I have been marinating in the meaty world of climate change for a good five years now. I’ve been on a wild ride as a film maker producing a documentary called 2 Degrees (that’s the trailer above). Our film looks at the flaws in the UN climate negotiation process through the gritty lens of climate justice, and then follows a fantastic community uprising lead by a fiery 80 year old woman mayor in South Australia.
As a result of this process I have become intensely interested in how we respond psychologically to climate change as humans. How do we cope with the grief, anger, confusion, disbelief and disempowerment that inevitably arises when we allow the reality of those doomsday news reports to sink in? Can we keep our chins up amidst all this?
Personally, I can. I’m way beyond depression and anxiety. In 2009 I sat in at the Four Degrees and Beyond conference in Oxford when the world’s eminent climate scientists shared their current research and came to a collective realisation that the worst case scenarios that each was predicting via their various areas of specialty modelling was, in fact, already playing out. It was a sobering vibe to say the least.
Continue reading “Ange Palmer: Why I Feel So Good About Climate Change”
The government in New Zealand may make soothing noises about climate change impacts, but that is not an option for the Minister of Environment in Nigeria, Mrs Laurentia Mallam. She issued this chilling warning about the impacts of sea level rise a few days ago:
“Studies have projected that with an accelerated sea level rise of 0.5 meters, 35 per cent of the Niger Delta land mass will be lost, and with accelerated sea level rise of 1.0 meters, 75 per cent of the Niger Delta will be gone under water.
“Given this scenario, it implies that nearly 32 million people (22.6 per cent of the national population) who live along the coastal zone are at the risk of becoming environmental refugees. Such forced movement could result in social frictions arising from demands of land resources for economic activities by the refugees.”
For good measure she listed the full effects of climate change on her country:
“In Nigeria, the impacts of climate change are manifested by erosion and landslides in the east, drought, and desertification in the north, raising sea levels in the coastal areas and flooding across the nation.”
The adaptation measures required by Nigeria will obviously be of staggering proportions, and add urgency to the need to prevent the problem from getting even worse than it is already going to be.
Continue reading “Out of Africa: Nigerian environment minister warns of devastating climate impacts”
When people just arriving in Warsaw over the last few days ask me how long I’ve been here, my general response has been “all my life.” That’s what it feels like. You’d think I’d be used to this, it being my 11th COP. But there’s nothing like that special feeling of tiredness having been in a hideous, air-conditioned stadium for 15 hours a day. And I’m not even a negotiator.
We had a discussion today about whether a warm weather COP is better for achieving progress on the climate than a cold one, and it seemed this was so. Bali, Cancun and Durban did make better progress, on the whole, than Poznan, Copenhagen, and now Warsaw.
Today was the day that a bunch of civil society walked out of the Polish National Stadium. WWF, Greenpeace, Action Aid, 350 and Oxfam, along with unions and youth left the meeting, noisily, in big numbers and with the slogan “polluters talk, we walk,” in protest at the way the fossil fuel industry appears to be running progress, or lack thereof.
I understand where they’re coming from. Separate Oil and State and you’d get a lot further than where we are right now. Some NGO’s are staying inside to help steer the process through to the bitter end, which also seems understandable.
Continue reading “Protest, procrastination and #wtf?”
The NZ Herald business supplement recently carried a thoughtful feature by Peter Huck in which he described moves to combat climate change at lower levels than the floundering international negotiations. He begins with a report on Desertec Industrial Initiative, the German-led consortium which this year hopes to trial in Morocco a concentrated solar power plant as the harbinger of ambitious plans to provide very large quantities of solar and wind energy to North Africa and Europe.
Huck takes this as one of the many signals that the top-down approach to limiting carbon emissions through international deals is giving way to a ground-up attitude that stresses action. Others include the EU’s introduction of a carbon tax on airlines that use its airports; Scotland’s investment in wave power; California’s embrace of renewable energy, clean fuels, a cap-and-trade programme to limit emissions, and other green policies; Ecuador’s efforts to preserve its forests by getting donors to pay it to keep oil in the ground; China’s approval last year of its 12th Five Year Plan, which aims to tackle energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Further down the chain Huck instances a growing urgency about reducing emissions which can mean corporate investment in renewable energy, municipal emphasis on public transport, or a family insulating their home.
Continue reading “A sunnier outlook from the ground up”
It’s all too easy for wealthy America and Europe to treat climate-induced migration as a border security issue. Gregory White, Professor of Government at Smith College in Massachusetts, argues in his recent book Climate Change and Migration: Security and Borders in a Warming World that a security-minded response to the phenomenon is both inappropriate and unethical. It’s not a judgment the book rushes to; White provides ample and thoughtfully-presented material in its support.
The dynamics of globalisation have brought with them an increasing preoccupation with border security, particularly in the countries of the North Atlantic. Immigration is a hot electoral issue and the spectre of climate-induced migration adds to the already fraught subject. White writes of how easily deep fears can be aroused and of media-savvy politicians all to ready to play on them, along with the “media’s panic entrepreneurs”.
Continue reading “Climate Change and Migration”