Monday, December 12, 2011
http://bit.ly/tFbPAQ United Nations agreement fails to protect climate. Indian analyst prefers failure to empty climate agreement at COP17 Durban Dec 2011. James Hansen at AGU San Francisco Dec 6. Durban wrap up with Janet Redman of IPS. Australian Prof. Michael Raupach on burst of new carbon & changing world. Radio Ecoshock 111214 1 hour.
Diplomats from all over the world are returning home after a hard-won agreement in Durban, South Africa.
They agreed to do nothing to save our climate from disaster.
Our governments will talk until 2015, and then maybe do something serious about greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. By then, as Radio Ecoshock listeners know, we will be committed to at least 3 and a half degrees Centigrade hotter world in 2100, than our ancestors knew in 1750. It will only get hotter after that.
In this Radio Ecoshock special, we hear four reports.
From India, journalist, author and political analyst Praful Bidwai tells Stephen Leahy of IPS a failure in Durban would be better than what we got. We go outside the spin of Western media.
Then to San Francisco, to hear NASA's Dr. James Hansen at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. He describes our unique and dangerous path.
Back to South Africa, where Janet Redman has survived the gruelling Durban conference sessions, to give us the wrap up. What did and didn't happen, along with the American role.
We finish up with an interview with Dr. Michael Raupach from Australia's National Science Agency. He's part of the Global Carbon Project which just published the bad news about our "monstrous" increase in emissions.
New science, predictions of doom, and a world in paralysis - it's another Radio Ecoshock show.
THE VIEW AT THE DURBAN CLIMATE CONFERENCE - FROM INDIA
At the Durban COP-17 Climate conference, India was blamed for not going along with the game. We're going to hear from Praful Bidwai, the author of "The Politics of Climate Change and The Global Crisis" and a well-known Indian commentator. Praful was interviewed by Stephen Leahy of the Independent Press Service on Friday December 9th. The meeting was not over, but everything in the interview stands.
Praful agrees the Indian economy is growing fast - but all the profits are going to the upper 10 or 15 percent of the population. While 500 million people still don't have electricity, India can hardly be counted as a "developed" country.
Bidwai also talks about the bullying, and outright bribery of countries at these climate conferences. Small Island states, who may disappear with rising seas, are told to agree to offers from large polluters, or risk getting nothing at all. Other countries are threatened by the risk of withholding loans or investments.
The European Union wanted a legally binding treaty. They offered to extend the Kyoto Protocol, and meet their commitments within that. Russia and the United States didn't want to extend the Protocol. Canada came to the conference threatening to withdraw first, because Canada has no intention of meeting those emission reductions. Production from the Tar Sands comes first, and Canada is already at least 25% over what it promised in Kyoto.
The United States never ratified Kyoto, despite it's promotion by Al Gore.
India objected to being legally bound to reduce emissions, even before it produced electricity for its citizens. Why should they do without, while the West continues to reap the benefits, and waste even more?
In the end, as we hear from Janet Redman, the Durban conference agreed on something called an extention of Kyoto, but without any legally binding reductions until at least 2020.
Every other commitment was likewise hollowed out, becoming many steps backwards, says Praful Bidwai. Payments into the $100 billion a year climate adaptation fund are uncertain, and not coming any time soon. The whole idea of the West taking responsibility for climate change (due to long-term emissions) - or reducing quickly to allow developing countries their share of the atmosphere - all that is out the window. Bidwai says this is worse than Copenhagen, it should have been voted down. Failure would have been preferable.
Don't miss this insightful interview by Stephen Leahy, of the Independent Press Service (IPS).
Stephen Leahy immediately sent this interview to Radio Ecoshock. Stephen is one of the few all-out environmental journalists left anywhere. He needs your support to keep covering the world. I'm asking you to make a donation of any amount, at stephenleahy.net
Our Radio Ecoshock coverage of the Durban climate conference continues with a long-distance call to Africa. We talk with Janet Redman. She knows the ropes of international negotiations, the activist scene, and politics back home in Washington.
BUT FIRST, JAMES HANSEN AT THE AGU
Dr. James Hansen, from the Goddard Space Center at NASA, is possibly America's top climate scientist. He was certainly the first to warn Congress, back in 1988, that global warming threatened the world.
Hansen's papers are widely cited as ground-breaking research. His latest book "Storms of My Grandchildren" is popular.
As the Durban climate conference was meeting, on the other side of the world, in San Francisco, the American Geophysical Union was holding its annual conference. Some of the most important climate science of the year is presented and reported.
We only have time to give you a brief excerpt from an hour long press briefing on December 6th, 2011. It was a panel discussion between three of the leading lights. I'm going to focus on a few clips from NASA's Dr. James Hansen, plus a bit from Eelco Rohling, Professor of Ocean and Climate Change, Southampton University, U.K.
Watch the full 1 hour press briefing, which also includes Ken Caldeira, here.
Note all the other AGU 2011 videos that show up on the You tube page. And visit the AGU site.
The presentation is called "Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes".
Find a related NASA press release here.
"In recent research, Hansen and co-author Makiko Sato, also of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, compared the climate of today, the Holocene, with previous similar 'interglacial' epochs – periods when polar ice caps existed but the world was not dominated by glaciers. In studying cores drilled from both ice sheets and deep ocean sediments, Hansen found that global mean temperatures during the Eemian period, which began about 130,000 years ago and lasted about 15,000 years, were less than 1 degree Celsius warmer than today. If temperatures were to rise 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, global mean temperature would far exceed that of the Eemian, when sea level was four to six meters higher than today, Hansen said.
'The paleoclimate record reveals a more sensitive climate than thought, even as of a few years ago. Limiting human-caused warming to 2 degrees is not sufficient,' Hansen said. 'It would be a prescription for disaster.'"
Find Briefing Materials
Related feature article by Hansen and Sato
JANET REDMAN OF INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES REPORTS FROM DURBAN
Reporting from South Africa, our guest is Janet Redman. She is Co-director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, at the Institute for Policy Studies, in Washington D.C. Janet attended the 17th Conference of the Parties, known as COP-17. That United Nations climate conference wrapped up a day and a half late, in the wee hours of December 11th, 2011.
I'm not able to summarize everything in this detailed interview.
Janet expresses her disappointment with a "hollowed out" agreement. Nothing is binding, all is voluntary and unmonitored. Essentially, from now until 2020, it is a free-for-all where every country can emit as much as it wants.
The result for the climate will be a disaster. On our current course, with emissions rising by 3 to 6% every year, there is no way to avoid at least 3.5 degrees C global mean temperature rise by 2100, and it could go to 5 or 6 degrees. That will ruin the Earth for humans and most species.
Janet explains the role of the United States, and how American actions in Durban are tailored to the electoral cycle. America is not taking on its responsibility for being the biggest single cause of climate change. A combination of bullying and evasion replace that.
We talk about Canada, and the unusual role of China. China is now the world's largest emitter, although still far down the list of per capita consumption.
China is also a leader in renewable energy, partly due to government policies supporting it. But American labor unions, and the U.S. government, are taking legal action against China - because it supports renewable energy!
China is also the de facto head of the G-77 countries, and is expected to speak for the developing world, against the major Western powers and Japan, if needed.
At one point, China offered to take on binding reduction agreements, if the U.S would do the same. But the U.S. refused. Redman says other countries are very aware that President Obama is not the climate or environmental leader voters expected. She doesn't think he will even mention climate in his campaign next year. Janet thinks Americans will have to take personal action, and organize on other levels, since the federal government is either bought out or politically paralyzed, or both.
There is a lot more in this interview. If you want to know what really happened in Durban, give it a listen.
Find out more about the Institute for Policy Studies here.
My thanks to Daphne Wysham of Earthbeat Radio for helping arrange this interview.
AN ESTEEMED AUSTRALIAN CLIMATE SCIENTIST ON CARBON EMISSIONS
Now on to Australia, to get the latest on climate science and our ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is Australia's national science agency. Our guest Dr. Michael Raupach is a Research Scientist with CSIRO's Marine and Atmospheric Research Division.
Dr Raupach's achievements include:
CSIRO Fellow, 2010
Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2010
Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, 2009
Back in 2006, Dr Raupach warned the amount of carbon dioxide produced by humans was on the rise. We've just seen that confirmed with another huge increase in 2010. For all the conferences, studies and reports, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, we're just going backwards.
Michael also participated in research showing the "sinks" that help trap our carbon emissions are weakening. When we look at carbon respositories, like the soil, forests, and especially the ocean, science suggests these are taking up 20% less carbon than in 1970.
Find out more here. (with audio podcast 6 min)
That's a huge concern, since at least half of the greenhouse gases produced by humans have been hidden away in these sinks. If they take up less, we get more staying in the atmosphere, and if we want to survive, we have to burn much less than we thought.
We hear about the recently released report showing humans have managed to raise greenhouse gas emissions an astonishing 5.9 percent in 2010. All during the 2000's, greenhouse gas emissions were increasing around 3% every year, except 2009. In 2009, the economic downturn meant a lower increase.
But by 2010, and again this year we think, despite economic concerns, greenhouse gas emissions are roaring out of our tail-pipes, power plants, gas wells, and agriculture, to name a few.
All this is tracked by the ...
GLOBAL CARBON PROJECT
Quoting from Wikipedia: "The Global Carbon Project (GCP) was established in 2001. The organisation seeks to quantify global carbon emissions and their causes.
The main object of the group has been to fully understand the carbon cycle. The project has brought together emissions experts and economists to tackle the problem of rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.
The Global Carbon Project works collaboratively with the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the World Climate Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and Diversitas, under the Earth System Science Partnership.
In late 2006 researchers from the project claimed that carbon dioxide emissions had dramatically increased to a rate of 3.2% annually from 2000. At the time, the chair of the group Dr Mike Raupach stated that 'This is a very worrying sign. It indicates that recent efforts to reduce emissions have had virtually no impact on emissions growth and that effective caps are urgently needed,'...
Their projections have indicated that we can expect greenhouse gas emissions to occur according to the IPCC's worst-case scenario, as CO2 emissions reach 500ppm in the 21 st century."
Find the main Global Carbon Project web site here.
Actually, Dr. Raupach told me about the 2010 increase in our interview, but asked me to wait for the paper publication this past week, before broadcasting our chat.
It was a rare opportunity to talk with one of Australia's preeminent climate scientists, especially when it comes to the carbon cycle. In a future show, I'll ask Dr. Raupach about using changes in agriculture to lower carbon, by putting it into the soil.
This week we learned about that carbon cycle, and our emissions.
I asked Michael Raupach about the priorities for climate research in Australia. Then I learned more about North America and Europe as well.
It seems "the sub-tropical ridge" of high pressure is dropping southward toward the Poles. The same ridge in northern latitutes is moving northward toward the Pole. The result is a massive change in weather patterns.
For Australia, and for the southern United States, this change means less rainfall, drought, and fires. Australia has seen plenty of all three, just like Texas and Oklahoma in 2011. Parts of the country are drying out, and may not recover.
Raupach says it is easy to predict a long term warming trend due to increasing carbon in the atmosphere. There will be more brush fires in the countryside, and more heat deaths in the cities, he says.
Here is the difficult subject that needs much more search, Raupach tells me: the impact of greenhouse gases on precipitation. Just as James Hansen told us at the AGU in San Francisco, our models are not yet good at predicting changes in rainfall. We can't say for sure which extreme rainfall events are aided by climate change.
Knowing the impact on rainfall, and therefore on agriculture, is critical for Australia and the world.
ENJOY LIFE WHILE YOU CAN
There you go. A full serving of science, doom and the human circus.
We don't have time to cover the simultaneous economic collapse. In his latest radio show and podcast, Max Keiser explains why Britain opted out of the European Union economic recovery plan - to keep the City of London as a world base for bankster piracy.
Download "The Truth About Markets" #1228 December 10, 2011 here. (1 hour)
Your new word for the week is "re-hypothication". Look it up, and find the link to a key article in the blog Zero Hedge which explains how money is magically expanded until it bursts.
This article is a bit hard going at the start, I found, but keep slogging along and you begin to get the drift of the game going on in London, and incidentally how Canadian banks are playing there...
A MODEST PROPOSAL
The politicians at Durban showed they are not willing to act to save the climate. Maybe a fast deep economic crash is our only hope of maintaining a livable climate for ourselves and our grandchildren.
With that happy thought, I thank you for listening. Download Radio Ecoshock programs free from our web site, ecoshock.org. You can find my blog and videos there as well.
I'm Alex Smith, saying "Remember, these are the good old days."
Enjoy your holidays.