Monday, August 30, 2021

The Guns of August



This title seems appropriate, given that it's the name of a book that examines the historic factors leading to the start of WWI.

The IPCC report is a dire warning delivered with an urgency not expressed in previous reports. The key to climate politics is guaranteeing fossil fuel workers no loss in salary as sustainable energy replaces carbon-based fuel – and this would cost “a pittance” says Robert Pollin on the with Paul Jay:

"The U.S. military is the global largest emitter of emissions. The point being, that to finance scale-level investments in a new clean energy economy, which is — and I take that as part of the sixth assessment report. I think it’s more emphasized in that one than prior ones. That is the first project. We can talk about all kinds of new fancy things. But unless we’re willing to cut carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and transforming into a clean energy system, then there’s nothing really else that we can do.

So we have to stop burning oil, coal, natural gas, and we use the technologies we have that work fine. That is renewable energy and efficiency."

An analysis published by The Conversation in June of 2019 reveals the scope of the US military impact on climate change:

"Greenhouse gas emission accounting usually focuses on how much energy and fuel civilians use. But recent work, including our own, shows that the US military is one of the largest polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more climate-changing gases than most medium-sized countries. If the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal."

"It’s no coincidence that US military emissions tend to be overlooked in climate change studies. It’s very difficult to get consistent data from the Pentagon and across US government departments. In fact, the United States insisted on an exemption for reporting military emissions in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. This loophole was closed by the Paris Accord."

Another report from about the same time out of Brown University, "Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War", digs into the climate pollution from the U.S. Department of Defence (DOD). This includes the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and other defence agencies. This report is used to compare the emissions from the DOD to the computed emissions projected from the Alberta oilsands.

"This chart also lets you see how the oilsands’ pollution surge has accelerated over time. The oilsands added a half tonne per Canadian in the 15 years up to 2005. Then the industry added twice as much climate pollution per Canadian over the next 12 years.

As a result, the oilsands industry is now a ten times greater climate burden for each Canadian, than the U.S. military is per American."

So the US Military is now eclipsed by Canada's oilsands in Alberta, another massive source of carbon emissions that are not included in the computations for emissions and per capita assignments. This is a very, very serious issue that somehow never gets on the table. Without accurate accounting for all fossil fuel emissions, it's nearly impossible to create an accurate carbon framework back at the UN level. And thus all efforts come to naught.

Friday, July 30, 2021

New Sheriff in Town


The new Biden administration has awakened the Federal beast, which is stirring with new life on the carbon issue. Biden’s pledge on Earth Day 2021 is in line with what environmental groups and hundreds of executives at major companies have pushed for. The president announced the target at the closely watched global leaders’ climate summit on April 22, during which he hopes to urge global cooperation to address the climate crisis.

“This is the decisive decade,” Biden said at the summit on Thursday morning. “This is the decade that we must make decisions to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.”

“This is a moral imperative. An economic imperative. A moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities,” the president said.

At the state level, California is setting policies in concert with many organizations that are moving ahead with their goals and solutions to the carbon emission emergency that has been declared. The architects and contractors are already developing their methods for reducing not only emissions, but are also the decarbonization strategies that drastically reduce the impact of construction in cities and towns. This is being done in concert with the American Institute of Architects California (AIACA) and Architecture 2030 leadership by Ed Mazria FAIA.

Rocky Mountain Institute, headed up by Amory Lovins, is working with industry to transform the global energy system to secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. They are developing zero-carbon roadmaps for harder-to-abate sectors; accelerate development and deployment of breakthrough technologies; cultivate zero-carbon industries and ecosystems. These are some of the goals of their China program.

The response to the climate change issue has several major policy supporters that share similar climate goals. Recognizing that buildings account for nearly half of global CO2 emissions, the Carbon Leadership Forum, a non-profit organization at the University of Washington, is dedicated to accelerating the transformation of the building sector to radically reduce the embodied carbon in building materials and construction through collective action. This group's document was published in March 2021. To learn more about different policy initiatives related to embodied carbon or track updates on the policy initiatives in this document, visit the Carbon Leadership Forum’s Policy Toolkit.

The goals of the UNFCCC policies of 1.5C established in Paris are facing some serious pushback by the fossil fuel industry. It's not just a disinformation campaign, but steering governments to implement actions that will keep the oil flowing. For example, a human rights lawyer is facing prison for holding an oil giant to account talks about his Kafkaesque case.

"One of the critical facts is it’s not an accident. It’s a deliberately designed pollution event where Texaco decided to do it this way, essentially to play God with the people of Ecuador in order to save $2 or $3 a barrel of oil produced. The net result today, 50 years after this started, is you have the world’s worst oil disaster. You have thousands of people dead or dying from exposure. You have virtually no medical care. You have indigenous groups decimated, on the way to extinction because the forest is now poisoned by these deliberate acts of destruction. It can no longer sustain the culture, so it’s a disaster from every angle."

And at the same time, cities face new roadblocks in their quest to decarbonize buildings with policies that cripple efforts by local governments to establish sustainable policies.

The International Code Council (ICC) — an organization that manages building codes for much of the U.S. — this month removed the rights of local governments to vote on future energy efficiency building regulations, a move that could have major implications for cities as they seek to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within building sectors, according to industry experts.

So we're looking to Biden's leadership to help untangle these issues and policies that are colliding in the US as well as the global community acting under the United Nations oversight.

Update 10/8/21: Take three steps to begin designing zero carbon buildings today

Update 10/9/21:  CarbonPositive: COP26 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Approaching the Endgame


The World Meteorological Organization maps out the heat of climate change in June. An exceptional and dangerous heatwave is baking the Northwestern USA and Western Canada in areas which are more synonymous with the cold. Temperatures have reached more than 45.0°C on consecutive days, with extremely warm nights in between. The destructive impacts of climate change have been anticipated by climate scientists for decades. The accelerating damages from overheating the biosphere have been shown to be even worse than we've expected, and it's happening faster and faster. The ClimateReanalyzer map above shows the massive heat that's currently sitting in a dome over western Canada and the United States. 

We may already be in a global heat state that's irreversible because of the feedback emissions from melting permafrost, the burning forests and emerging global droughts due to the heat already absorbed in the ocean and on the land over the last 150 years. It's a runaway climate scenario that has started with a vengeance. The challenge now is for the global communities to come to a resolution to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2030. Of course we're not going to be able to hit this benchmark, and the resulting decimation of our planet will mean that human civilization will not be able to survive.

The details of the Endgame are summarized in this blog which traces the work of the Global Commons Institute and the efforts by Aubrey Meyer to develop a framework for the global climate agreement which includes the necessary emission reductions required to keep the planet from heating up past 1.5C. Over the past 30 years we have not been able to accomplish this agreement primarily due to the intransigence of the US, China and Europe. This is due to the immense interference and obfuscation by the fossil fuel industry, which has leverage in all the major governments of the world.

Update 7/18/21: Is This the Beginning of Runaway Global Warming?

Update 7/19/21: The Amazon is Burning and the Earth is Dying Slowly

Update 7/20/21:  An Open Letter to All Climate Scientists

Update 7/22/21: Global Warming: From Scientific Warning to Corporate Casualty

Update 7/23/21: Forward to the Past


Monday, May 31, 2021

Road to Glasgow


2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) will begin on Nov 1 and end on Friday Nov 12 in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow. As of right now in May, the preliminary Sessions of the subsidiary bodies are underway in a virtual platform. This continues the process of meetings and negotiations by the different representatives of countries that are trying to reach a commitment to the 1.5C scenario of the Paris Agreement in 2015. There was no formal framework agreed to in 2015, just an agreement to the cap of carbon emissions that would keep the global ecosystem from exceeding 1.5C by the immediate reduction of green house gas emissions.

The Paris Agreement was an exercise in coming to grips with the enormity of defining the scale of the global emissions reductions and the rapid shift required to get the world to zero carbon.

President Obama was able to formally enter the United States into the agreement under international law through executive authority, since it imposed no new legal obligations on the country. Trump disastrously pulled the US out of the treaty the minute he got into office, on June 1, 2017, and President Biden reinstated US participation on January 20 of this year.

The website for the May-June UNFCCC conference is here. Its purpose is to begin negotiations and hammer out agreements on key aspects of the talks in Glasgow. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international environmental treaty against climate change, negotiated and signed by 154 states at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day - US Policy

 VP HARRIS TALKS CLIMATE:  Earth Day 2021 on April 22 was marked by the Biden Administration presentation on streaming platforms as well as broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

This article is part of Covering Climate Now, a global consortium of news outlets strengthening coverage of the climate story. View the video at this link.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021



The largest database on earth, Google, has now trained its sights on our planet, using its developed Google Earth platform to integrate information across time and place to show how we have RADICALLY changed this planet in a few centuries, and not for the better. The Google maps are now integrated with satellite databases to render the changes in our planet over a timescape of 35 years or so. Its very simple to jump to the navigation dashboard and view the resulting videos.

From Google: 

"As far as we know, Timelapse in Google Earth is the largest video on the planet, of our planet. And creating it required out-of-this-world collaboration. This work was possible because of the U.S. government and European Union’s commitments to open and accessible data. Not to mention their herculean efforts to launch rockets, rovers, satellites and astronauts into space in the spirit of knowledge and exploration. Timelapse in Google Earth simply wouldn’t have been possible without NASA and the United States Geological Survey’s Landsat program, the world’s first (and longest-running) civilian Earth observation program, and the European Union’s Copernicus program with its Sentinel satellites."

 From Tom's Guide:

"Try it for yourself, and you may not like what you see. Watching the Timelapse unfold is a pretty shocking experience, especially in areas such as the Amazon rainforest, where untold devastation is happening as land is deforested and repurposed for farming. Seeing just much the ice is melting in places like Antarctica and Alaska is similarly depressing.

Naturally, Google will be updating Timelapse every year from now on, and it promises to keep it updated for at least another decade. That way, we’ll be able to continue to see how our planet is changing, and what human beings are doing to continually mess the whole place up."

This new time-based planetary exploration takes the standard NASA time lapse to a new dimension, which shows the changes in nature as well as the expansion of urban sprawl. Previously, this time-lapse video crammed 20 years of Earth into just a few minutes. Google helped scientists learn a lot more about global warming and how the earth is changing.

Fortunately, with the new Biden administration preparing to address the climate issues with tremendous reserves of science analysis and highly structured data, there's a ray of hope that capitalist "business as usual" is no longer the prevailing norm. There's now hope for a livable future, with a focus on competent solutions to the horrific global problems that threaten the planet's existence.

Saturday, February 27, 2021



The idea of ecocide first gained vital worldwide consideration in 1972, when Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme, addressing the UN Stockholm Convention on the Human Setting, referred to as for a global crime of ecocide, primarily in response to US use of chemical weapons within the Vietnam Battle. Nevertheless, when the Rome Statute was ratified in 1998, creating the ICC, environmental crimes weren’t included. In 2010, lawyer and environmental campaigner Polly Higgins lobbied the UN to create a global crime of ecocide. Though the UN rejected her argument, in 2016 the ICC mentioned it might assess cases of environmental destruction as ‘crimes in opposition to humanity’.

Because the detrimental results of worldwide warming have intensified, so too has political momentum in favor of criminalizing ecosystem destruction. In 2019, island-states Vanuatu and the Maldives urged the ICC’s Meeting of States Events to recognize the crime of ecocide. This name was echoed by Swedish parliamentarians, who requested SEF to draft a definition of ecocide.

Philippe Sands, QC, an international law specialist, professor and author, went on a rare lockdown trip on Nov. 20, 2020 to attend a ceremony in Germany marking the 75th anniversary of the opening day of the Nuremberg trials.The commemoration was held in the historic wood-panelled courtroom 600 of the Palace of Justice, where the trials of Nazi leaders, which established the principles of international justice, were heard. Sands was invited by the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to the event, which opened with an address from Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremburg prosecutor, now aged 100.

A documentary about Ben Ferencz and his astonishing 75-year career arc is available via streaming on Netflix, "Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz". He was part of the Allied troops in 1945 with the US Army that liberated the concentration camps. As part of his work with the Army, he participated in the horrific task of removing and identifying the skeletal corpses in these camps that he is still unable to talk about today.

Ferencz says the legacy of the trials remains to be seen. “Hopefully, it will recognise that the crimes described in the case were so horrendous that we cannot risk repeating them anywhere at any time.”

Despite the ongoing violence in the world, Phillipe Sands, who is co-chair of a panel drafting a legal definition of ecocide as a potential international crime, says “the ideas that came from [the trials] inspire us to look to the future”. “It’s a long game,” he says. “The revolution doesn’t happen overnight – we will get there.”

"Ecocide - Voices from Paradise"  is a video that successfully illustrates how willful ignorance continues the damage begun by an oil spill. Extras include a featurette on efforts to make ecocide an international crime. 

The cause of Ecocide has been taken up by Extinction Rebellion and also led by Jonathan Fuller's activism protests towards the reporting done by the BBC.  He wrote an article last year on what has changed in the media's reporting of the climate and ecological crisis. Jon Fuller's twitter feed can be found extensively on Twitter, and the Extinction Rebellion site is here.


Update 3/6/21: Indigenous groups sue French retailer over destruction of Amazon rainforest

Update 6/3/21: ‘Monumental Victory’: Shell Oil Ordered To Limit Emissions In Historic Climate Court Case

Update 6/23/21:   The Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide convened by our foundation has completed its deliberations.  The proposed definition of ecocide as a 5th crime under the Rome Statute is now available for states to consider - and for civil society to demand.

Update 7/27/21: A growing number of world leaders advocate making ecocide a crime before the International Criminal Court, to serve as a “moral line” for the planet.

Update 7/28/21: The push to make 'ecocide' an international crime takes a big step forward.

Update 7/29/21:  A global movement is rising to advocate for "ecocide" as a new crime before the International Criminal Court.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A New Day


January 6, 2021
Commentary from Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California


January 20, 2021  The color of womanpower!