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The Political Economy of the Paris Agreement: Preserving the Existing Social & Economic Order

Real-world Economics Review, Issue no. 75

The Political Economy of the Paris Agreement on Human Induced Climate Change: a Brief Guide

By Clive L. Spash [Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria]

 

truth

 

Excerpt:

Technological optimism is at the core of the IPCC projections and the assumptions that inform the Paris Agreement. On publication of the IPCC 5th Assessment report the official press release quoted the Chair, R.K. Pachauri, as stating that:

“To keep a good chance of staying below 2ºC, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100.”

The latter is the new rhetoric of negative emissions that relies on imagined future technologies (e.g. biotechnology, geoengineering, carbon capture and storage). The press release also reports the findings of Working group III as showing that:

“…mitigation cost estimates vary, but that global economic growth would not be strongly affected. In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption – a proxy for economic growth – grows by 1.6 to 3 percent per year over the 21st century. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this by about 0.06 percentage points.”

This major transformation of the energy basis of the economy in fossil fuels is floated in the press as having no real impact on economic growth without anyone raising a qualm. In fact Lord Stern and colleagues have been arguing that economic growth will be boosted by the energy transformation to a “new climate economy” (GCEC, 2014). Elsewhere, I have discussed some of the many fallacies of this Green Growth argument and noted the connection to a power elite (Spash, 2014). Yet this is now the dominant international position and hope of the Paris Agreement.

The whole of Article 2 is qualified by the phrase: “…in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty”. As I have noted elsewhere (Spash, 2016), the Paris Agreement cannot be read outside the context of the, October 2015, UN Resolution A/RES/70/1 “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which promotes economic growth, technology, industrialisation and energy use. Goal 8 is to sustain per capita economic growth at a rate of “at least 7 per cent gross domestic product per annum in the least developed countries”. The environmental devastation this would entail is meant to be addressed by the “endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation”, which is meaningless unless undertaken in absolute terms and that is simply impossible for the industrial economy being promoted in Goal 9. The Paris Agreement follows suit and claims that: “Accelerating, encouraging and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting economic growth and sustainable development” (Article 10).

The ultimate concern is the threat to economic growth and this is a perspective that has been heavily lobbied for by advocates, such as Stern, of the new climate economy under the banner “better growth, better climate”. As they state: “In the long term, if climate change is not tackled, growth itself will be at risk” (GCEC, 2014a, p.9). The climate can and will be changed, but growth must not be threatened.

The negotiations around human induced climate change reveal the tensions and contradictions of the resulting policy. There are those who argue for more and better growth spurred on by new technologies to be developed via innovative corporations (GCEC, 2014). This is to be funded, as usual, by massive public investment that will ‘leverage’ private finance, or in plain terms subsidise corporate profit-making while pretending to remove market imperfections. Advocates are heavily invested in preserving the existing social and economic order as evident by the elite networks of the 1% within which they operate (Spash, 2014). The hope is for new miracle technologies to allow moving pollutants from the air to the soil and water, and reliance on treating the Earth as a mechanical toy for boys to (geo)engineer. The economics profession with its macroeconomic obsessions over jobs and growth is living in a fantasy world without any biophysical reality and merely plays along with this techno-optimist tune, and unfortunately the heterodoxy has so far done little to alter this.

The targets of Paris are not some simple internalisation of an externality that is messing-up the perfectly functioning market system. If taken seriously they are a call for a major transformation of the global economy away from its foundation on fossil fuels and energy intensive systems. As the UNFCCC’s Director for Strategy has stated:

“The objective is to put in motion a fundamental transformation in the way we use and produce energy, how we plan our cities, how we manage land and how we prepare for a changing climate and cooperate to minimise its disruptive effect. Transformation takes strategy. You need to know your destination if you are serious about reaching it” (Thorgeirsson, 2015).

Yet, while the need for transformation is now widely recognised, this is generally interpreted as being totally consistent with maintaining the same social ecological and economic structure as today. That is a structure of social inequity, ecological exploitation and an economy promoting hedonistic materialism supplied through a system of corporate and State capital accumulation. The politics of human induced climate change go to the heart of the modern industrialised capital accumulating economy and the rhetoric of growth as supplying development and progress. In the end the Paris Agreement changes nothing. The destination is the same old growth economy and that is in total contradiction with addressing human induced climate change.

Download the paper:

Clive L. Spash, “The political economy of the Paris Agreement on human induced climate change: a brief guide”,
real-world economics review, issue no. 75, xx June 2016, pp. xx-xx,
http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue75/Spash75.pdf

 

[Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.]

 

The Klein Doctrine

Wrong Kind of Green

December 3, 2015

Klein OECD

Photo: 24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Gurría launched the “New Approaches to Economic Challenges”, “an OECD reflection process on the lessons from the crisis with the aim to upgrade OECD’s analytical frameworks and develop a comprehensive agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth.” Gurría’s background is extensive, currently serving on the Advisory Board for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF). 3GF’s works on building public-private partnerships for a “global green growth agenda”: “This industrial transition has the potential to unlock new growth engines and spur global economic growth… Studies on green growth opportunities from the OECD, UNEP and the World Bank conclude that the economic opportunity in ‘going green’ is worth several trillion dollars between now and 2030.” ” [3Gf website] [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD]

Excerpt from the December 2, 2015 article Obama’s Cop21 Climate Speech Signals Coming Authoritarian Rule Over Unfolding Climate Disaster:

“As the author of the “Shock Doctrine” Klein is well aware of governments using disaster to consolidate power. She even spoke about it to the Nation on the streets of Paris. But because she would not use her position to do anything more than advance her street cred and take advantage of the Paris scene as a kind of product placement opportunity for her “shock doctrine” analysis, she did little more than advance her own brand. She can neither be considered an activist, nor even a neutral reporter on the events on the ground. The conciliatory language she chose, though sprinkled with mild critique, helped shape the compliant activist landscape. She didn’t simply report on the cowed activist reality; she helped create it. She didn’t simply recount the governmental overreach; she helped reinforce it.”

Read the full article: Obama’s Cop21 Climate Speech Signals Coming Authoritarian Rule Over Unfolding Climate Disaster:

OECD Klein

24 November 2015 – Naomi Klein, Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker speaking at the OECD. Mrs. Klein came to the OECD in the context of the “Coffees of the Secretary-General” series. Paris, France. “Since 2010 some of the world’s foremost thinkers–economists, historians, environmentalists, writers, artists, photographers–have come to the OECD to meet Secretary-General Angel Gurría and chat about the world over a relaxing cup of coffee… After coffee, the conversation then opens out into a lively discussion with a packed audience of OECD experts.” [Source: OECD]

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XI of an Investigative Report] [2 Degrees of Credendum]

The Art of Annihilation

August 11, 2015

Part eleven of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” — Frantz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

 

Foundation-funded “progressive media” does its best to instill the possibility that states within the UN process will eventually pass a legally binding agreement regulating deep emissions cuts at a global level. Yet there is no evidence that this will happen. In fact, all evidence points to the contrary. The UN Conference of the Parties (the yearly world climate conference, with the first international climate conference taking place nearly four decades ago in 1979, in Geneva) no longer have anything to do with the environment, rather, they represent the largest annual gathering for an economic conference in the world [1]: a conference hell-bent on environmental markets and commodification and privatization of the Earth’s remaining shared commons. We find ourselves in a world whereby governments no longer preside over corporate power, it is corporate power that oversees, dominates and rules the world’s governments – a potent corporatocracy.

The fifth major assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the first IPCC report to lend legitimacy to the concept of a global carbon budget (AR5 Synthesis Report, or SYR). The report reiterates that to stay below a 2ºC threshold (with a 66% probability) the world must not exceed the remaining carbon budget of 790 billion tonnes (790 gigatonnes of carbon). The budget excludes other greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, nitrous oxides and synthetic gases. (This IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (known as AR5) includes methane, but only with the 100 year deferred global warming potential of 25 rather than what should be 72-86 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years, at minimum.) It also excludes amplifying carbon feedbacks, which commit us to the vicious cycle of global warming unleashing more global warming.

The carbon (asset) bubble campaign is mired within the same realm as the so-called 2ºC target: deceit, duplicity and delusion, all encompassed in yet another linguistic dance. Assume that you can calculate where the very edge of danger lies and take humanity to that very precipice, all in the name of corporate greed. This defines the strategy of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC), lockstep with corporate and foundation-financed so-called “progressive” media, as the key gatekeepers for empire.

The logic of the carbon bubble is summarized in a “Go Fossil Free” petition:

“When the world’s governments decide to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels, we will have a situation where businesses are forced to keep their coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground and therefore their share prices will drop significantly.” – Go Fossil Free Website, Petitions

To position front and centre in the public realm, a coupled hypothesis of unburnable carbon and a looming carbon bubble premised on the assumption/conjecture that one day, world governments will regulate greenhouse gas emissions – at which point corporations and industries will be forced (via regulation) to halt production of fossil fuels – is not only rich, considering we now exist under a corpotocracy, it’s beyond laughable. Even if a carbon-constrained future was a legitimate goal of states, the continuance of corporations and empire, means that continued as well as new oil production capacity will be necessary. In the dogmatic scenario known as the “new economy” (that is also unrealistically based on perpetual economic growth like the “old economy”), which is judiciously being constructed by states, corporations, marketing firms and empire, continuous new oil production capacity is a necessity. And zero attention is being given to the fact that the renewable energy industry (hailed as the magic bullet) is also a derivative and host of the fossil fuel industry. Consider that empire states destabilize and occupy resource/oil-rich countries in order to steal and control every drop of oil, rare Earth elements/metals and other natural resources – killing millions in the process – and then ask yourself who exactly (what agency or government) is going to regulate that fossil fuel reserves are no longer to be accessed?

The ugly truth is that leaving the fossil fuel reserves in the ground is precisely what would cause those of privilege to revolt. In 2013 the world consumed a staggering 7,896.4 million metric tons of coal, 91,330,895 barrels of oil per day (with more than 1/5 of this amount being consumed by the United States who represent less than 5% of the global population) and 3,347.63 billion m3 of natural gas (detailed fossil fuel consumption stats to follow). And now consider that there is no serious campaign, dialogue or emphasis in the public realm on radically altering Western consumptive lifestyles in any meaningful way.

Perpetual economic growth has been and will continue to be pursued at all costs. The system demands it. The world’s use of fossil fuels is increasing, not decreasing. The notion of unburnable carbon will only present itself if a global economic collapse occurs – and even then, oil/fossil fuels will be consumed by the military-industrial complex as cities throughout the world find themselves amidst chaos and conflicts. Every last drop will be burned. The system demands it. The notion of a legitimate carbon bubble is more in line with carbon credits being purchased and sold based on lands (carbon sinks) that do not exist, thus creating a bubble. Or, in an increasingly chaotic short-term situation, a collapse of some sort could be the result of “economic uncertainty” due to market volatility when oil prices fall, such as we have recently observed.

Lastly, the very fossil fuel corporations and oligarchs that benefit from absence of regulation coupled with infinite growth also create and/or finance the elite think tanks (via foundations), which in turn draft the very policies they wish to “abide by.” Those at the helm of the most powerful corporate institutions can also be found at the helm of the world’s most prestigious and influential think tanks as directors, board members, advisors and “fellows.”

It is incredibly difficult to envision the actual existence of “unburnable carbon”, whereby the “carbon bubble” would “burst” upon an agreed upon international agreement to ban further use of fossil fuels. A perhaps slightly more plausible scenario would be legislated/regulated reductions in fossil fuels, yet this would only serve to make the fossil fuels more valuable, not less. In fact, if the governments did agree to seal off the reserves (as oil explorations continue unabated to the tune US$674 billion each year), the 1-3% that create the majority of the global greenhouse gas emissions would revolt over the loss of their privileged lifestyles (not to mention the loss of instant heat and never-ending food on demand). Where legally binding budgets do surface, one can expect a main component of the legislative policy will include carbon trading and mass deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. It is true that coal could certainly lose its value, but this is true only because it can easily be replaced by natural gas (in the form of fracking) and other intensive forms of energy slightly less polluting (and likely more profitable) than coal. Further, the threat of coal as a “stranded asset” paves the way for CCS to be accepted and implemented as a “solution,” ensuring both business as usual as well as a new industry, meaning more infrastructure.

Further, oil accounts for approximately 29% of global fossil fuel reserves. Yet while pipelines are protested, along with fairly little concern by most about the bomb trains that have come with the fairly recent rail dynasty dominated by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (made possible in large part by the NPIC) there is zero interest in the fact that unless consumption is radically diminished (think mass free transit systems in tandem with rations or bans on personal driving and flights), the oil will continue to proliferate and flow, along with trains and pipelines, for there is no full-scale, mass-market alternative to crude oil, with its primary market being transportation energy. The “alternatives” that do exist are false solutions that carry out more damage than good – under the guise and falsehoods of “green.” For those who hold tight to the dream of a global conversion to electric personal automobiles (for those of privilege), consider that this would simultaneously guarantee the destabilization, annihilation and occupation of Bolivia, which holds the world’s largest known lithium reserves.

So how do we convince a mainstream populace that a global industrialized system that is interwoven with and dependent upon fossil fuels is able to transition to a world that can readily function without fossil fuels, without massive and radical disruption, if only we divest? The following statement conveys a clue and again, it circles back to language and framing:

“In their Wall St. Journal op-ed this week, Al Gore and one of his business partners characterize the current market for investments in oil, gas and coal as an asset bubble. I have been seeing references to this concept with increasing frequency… as well as in the growing literature around sustainability investing. However, the biggest risk I see that might eventually warrant considering divestment isn’t based on the merits of this analysis, but on the possibility of creating a self-fulfilling prophesy by means of drumming up social pressure on institutional investors. You might very well think that applies to this Wall St. Journal op-ed. I couldn’t possibly comment.” — Source: Five Myths About the “Carbon Asset Bubble”

Fossil fuel consumption levels at a glance:

• 7,896.4 million metric tons of coal in 2013 (21.6 million metric tons per day, 250 metric tons per second)

• 91,330,895 barrels of oil per day in 2013 (168 m3 per second)

• 3,347.63 billion m3 of natural gas in 2013 (9.2 km3 per day, 106,082 m3 per second)

• The coal we use each day would form a pile 236 metres (774 feet) high and 673 metres (over 2200 feet) across. We could fill a volume the size of the UN Secretariat Building every 17 minutes with the coal we burn.

• At the rate we use oil, we could fill an Olympic swimming pool every 15 seconds. We could fill a volume the size of the UN Secretariat Building with oil every 30 minutes.

• The rate at which we use natural gas is equivalent to gas travelling along a pipe with an internal diameter of 60 metres (196 feet) at hurricane speeds (135 kph / 84 mph). We could fill a volume the size of the UN Secretariat Building with natural gas in under 3 seconds. We use a cubic kilometre of gas (2.6 hundred billion gallons) every 2 hours 37 minutes and a cubic mile of the stuff every 10 hours 54 minutes.

[Details, calculations and sources for all above numbers are available in this methodology document.]

The Priority: Vigilance Against Threats to the Growth of the Global Economy

In the May 22, 2014 article, The Real Budgetary Emergency and the Myth of “Burnable Carbon,” the author states:

“[Prof. Kevin] Anderson says there is no longer a non-radical option, and for developed economies to play an equitable role in holding warming to 2°C (with 66% probability), emissions compared to 1990 levels would require at least a 40% reduction by 2018, 70% reduction by 2024, and 90% by 2030. This would require ‘in effect a Marshall plan for energy supply.’ As well, low-carbon supply technologies cannot deliver the necessary rate of emission reductions and they need to be complemented with rapid, deep and early reductions in energy consumption, what he calls a radical emission reduction strategy. All this suggests that even holding warming to a too-high 2°C limit now requires an emergency approach.” [Emphasis added] [2]

Of great interest is the radical emission cuts cited as necessary by Anderson: a minimum of 40% emission reductions by 2018, 70% by 2024, and 90% by 2030. Consider at the UN COP15 (2009), the G77 called for global emission reductions of 52% by 2017, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030 and well above 100% by 2050, while the state of Bolivia called for the global average temperature to not exceed 1°C. Not surprisingly, no NGOs (nor climate justice groups or scientists) supported these radical emission cuts, which are very similar to Anderson’s cited in 2014. Rather, TckTckTck (which served as the lead umbrella organization) “demanded” that the world peak within eight years with a target of 2°C – double that of Bolivia’s 1°C. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide] Note that even after this betrayal to humanity and all life, there is no backlash against the NGOs under the TckTckTck umbrella. Even those who have knowledge of the incident (which should be considered as a crime against humanity) the “progressive Left” continue to stoke the flames of self-annihilation “following” their false prophets as they jetset the globe, financed by the world’s most powerful institutions and oligarchs.

Bolivia and G77, 2009  

  • • 52% by 2017
  • • 65% by 2020
  • • 80% by 2030

 

Kevin Anderson, 2014

  • • 40% by 2018
  • • 70% by 2024
  • • 90% by 2030

 

While it is true that “abusing the 2ºC analysis is a way of avoiding responsibilities and hard truths” (Professor Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, UK), what should be said for scientists creating a 2°C analysis/target, with full knowledge that 2°C was never safe based on the science, even as a “guardrail,” but merely a value judgment that would effectively serve to prevent or cease any and all potential restraints on an unfettered economic growth for decades to come? [Further reading: [Part 1] Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up]

Consider the video published October 10, 2014 titled Conquering the World’s Risks: Highlights from the Annual Meetings 2014. Two of the world’s most powerful institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, make their greatest threat known – a reduction in the growth of the global economy:

“[Ending poverty by 2030] requires us to be vigilant against threats to the growth of the global economy.” — World Bank President Jim Yong Kim

World Bank on Growth

Of course, no oligarch worth his or her salt really could care less about poverty – unless/until they stand to profit or gain power from it. Poverty is a byproduct of industrialized capitalism as well as the very means that allows for exploitation. Exploitation is inherently built into the system. The idea that we must be vigilant against threats to the growth of the global economy to end poverty is akin to vigilance against threats to the military-industrial complex in order to achieve peace. Poverty cannot be separated from capitalism any more than death can be separated from the military industrial complex. Poverty is a direct result of capitalism, pure and simple, whether intended or unintended. Let us be clear: the real and only threat to the world’s most powerful institutions and the oligarchs they represent is anything that could inhibit the growth of the global economy.

2 Degrees of Credendum

Credendum [kri-den-duh m] 1. a doctrine that requires belief; article of faith. Origin < Latin, neuter of cr?dendus, gerund of cr?dere to believe | Definition of CREDENDA:  doctrines to be believed :  articles of faith —distinguished from agenda | Hypernyms (“credendum” is a kind of…): dogma; tenet (a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof)

Consider that the “target” of 2°C appears to be the most critical aspect of our climate change crisis amongst the establishment and media, in tandem with the privileged Left and especially so within the NPIC. Yet, the following reality is ignored: simultaneously we see these same individuals/NGOs attempting to calculate the very maximum carbon we can emit for that amount of (cataclysmic) warming via so-called “budgets,” with most of these calculations representing (but not emphasizing) high risk percentage scenarios of not exceeding the catastrophic “target” of 2°C.

The trap has been set. Instead of utilizing common sense to dictate the very rational conclusion that at this time, no legitimate carbon budget can even exist, we respond on Academia’s terms, within their framing, by scrutinizing over numbers and charts that are nothing but strategic diversion. This is our way of defending ourselves from Academia’s ridicule. Like an insect drawn in to the terminal lobes of the Venus flytrap, the pheromones released by this academic trap lure us to believe our preference of avoiding reality with unfettered delusion and distraction. Sanctioned and often peer-reviewed, it is more powerful and persuasive than all simple logic combined.

Yet, for a moment, let us step inside the trap to analyze the discourse.

The framing is the message “We can still continue to burn.” The very best place to hide a lie of this magnitude is in plain sight.

“Two degrees is a crime, an attack by the rich on the welfare of the poor. But there is simply no climate policy story to tell without the two degree myth. It is the ‘Once Upon A Time’ of the whole neo-liberal climate change fantasy.” — Chris Shaw, writer/researcher, climate change policy analyst

In the July 29, 2013 article How To Win The Media War Against Grassroots Activists: Stratfor’s Strategies, Steve Horn examined the strategies employed by Stratfor precursor Pagan International. “So named for its founder Rafael Pagan, corporate clients hired the company with the aim of defusing grassroots movements mobilized against them around the world.” The playbook is, was and remains simple: “isolate the radicals, ‘cultivate’ the idealists and ‘educate’ them into becoming realists. Then co-opt the realists.” This is exactly the function performed by the 2 degree “target”; hammered into the collective psyche, whereby only an “extremist” could question it.

The 2°C “target” is and has been, a linguistic catchphrase utilized (1977), made dominant and accepted in popular culture (by scientists, media, etc.) to ensure unfettered economic growth would not be interrupted. 2 degrees is a unprecedented falsehood, as is the concept that we have a remaining carbon “budget.”

The So-Called Carbon Budget and the Two Degree Target

It is critical that the following information be absolutely understood.

2°C is not a scientific target. As its usage was first cited by neoclassic economist W.D. Nordhaus in 1977, it is a political target that was chosen in order to allow the economy to continue to grow. It flies in the face of science. When this “target” was accepted, it was well understood that “… beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage” (United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases, 1990). [Source]

Consider the guest editorial titled A changing climate for science and policy responses to the environmental agenda: from global prevention and mitigation to global adaptation, written by Eva Lövbrand and Bo L. B. Wiman, in which the authors state:

“Among the first criteria formulated in terms of manageable rates of change were those presented by a widely cited document authored by the 1988 WMO/ICSU/UNEP Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (Rijsberman & Swart 1990), in which the response rate of ecological systems was addressed.

 

“The scientific call for global action to prevent the potentially disruptive changes in the earth’s environment paved the way for a global politics of the climate. However, when intergovernmental negotiations were initiated in February 1991, the idea of prevention was soon transformed into a more restricted mitigation agenda. Faced with high economic and political stakes in combination with continued scientific uncertainty, the negotiating parties failed to adopt strict targets and timetables for emissions reductions (Bodansky 1994). [Emphasis added]

Twenty-five years after the Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) report, the vast majority of climate documents and scientists (who are also dependent on research grants) continue to imply that climate change will not become catastrophic until the planet reaches a global average of a 4ºC temperature rise. Although widely cited upon its publication in 1990, the AGGG report was eventually buried by scientists, governments, media and civil society.

Consider that in 1997 and 2001 Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth (a Ceres Board Member since inception) both cited 1°C must not be exceeded (links below). Yet, approximately a decade later, under the TckTckTck campaign (co-founded by David Jones, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide, and Kate Robertson, UK Group Chairman, Euro RSCG Worldwide), the NPIC at COP15 in Copenhagen grossly undermined the small vulnerable states who fought for 1°C limit – by a full degree. During this period, Kumi Naidoo served as executive director of Greenpeace International while simultaneously serving as both president of the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA; more commonly known as TckTckTck, of which Greenpeace is a founding member) and honorary president of CIVICUS (which receives substantial funding from Ford, the Freedom House and a multitude of other powerful institutions). [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

[Greenpeace International Cites Maximum 1C [UNAGGG] | October 1, 1997]

[Friends of the Earth Finland Cites Maximum 1C [UNAGGG] | March 15, 2001]

Thus, as scientists stated 25 years ago in 1990, and what nature has proven to be absolutely correct, 1°C is not only a dangerous threshold, but must also be considered too high a risk.

Yet 2°C fills the echo-chamber of the NPIC in deafening unison as they repeat the lie of a “2°C target, beyond which the risks of ‘dangerous’ consequences of global warming escalate.”

Further, if aerosols (at present providing a protective layer/cooling effect) dissipate, it must be reiterated again that we’ve already hit (or more likely surpassed) a 2ºC equilibrium climate sensitivity warming and a 4ºC Earth system sensitivity warming. Again, there is no existing or remaining carbon budget. Again, our budget was spent long ago.

A 350.org sample letter for the divestment campaign states, “The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming – 2ºC is the maximum amount of global warming without causing runaway climate change.”

Yet even if we were to accept the “agreed upon” “target” (based on a value judgement – not science) of 2ºC, we are not only already there, we are already past. In 2008, scientists Ramanathan and Feng concluded that even if the world were to reach zero net GHG emissions, we were already committed to 2.4ºC warming:

“Global average surface temperatures have increased by about 0.75 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the industrial revolution, of which ~0.6 °C is attributable to human activities. The total radiative forcing by greenhouse gases is around 3 W/m2, with which we have ‘committed’ the planet to warm up by 2.4°C (1.6-3.6°C), according to a climate sensitivity of 3°C (2-4.5°C) for a doubling of CO2. The observed amount of warming thus far has been less than this, because part of the excess energy is stored in the oceans (amounting to ~0.5°C), and the remainder (~1.3°C) has been masked by the cooling effect of anthropogenic aerosols.” [Ramanathan, V., and Y. Feng. 2008. “On Avoiding Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference with the Climate System: Formidable Challenges Ahead.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105.38: 14245-14250.]

The 350.org “Do the Math” campaign, which served as the groundwork for the 350.org/Ceres Divestment campaign, is founded on the very premise of a carbon budget:

“It’s simple math: we can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming – anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth.” — 350.org Do the Math website

Catastrophe for life on Earth is already well underway. Today, having long ago entered the Anthropocene, the world’s sixth mass extinction event, scientists estimate the Earth is losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than the background rate previous to now, with dozens of species going extinct each and every day. Yet in a culture devoid of empathy and enlightenment, non-human life is not considered of great importance or significance. The irony is rich, since if humans had protected non-human life first and foremost, by simple default we would have protected/secured human life as well. Consider further that 55 tipping points (at minimum 47 irreversible) have already been crossed at 0.8ºC of warming.

The reality is this: At less than one degree of warming, climate change has ALREADY become catastrophic for billions; not 1.5ºC, not 2ºC, not 3ºC, not 4ºC. A frightening reality that neither James Hansen nor any other leading climate scientist will dispute in private. We will likely soon lose the Arctic summer sea ice at under 1ºC. This will cause massive ecological disruption with unimaginable consequences. There is likely nothing that could be more catastrophic than losing the Earth’s Arctic summer sea ice, as the loss of the albedo effect will result in the sun’s rays (heat) being absorbed, as opposed to reflected, by the Arctic ocean, setting off a chain reaction of more intense, perhaps even unendurable feedbacks and warming with scorching temperatures. The most terrifying aspect is that we’re going to find out just how catastrophic this will be in the not-so-distant future. Natalie Shakhova, one of the world’s foremost experts on methane hydrates, gives us a hint:

“The total amount of the methane (CH4) in the current atmosphere is 5 gigatons. The amount of carbon preserved in the form of methane in the East Siberian Arctic shelf is approx. 100’s-1000’s gigatons. Only 1% of this amount is required to double the atmospheric burden of methane (which is approx. 23x more powerful than CO2). There is not much effort needed to destabilize just 1% of this carbon pool considering the state of permafrost and the amount of methane currently involved. What keeps this methane from entering the atmosphere is a very shallow water column and a weakening permafrost which is losing its ability to serve as a seal. It could happen anytime.” — Natalia Shakhova video/interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx1Jxk6kjbQ

Pay very careful attention to what Shakhova tells us and then ask yourself how any self-respecting environmental spokesperson, politician, or scientist can carry on leading the public to believe we still have a carbon “budget” that we can afford to keep burning … a carbon budget that states we can continue to burn fossil fuels for decades to come.

Further, scientists have warned that when CO2 levels doubled 55 million years ago, Earth may have warmed 9°F in 13 years:

“The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper, ‘Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum,’ concludes that sediment data indicates the carbon was released in the geologic blink of an eye. As the news release explains, Rutgers geologists Morgan Schaller and James Wright argue that … following a doubling in carbon dioxide levels, the surface of the ocean turned acidic over a period of weeks or months and global temperatures rose by 5 degrees centigrade – all in the space of about 13 years. Scientists previously thought this process happened over 10,000 years. ‘We’ve shown unequivocally what happens when CO2 increases dramatically – as it is now, and as it did 55 million years ago,’ Wright said. ‘The oceans become acidic and the world warms up dramatically.'” [Source]

Yet 350.org founder Bill McKibben tells the public that “scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees.” [Source]

“Which is exactly why this new number, 2,795 gigatons, is such a big deal. Think of two degrees Celsius as the legal drinking limit – equivalent to the 0.08 blood-alcohol level below which you might get away with driving home. The 565 gigatons is how many drinks you could have and still stay below that limit….” Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, July 19, 2012

The approximately 565 gt more that we are told we can safely burn translates into atmospheric carbon concentrations of about 460 ppm CO2 and 550 ppm CO2 equivalent when accounting for all global greenhouse gas emissions. This translates into a 3ºC ECS (rapid/non-linear feedback) and 6ºC ESS (linear feedback) planet – far exceeding the already dangerous “target” of 2ºC.

Yet turn the page back to 2013. There was a further clamour in the echo chamber. For the first time, the IPCC describes the limits on how much more CO2 can be emitted to keep global temperatures below certain thresholds:

We may have just about 30 years left until the world’s carbon budget is spent if we want a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C.” — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)

 

“Do the math, and the world only has 485 PgC (cumulative emissions) left in the budget. This balance puts us on track to exhaust our remaining carbon budget before the end of 2045 under a carbon intensive trajectory.” World’s Carbon Budget to Be Spent in Three Decades, World Resources Institute, September 27, 2013

And even if you are still unable to shake your belief in the IPCC/carbon budget theory, what is not stated is this: If the low-risk scenario is the one you would prefer, there is no carbon budget left at all:

“If a risk-averse (pro-safety) approach is applied – say, of less than 10% probability of exceeding the 2°C target – to carbon budgeting, there is simply no budget available, because it has already been used up.” — Climate Code Red, May 22, 2014 [3]

Climate Code Red goes on to warn that “on-going greenhouse emissions associated with food production and deforestation are often conveniently pushed to one side in discussing carbon budgets.… Most emission reduction scenarios are incompatible with holding warming to +2ºC, even with a high 50% probability of exceeding the target. In other words, food and deforestation has taken up the remaining budget, leaving no space for fossil fuel emissions. [4]

Consider that when non-CO2 forcings (ozone, black carbon/soot, methane, etc.) are taken into consideration (albeit conservatively at 210 billion tons – PgC; 1 PgC = 1 billion tons of carbon = 3.7 billion tons of CO2), the IPCC carbon budget that we are allowed to emit before breaking the 2ºC threshold is dramatically reduced. The probable carbon emissions that the Earth may experience were addressed by the IPCC in AR5 through the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP), the “four greenhouse concentration trajectories” (or scenarios) that explain the possible paths our carbon emissions may take and the resulting consequences. In the LEAST destructive (aka best-case) scenario, known as RCP 2.6, where emissions peak between 2010-2020, the carbon budget we are allowed to burn to stay under the 2ºC threshold is reduced further, from 1 trillion tonne, to 790 billion tons (PgC), when non-carbon emissions (210 billion tons, PgC) are factored into the equation. (Approximately 515 tonnes have been emitted since the beginning of the industrial revolution leaving 485 tonnes to emit and still stay below the aforementioned 2ºC) This implies a remaining budget of only 275 PgC, a significant decrease in the amount of resources available for us to burn by even the most optimistic of environmental scientists. [Source] Thus, even under the best of circumstances (RCP 2.6), we have only a 66% chance of staying below the 2C threshold. [Source] Considering the MOST destructive scenario, RCP 8.5, where carbon emissions continue unabated until 2100, or the continuation of “business as usual,” this extrapolates out to the carbon budget being exhausted in 2032, a mere lifetime of a teenager way when the (conservative) non-CO2 forcings are added to the equation. This all adds further confusion to a strategic and effective mathematical/scientific discourse. Further, permafrost melt and a magnitude of other feedbacks that are already well underway drag these dates closer to the future than most know or are willing to admit.

The feedbacks that critically impact (and thereby substantially lower) all so-called carbon budgets are conveniently excluded. Such feedbacks include subsea floor methane hydrate, enormous subarctic and large tropical wetlands and global wetlands producing methane, forest loss/fires, Amazon drought due to Amazon die-back, Boreal forest die-back, albedo loss, fertilized peatbog decay, ocean warming and acidification, large-scale permafrost melt – CH4 & CO2, soil desiccation, and accelerating/rising tropospheric/ground level ozone.[5] These excluded (and accelerating) feedbacks make an already depleted (and fictional) carbon budget that much more obsolete.

We must ask ourselves, if we are already committed to 2.4ºC (2008), since the weakening permafrost that serves as a seal to keep the methane from entering the atmosphere could go at any time at under 1ºC (Shakhova) – how we can possibly have decades more in which we can continue to burn carbon? We must then ask ourselves, if the UN AGGG statement in 1990 that “… beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage” is true and if we are now witnessing this to be true (“The notion that 1.5ºC is a safe target is out the window, and even 1 degree looks like an unacceptably high risk,” according to James Hansen and Makiko Sato, research paper, 2011), how can we possibly have any carbon budget left?

The truth is that we don’t. And at least one of the world’s most powerful institutions has nonchalantly dropped the pretense in saying as much. On September 22, 2014, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) released a video. Upon the release of the video, the organization (incidentally a Ceres partner) also stated that:

“We have already added more than half the threshold quantity of 1 trillion metric tons of carbon (up to mid-2014, we have emitted about 582 billion metric tons). If carbon dioxide from fossil fuels continues to enter the atmosphere we will reach 2°C threshold in a few years.” [Scientific American, April 2009: “To avoid catastrophic climate change, the world will need to emit less than one trillion metric tons of carbon between now and 2050, according to two new papers published in Nature today.”]

This is perhaps the first time a global institution of such magnitude (in this instance the WBCSD) states that “we will reach 2°C threshold in a few years.” Of course the WBCSD is pushing forward carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) under the guise of clean energy, thus the intent of the warning must also be considered. [6]

It is also necessary to look beyond the stunning animation in a recent video (November 2013) produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Globaia and funded by the UN Foundation for the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. The video states: “Without deep emissions cuts, it is likely Earth will cross the target of two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the target set by international policy.” Note that the chosen terminology “without deep emissions cuts” is deliberately misleading. The IPCC and leading climate scientists are fully aware that the planet cannot even begin to cool until we achieve zero carbon emissions:

IPCC assessment 2007 FAQ 10.3: “In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilized at a constant level.” [Source]

Scientist Alder Stone explains this like brakes on a car. It is not until a car comes to a full stop that one is able to place the car in reverse and go backwards. (Note that even if zero emissions were to be miraculously achieved, there are still approximately three decades of emissions already in the pipeline due to inertia.)

The video continues: “If emissions keep rising at current rates, a four-degree rise by 2100 is as likely as not. This marks a vast transformation of our planet. It is very likely heatwaves will occur more often and last longer.” This nonchalant description (and the further “changes” described in the commentary) must be considered criminally negligent. A four-degree rise means likely death to most all life on the planet. Some critics and experts point to far worse. A member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group concludes “[A] polynomial trendline already points at global temperature anomalies of 5°C by 2060. Even worse, a polynomial trend for the Arctic shows temperature anomalies of 4°C by 2020, 7°C by 2030 and 11°C by 2040, threatening to cause major feedbacks to kick in, including albedo changes and methane releases that will trigger runaway global warming that looks set to eventually catch up with accelerated warming in the Arctic and result in global temperature anomalies of 20°C+ by 2050.”

The video also purposely downplays the incredible and rapid demise of the oceans, stating: “The acidity of the ocean has increased 26% since the start of the industrial revolution.” While this is true, the oceans are being acidified faster than in the past 800,000 years, soon to be faster than in the past 300 million years. Phytoplankton, which provide us every other breath of oxygen we intake while processing more carbon than the world’s rainforests, have declined approximately 40% since 1950 showing 1% decrease per year between 1998 and 2012. Of course, simply stating that ocean acidity has increased 26% very much minimizes the phenomenal decline of our oceans.

The video ends with “Can we remain below two degrees? It is possible. But it is up to societies now to decide the future we want. For a likely chance of achieving the two-degree target, societies can emit another 250 billion tonnes of carbon. We burn about 10 billion tonnes of carbon a year. At current rates we will use this budget in about 25 years.” [Note that 350, Carbon Tracker etc. promote that we can “safely” burn more than double this amount.]

A recap via the echo chamber: “Societies can emit another 250 billion tonnes of carbon”; “the world will need to emit less than one trillion metric tons of carbon between now and 2050”; “the world only has 485 PgC (cumulative emissions) left in the budget”; “we can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide”; 30 more years, by 2045, and so on and so on. Despite the 1ºC cited by the UN AGGG in 1990, and despite the committed 2.4ºC figure (Ramanathan and Feng) in 2008, today’s establishment is relentless in hammering home the messaging that the world can continue to emit billions of tons of carbon.

“It is now clear that the incremental-adjustment 2°C strategy has run out of time, if for no other reason than the ‘budget’ for burning more fossil fuels is now zero, yet the global economy is still deeply committed to their continuing widespread use.” — Climate Code Red, May 22, 2014

The numbers are large, inconsistent, and deliberately confusing, but the underlying message is not. And the take-home message is this: the carbon budget allows us to continue to burn for decades to come while remaining within the safe confines of the two-degree target (the strategy of deferring). Even more pathological is the framing of the language in regard to 2ºC: the phrase “for a likely chance of achieving the two-degree target” frames two-degrees as a goal [the definition of the noun ‘goal’: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result].

Such linguistic manipulation of truth is beyond criminally negligent. It is beyond criminal. It is madness.

Yet it continues almost completely unabated.

Consider that in the December 2014 Great Transition interview, author and 350.org board member Naomi Klein again refers to the so-called carbon budget, building/furthering the carbon budget’s manufactured legitimacy: “According to the analysis of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, between now and 2050, we need to leave at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground in order to keep global warming below the widely accepted threshold of two degrees Celsius. If this occurs, owners of these reserves will have to sacrifice trillions of dollars in profits.”

The globally constructed, sanctioned and accepted “two-degree target” (translation: continued business as usual, uninterrupted) has allowed an unparalleled planetary crisis of today (that reared its head decades ago) – to be accepted by civil society as a problem to be dealt with in the future, rather than today. Thus we have tolerated THIRTY-SIX YEARS of world climate conferences [source] and now find the apocalypse waiting on our front doorstep.

emissions since 1979

Graph: The First World Climate Conference was held on 12-23 February 1979 in Geneva and sponsored by the WMO. It was one of the first major international meetings on climate change.

“The idea of ‘burnable carbon’ – that is, how much more coal, gas and oil we can burn and still keep under 2°C – is a dangerous illusion, based on unrealistic, high-risk, assumptions.” — Climate Code Red, May 22, 2014

At this juncture it is imperative to step back in time, to the 2009 carbon budget.

An Inconvenient and Forgotten Budget

Below is a graph from the November 2009 Global Carbon Project: a carbon budget – never tabled at any COPs and never adopted by the IPCC. According to Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change), this 2009 budget, grounded on the ideology that each citizen of the world has an equal right to the budget, demonstrates how, on the current trajectories of the United States and Australia (and we can assume Canada), the projected emissions budget to 2050 will instead be used up by 2020 – just a few years from now. How, in the new budget presented by 350.org, Carbon Tracker, the IPCC et al, have decades more of burning been magically made available? On top of the dismissal of this budget by not only the Obama administration but almost all those of privilege, the proposed budget did not make the necessary adjustments for those in developing states who have contributed essentially nothing to climate change. (This is often referred to as historic carbon debt based on the common but differentiated responsibility principle.)

“Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told the Oxford 4 Degrees and Beyond Conference that ‘political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it’s completely useless.’ Schellnhuber briefed U.S. officials from the Barack Obama administration who chided him that his findings were ‘not grounded in political reality’ and that ‘the [U.S.] Senate will never agree to this.’ Schellnhuber told them that the U.S. must reduce its emissions from its current 20 tonnes of carbon per person average to zero tonnes per person by 2020 to have even a chance of stabilizing the temperature increase at around 2ºC.”   — When Silence Kills | The Art of Annihilation, November 8, 2010

image008

Further, a more recent study by Steven Davis and co-author Robert Socolow of Princeton University reveals that the budgets being pushed by powerful institutions include annual emissions, and do not account for future emissions known as a carbon commitment. (Example: “Building a new coal or gas power plant is in reality a commitment to pumping out CO2 for the lifespan of a given plant – which usually ranges from 40 to 60 years.”) [Source] In the September 15, 2014 article, We will max out our carbon budget by 2018. What can we do?, the author surmises: “Together with the power plant commitment of 300 Gt laid out in the current study, that’s more than 700 Gt in carbon commitments on a global carbon budget of 1000 Gt. That leaves less than 300 Gt for future power plants, steel mills, cement plants, buildings, and other stuff that burns fossil fuels. At current rates we’ll have accounted for the remainder of the budget in only five years.”

Further, calculations by author/researcher Dr. Richard Oppenlander conclude that without using any gas, oil or fuel, ever again, the world would deplete the so-called 565 gigatonne carbon budget by 2030 without the use of fossil fuels even factored into the equation, all simply by raising and eating livestock.  [Read the suppressed stats on the impact of livestock on our climate and environment here.]

It is interesting that under the so-called budget we cannot burn the 80% of fossil fuel reserves (due to emissions) but we can continue to promote industrialized biomass under the guise of “clean energy.” Biomass ought to be considered perhaps the most destructive energy source of all. Aside from biomass burning being extremely polluting, aside from needing to preserve, protect and massively expand our current carbon sinks, specifically trees, corporations – with the blessing of corporate “environmentalists” – have decided to cut down the Earth’s foremost carbon sink, our forests, in exchange for big profits. The “leaders” of the movement say nothing. And that is precisely why they are appointed to these positions of power and influence and celebrity. More powerful than money is ego.

Conclusion: We have the United Nations, scientists, governments, global media, corporations, educational facilities, etc. etc. all echoing the three syllable term, the “2ºC target.” This term has been unremittingly reverberated throughout the echo chambers of corporate and so-called progressive media in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex. This constant reiteration did not reflect the 2ºC terminology, rather, it constructed it. Misleading statements, videos, interviews and both academic and scientific papers carefully and deliberately tone down any sense of immediate urgency, lending further “target” legitimacy to the 2ºC target, to which we acquiesce. Remember that the chosen word “target” is defined as “a goal to be achieved,” which strikes a chord, even if only on a subconscious level – which is far more powerful.

It has become normalized. The spectacle, comprised of a single number united with a single letter (with a little circle between them), must be considered a feat in 21st century hegemony – a creation by those whose interests are served by the spectacle; a pasquinade for the impoverished and those not yet born. The 2ºC discourse must be considered perhaps the most deadly game of psychological warfare ever played on human society. Using simple language and steadfast repetition, the acceptance by civil society of this so-called “two-degree target” represents an unsurpassed feat in modern psy-ops.

In Summary

Divestment as symbolism:

  • The Do the Math tour, as the precursor to the global Divestment campaign, established and reinforced the false premise that the world retains a “carbon budget” that enables us to safely keep burning for decades to come.
  • Like 1Sky/350, the campaign is top-down, not grassroots up as presented. Not only has this global “movement” been sanctioned by the elites, it has been developed in consultation with Wall Street and financed from inception by the world’s most powerful oligarchs and institutions.
  • The campaign successfully invokes a certain naiveté and innocence due to the said premise (a moral divestment imperative) of the campaign.
  • It provides a moral alibi and evokes illusions of white saviour/moral superiority of those that divest/divest-invest while the very people divesting are those that comprise the 1% creating 50% of all global GHG emissions (anyone who can afford to board an airplane). Shuffling their investments does not change this fact or alleviate/absolve one’s role in accelerating climate change and ecological destruction.
  • Protesting fossil fuels cannot and will not have any effect on fossil fuel consumption, production or destruction without legitimately and radically addressing Annex 1 consumption, economic growth under the capitalist system, human population (specifically in Annex 1 nations), the military industrial complex and industrial factory farming.
  • The chosen campaign of divestment rather than the boycott of fossil fuels in combination with proposed sanctions on fossil fuel corporations demonstrates the insincerity of the campaign and its true intentions as sought (and developed) by its funders.
  • Divestment effectively constructs the moral acceptance of “green” consumption. The global divestment campaign confirms that the “market” can be and is the solution.
  • The campaign constructs and further reinforces the falsehood that there is no need to change either the economic system (beyond reforming capitalism) or dismantle the power structures that comprise it; nor is it necessary to address the underlying values, worldviews, classism, racism, colonialism and imperialism that are driving this physical and psychic
  • It diverts attention away from the proliferation of private investments, hedge funds and privatization – key mechanisms in the “new economy.”
  • It provides a critical discourse to divert attention away from the most critical issue of the 21st century: the commodification of the commons (in similar fashion to how the Stop the KeystoneXL! campaign was instrumental in enabling Buffett’s rail dynasty, only far more critical in significance).
  • It builds on the 21st century corporate pathology “Who Cares Wins,” whereby “kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.” The pathology behind this intent is the corporate capture of “millennials” by manipulation via branding, advertising and social media.
  • Direct contact with “millennials” in colleges and universities around the world invokes pre-determined and pre-approved ideologies as sought after/controlled by hegemony while building loyalties: future NGO “members” / supporters, future “prosumers,” future “investors.”
  • The campaign draws attention to the statistic that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” while making no mention that a mere 1% of people are creating 50% of all the global GHG emissions – the very people that comprise their target audience.
  • Although highlighting the fact that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” is critical, this information is being conveyed and utilized only to implement the financialization of nature.
  • The campaign stigmatizes fossil fuel investments which, by default, protect the 1% creating 50% of the global GHG emissions from similar stigmatization.
  • Success is measured by the number of institutions divesting-investing, and “shares/likes” on social media, ignoring the fact that divestment does nothing to reduce emissions as the world burns.
  • The divestment campaign presents a capitalist solution to climate change, presenting, repackaging and marketing the very problem as our new solution. Thus, the global power structures that oppress us are effectively and strategically insulated from potential outside threats.

 

Next: Part XII

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] “The climate summit in Cancún at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.… [I]t’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.…” [Source]

[2] Anderson, K. (2014). “Why carbon prices can’t deliver the 2°C target”, 13 August 2013,  http://kevinanderson.info/blog/why-carbon-prices-cant-deliver-the-2c-target, accessed 19 May 2014; Anderson, K. (2012). “Climate change going beyond dangerous – Brutal numbers and tenuous hope,” Development Dialogue, September 2012; Anderson, K. (2011). “Climate change going beyond dangerous – Brutal numbers and tenuous hope or cognitive dissonance,” presentation 5 July 2011, slides available at http://www.slideshare.net/DFID/professor-kevin-anderson-climate-change-going-beyond-dangerous. [Source]

[3] A study from The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research shows that “the combination of a 2°C warming target with high probability of success is now unreachable” using the current suite of policy measures, because the budget has expired. Raupach, M. R., I. N. Harman and J. G. Canadell (2011). “Global climate goals for temperature, concentrations, emissions and cumulative emissions”, Report for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. CAWCR Technical Report no. 42. Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Melbourne. [Source]

[4] Anderson, K. and A. Bows (2008). “Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 366: 3863-3882; Anderson, K. and A. Bows (2011). “Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world”, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 369: 20–44 [Source]

[5] The effects of ozone are well-known and documented in hundreds of papers, but because the reduction of nitrous oxide precursors from burning fuel and agriculture would threaten industrial civilization, it is a taboo subject. Links to research are here:  http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/01/29/whispers-from-the-ghosting-trees/

[6] [“We have already added more than half the threshold quantity of 1 trillion metric tons of carbon (up to mid-2014, we have emitted about 582 billion metric tons). If carbon dioxide from fossil fuels continues to enter the atmosphere we will reach 2 °C threshold in a few years. The projected emissions illustrated in the film are based on RCP 4.5, which is one of the four ‘Representative Concentration Pathways’ used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report.”]

350.org: Selling a Lie

Seemorerocks

by Kevin Hester

March 9, 2015

I shouldn’t really be surprised that the Guardian, which has hitherto been one of the better sources of information on climate change has adopted the stance it has in the editorial by retiring editor Alan Rusbridge.

After all this is the newspaper that, almost above all others has acted as a liberal attack dog for the neocons in its crusade against Russian and Vladimir Putin.

The article started out saying all the things that one might expect from a mainstream source on climate change and then Rusbridge brought in Bill McKibben and 350.org.

In particular this:

565 gigatons: “Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by mid-century and still have some reasonable hope of staying below 2C,” is how McKibben crisply puts it. Few dispute that this idea of a global “carbon budget” is broadly right.

The Guardian has become the vehicle for a Big Lie that in the face of all the science it has produced over the years to say otherwise. We are told by McKibben in one breathe that not only is 2C a workable goal but that we still have ‘wiggle room’ and can continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere just so long as we don’t put too much – and we start to divest from investment in fossil fuels.

Guy McPherson was recently asked if he had read McKibben’s work and he quipped that he has no time for fiction.

Quite.

The biggest danger these days comes not from the reptilian climate change deniers of the Republican Party. Indeed, the biggest danger comes from the liberal flank, from McPherson calls abrupt climate change denial.

As we have come to know 350.org is receiving funding from corporate America and even talks about “our friends in Wall Street”. The line comes down from the top: from McKibben, and his “friends in Wall Street” tell McKibben what the acceptable message is.

The aim is to obfuscate and take the discussion away from the realities that show that climate change is NOW and that, with a growing number of positive self-reinforcing feedbacks (including the growing release into the atmosphere of a gas, methane, that is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. the train has long left the station.

We musn’t know that 2C (which already threatens our ability to practise agriculture and feed ourselves) is already baked into the cake with CO2 remaining in the atmosphere for a thousand years and a lead time between emissions and the effects of warming being felt.

We musn’t know how close the Arctic is to melting; about the melting permafrost and the release of methane and the real-time connections will increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather.

That might get people to really question closely about how all this came about and that would take people back to Wall Street and the Infinite Growth Paradigm that is not at all challenged by the mainstream environmental movement.

Instead the corporates would like the masses to put their energy into signing petitions, appealing to President Barack Obama, changing their light bulbs, driving a Prius and divesting from investment in the fossil fuel industry.

Above all we should donate our money and build the 350.org movement.

Anything but being radical – getting to the root of the matter.

350.org and the liberal, white. middle class, male Americans that stand behind the likes of Global Warming Fact of the Day (from which the author, Guy McPherson, Paul Beckwith and other friends have been ejected) play their role in reinforcing the comforting idea that real climate change is somewhere off in the future and we must believe the conservative science ‘consensus’ rather than those who have, through actual observations shown that the computer models are sorely lacking in their ability to explain the reality of abrupt climate change.

The article, which I wrote in 2013 [link] expresses not even the half of the sordid reality of the betrayal by the liberals, and by McKibben and his organisation.

I would recommend a careful reading of the articles by Cory Morningstar that express the full, sordid reality behind 350.org…..

For the full story read these two articles by Cory Morningstar

Part II – Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up

Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up

Part two of an investigative report. http://bit.ly/gZ0prF (Part 1: http://bit.ly/fqm0BI)

By Cory Morningstar

Above: Courtesy of Stephanie McMillan | CODE GREEN

Bolivia Versus the World

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable …” George Orwell

11 December 2010. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 16 in Cancún, Mexico.

Bolivia repeatedly opposes attempts to pass the text. Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, Pablo Solon, objects on the grounds that the draft proposals are far too lax to stop global warming. Solon stands his ground until conference chair Patricia Espinosa bangs the gavel at 3:31 a.m. saying: “The objections and complaints will be noted duly.”

A key clause of United Nations rules is that all agreements must be reached in harmony. However, Espinosa seems to have a very broad interpretation of this rule. Harmony, Espinosa stated, does not necessarily mean unanimity. Despite the lack of unanimity, Espinosa approves the text, which includes a deadly 2-degree limit for global warming. The negotiators and heads of state cheer like ravenous hyenas, drowning out Bolivia with rapturous applause. Bolivia stood alone, strenuously opposing the pyrrhic victory.

The overruling of Bolivia’s position demonstrates the clear disdain and callous disregard for vulnerable countries who refuse to be coerced – reflected clearly by the jettisoned UN principle of consensus. This clear abuse of the framework agreement on climate protection would never have been attempted or tolerated if the state in opposition had been a rich, powerful state such as the United States or the European Union (EU). (One may recall COP13 in Bali – American resistance stood in the way of an agreement. Papua New Guinea had to suggest that they “lead or get out of the way” before the US would join the consensus.) Bolivia, the world leader in the battle on climate change, has vowed to file a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the text approved in Cancún.

A primary reason why Bolivia opposed the so-called Cancún “agreements” was the fact that the 2ºC target – identified as extremely dangerous – completely disregards the climate science as well as the accelerating climate impacts and climate feedbacks already happening today. Another very revealing component to this document is the language: “4) … with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and that Parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal ….” The word “should” in policy does not demand commitment. In legal documents, “shall” is considered mandatory. If I tell my son he “should” clean his room rather than he “will”, “shall” or “must” clean his room, I know damn well it is never going to happen. A future binding or non-binding agreement, one that parties “should” take urgent action on, demands no accountability whatsoever. The word “should” appears in the document 38 times. In stark contrast, the word “must” appears only four times.

The fact that the Cancún Agreements passed without consensus (the UNFCCC consensus rule is adoption by virtue of no objection or unanimity – meaning all 192 members voting in favour)is revealing. On 7 December 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, Papua New Guinea proposed that, rather than descend to the lowest common denominator, the parties should strive for consensus with a fallback of 75%. This proposal was summarily dismissed by the Chair. [1]

21st Century Suicide Pact

SOLD. Our Earth’s shared atmosphere. A catastrophically dangerous 2ºC temperature rise, as well as the commodification of Earth’s final remaining natural resources, was accepted by all countries save Bolivia. Over 70% of atmospheric space (the US is historically responsible for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions; the EU, 27%) has been designated to the wealthiest 20% of the world, thus denying developing and vulnerable countries the opportunity to achieve the fundamental development necessary in order to meet their basic needs and transition to zero carbon societies. This leaves 80% of humanity competing for the less than 30% remaining interest. The suffering and devastation that will result from the greatest heist in history is unparalleled desperation, starvation and death on a massive scale.

SOLD. Life itself. During the last days of the Cancún climate summit, 5,000 Latin American campesinos blocked the main (and only) highway leading in and out of Cancún. In stark contrast, the rich of the wealthy obstructionist states lit a candle in the window of their warm, comfortable homes. How will citizens react when they finally realize – after wading through the rubbish heaps of corporate media propaganda – that the value of human life was tossed on the garbage heap in Cancún in order to protect the global economy? It is true that those in the Pacific Ocean, the vulnerable atolls, Bolivia and Africa will be burying their children and loved ones before the wealthy, obstructionist states, such as my own, must bury theirs. But make no mistake. Very few people, if any, will escape nature’s final performance. Without urgent emergency action, rapid climate shifts resulting from runaway climate change are practically inevitable with the suicide pact that was passed – without consensus – in Cancún.

The art of propaganda has been nothing less than brilliant. The deceit is so thick – you need a knife to cut through it. The corruption and greed so deep you need wings to stay above it and thigh high boots to wade through it. An alluring tapestry of luminous lies, interwoven with finely textured deception and silk-like corruption – as smooth and seductive as freshly churned butter. The pursuit of man’s mind by way of domination has been the greatest and most successful experiment – the manipulation of man’s mind has resulted in a massive erosion of empathy, which has allowed status quo “business as usual” to continue uninterrupted with little resistance. Capitalism effectively bred a contempt for our Earth that multiplied like a virus. The pollution of mind mutated into narcissism with inflicted self-hatred to form a suicidal Molotov cocktail. Those who have succumbed now hold hands in a circle and taunt the very planet that gives us life. The ugly side of humanity continues to violently pierce our Earth Mother with drills and slash her beautiful skin with razors. She is losing breath. She is dying. Yet, when she lashes back, it will be with an Armageddon deathblow against which our own actions will resemble childish prattle. And perhaps not until this time will global society finally recognize that our shared purpose was not to compete with one another and claim dominance and superiority over our Earth Mother – but rather our role was to protect, defend and nurture. The human family – under the arm of its EuroAmerican “big brother” – will have finally succeeded in conquering our shared planet, only to find that we have destroyed ourselves.

Climate Genocide

Major greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting developed states continued to dominate the climate talks in Cancún as the Earth burned. Corporate media continued to pander to those who own them, those who control the system. The major GHG-emitting developed states have and will continue to coerce, bribe and bully the strong developing states such as Bolivia and the vulnerable states such as Tuvalu. Such vulnerable states, as well as Africa, will be decimated if temperatures are allowed to rise by 2ºC. In reality, we are now looking at 3ºC to 5ºC. Further, a global temperature rise of 3ºC to 5ºC will mean much higher temperature extremes for Africa – a furnace for African agriculture. Certain death. The harsh history of the continued exploitation, the raping and pillaging of beautiful Africa and her people, will finally be complete. There will be nothing left for rich nations to steal except for the sun’s energy falling on an empty landscape void of life – and there is little doubt the world’s wealthiest, ethically-bankrupt states will steal this, too.

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. While a precise definition varies among genocide scholars, a legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Because of the influence of Joseph Stalin, “this definition of genocide under international law does not include political groups.”

It should. This genocide is being carried out openly by the world’s wealthiest – individuals and corporations alike – in collusion with the governments of the obstructionist states, with full knowledge of the consequences.

Agriculture | The Disappearing Bread Basket

Strangely and eerily absent in scientific papers and IPCC reports is any reference to protection of agriculture. This is not an oversight. In 1987, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee noted the threat to agriculture in particular, and stated its belief that “global warming is a potential environmental disaster on a scale only exceeded by nuclear war.” Once the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) low risk temperature rise of 1ºC was dismissed and essentially buried, the emphasis on protecting agriculture disappeared as well.

When global temperatures increase by more than 1ºC, approximately half of the world’s agricultural regions will experience crop decline. But due to the ocean heat lag effect, that 1ºC of increase will commit us to more than 1.5?C, which is food catastrophe for low latitude (the most climate change vulnerable) nations and disastrous for food security and agricultural productivity in other regions. Above 2?C is global food catastrophe with agriculture in decline globally, taking civilization with it.

Keep in mind that scientists believe the “agreements” from Cancún represent a real life 3?C to 5?C temperature rise this century (as early as 2040-2050) and a global 7?C if even the paltry commitments are not honoured.

This coming loss of agriculture – known yet ignored – will amount to certain mass genocide as millions, becoming billions around the world, will be left without food. There will be no sharing of food as even wealthy countries will be hard pressed to feed their own people. Importing for wealthy countries will be a thing of the past as vulnerable countries struggle to feed their own people. And all the while the Monsanto’s of the world will be salivating over the potential profits of genetically engineered foods, which could come to dominate and control the entire remaining food chain. An economy – no matter how strong – cannot provide nourishing soil, nor the right conditions to grow food. An economy – no matter how strong – cannot magically create water. Bolivians will lose access to water and, following, Africa will lose the ability to produce food. And all of the money in the world will not make this not so. [2]

Does Anyone Care? Yeah, the Pentagon

Will the decision in Cancún to ignore food security lead to violence, fundamentalism and terrorism – all directed at the wealthy GHG-emitting obstructionist states? What would you do if your children were dying in front of your eyes, because rich, developed nations were unwilling to stop growing their economies, unwilling to abandon a fossil fuel economy, unwilling to stop deforestation, unwilling to live within nature’s limits? If everything around you is dying, you have nothing to lose through violent retaliation.

Not to worry. While diseased cultural norms have kept the public distracted with shopping and irrelevant corporatized propaganda, the military has been gearing up for years for our upcoming climate wars. Indeed, while well-funded lobbyists engaged the public in a deadly game of “is global warming real?”, this issue was never a matter of dispute within the military and the US Pentagon itself. Within the realm of militarism, climate change and the deadly threats it presents have always been seen as unequivocal and the dangers it presents are viewed as unparalleled in magnitude. From the National Security and Threat of Climate Change Report: “Unlike the challenges that we are used to dealing with, these will come upon us extremely slowly, but come they will, and they will be grinding and inexorable. But maybe more challenging is that they will affect every nation, and all simultaneously” (VADM Richard Truly). Such stark warnings – even from the highest officials in the military ranks – continue to be ignored.

Climate Imperialism

COP16, Cancún, Mexico. The largest economic conference in history was an epic failure for humanity. And as the world burns, the wealthy elites stuffed their custom gold-lined Brioni pockets with dreams and promises of unsurpassed wealth predicated upon climate catastrophe in the 21st century. Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist who is co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change, stated in an interview on 14 November 2010:

“The climate summit in Cancún at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.… [I]t’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.…”

Although Edenhofer clearly recognizes and perhaps believes himself that there is no other way that wealthy obstructionist states will step up to the plate unless they can further enhance their economic power by commodifying the Earth’s last remaining natural resources, he does state this: “What we need to look for is an oasis that is the non-carbon global economy. It’s about the common departure for this oasis.” Edenhofer states unequivocally that only a non-carbon global economy can prevent climate catastrophe. In complete contrast, the Cancún outcome clearly tells us that the major GHG-emitting developed states are absolutely not about to end their addiction to the fossil fuel economy. Yet the fact is, only if we achieve zero carbon – at a speed and magnitude unparalleled in our entire history – can we prevent climate catastrophe.

IPCC 2007 Assessment Science Technical Report. Question 10.3: “If emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced, how quickly do their concentrations in the atmosphere decrease?”

“While more than half of the CO2 emitted is currently removed from the atmosphere within a century, some fraction (about 20%) of emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere for millennia. Because of the slow removal process, atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase in the long term even if its emission is substantially reduced from its present levels. In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilized at a constant level.”

Ultimate Denialism

In our unparalleled, corporatized mind game of ultimate denialism, we can pretend that green capitalism, green consumerism, conservation, flying less, the right light bulbs, transforming our Earth’s forests into carbon markets, etc. will all avert climate catastrophe – but this is unfortunately not true. The only way to avert climate catastrophe is to END our dependency on all fossil fuels. Unfortunately for our children, this view has been painted with the corporate brush as “radical” – a most brilliant word recently hijacked by those who have sold us off in the name of greed.

“… [T]he word radical [comes] from the Latin radicalis, meaning ‘root.’ Radical analysis goes to the root of an issue or problem. Typically that means that while challenging the specific manifestations of a problem, radicals also analyze the ideological and institutional components as well as challenge the unstated assumptions and conventional wisdom that obscure the deeper roots. Often it means realizing that what is taken as an aberration or deviation from a system is actually the predictable and/or intended result of a system.” [3]

The word “radical” is not a derogatory word to denote wild people, it is a term to embrace, one that describes critical thinking, root causes and self reflection. This is absolutely essential if we are to win the war on climate change. Yes, we can keep going on our suicidal journey, but the reality is that at the end of the road there will be nothing left except death. We are in a race to our own extinction, taking countless species with us – and it seems that if anyone tries to stand in our way with warning signs of “Danger Ahead,” they are pushed aside as we keep running as fast as we can – straight to the precipice.

Death, Lies & WikiLeaks

In Cancún, the wealthy obstructionist states, the states that are most responsible for the global planetary crisis in the first place, attempted to kill off the Kyoto Accord once and for all, replacing it with the “noted” Copenhagen Accord. This sleight of hand will effectively extinguish the threat of binding obligations on the wealthy nations while also eliminating the obligations of the 1992 climate convention. Any international climate accord that cites 2ºC, as sought in Copenhagen and Cancún, will be a legally and lethally binding agreement. What we are witnessing today is nothing less than the greatest crime ever committed against humanity.

The largely unnoticed 2009 State of the Future Report, the most comprehensive report ever produced to look at the future of the planet, states that due to climate change, “billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilization will collapse.” Saving the lives of billions is clearly off the real agenda behind the international climate negotiations. It is clear that global monetary wealth has evolved to become the only real issue behind this broken, corrupted process.

Even mainstream media recognize the glaringly obvious. The Guardian reports on 3 December 2010 that hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the dirty real life politics. The powerful greenhouse gas emitting states use money and threats to buy political support while spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage.”[D]istrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog climate negotiations and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial ‘Copenhagen accord,’ the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.” The US diplomatic cables, made public by WikiLeaks, clearly revealed how the US looks for dirt on vulnerable and developing states opposed to its business-as-usual approach and its steadfast refusal to tackle global warming. Further, the leaked cables revealed how financial and other aid is used by the world’s most powerful countries to gain political backing.

WikiLeaks reveals unequivocally that climate prostitution amongst the obstructionist states has become status quo. In a US Embassy cable, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, suggested the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) countries “‘could be our best allies’ given their need for financing.” Hedegaard and Froman discussed the need to “neutralise, co-opt or marginalise unhelpful countries including Venezuela and Bolivia.” Hedegaard again links financial aid to support for the accord, noting “the irony that the EU is a big donor to these countries.” In April 2010, after this discussion, the US cut aid to Bolivia and Ecuador, citing opposition to the accord.

The US, determined to keep their crumbling imperialist empire intact, has continued to seek allies to protect self interests from states who could, in united fashion, threaten current global power structures. This is evident in a cable from Brussels on 17 February reporting a meeting between the deputy national security adviser, Michael Froman, Hedegaard and other EU officials. Froman stated that the EU needed to learn from Basic’s (four large developing countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China) skill at impeding US and EU initiatives thereby playing them off against each other in order “to better handle third country obstructionism and avoid future train wrecks on climate.” Hedegaard demonstrates the complicit silence of the EU by stating that she “hoped the US noted the EU was muting its criticism of the US, to be constructive.”

It’s not as though we didn’t suspect this – climate justice activists have been battling climate opportunists for years. It is just that now it appears the players are so egocentric, they’re not even going to pretend otherwise. The question is, how did the greatest crisis ever to present itself to civilization come to be dominated by economic interests, in essence destroying our opportunity to prevent cataclysmic, irreversible climate change when we’ve understood for decades that it could be prevented? What happened to our threshold of 1ºC, which in 1990 we were warned not to exceed?

The Death of 1ºC

As discussed in Part I, 20 years ago it was recommended by the UN Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) that the global average temperature not be allowed to rise more than 1ºC on the very reasonable principle of precaution. Their recommendation was based on not exceeding the historical temperature limit that has existed throughout the age of agriculture. (Civilization is based upon and now absolutely dependent upon agriculture.)

The IPCC was formed in 1988 out of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) AGGG (although proposals for the IPCC appear earlier). It appears that the formation of the IPCC was when the dynamics began to shift and climate change modelers – such as neoclassical economist, Bill Nordhaus – became heavily involved and most influential. Managing climate risk responses rather than simply focusing on reducing carbon dioxide emissions became the leading imperative. However, the First Assessment Report (FAR) Working Group 1 published by the IPCC in 1990 included the following in the Summary for Policymakers: “We calculate with confidence that … immediate reductions in emissions from human activities of over 60% [are needed] to stabilize concentrations at today’s levels…” (p. 1).

Tragically for the children of today and tomorrow, despite scientists calling for urgent emission cuts in 1988 and the UN AGGG report in 1990 citing 1ºC as the maximum temperature rise that the planet must not exceed, the 2ºC target became predominant in global climate policy by 1996. Climate models had been introduced in order to establish if and how far the global temperature could be allowed to rise above 1°C.The original European Union (EU) policy was an easing up on the 1ºC with a range of 1ºC to 2ºC. In 2001, the IPCC noted “warming over 1.5ºC raises serious potential threats for some systems and regions.”? In a short time, 2ºC was cited as the absolute limit to avoid planetary catastrophe (runaway global climate change). Prior to this, the EU’s position was that a 2ºC temperature rise was not safe because 2ºC could not ensure safety from runaway global climate change but would rather “minimize” it. From this time, the imperative 1ºC seemed to simply disappear.

The EU proposed 2ºC as the policy target in 1996. [4] The European Council (25 heads of government of the European Union) restated the 2ºC target in 2005, concluding that it was both scientifically justifiable and, more telling, that it was vital to promote cost effective action to ensure temperatures did not rise beyond the 2ºC limit. “Cost effective” is policy-making jargon implying that environmental protection measures will only be applied if it is certain that such measures will not result in any economic cost. Economic cost is determined by a cost-benefit analysis after externalizing social and environmental costs. In fact, the final paragraph of the final report of the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment (synthesis report) stated that it could not be said with certainty that mitigation of global climate change would have any economic benefits beyond the economic costs of unlimited global climate change.

Also in 2005, the British, chairing the Group of Eight (G8) meeting, reaffirmed the 2ºC target. The statements made by the G8, although not legally binding, were made with the intent that the 2ºC target would eventually become an accepted target of a global treaty. All eight of the G8 countries were amongst the 15 top-ranked leading export countries in the world.

As the Earth Burns

A 2005 EU report stated that the European Council first agreed on the 2ºC goal in 1996, based predominantly on the impact studies assessed in the second assessment report of the IPCC, even though the IPCC suggested that the risk of severe climate change impacts would increase markedly beyond a temperature rise of 2ºC. The EU considered 2ºC as a threshold. This is confirmed as recently as October 2009 by the European Commission: “… 2°C. That threshold is important because it minimises the risk of dangerous runaway climate change.” The 2005 report continues that recent studies have strengthened the argument that the EU’s target is high risk and that significant impacts on ecosystems and water resources are likely with a temperature increase as low as 1ºC. The report notes that once the global average temperature increase exceeds 2ºC, climate impacts on ecosystems, food production and water supply are projected to increase significantly, unexpected climate responses are more likely, and irreversible catastrophic events may occur.

In December 2010, a series of papers was published by the Royal Society. They are alarming. One critical paper, When Could Global Warming Reach 4°C?, states that with high emissions and strong carbon cycle feedbacks, we could reach a lethal 4ºC as early as 2060. A separate paper, Beyond ‘Dangerous’ Climate Change: Emission Scenarios for a New World, states that theimpacts associated with 2ºC have been revised upwards, sufficiently so 2ºC now more accurately represents the threshold between “dangerous” and “extremely dangerous” climate change. Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre, states in the published paper that if the world is to keep within a global temperature increase of 2ºC, this will require World War II-style rationing in the developed world.

Peak Delusion

Thousands of years from now, if there is still a human species on what will be left of Earth’s biosphere, this will be a story that so defies all logic and all sensibilities, no one will ever believe it.

“It may seem impossible to imagine that an advanced society such as ours could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” – Elizabeth Kolbert, in Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change

Ironically, many consider humans to be a brilliant, superior species. There is a term for such irrational logic. It is defined as Homo economicus: “Homo economicus, or Economic human, is the concept in some economic theories of humans as rational and narrowly self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgments toward their subjectively defined ends. This theory stands in contrast to the concept of Homo reciprocans, which states that human beings are primarily motivated by the desire to be cooperative, and improve their environment.” The Homo economicus perverse view of the world has reached peak influence in past decades as neo-classical economics.

Homo Economicus

30 November 2010: Emergence of the chair’s text. All references to the Tianjin negotiated text (October 2010) and to proposals from Bolivia and the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba (April 2010 – recognized in UNFCCC text in Bonn, June 2010) have vanished. [6]

8 December 2010 in Cancún: After pressure from Bolivia, the Chair re-introduced the bracketed section related to degrees (1ºC, 1.5ºC and 2ºC). However, she did not re-introduce key Tianjin bracketed sections, such as establishing an international tribunal.

10 December 2010: In the final text that passed the corrupted international climate negotiating process in Cancún, there is no mention of halting all further fossil fuel exploration, nor is there mention of major GHG-emitting developed states commencing a plan to begin capping extractions of current reserves. Eliminated from the text was the reference to 1ºC and guaranteed human rights in every action. Technology transfer to developing countries was eliminated. Gone are mechanisms of enforcement, including the proposal for an International Court of Justice. There is no mention of the impact of war and military industries on greenhouse gas emissions, as wars emit more emissions than entire countries.

There is no mention of stopping or even halting further expansion of the Canadian tar sands. The text includes no alternative options for reducing GHGs – no laws, positive regulation, or control of financial transactions – proposals that Bolivia had made to ensure that humans create a different relationship with the rest of nature through defense and recognition of the rights of nature.

The Cancún text implies there was consensus on launching new carbon market mechanisms even though this was not agreed upon. For example, the Earth’s forests are to be transformed into carbon markets, a move that indigenous peoples from all over the world have opposed and continue to vehemently oppose. Bolivia’s proposal for nations to conserve and preserve forests was not included. Of course there is no mention in the text of why it is ethically unjust to profit from pollution of our shared atmosphere, therefore important to make the practice illegal. Gone from the text is the essential zero carbon language – the most critical, most neglected and most denied aspect of climate change mitigation.

Disregarded was the advice of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to end subsidies to fossil fuels (which amounted to $558 billion worldwide in 2008). In the meantime, our inaction on climate change in 2009 alone has cost $1 trillion (IEA). [5] Governments claim a limit of 450 ppm, yet the IEA estimates that due to complete inaction in 2009, it will now cost an additional trillion dollars to stabilize the atmosphere at 450 ppm. Of course nothing has happened in 2010 either and Cancún promised further inaction. The recent IEA report stated that further delay will only escalate the crisis, that stabilization at a deadly 450 ppm simply will not happen.

In bitter irony, the investment necessary for the world to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies is approximately $30 trillion – approximately the same amount as the global transfer to the world’s banks following the engineered banking crisis of 2008.

The reality is ugly – wealthy states have trillions in bail-out money for “saving” the banks and corporations, but when it comes to saving lives of ordinary citizens, families and vulnerable peoples, such an investment is of no interest to the elites in power.

The Cancún Climate Agreements were prepared in direct response to requests from parties urging the president to present a text that covers all the issues and paints the whole picture of the outcome. It reflects the current status of the efforts of the delegations to converge on a “balanced” outcome [7] (with the one exception noted – that being Bolivia):

• agree to continue to agree on nothing, commit to nothing, and do nothing to prevent planetary global climate catastrophe

• agree to abandon the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

• agree to abandon the Kyoto Protocol principles

• agree to allow the global temperature to increase by 3°C to 4.2ºC

• agree to ignore catastrophic impacts on world and regional food and water security

• agree to ignore the catastrophic risks to planet Earth from Arctic climate feedbacks

• agree to continue supporting the fossil fuel industry, committing to the collapse of agriculture, civilization, humanity and most life on Earth

• agree to deny that the world is into dangerous interference with the climate system

• agree to deny that a planetary global climate emergency exists

• agree to deny the human rights – especially the right to survival – of the billions of most climate change vulnerable and indigenous peoples

• agree to deny the rights to survival and human rights of all future generations

• agree to deny the rights to survival of living ecosystems and all other species

• affirm that this agreement serves as a continuation of the delaying tactics and prevarication led by the industrialized nations in order to avoid complying with their human rights obligations and their obligations under the clear intent and terms of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [8]

“Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.” – Eric Hoffer

Right now, the world must acknowledge and accept the reality that the UN climate change negotiations over the past two decades have served as nothing more than a brilliant and lethal distraction – a diversion that protected and allowed the global economic power structures to continue business as usual for the last 20 years – while emissions soared a further 40%. A far cry from the 66% emission reductions that scientists already knew were necessary back in the 1980s if the world was to avoid climate catastrophe. Lost is the window of time we had to set in motion legitimate solutions and measures for transitioning to a global zero carbon economy. Like the sham of corporate social responsibility and voluntary compliance, this process of climate change negotiations, too, has failed the people – a violent assault on the world’s most vulnerable who have been thrown out with the swill.

Have our intoxicated, manipulated minds become too diseased to see clearly what is happening now?

Have we become so desensitized that we are prepared to watch billions suffer, starve and die – simply because we lack the imagination to see a better world and lack the strength and resistance necessary to demand it?

The climate crisis is the final lap in the final race for what is left of the world’s remaining resources. When the race is over, the “winner” will be alone – to preside over an Earth that will resemble a global nuclear holocaust, a world that reeks of decay and death – and all of the money in the world won’t make it not so. The climate negotiations have become a corrupt broken process – an instrument not to legitimately slash emissions but rather to further expand corporate profits at any and every expense … in this case, life itself.

Next in Part III: Economy Versus Life Requires Tyranny Over Mind

How did delusional thinking come to replace rational, critical thinking?

References/Endnotes:

[1] TIME TO BE BOLD: If one counts the G77, representing 130 developing states, along with some low-lying states or small island states that were not members of the G77, with some of the member states of the European Union, then possibly over 75% of the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would have been prepared to sign and ratify a strong, legally binding agreement. It could be argued, on the one hand, that such an agreement would have been irrelevant because the major greenhouse gas producers would not have signed on. On the other hand, citizens in the major greenhouse gas producing states could have used a new legally binding agreement to pressure their governments to commit to stronger emission reductions; signatories to the new protocol could have forced the delinquent states to comply either through the International Court of Justice or through an International Climate Justice Tribunal set up specifically under the UNFCCC to address the failure to comply with international obligations under the UNFCCC. COP16, in Mexico, must respect the demands of the majority.

[2] Hello. This is the Map to the End of Our World. Good bye. | Climate Food2

[3] Robert Jensen’s (2004) book Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream.

[4] By 1996, the EU commissioners focused not just on a target for keeping 2000 emission levels to 1990 levels, but also on working toward a maximum allowable temperature target of 2ºC. The EU target drew inspiration from being toward the lower end of the mid-range IPCC emissions scenario in the IPCC 1995 Second Assessment Report (SAR). This was interpreted to be a 2ºC temperature rise by 2100 and as the point beyond which climatic “dangers” would become more visible. While integrated assessment models provided possibilities for suggesting “danger” points, they did not uniformly suggest a specific target. IPCC did not highlight a specific target – instead they made a distinction of small (under 2ºC), medium (2–3ºC), and large (over 3ºC) temperature increases. Upon doing this, the IPCC intentionally or unintentionally conveyed a message that policy would be framed within these cited distinctions.

[5] The International Energy Agency defines “cost” as the cost to the fossil fuel economy according to the conventional, environmentally perverse, cost-benefit analysis. In reality, ending fossil fuel subsidies and subsidizing clean, safe, renewable energy would be a massive benefit to the zero carbon energy industries and to all future generations.

[6] 16 August 2010: Bolivian UN Ambassador Pablo Solon reported that after the climate change conference in Bonn, proposals from the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba were still in the negotiating document: “After a week of negotiations, the main conclusions of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) have been incorporated in the document of United Nations on Climate Change, that now has been recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries which have been congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week August of 2010.” The most important points that were incorporated for consideration in the next round of negotiations before Cancún, which took place in China, are:

1) 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries for second period of commitments from the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017.

2) Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1ºC and 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

3) To guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries.

4) Full respect for the human rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants.

5) Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People’s Rights.

6) Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature.

7) Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice.

8) Rejection of the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries.

9) Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries.

10) Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to exclude from the protection of the intellectual property rights those ecologically sustainable technologies that are useful to mitigate climate change.

11) Developed countries will allocate 6% of their national gross product to actions relative to Climate Change.

12) Integrated management of forests for mitigation and adaptation, without applying market mechanics and with the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.

13) Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest for plantations, since the monoculture plantations are not forest, and instead encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests.

[7] Opening statement on draft text document. Note by the president. https://motherjones.com/files/lca12-10.pdf

[8] A People’s Assessment on the Outcome of the Cancún Climate Negotiations. http://bit.ly/iiQCMQ Dr. Peter Carter is the climate policy advisor for Canadians for Action on Climate Change.

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur