It is depressingly apparent that powerful forces in the global economy are set to carry on with the exploration for and use of fossil fuels as a primary source of energy for decades to come. Oxfam has produced a report identifying the confluence of fossil fuel companies, governments and investors which givers momentum to the disastrous course along which we are being impelled.
Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance pulls no punches. It points to the evidence from the Tyndall Centre that, in the absence of an unprecedented change in the global use of fossil fuels, we are heading for a global temperature rise of 4 to 6 degrees by century’s end.
Warming at this rate would leave hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people at risk of severe hunger and drought by 2060. Even 2 degrees is going to have widespread human impacts and cause serious setbacks to development. The ‘hunger costs’ of fossil fuels are set to be the most savage impacts of climate change for millions globally. Farmers in many African countries are likely to see decreases in yield decade by decade, in spite of adaptation measures. The report details much more by way of cascading adverse impacts on populations least equipped to cope with them. It also points to severe economic and business risks in store for the developed countries as climate change begins to bite in their regions.
Continue reading “Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance”
The New Zealand Labour Party announced their climate change policy on 24 August; the Sunday before last Sunday.
At first glance, it sounds refreshingly like a policy that takes anthropogenic global warming seriously. From the announcement:
A Labour Government will put in place a comprehensive climate change strategy focusing on both mitigation and adaptation, establish an independent Climate Commission and implement carbon budgeting, says Labour Climate Change spokesperson Moana Mackey.
“This is about future-proofing our economy. Making the transition to a low-carbon clean technology economy is not a ‘nice to have’ as the current Government would have us believe. It is a transition we must make and the sooner we begin, the easier that transition will be.”
How did the media respond? Well they ignored it. I haven’t seen any reporting of Labour’s climate change policy in the Herald, or Stuff/Fairfax, or Radio NZ or TV1 or TV3. I only stumbled onto it via Scoop a week after the release.
Like the 2011 election, the issue of climate change has been notable for it’s absence (the snake swallowing the elephant in the room).
However, some climate change focused NGOs responded positively to Labour’s policy. Simon Terry at the Sustainability Council said a carbon budget was the single most important reform. Generation Zero and the Iwi Leaders Group and forest owners welcomed the policy. The mainstream media of course also ignored these NGO views.
However, before I get into the detail of Labour’s climate change policy (a topic for another post), it’s important to ask “are the dots connected with Labour’s energy policy?” Unfortunately, the dots are not connected and the energy policy is 180 degrees contrary to the concept of a carbon budget.
Continue reading “Memo to Labour: Calling fossil fuels “transition fuels” doesn’t make the carbon go away”
In his interview on TV3’s The Nation last weekend David Shearer declared a Labour Party policy on oil and gas drilling which, like the Government’s, fails to confront the reality of climate change. Drilling will continue. The approval processes will be improved, the regulations will be tight, the money gained will be used well, but drilling will continue. He acknowledged that “at the end of the day” fossil fuels are out. They cannot continue to be our future. But we can use them to transition to renewables. They can remain a strand in our development. ”There’s a potential there and while there’s a potential we should be looking at it.”
Transition is a word which acquires a convenient elasticity in the language of those who argue for the continued exploration for fossil fuels. We all realise that the change from fossil energy can’t happen overnight. There has to be a period of transition. But to use that fact to justify continued new exploration and development of fossil fuels is to rob the transition of all urgency and treat it rather as something we will need to gradually prepare for as fossil reserves are finally exhausted.
The message from the science is clear. If we burn more than a third of the fossil fuel reserves already discovered we will cause a level of warming likely to prove catastrophic for human society. Continue reading “Labour’s dodgy drilling policy avoids climate reality”
This guest post is by Meghan Hughes. She has been involved in a variety of environmental groups including Greenpeace, the Save Happy Valley campaign and the Green Party. She has recently finished a Masters in New Zealand Literature and lives in Wellington. She is married to Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, but is proud to claim all her opinions as totally her own.
“Until they personally run their own lives without fossil fuels I’m not prepared to consider their position about not extracting fossil fuels.” Dunedin city councillor, former ACT MP Hilary Calvert.
Hypocrisy (n): the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more laudable opinions or beliefs than is the case. Oxford English Dictionary.
Driving a car to an oil-free protest makes you a hypocrite, right? Wrong: I support an oil-free future in the long term. I agree with divesting from oil exploration in the short term. Ultimately, I believe in moving from a fossil-dependent economy toward a sustainable and more environmentally-responsible economy. What underpins my stance is the reality of man-made climate change and the need for man-made societal change. However, there are people out there who would want me to believe that unless I am able to live my life, run my household, and raise my kids without utilising any products of our oil-dependent society, I have no right to demand anything different. They say to do so would mean that I am a hypocrite. Right?
Wrong. Most of the people making this kind of absurd allegation really don’t care about a genuine response. It is a tactic to shut you down. Unsurprisingly, many of these same people refuse to acknowledge that we are changing our climate, so reject also the responsibly we share in doing something about it. So this isn’t for them, this is for you. This is to tell you that it is ok to drive your car to an oil-free protest.
Continue reading “Why it’s ok to drive your car to an anti-oil protest”
Sometimes the best way to start the week is with a good laugh — an eruptive bellow, in my case. Do not read any further while handling or consuming hot drinks, because it’s that man again: NZ’s favourite astrologer, “moon man” Ken Ring, reinventing science (again) in service of his weird view of the world. As regular readers will recall, Ringworld is a place full of oddities, but even as a connoisseur of Ken’s creative interpretations of physical reality I was reduced to fits of giggles by a couple of his recent articles, as published at his Yahoo News blog. Here’s what set me off — the fourth paragraph of an extended rant about scaremongering:
Volcanoes throw CO2 into the air and it drifts slowly down. Rain brings most CO2 back into the sea, with the rest combining to form weak acid carbonates which embed in rocks. Earthquakes enable rocks to reach the sea and eventually underneath new volcanoes, the cycle taking millions of years. There are enough volcanoes every day beneath the sea and above to keep CO2 at a constant average of 350 parts per million of the atmosphere, across many centuries.
A constant average of 350 ppm? The planet has spent most of the last few million years in a series of ice ages, with CO2 levels around 180 ppm. During the short interglacial periods, CO2 peaked at about 280-300 ppm — until we came along and started liberating fossil sunshine and boosted that to 390+ ppm. Ken’s just making stuff up, again. There’s much more to amuse in the piece, as Ken reinvents developmental psychology, but for the real fun, you have to dig a few weeks further back in his blog archive… Continue reading “Monday mirth: Ken Ring reinvents botany, geology, and the oil business”