Not a hopeful datapoint …

Earthlings Website

Watch Earthlings online here.

Blooming flowers – a harbinger of doom.

According to textbooks there should be between 20  and 30 species in flower on new years day. This year there were 368 in bloom raising further questions about the effects of climate change during the UK’s warmest year on record.  Many of the flowers, like daisy and dandelion shouldn’t bloom for at least a couple of months yet.

While we don’t count blooming flowers, we’ve certainly had a mild winter here on the farm.  The grass was still growing in the first weeks of January and there are still petals on a few marigolds!  How can anyone, even an experienced farmer or gardener, count on the seasons when planning cultivation.  And how must nature feel when the environment they are programmed for is all topsy turvy.

Humanity needs to slow down and take a breath!

BBC: Unusual number of UK flowers bloom

 

“The Facts” about sustainability, the environment and your future.

Below are the facts stated in the film Cowspiracy and their references.  Which ever side you’re on it’s good to know them.   For example, one takeaway from the ideas presented is that we can resolve environmental problems, reform economic systems and still keep our cars, if we change our diet.  If you take that with a pinch of salt (ha ha) it actually sounds quite interesting.  Anyway that’s a conversation for another day.  Here are the facts:

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined. [i]

Fao.org. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

Transportation is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation.

Environmental Protection Agency. “Global Emissions.”

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html

Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”

WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19.

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294

Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2.

“Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.” Science Magazine.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5953/716.figures-only

Methane has a global warming power 86 times that of CO2.

NASA. “Methane: Its Role as a Greenhouse Gas.” Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/pdfs/podest_ghg.pdf

Continue reading “The Facts” about sustainability, the environment and your future.

5 feet of snow and zero degrees in every US state. “I’m not a scientist”, but that’s not normal.

Freezing temperatures were recorded across all 50 US states, including Florida and Hawaii, and a massive snowstorm dumped 5 feet of snow in the Buffalo area (North East US).

Snow covers a street at daybreak in Buffalo

It’s pretty.  But deadly.  So far 7 people are dead.  Three had heart attacks while shovelling snow – which is a sad commentary on health, diets and fitness.  Please be careful if you’re not a bit fit.

This weather is a month early.  Maybe it’ll warm up in a day or so.  Maybe it’ll get damn cold again soon.  You can be sure that it’s not predictable and it’s another sign of climate volatility that is beyond our control.

We need to start listening to nature and living within it’s laws.

BBC: Deadly snowstorm hits northern US

More rain in a few days than normally expected in a year. That’s climate change.

The report on deadly mudslides in Switzerland and Italy squeezed that little tidbit of information between a couple of great photos of flooding in the region.

I can be quite sanguine about death because individually we are so insignificant.  But clearly as a species we have wrought awesome changes on this planet, including upsetting the weather.  If we think this is bad, imagine how much worse it is going to get as we continue to breed and consume the planet.

In the meantime, enjoy the view:

An aerial view of a flooded area near Lake Maggiore shows a farm surrounded by water near the village of Magadino in Ticino, Switzerland, on 16 November 2014

BBC:  Deadly mudslides engulf homes in Switzerland and Italy