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Global Warming: Most Of Us Say Catastrophe, Big Oil Says Opportunity

2012/07/20

I’m back from a short canoe trip  on a small lake just an hour’s drive from our house. The weather was warm & dry, the conversation lively, the food delicious (despite not catching any fish) and we only had to flee from the mosquitoes around dusk.

Here’s what’s coming across my desk as I catch up on the week’s climate change news:

Bill McKibbon published a hard-hitting article in Rolling Stone magazine this week, Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three Simple Numbers That Add Up To Global Catastrophe – And Make it Clear Who The Real Enemy Is. Here’s an excerpt:

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history.

…To make a real difference – to keep us under a temperature increase of two degrees – you’d need to change carbon pricing in Washington, and then use that victory to leverage similar shifts around the world. At this point, what happens in the U.S. is most important for how it will influence China and India, where emissions are growing fastest. (In early June, researchers concluded that China has probably under-reported its emissions by up to 20 percent.) The three numbers I’ve described are daunting – they may define an essentially impossible future. But at least they provide intellectual clarity about the greatest challenge humans have ever faced. We know how much we can burn, and we know who’s planning to burn more. Climate change operates on a geological scale and time frame, but it’s not an impersonal force of nature; the more carefully you do the math, the more thoroughly you realize that this is, at bottom, a moral issue; we have met the enemy and they is Shell.

Meanwhile the tide of numbers continues. The week after the Rio conference limped to its conclusion, Arctic sea ice hit the lowest level ever recorded for that date. Last month, on a single weekend, Tropical Storm Debby dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Florida – the earliest the season’s fourth-named cyclone has ever arrived. At the same time, the largest fire in New Mexico history burned on, and the most destructive fire in Colorado’s annals claimed 346 homes in Colorado Springs – breaking a record set the week before in Fort Collins. This month, scientists issued a new study concluding that global warming has dramatically increased the likelihood of severe heat and drought – days after a heat wave across the Plains and Midwest broke records that had stood since the Dust Bowl, threatening this year’s harvest. You want a big number? In the course of this month, a quadrillion kernels of corn need to pollinate across the grain belt, something they can’t do if temperatures remain off the charts. Just like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene, the 11,000-year period of climatic stability we’re now leaving… in the dust.  Click here to read the full article.

Arctic Ready: Shell Advertisement by egilaslak

Feel like jumping off a cliff after reading that? Here’s some links to great editorial cartoons, a little bit of humour to help you through the rest of your day:

And some good news for Canadians: the court challenge brought by the Council of Canadians with regard to seven ridings where the election results in the last federal election were close enough to have been affected by the robocalls made to NDP and Liberal voters has been given the green light to proceed, despite being opposed by the seven Conservative MPs who won those seats. Read the full story on CBC.ca  If you want to learn more about election fraud and Canada, you can read an interesting article,  Vote-moving Canadian Election Fraud, on Rabble.ca.

This week, Greenpeace and The Yes Men got some more fun out of their Arctic-Ready website, a parody of Shell that pokes (well-deserved) fun at their environmental record and their plans to drill in the pristine Arctic. The first stage of the campaign was launched several weeks ago when a video was released, purporting to be taken during a Shell Arctic launch gone wrong (see here). That was revealed as a spoof, but the activists weren’t done getting attention and mileage out of this action:

Not to be discouraged, Yes Labs released a fake press release from “Shell” threatening to take legal action against the campaign’s originator.

It was sent from the email address alerts@shell.com, included a false quotes from a real company spokesperson and warned journalists against the “counterfeit website” at ArcticReady.com.

Once again, Greenpeace and Shell were trending. Once again, many fell for the stunt. Click here to read the full story.

Here’s a video about the real story behind  the initial parody video, a private send-off for Shell’s arctic rigs (Kulluk and Noble Discoverer) at the Seattle Space Needle:

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Have a wonderful weekend (don’t forget to hug someone you love).

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Martin Lack permalink
    2012/07/21 10:02 am

    I remember watching that earlier video and remember being amazed someone had gotten into the Meeting. I am not really surprised to hear it was a spoof but I was fooled by it.

    That ‘Let’s Go’ poster is excellent; and I am really hopeful that the campaign against Shell will have some effect. However none of the other oil companies is any better so, if anyone has not yet taken action, I would recommend four things when contacting Shell:
    1. Make it clear you are not targeting them in particular and are equally concerned about the activities of other oil companies.
    2. Do not get into discussions about oil spills and contingency planning for accidents; focus on the irrefutable illogicality of chasing after oil that is only possible to access because of the damage to our environment burning oil has already done.
    3. Ask them why they are wasting so much time and energy retrieving hard-to-get-at fossil fuel rather than investing in the technology to power a post-Carbon world?
    4. Make sure you ask for your complaint to be recorded and (if by email) responded to.

    • 2012/07/22 11:34 am

      Re: being fooled by the spoof, Martin, we both fell for it!
      Your points re: contacting Shell are excellent, and most of the points can be applied to contacting MPs/MPPs as well, especially 3 & 4. Thx for that.

  2. 2012/07/22 2:41 pm

    That Bill McKibben story was excellent. Scary. More than a little depressing. But excellent!

  3. Jeff Lowther permalink
    2012/08/04 8:36 pm

    You stated ‘I’m a mother’. That’s the problem, we have 7,000,000,000 people on the planet and climbing. Before 2030 there will be a MAJOR global catastrophe.

    • 2012/08/04 9:08 pm

      That’s the wonderful thing about addressing climate change, Jeff. If we start to address this problem, part of the solution will be empowering women. Educated women have significantly fewer children, and the children that they have have a much better quality of life.
      And just looking at the number is too superficial – if everyone on the planet consumed the resources of a citizen of Africa or India we wouldn’t be facing the problems we are. The population issue, climate change, ocean acidification, the huge gap between the rich and the poor, are bringing us to a crucial time in human history. Are we going to rise to the challenge, and work for change together, or not? It’s in our hands. Moving from “me to we” means stopping the blame game. We can make the choice.

      • 2012/08/05 5:18 am

        My concern is that a lot of people can’t even admit that there is a problem (the first step is admitting blah blah blah). And I don’t just mean climate change. Overpopulation, consumerism, even our economic system.
        I remember, when the recession of 2008 hit, thinking that it was great that consumption and emissions were down. But it was because the economic system was crashing and millions of people were loosing their jobs. So, there is a fundamental flaw in our economic system that won’t allow it to be healthy at the same time as people reduce their (excessive) consumption.

      • 2012/08/05 8:55 am

        You’re right, J. The hard truth is that things may/will need to get a lot worse before they get better; our economic system is terminally ill, and needs to be replaced with one that values “Gross National Happiness” or some similar measurement rather than GDP, which doesn’t take into any account whether a nation’s population is doing well (for example, the GDP can be climbing while cancer rates from pollution increase). For more, check out http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-04-06/talking-happiness
        That’s why I believe it’s important for those of us who are aware and “awake” heading into the tumultuous decades ahead should be doing two things above all else right now. #1 is working as hard as we possibly can to create the political will for a sustainable climate/educating others about climate change #2 Preparing for the bumps ahead by becoming as resilient as we can as individuals and in our communities (as per the Transition Network).

      • 2012/08/05 9:36 am

        I’ve heard that some countries are already working with a “Gross National Happiness” index – what a great idea. Like you mentioned, GDP is extremely flawed!
        On a related note, have you ever watched the Zeitgeist movies (there are three)? Might be interesting for you to look at. Some parts are a little over the top, but they talk about how our current economic system could be replaced by a “ressource-based economy”. It’s very interesting. Especially the third movie. If you are interested, just google “Zeitgeist movie” and you’ll find the website. From their, there are links to the Youtube videos of each movie. Warning: they are quite long. But I thought it was worth it.

      • 2012/08/05 3:22 pm

        Thanks for the recommendation, I will put it on my list!

      • 2012/08/05 6:15 pm

        Quite welcome 🙂

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