29 November 2019

The kids are alright

At least most of the kids. They get it and they will take the brunt of it. I only managed an early visit to the SS4C sit down in front of Parliament House. Too early; they were just getting set up. I passed by a few hours later, not too much later I thought, but there was little happening. As I write this, I have yet to see any reports. I hope for the best. Inside Parliament, they were making battle, to close down Unions and over Angus Taylor's latest indiscretions. It's indicative. The kids get it; the adults battle. The Taylor incident may be trivial, but it's indicative of the culture wars and corruption that we have come to expect. I once had some respect for Government, even when I didn't agree. I argued pollies entered to do good, even if they got waylaid. But now? With Adani going ahead and the Daily Telegraph informed of changed and unlikely numbers and the PM just innocently checking up with his Chief of Police mate in this context. And no Corruption Commission. And unions targeted while Westpac is found with 25m (now 29m?) errors with money-laundering implications. And remembering back to Indigenous walks across the Bridge and massed demos against Iraq when there were no WMDs and when this was transparently clear at the time and yet we went to war. I can understand desperation and mental illness and tired resignation in these circumstances. What I don't understand is the ethics of those who can carry all this out. I find it hard to believe intelligent people believing the cherrypicking and rare denier academics and echo chambers and the rest. And ignoring follow-the-money path around the world's biggest industry. (Although I do despair that truth is increasingly hard to determine. That's a parallel argument of our time but climate is clear enough). Here's my letter once written seeking to understand climate denial:

I'm intrigued by the psychology of denial. Is it a deep internal conflict that expresses itself in phrases like "I don't question the science, but..."? Or in claims of "technology neutrality" associated with demands for coal, or attacks on the "ideology" of others while ignoring or twisting the science. Or worse, maybe they are just lying through their teeth, or have sold their souls. Remember, we're talking end of civilisation here. Not trivial. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

It got in the paper without the final sentence (Letters, Canberra Times 16 Jun 2017) and I was attacked for calling names and not seeking proof (joke!) and amazingly chided on "the difference between science and faith". Amusing. I had previously written my concise summary of climate change and sent it to papers and pollies and, despite the CO2 figures requiring updating, I still stand by it. As I hear of 153 fires in NSW on the news just an hour ago, after a bushfire season that started in winter in the middle of a drought that has country and now city water supplies dangerously dropping.

All you really need to know about climate change. We're one big civilisation and climate is changing fast given a sudden imbalance of carbon since the industrial revolution. The mechanism of greenhouse gasses has been known to science for 150 years or so and we're at 400ppm and adding another couple each year, and 2 degrees warming (guessed to come at 450ppm) is a rough, perhaps optimistic, estimate of where runaway climate change could happen given various feedback loops (the ubiquitous "tipping points") and it looks to me like we've got Buckley's chance of staying within 2 degrees. With business as usual, IPCC estimates 3-6 degrees rise by 2100. That's just 86 years. Scientists provide the proof of all this for honest readers. To me it looks like game over and sooner than we think. I just hope I'm wrong because nobody wins an argument with physics.

I sent this one to Letters, The Australian, Dec 2014 but it wasn't published. We are now at CO2 ~408ppm and rising 2/3 ppm each year. (Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2 : October 2019: 408.53 ppm / October 2018: 406.00 ppm / Last updated: November 5, 2019 [https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/, viewed 29 Nov 2019]). In that context, I will lead a short discussion session on Climate soon. Here are our preparatory readings.

It's such a big topic but my thinking was thus: 11,000 scientists warning ( > Paris gaps > Specific countries > Tipping points > Possible futures ). I suggest we just peruse the 11,000 scientists warning, then the rest can be happy reading over our Christmas break.

11,000 scientists warning
Article > https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/climate-crisis-11000-scientists-warn-of-untold-suffering
Paper > https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806

UNEP Gap Audit 2019
Article > https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/26/united-nations-global-effort-cut-emissions-stop-climate-chaos-2030
Paper > https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/30797/EGR2019.pdf

Country contributions
Article > https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions

Climate tipping points
Article > https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/27/climate-emergency-world-may-have-crossed-tipping-points
Paper > https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0

Possible futures - Implications of +1 degC, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ...
Article > http://www.globalwarming.berrens.nl/globalwarming.htm

So there you go. The whimper is all around us; the bang is coming. I wish the kids the best. They get it.

The School Strike for Climate (SS4C) staged a sit down strike outside Parliament House.

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