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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #41

Posted on 13 October 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week including numerous articles about the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5oC and the Hurricane Michael-climate change connection,

Editor's Pick

Mary Robinson on climate change: ‘Feeling “This is too big for me” is no use to anybody’

The former president of Ireland has a new raison d’être: saving the planet. Yet, despite the dire warnings of this week’s IPCC report, she is surprisingly upbeat 

Mary Robinson 

‘Human rights has always been a struggle’ ... Mary Robinson in her office in Dublin. Photograph: Johnny Savage/Guardian

On the morning that the world’s leading climate scientists warn that the planet has until 2030 to avert a global warming catastrophe, Mary Robinson appears suitably sombre. She wears black shoes, black trousers and a black sweater and perches at the end of a long table at her climate justice foundation, headquartered in an austere, imposing Georgian building opposite Trinity College Dublin. The only dash of brightness is a multicoloured brooch on her lapel. “It symbolises the sustainable development goals,” she says. “It’s the one good emblem that the United Nations has produced, so I like to wear it.”

There seems little reason for cheer on this Monday. The landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just warned that urgent, unprecedented changes are needed to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C; even half a degree beyond this will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Donald Trump, rejecter of the Paris climate agreement, is riding high on the back of Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the US supreme court. Britain and the EU are consumed by Brexit Brazil is on course to elect a president who wants to open the Amazon to agribusiness. Closer to home, the Irish government is flunking its climate policy goals. Now, climate scientists warn that the clock ticks ever closer to midnight.

“Governments are not responding at all adequately to the stark reality that the IPCC is pointing to: that we have about 11 years to make really significant change,” says Robinson, sitting ramrod straight, all business. “This report is extraordinarily important, because it’s telling us that 2 degrees is not safe. It’s beyond safe. Therefore, we have to work much, much harder to stay at 1.5 degrees. I’ve seen what 1 degree is doing in more vulnerable countries ... villages are having to move, there’s slippage, there’s seawater incursion.”

Robinson sips a glass of water and sighs. “We’re in a bumpy time. We’re in a bad political cycle, particularly because the United States is not only not giving leadership, but is being disruptive of multilateralism and is encouraging populism in other countries.”

This could be the start of a depressing interview that concludes we should hitch a ride on Virgin Galactic’s first trip to space and try to stay there. But it turns out to be surprisingly upbeat. Despite the headlines, Robinson, who served as the UN secretary general’s special envoy on climate change after serving as the president of Ireland and the UN high commission for human rights, is hopeful. 

She has anticipated the IPCC report by writing a book-cum-manifesto, Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future, published this week. It tells stories of farmers and activists, mostly women, who tackle climate change in Africa, Asia and the Americas. They are examples of positive change that Robinson thinks can help turn the tide.

“I don’t think as a human race that we can be so stupid that we can’t face an existential threat together and find a common humanity and solidarity to respond to it. Because we do have the capacity and the means to do it – if we have the political will.”

Mary Robinson on climate change: ‘Feeling “This is too big for me” is no use to anybody’ by Rory Carroll, Science, Guardian, Oct 12, 2018 

Links posted on Facebook

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Comments 1 to 8:

  1. The root of the problem is that 'capitalism with mass-marketed competitions to appear to be superior relative to others any way that can be gotten away with' encourages and rewards the opposite of the type of behaviour that the future of humanity requires. Popularity and profitability governing the behaviour of leaders is developing harmful leaders presenting bad examples for the rest of the population to learn from.

    Without Altruism governing potentially harmful action everywhere, with the minimum acceptable behaviour of altruism being “If you are not being helpful, at least do no harm”, there will continue to be damaging regional set-backs to the development of a sustainable better future for humanity, particularly without altruism governing the behaviour of winners and leaders.

    The fact that the supposedly most advanced nations have less Altruism governing their behaviour than the inspirational examples of the working population from poorer nations (that may also have less altruistic leadership) exposes the fallacy of believing that 'perceptions of economic prosperity or technological advancement indicate the development of sustainable improvements for humanity'.

    In Alberta, the current Premier recently tried to argue against rational explanations of the need for Alberta to stop trying to increase its ability to collectively get more benefit quicker from the extraction and export of oil sand. Her potentially popular appeal to greed got the following coverage:

    Though it is incorrect and harmful to the future of humanity for Premier Notley to promote the unsustainable lure of more jobs and money from oil sands, her main competition in the upcoming election, the United Conservative Party (UCP), is even worse regarding its positions and claims on the climate science issue. And the UCP are far worse regarding their resistance to other required corrections of what has become popular and profitable. Like the Trump Republicans, the UCP have many policy objectives that are contrary to, and harmful to, the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals, not just the climate action goal.

    Global collectives on the political Right have been Uniting the greedier and less tolerant into groups that vote to support each other's understandably unacceptable developed desires. They have done it by getting away with misleading marketing appeals to developed preferences for 'not correcting things that clearly need to be corrected'. They do it because it increases their chances of winning their way. And their 'winning' has undeniably turned regions of the planet with the greatest potential to be helpful or harmful to the future of humanity into significant threats to the future of humanity. And even if they do not win, their attempts to influence the population to be greedier and less tolerant makes it more likely that the leaders of the moment will be less altruistic that they should and otherwise would be.

    Humanity likely needs to learn how to penalize those types of 'pursuers of winning' to develop a sustainable future, to get the required climate action corrections. That means significant corrections to the developed socioeconomic-political systems, corrections that will be detrimental to many people who have developed unsustainable perceptions of superiority relative to others.

    The future of humanity will remain in serious doubt, and likely get worse, as long as 'developing unsustainable perceptions of prosperity and opportunity, or defending and prolonging unsustainable developed perceptions' is allowed to compromise altruistic responsible leadership.

    The Future of Humanity is in Question - Altruism is the Answer

    Altruism! What is it Good For? - The Future of Humanity

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  2. All of these articles and comments about how we have to be careful not to scare anyone too much or they will not do anything completely missing the issue. Not scaring people allows them to not have to do anything either. Point being everyone is looking for a reason they don't have to do anything. Why is that? Well if you read the op-eds in all the top media its because humans are just BAD and that is all they are capable of.BS!

    The reason people are looking for an excuse not to do anything is because they have to go to work in the morning and for most people thats not optional. Tell them that they don't need to commute to work back and forth everyday, no flying to meetings, no tearing resource out of nature to make, sell, buy, throwout stuff. Tell them they do not have to worry about themselves and their loved ones suffering and dying, healthcare bills, housing, education, etc. and I will bet you whatever you want that 90% of the population will stop doing all the wrong things.

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    Moderator Response:


    You assert:

    Well if you read the op-eds in all the top media its because humans are just BAD and that is all they are capable of.BS!

    I have read many of the op-eds and cannot recall any stating what you claim. Please provide examples.

  3. It really is simple.  WHO PAYS THE PIPER CALLS THE TUNE Who pays the piper calls the tune. As long as politicians are financed by big business, by vested interests, they will do their bidding.  This is the one ring that controls them all.  Finance politicians from the exchequer and legislate manditory jail time for anyone who gives even a paper clip to a politicians and the way will be open to make progress on all the oh so necessary changes we must make.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] The use of all caps is prohibited by the SkS Comments Policy. The use of bold font for emphasis is acceptable.

  4. In my earlier comment I stated that the Alberta UCP policies regarding climate science would be worse than the current Notley Government.

    That is supported by the information in this CBC article "'The worst tax ever': Doug Ford and Jason Kenney hold campaign-style rally against carbon levy", that I had shared in a recent comment I made to the "2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #39".

    I indicated in my comment that current day Conservatives (hoping to win by Uniting greedier and less tolerant people and claiming to be Right) should not be expected to respond positively to a Price on Carbon. They will likely respond by making the potentially very popular claim that such an action is an Evil Tax, especially in a region like Alberta.

    The Alberta NDP leadership of Premier Notley implemented a Carbon Levy and Rebate program. The Conservative response has been to declare that if they win power in Alberta in the next election they will cancel the evil carbon tax (and cancel the rebates that resulted in the middle and lower income people getting a net-benefit from the program).

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  5. jef,

    I agree that 'some' op-eds are allowed to get away with claiming that people cannot be expected to behave better, and claim that more freedom for people to believe whatever they want and do as they please will develop a good result.

    In a recent comment on "The Trump administration has enetered stage 5 denial" I shared the following about an Ayn Rand quote that basically encapsulates the current develeoped wrong thinking of the Right.

    "In the Feb 29, 1960 issue of Time magazine Ayn Rand stated that “If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.” and “Capitalism and Altruism are incompatible ... capitalism and altruism cannot coexist in man or in the same society.”

    Ayn Rand's observations were correct, but she came to the wrong conclusion. Since every human can understand that it is better for the future of humanity if they behave altruistically, the correct conclusion is that capitalism discourages the development of altruism and encourages the development of anti-altruism if it can be gotten away with."

    Many right-wing propagandists continue to get to have similar incorrect understandings published as un-challenged un-corrected op-eds (corrections and clarifications not done in a way that reaches every reader of the original op-ed).

    I personally believe every op-ed is valid, freedom of speech is essential, as long as any required corrections of understanding are provided as lead-in comments to the op-ed (different opinions are welcome. incorrect arguments and claims that only work if you ignore relevant information require correction). Op-eds are not like scientific publications that would pass a critical peer-review before first publication and are open to criticism after publication that every reader of the initial publication actively seeks out and reads.

    Professional Journalism, with rigorous auditing of performance, being required for any media to be able to declare that they are a Journalist News Provider would be helpful.

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  6. Conservatives are altruistic towards their local communities, with charities, efforts by Churches and philanthropy. However conservatives  / right wingers tend to be suspicious of altruism extended to other countries, the efforts of the UN, and government wealth transfer programmes. This is pretty common knowledge, so I dont think I need a page of research links on this one.

    However these sorts of altruistic programmes have huge benefits to both receiver and also the giver. The obvious example is the Marshall Plan after WW2. These things get forgotten among the problems we have had with global terrorism, free trade hurting some groups of people, and the minority of people who abuse altruism, that has basically made some people suspicious of altruism and its related philosophy of globalisation. But its not globalisation that is wrong, its how its implemented that can always be improved.

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  7. nigelj,

    Helping the local community in need is behaviour that is likely irrelevant of right-left, conservative-liberal leanings. But it can be a way for a person to claim they are altruistic when what they really are is tribally or selfishly motivated. I am pretty sure the conservatives in New Orleans did not go out of their way more than liberals to help those in desperate need after Katrina.

    Limiting helpfulness in ways that are harmful to others, including future generations, is not 'being governed by altruism'. It is selective helpfulness for a sub-set, and it can actually be harmful to others.

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  8. nigelj,

    The following may be a better way to explain my comment @7.

    In 2013 there was a major flood event in southern Alberta. All kinds of people did all kinds of things to help those affected. The ones in need of help were helped. Nobody asked what the political ideology of anyone else was. And all the help was done in ways that did no harm to anyone else. And the helping did no harm to the future of humanity. That 'local' helping was altruistic.

    In Alberta (and Canada) today, many people claim they want to be helpful regarding jobs for 'others in Alberta (and Canada)' and want tax revenue to help pay for public health insurance, public education, and other social assistance program, which makes them oppose efforts to 'make burning fossil fuels more expensive or more difficult to profit from'. Their opposition to efforts to support the required climate impact corrections is because trhey 'want to help others'. That is just appeals to tribalism (group selfishness) and promotion of anti-altruism.

    Ayn Rand said that capitalism and altruism could not coexist, probably because the likes of her do not like the extra effort and resulting limitations of options that Altruism requires.

    Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" includes information about what conservative leaders actually did after Katrina hit New Orleans to try to make New Orleans more like what they wanted it to be (not so full of those "Others").

    And more recently we all know how the conservative leadership in the USA 'helped' Puerto Rico.

    Individual conservatives may be nice people. But gathered into a group, especially the United Greedier and Less Tolerant claiming to be Right, they can be very different. The Unite the Right objective is to give those still thinking they are conservatives only one voting choice - supporting the collective of unacceptable interests United and claiming to be Right.

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