4500 ways in 174 countries to send a 350 message


350.org‘s planetary day of action is well under way, with schools actions happening all over New Zealand — that’s Remuera Intermediate above, taking their jumpers off for climate action. Tomorrow’s the big day, with over 130 350 Aotearoa actions scheduled all round the country. You can find one near you at 350.org.nz. Lend a hand. Send a message.


This is Jane Filemu, a 9 year-old Samoan girl taking part in 350 Islands For Change, an Oxfam-organised action at Takapuna beach in Auckland today. With Pacific Island nations being hung out to dry by the developed world, islanders waded out to a giant washing line and hung up 350 tee-shirts, each printed with the name of an island. Jane hung up the final shirt, recited a poem and then told the crowd:

“I have a choice to be one of many, to make a better world for the future of Aotearoa, Pasifika, our planet. Everyone has the power to choose wrong or right. Family, we can work together, we can make a change. Alofa, Aroha, Peace!”

My action? Colin King MP is turning up to open Amberley Farmers Market’s summer season. I’ll be having a chat to him about climate reality. 350 words, at the very least (and the mayor won’t escape either). 😉

Four degrees too far

The British government has stepped up its pre-Copenhagen campaign for a global emissions deal, yesterday releasing this interactive map of what a 4ºC temperature increase would mean for the world. Click on the map to explore the impacts listed across the bottom. A larger (full page) version is available here, and background here and here. At the launch in the Science Museum in London, Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary emphasised the urgency:

“Britain’s scientists have helped to illustrate the catastrophic effects that will result if the world fails to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees. With less than 50 days left before agreement must be reached, the UK’s going all out to persuade the world of the need to raise its ambitions so we get a deal that protects us from a 4 degree world.”

The 4ºC projection can be thought of as a plausible worst case scenario – the sort of outcome that we have to take seriously when deciding on emissions reductions. Based on modelling done at the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre (discussed at this recent conference, BBC coverage here), the map shows what could happen if global emissions continue to rise unchecked — but not when we would get there. Some model runs suggest it could be as early as the 2060s. One key point to note: a 4ºC rise in the global average does not mean a 4ºC rise everywhere. Some places (like NZ) will be shielded from the full warming by cool oceans, but in the Arctic, for instance, the rise could be as much as 15ºC, and over continental interiors such as the USA and Asia 6 – 8ºC. Large parts of central Australia will be 6ºC hotter — as will much of Antarctica. The planet will be radically transformed, and not in a good way. More coverage at the Telegraph, Independent and Guardian.

Telling porkies to Parliament (first reprise)

NZETS.jpgThere are hours of harmless fun to be had digging around in the submissions to the Finance & Expenditure Committee on the government’s proposed amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme [full list here]. There’s some good stuff — the Institute of Policy Studies/Climate Change Research Institute submission [PDF] is scathing:

The Bill […] does not provide a path forward to decarbonise the New Zealand economy in an efficient, effective or equitable manner. It will barely reduce emissions. It imposes high costs on the economy for the benefit of a favoured few. It is fiscally unsustainable, environmentally counterproductive, administratively cumbersome and economically indefensible.

Don’t mince your words, chaps, tell us what you really think…

Unfortunately, there’s also a fair amount of rubbish.

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Wind, water and sun are all we need

Climatechallenge Wind, solar and water sources are sufficient to provide the world’s energy by 2030. Scientific American has a front cover article coming up in November to demonstrate that. Written by Mark Jacobson (left) and Mark Delucchi, it’s heartening information according to a Stanford University report. Turning away from combustion to electricity from renewable sources results in a striking lowering of global power demand. The reason is that fossil fuel and biomass combustion are inefficient at producing usable energy. For example, when gasoline is used to power a vehicle, at least 80 percent of the energy produced is wasted as heat. With vehicles that run on electricity, it’s the opposite. Roughly 80 percent of the energy supplied to the vehicle is converted into motion, with only 20 percent lost as heat. Other combustion devices can similarly be replaced with electricity or with hydrogen produced by electricity. The authors estimate a consequent 30 percent decrease in global power demand, which is a promising start and helps to make renewables ultimately cheaper than fossil or nuclear generation.

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The cost of losing coral: no drop in the ocean

Climatechallenge Perhaps it will register if it’s expressed in money terms. The latest issue of the New Scientist carries an article reporting an estimate of  the loss of the world’s coral reefs at $172 billion per year. The estimate comes from the work of Pavan Sukhdev and colleagues. He’s an economist with the United Nations Environment Programme, and head of a European Commission study called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). It’s an international project to raise awareness about the economic benefits of biodiversity. I hadn’t come across its work before, but last month it produced a report TEEB Climate Issues Update. It’s a subset of early conclusions relating to climate change and a fuller report will follow next month.

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