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What we need is a climate movement

29 Jun 2022 | OP ED Watch

Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, who waves a rainbow flag from “Unceded Wabanaki lands”, insists to ward off climate doomism that “for the defeatists inevitably in my mentions: we haven’t had anything like a proper climate movement yet”. Just one that has captured governments, corporations, the UN, universities, the media, Hollywood and everything else down to your local 3rd grade classroom. But perhaps not 2nd grade. Thus, in reply, Dr. Meade Krosby of CIG_UW cheerfully shares a “cheat sheet” from @talk_climate saying “Do empower kids to envision a healthier, cleaner, and more equitable world” but “Don’t present problems as intractable” and “Don’t perpetuate racist or fossil fuel polluter narratives” and “Don’t present traumatic climate info before about 3rd grade”. After which, the more the better apparently.

And there’s no shortage of doom to hit them with. A couple of months ago the BBC felt compelled to dispel the notion that we might still have a fighting chance:

“A key finding in the latest IPCC climate report has been widely misinterpreted, according to scientists involved in the study. In the document, researchers wrote that greenhouse gases are projected to peak ‘at the latest before 2025’. This implies that carbon could increase for another three years and the world could still avoid dangerous warming. But scientists say that’s incorrect and that emissions need to fall immediately.”

Got it? If greenhouse gases peak “before 2025,” it’s not good enough. They must fall “immediately”. Which they obviously won’t so it’s all over and we get “dangerous warming.” And you might be tempted to say, well, this whole story is obvious tosh, since the notion that a difference of three years in when a mild decline in global emissions gets underway is the red line signalling “dangerous” warming is not one that anyone could take seriously.

As is the notion that “the scientists said it was still possible to avoid the most dangerous levels of warming by keeping the rise in global temperatures under 1.5C this century. This will take a herculean effort, with carbon emissions needing to shrink by 43% by the end of this decade to stay under this threshold of danger.” Not least because in that case if they stayed level until 2025 then shrank by 43% by 2030 we would and would not avoid danger. And also because not even Greta Thunberg on LSD would think they were going to shrink by 43% by 2030. So we’re doomed. DOOMED! What we need is a climate movement!

The story went on to say that “before they fall, emissions need to reach a peak – and it’s in the text explaining this idea that the report becomes confusing.” How so? Well, it turns out that the models have roughly the precise detailed nuance of Minecraft. “Most media outlets including the BBC concluded that meant emissions could rise until 2025 and the world could still stay under 1.5C. ‘When you read the text as it’s laid out, it does give the impression that you’ve got to 2025 which I think is a very unfortunate outcome,’ said Glen Peters, from the Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo, and an IPCC lead author.”

So how did he and his colleagues confuse us all with settled science? The Beeb says:

“It’s partly because the climate models that scientists use to project temperatures work in five-year blocs, so 2025 follows 2020 for example, without reference to the years in between. ‘Because models work on 5-year increments, we can’t derive statements with higher precision,’ said Dr Joeri Rogelj, from Imperial College London, and an IPCC lead author. ‘But when you look at the scientific data supporting this headline, it becomes immediately clear that any scenario in line with 1.5C drops emissions from 2020 to 2025. Even for scenarios that limit warming to 2C this is also the case.’”

Five-year increments? The model can’t even deal with individual years, let alone more granular things like clouds? You might have told us a bit sooner. And you could also have mentioned earlier that:

“A major challenge in communicating complex messages about climate change is that the more simplified media reports of these events often have more influence than the science itself. This worries observers who argue that giving countries the impression that emissions can continue to grow until 2025 would be a disaster for the world.”

As Eric Worrall scoffed, “I can understand Glen Peters and Dr. Joeri Rogelj’s disappointment. I mean, they go to all the trouble of writing what is probably the bleakest, most doom laden climate report in history, only to accidentally leave a sliver of hope, an excuse to delay climate action. And like water falling through a leaky bucket, even the BBC slipped through the crack in their narrative. Better luck next time alarmists.”

There will be a next time. Because if emissions do continue to grow until 2025, and they will, these people won’t go away defeated. According to the cheery BBC story about imminent inescapable doom:

“‘We definitely don’t have the luxury of letting emissions grow for yet another three years,’ said Kaisa Kosonen from Greenpeace. ‘We have eight years to nearly halve global emissions. That’s an enormous task, but still doable, as the IPCC has just reminded us – but if people now start chasing emissions peak by 2025 as some kind of benchmark, we don’t have a chance.’”

So if we don’t have a chance will they throw in the towel, and the microphone? Not a chance. Meanwhile over at MasterResource, they have something of a chuckle at the people who combine despair and hope like some exceptionally improbable lumpy vegan smoothie:

“The title of the NYT article is: A Climate Warrior’s Journey From Summit Talks to Street Protests (New York Times: March 29, 2022). It is the story of the despair and resurrection (temporary?) of a climate activist. As such, it is a window to the world on the futile fight against carbon dioxide and energy density.”

And it concerns a woman who glued herself to Shell HQ in 2019, perhaps because as an oppressed marginalized lawyer of colour with an Oxford degree she works for the government of the Marshall Islands and they’re meant to be under water.

The election of Trump forced her into a year of nature therapy classes and camping, so the crisis can’t have been that urgent. Then she came back realizing there’d never been a climate movement really. “I felt that the climate movement was almost unique and fragile, relying mostly on insider tactics and not on movement building. It wasn’t relying on the full sets of tools.” And so she joined Extinction Rebellion, one of those deliberately obnoxious groups that, far from building a movement, drive normal people away. But for some odd reason friction ensued and “She stepped down from her role with the group in 2020 because of disagreements with other leaders. Ms. Yamin said she believed the movement was not focused enough on climate justice.” These people would frighten any rational child.

3 comments on “What we need is a climate movement”

  1. The wind is variable. Building another 40,000 turbines will not change the wind,,!!!! We will need gas powered electricity
    For the foreseeable future….next 30 years. Net zero is dead in the water

  2. If everyone on earth stopped breathing for an hour a day, we could solve the CO2 problem once and for all.

  3. The climate movement could be accurately renamed the energy ignorance movement and it appears to be thriving. Perhaps when "experts" postulate peak CO2 emission timelines they should consider that investing mostly fossil fuel energy as inputs (and supports) into the lifecycles of wind and solar yielding a return of somewhere between 1 and 2 times that energy compared to nuclear power yielding somewhere between 70 and 80 times that investment it might have some relevance. Their most often quoted solution is essentially a carbon emissions trap and waste of precious energy particularly as they have demonized and limited the input energy production before having any understanding of the metrics involved. It's always about the energy density!

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