October 31, 2016


Free Market of Ideas

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Green Army: Research and Development

Caroline Ash, Elizabeth Culotta, Julia Fahrenkamp-Uppenbrink, David Malakoff, Jesse Smith, Andrew Sugden and Sacha Vignieri:
Anthropogenic climate change is now a part of our reality.
Even the most optimistic estimates of the effects of contemporary fossil fuel use suggest that mean global temperature will rise by a minimum of 2°C before the end of this century and that CO2 emissions will affect climate for tens of thousands of years. …
[Terrestrial ecosystems] will face rates of change unprecedented in the past 65 million years.
(Science, Vol 314, AAAS, 2 August 2013, p 473)

IPCC AR5 Working Group I:
The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C [3], over the period 1880–2012, when multiple independently produced datasets exist.
(Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis — Summary for Policymakers, 27 September 2013, p 4)

Alan Austin:
In [the fourth biennual] Global Green Economy Index released yesterday [by Dual Citizen, Australia fell 27 places to] 37th out of 60 countries on clean energy performance [and ranked] last on global leadership.
(Abbott takes Australia to last place on global climate change leadership, Independent Australia, 21 October 2014, emphasis added)

Dangerous Interference With The Climate System

Rachel Warren: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Based on peer-reviewed literature, climate change impacts on the earth system, human systems and ecosystems are summarised for different amounts of annual global mean temperature change (ΔT) relative to pre-industrial times. …
  • At ΔT = 1°C world oceans and Arctic ecosystems are damaged.
  • At ΔT = 1.5°C [irreversible] Greenland Ice Sheet melting begins.
  • At ΔT = 2°C agricultural yields fall,
    • billions experience increased water stress,
    • additional hundreds of millions may go hungry,
    • sea level rise displaces millions from coasts,
    • malaria risks spread,
    • Arctic ecosystems collapse and
    • extinctions take off as regional ecosystems disappear.
    Serious human implications exist in Peru and Mahgreb.
  • At ΔT = 2–3°C the Amazon and other forests and grasslands collapse.
    • At ΔT = 3°C millions [are] at risk [of] water stress,
    • flood, hunger and dengue and malaria increase and
    • few ecosystems can adapt.
The thermohaline circulation could collapse in the range ΔT = 1–5°C, whilst the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may commence melting and Antarctic ecosystems may collapse.
Increases in extreme weather are expected.

("Impacts Of Global Climate Change At Different Annual Mean Global Temperature Increases" in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change; Editor in Chief Hans Joachim Schellnhuber; Co-editors Wolfgang Cramer, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Tom Wigley, Gary Yohe; Cambridge University Press, 2006, p 92)

State of the Climate 2015: Record Heat and Weather Extremes

World Meteorological Organization

The [combined] global average [land and sea] near-surface temperature for 2015 was the warmest on record by a clear margin …
The global average temperature for the year was … approximately 1 °C above the 1850–1900 average.

Figure 1.
Global annual average temperature anomalies (relative to 1961–1990) for 1850–2015.
The black line and grey shading are from the HadCRUT4 analysis produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in collaboration with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
The grey shading indicates the 95% confidence interval of the estimates.
The orange line is the NOAAGlobalTemp dataset produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA NCEI).
The blue line is the GISTEMP dataset produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS).
(Source: Met Office Hadley Centre, United Kingdom, and Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
(p 5)

Figure 6
Global annual average temperature anomalies (difference from the 1961–1990 average) based on an average of the three global temperature datasets.
Coloured bars indicate years that were influenced by El Niño (red) and La Niña (blue), and the years without a strong influence (grey).
The pale red bar indicates 2015.
(Source: Met Office Hadley Centre, United Kingdom, and Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
(p 8)

Australia had its warmest October on record.
The anomaly for October was also the highest anomaly for any month since records began. …
[For Australia, it] was the fifth-warmest year on record as a whole.
(p 17)

(WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015, WMO-No 1167, 2016)

Rising Global Mean Temperature

World Bank

[Observational data corrected for sources of short-term variability (El Nino/Southern Oscillation, volcanic aerosols and solar variability) reveals the underlying trend.]

(Foster & Rahmstorf, Global temperature evolution 1979–2010, Environmental Research Letters, 6(4), 2011)

CSIRO: State of the Climate 2016

Monitoring Greenhouse Gases at Cape Grim

Background hourly clean-air CO2 as measured at Cape Grim.
The blue hourly data represent thousands of individual measurements.
To obtain clean air measurements, the data are filtered for only times when weather systems have come across the Southern Ocean, and thus the air is not influenced by local sources of pollution.
(p 18)

Carbon Sources and Sinks

Annual fluxes of CO2 and their changing sources (eg fossil fuels) and sinks (eg the ocean absorbing CO2).
About 30% of the anthropogenic (caused by human activity) CO2 emissions have been taken up by the ocean and about 30% by land.
The remaining 40% of emissions have led to an increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
(p 21)

Business As Usual

Climate Action Tracker

In a world first for climate policy, the Australian Government repealed core elements of Clean Energy Future Plan, effectively abolishing the carbon pricing mechanism, sought to reduce the Australian renewable target, and block other clean energy and climate policy measures in Australia.
The carbon pricing mechanism introduced had been working effectively, with emissions from the electricity and other covered sectors reducing by about 7% per annum.

Up until the time of repeal, the implemented climate policy was effective and was projected to have been sufficient to meet Australia’s unconditional Copenhagen pledge for a 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020.
Our new, post-repeal assessment shows, however, that this target is no longer in reach and the currently proposed new legislation will result in emissions increasing by 49-57% above 1990 levels.

(11 December 2014)

Climate Equity Reference Calculator

Given a Strong 2℃ pathway target, the global mitigation requirement in 2020 is 19.8 gigatonnes.

Australia’s fair share of this 2020 global mitigation requirement is 1.7%, which is 342 million tonnes.
Australia’s 2020 unconditional mitigation pledge (150 tonnes) falls short of its fair share of the global effort by 192 million tonnes.

In per-capita terms, Australia’s fair share of the 2020 global mitigation requirement comes to 13.5 tonnes.
Its reduction pledge, however, is only 5.9 tonnes per person, which falls short of its fair share by 7.6 tonnes per person.
Its score is therefore −7.6. …

Australia’s fair share can be expressed as … 34% reduction below national 1990 emissions. …
A country’s fair share is a function of both its capacity and its responsibility.
Australia is projected in 2020 to have 1.9% of global capacity and 1.5% of global responsibility.

(Accessed 1 January 2015)

Would you like to know more?

October 15, 2016

Robert Putnam

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Lucius Seneca (~4 BCE – 65 CE):
Poverty amongst riches is the most grievous form of want.
(Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LXXIV, 4, adapted)

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790):
No society can be flourishing and happy, of which the greater part of members are poor and miserable.

John Kennedy (1917 – 1963):
If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
(Chris Matthews, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, Simon & Schuster, 2011, Reader's Digest, 2013, p 129)

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865):
Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. …
The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. …
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. …
In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free. …
We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
(Message to Congress, 1 December 1892)

Clement Vallandigham ( 1820 – 1871) [Leader, Peace Democrats, 14 January 1863]:
I see more of barbarism and sin, a thousand times, in the continuance of this war … and the enslavement of the white race by debt and taxes and arbitrary power [than in Negro slavery.]
In considering terms of settlement [with the South, we should] look only to welfare, peace, and safety of the white race, without reference to the effect that settlement may have on the African.
(James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2003, p 513)

Amartya Sen (1933) [Swedish National Bank's Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, 1998]:
Black men between the ages of 35 and 54 are 1.8 times more likely to die than are white men of the same age.
And black women in this group are almost three times more likely to die than are white women of the same age. …
The survival chances of the average African-American are … unfavorable when compared with … those of the citizens of China and Kerala, who have much lower incomes.
(The Economics of Life and Death, Scientific American, May 1993, p 44-5)

George Gilder (1939):
In order to succeed … the poor need, most of all, the spur of their poverty. …
(Wealth and Poverty, 1981)

Mark Blyth (1967):
72% of the working population [in the US live from] paycheck to paycheck, have few if any savings, and would have trouble raising $2000 on short notice.
(Austerity, Oxford University Press, 2013, p 48)

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826):
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.
The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs; nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
(Letter to Roger C Weightman, 24 June 1826)

Kim Robinson (1952):
There were of course very powerful forces on Earth adamantly opposed to … creating full employment …
Full employment, if enacted, would remove “wage pressure” — which phrase had always meant fear struck into the hearts of the poor, also into the hearts of anyone who feared becoming poor, which meant almost everyone on Earth.
This fear was a major tool of social control, indeed the prop that held up the current order despite its obvious failures.
Even though it was a system so bad that everyone in it lived in fear, either of starvation or the guillotine, still they clutched to it harder than ever.
(2312, Orbit, 2012, p 373-4)

Ridley Scott (1937):
Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?
That's what it is to be a slave.
(Blade Runner, 1982)

American Political Science Association Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy:
Today, the voices of American citizens are raised and heard unequally.
The privileged participate more than others and are increasingly well organized to press their demands on government.
Public officials, in turn, are much more responsive to the privileged than to average citizens and the least affluent.
Citizens with lower or moderate incomes speak with a whisper that is lost on the ears of inattentive government officials, while the advantaged roar with a clarity and consistency that policy-makers readily hear and routinely follow.
(American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality, Perspectives on Politics, December 2004, p 651)

Don Watson (1949):
[The US minimum wage has fallen by a third since 1968.]
More than 20% of children in the United States live in poverty, more than twice the rate of any European country.
[The Australian child poverty rate is 17.4%.]
With a quarter of totalitarian China's population, democratic America has about the same number of people in jail.
(Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump, Issue 63, 2016, p 34)

Julie Willems Van Dijk [Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin]:
Research is now showing that many health effects once attribute to racial differences are actually tied to educational and economic disparities.
(Deborah Franklin, Scientific American, January 2012, p 18)

Sean Reardon [Sociologist, Stanford University]:
The achievement gap [in education] between children from high- and low- income families is roughly 30–40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born twenty-five years earlier.
(The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations, in Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, Greg J Duncan and Richard M Murnane (Eds), Russell Sage Foundation, 2011)

Andrew Cherlin:
The wages of men without college degrees have fallen since the early 1970s, and the wages of women without college degrees have failed to grow.
(Demographic Trends in the United States: A Review of Research in the 2000s, Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, June 2010, p 404)

Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006):
[In] a free choice [educational] system, you would have more heterogeneous schools [and] far less segregation by social and economic class than you now have. …
I went to a state school, Rutger's university.
I went on a state scholarship.
The poor suckers in the state of New Jersey paid for my going to college.
I personally think that was a good thing. ….
[And] I don't see any reason whatsoever, why I shouldn't have been required to pay back that money.
(What's Wrong With Our Schools, Free to Choose, Episode 6, PBS, 1980)

Robert Putnam (1941)

A World Without Trust

I've told you about my granddaughter, Miriam …
Mary Sue and Miriam are exactly the same age.
They are both granddaughters of Port Clinton [Ohio] in the 1950s. …
I'm just going to read to you, the field notes from [our meeting with Mary Sue:]
Mary Sue tells a harrowing tale of loneliness, distrust and isolation.
Her parents split up when she was 5.
And her mother turned to stripping and left her alone and hungry for days.
Her dad hooked up with another woman who hit her, refused to feed her, and confined her to room with baby-gates.
Caught trafficking marihuana at 16, Mary Sue … spent several months in a juvenile detention center, failed out of high school and got a "diploma" online.

[Mary Sue's] experiences have left her with a deep seated mistrust of anyone and everyone embodied in the scars on her arms (which we saw) where her boyfriend had burned her in the middle of the night, just a few days earlier.
Mary Sue wistfully recalls her stillborn baby, born when she was 13.
Since breaking up with the baby's dad, who left her for someone else, and with a second fiance who cheated on her after his release from prison, Mary Sue is currently dating an older man with two infants born two months apart to two other women.
And to Mary Sue this feels like the best that she can hope for. …

Mary Sue posted on facebook, not long ago, that she'd figured out her problems.
Her problem, she said, is that no one in the world loves her — which is probably true …
And, she's figured out how to solve that problem.
Mary Sue's going to have baby, because the baby will love her.
And if you think Mary Sue is in a pickle, imagine Mary Sue's baby …

[The] most important feature of the life of a poor kid in America today, bar none, is that poor kids are isolated and alone.
And they don't trust anyone.
They don't trust their parents …
They don't trust schools.
They don't trust anybody.

Mary Sue recently posted on facebook:
Love hurts.
Trust kills.
Think what it means to grow up in a society in which you cannot trust anyone.

(Closing the Opportunity Gap, RSA, 6 October 2015)