Friday, July 03, 2009

Good and Bad climate news

BAD NEWS
The Drax 29 (climate protestors who hijacked a coal train outside Drax
power plant last summer) have been found Guilty by a jury of
obstructing the railway. They had attempted to use a 'necessity'
argument in their defence - similar to the one used by Greenpeace in
last year's Kingsnorth trial - which the defendants had to run
themselves, without lawyers, after the judge instructed them that this
was not admissable in court. The worst part is the judge has decided
to make them wait two months before sentencing - they're due back in
court to face the music on September 4th.
The Humanitarian Affairs division of the UN have imaginatively coined
a new phrase to describe the coming impacts of climate change on the
world's largest cities: "Mega-Disasters". Think giant robot vs
Godzilla style rampage, except in real life, with real casualties. If
you live in a "mega-city" then, well, buckle up.
Both the UK and the US governments have finally released reports
they've been sitting on which examine expected local climate impacts
in each country in unprecedented detail. Britain faces more droughts,
storms, floods and 41˚C summers in the shade, with average mean
temperatures 2˚C hotter across the country by the 2040s. Meanwhile
America faces much the same fate, but with extra emphasis on
devastating wildfires, extreme water shortages across entire regions,
and more dangerous effects of sea level rise and storm surges on the
Atlantic and Gulf coasts, where rises will be much higher than the
global average.
Speaking of sea level rise, the latest thinking is it's going to be a
lot worse than the IPCC suggested in their last report. In the words
of one scientist, "Most of my community is comfortable expecting at
least a metre by the end of this century." A one meter rise would
affect at least 100 million people. If emissions keep going up too,
then a 2M rise by 2100 is perfectly possible...
For the fullest view on the changing consensus in the climate science
community since the last IPCC report in 2007, check out the Copenhagen
Synthesis Report, just published by many of the same scientists who
contributed to the earlier IPPC report. If you can't stomach the full
report, the gist is: emissions, atmospheric concentrations of
greenhouse gases, global temperatures and sea levels are all rising
faster than the worst case scenarios explored by the IPCC, and the
feared planetary bio-feedbacks such as methane from melting permafrost
look like they have now begun to kick in - meaning the 'tipping point'
to runaway, irreversible warming may be much closer than we'd thought.
On emissions reduction targets being bandied about in advance of
Copenhagen, there's also been little to be cheerful about. The IPCC’s
2007 assessment (now considered to be based on old science) is that
industrialised countries should be making cuts of 40%. But head UK
negotiator Jan Thompson has said that 40% by 2020 is “laughable” -
and she's one of the more optimistic delegates. I won't even bore you
with the details of the half-hearted positions announced by a number
of important developed nations in the last few weeks, except to say
that an aggregated analysis of rich world commitments “would be in
the range of 8-14 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 if current
commitments were followed through."
But wait! There's still plenty of...

GOOD NEWS
If you're in need of inspiration, I really can't recommend the Drax
29's closing statement in their defence highly enough. It's freaking
awesome, and actually brought a tear to the eye of this jaded climate
campaigner.
Scotland! Bonny, bonny Scotland has finally passed its own Climate
Act, and in the process has become the first rich nation to commit to
mid-term targets that are actually in line with the IPCC's guidelines
for avoiding that dreaded 2˚C threshold. Massive bigups to Stop
Climate Chaos, WWF, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth Scotland
for all their work to make that happen, as well as everyone else who
took the time to lobby their MSPs about this. Scotland actually now
leads the developed world in climate mitigation policy. Who knew?
Tomorrow sees the march of the Mili-Band - a mass mobilisation of an
array of UK NGOs, from Oxfam and the RSPB to the Woodcraft Folk -
which will take shape around Kingsnorth coal fired power station in
Kent. It's all terribly fluffy and fun so if you've got a bit of spare
time this weekend, jump on one of the free buses and get down to Kent
to make your voice heard on new coal in the UK.
Those ever-brilliant yes yes Yes Men have just launched their direct
action site, Beyond Talk. "This is the place. Now is the time. Stop
worrying about climate change - do something."
Yo ho ho! Something a little bit more spicy has already gone down at
Kingsnorth since our last missive - Greenpeace pirate-a-likes boarded
a ship attempting to deliver coal to the power station, and stayed
there for 19 hours, camped out in the crows nest eating chips and
dips. Yaargh.
If you fancy a little spot of spiciness yourself, why not show out to
support the protest camp at the proposed Lanarkshire opencast coal
mine. The courts granted an eviction order for the camp on Monday this
week, and the police helicopters have been circling overhead like
vultures every day this week.... eviction imminent....
The UK Government has worked out that there's enough space in British
waters to accommodate an extra 25GW of generating capacity - enough to
power every household in the UK and create 70,000 new jobs in the
process. What's not to like?
Stupid's friends from across the pond at 350 are going global this
October with a coordinated day of action on climate change. Team
Stupid will be taking part (watch this space) but why not plan your
own action to feed into this almighty worldwide movement?
That nice American high school science teacher who made the YouTube
videos explaining the rationale for action on climate change has just
brought out what is probably the most accessible book in the genre so
far, in the same informal style as his very watchable YouTube skits.
Good climate primer for lazy readers.
Take a moment to sign FoE's petition calling on rich world leaders to
commit to 40% cuts with no offsetting. Offsetting is just a big scam.
Offsetting's just a big scam, right? Not this kind of offsetting -
Action Offsetting! Check out this amazing scheme to facilitate
millions of concerned citizens to take part in or support peaceful
civil disobedience to tackle carbon emissions. Then tell ten friends
about it. The best offsetting scheme anywhere in the world, ever.
The Science Museum has announced plans for a new exhibit that
approaches climate change from a more positive and 'aspirational'
perspective. The name of this new exhibit? The Age of Sensible. It'll
never catch on.