Glenn Beck : “Dangerous and Evil”

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/glenn-beck/transcript/beck-americas-energy-under-attack

Thank you, Coal.

Thank you for the asthma, the mercury, the mountain top removal, the birth defects, the mine fatalities, the grossly inefficient electricity networks, the lack of investment in electricity networks, the smog, the heat, and above all, thank you for giving us Glenn Beck, on a platter – this is so much fun to watch !

Energy for Democracy

Dropping The Campaign Wrecking Ball

Intelligent commentators, authors and policy people are often suspicious of campaign groups. At the back of their minds they are drawing on a cultural discourse, primarily conducted in the media, that equates campaigners with mini-Hitlers – spreading disinformation and cult behaviour.

It is true that – as Mein Kampf reveals – the National Socialists in Germany used the latest communications tools to coerce and channel the energy of democracy towards their goals.

Some of the Nazi ambition was for democratic engagement, involvement in the process of rebuilding the country. Yet some of the methods were perverse, and caused an inexorable descent into the abuse of power.


When people like Mark Lynas accuse Greenpeace and other green campaign organisations of failings, there is any underlying theme – accusations of manipulation – both of facts and people. The sub-text harks back to the combat against fascism and Nazism in Europe.

We’re never going to make any progress on climate change if those advocating for energy change are equated to early 20th Century dictators and totalitarians.

Energy is a Social Good

I recently wrote an essay called “Energy for Democracy” making a first attempt at connecting the dots on grassroots democratic mobilisation and energy change. The subject set was in the field of “Environmental Communication”, and so I went back and looked at the development of mass media, advertising and public persuasion. I then went on to think about how propaganda and governance are interrelated. And I also looked at philosophy, and politics. I looked at the early 20th Century ideological splits in Europe, and the part that industrial development played. I looked at how democratic and other forms of socialism dealt with the problem of energy.

I posited that, since energy is produced for the Common Good, it should be subject to democratic management. I found myself “channelling” the spirit of Ramsay Macdonald, and going back to the questions of society and the integration of new industries that were pervasive before the two so-called “World Wars”.

Energy Of A Similar Wavelength

And today I find this very theme picked up by Ulrich Beck in The Guardian newspaper, along with the expression “energy change”, which is a term I am using increasingly to encapsulate the pivotal and essential response to climate change :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/20/germany-nuclear-power-renewable-energy

“Germany is right to opt out of nuclear”, he headlines, “The rejection of nuclear power is a result not of German angst but of economic thinking. We must invest in renewable energy”.

I was gladdened when he stepped from economics to democratics :-

“…Ultimately, the rejection of nuclear is not a result of German angst but of economic thinking. In the long run, nuclear power will become more expensive, while renewable energy will become cheaper. But the key point is that those who continue to leave all options open will not invest…People everywhere are proclaiming and mourning the death of politics. Paradoxically, the cultural perception of the danger may well usher in the very opposite: the end of the end of politics…what is denounced by many as a hysterical over-reaction to the “risks” of nuclear energy is in fact a vital step towards ensuring that a turning point in energy generation becomes a step towards greater democracy…The novel coalition between the state and social movements of the kind we currently see at work in Germany now has a historic opportunity. Even in terms of power politics, this change of policy makes sense…”

The British are stumbling towards democracy, too, but they keep tripping over old divisiveness, and create new divisions too, just to complicate matters.

People Power – Not Potty Nor Puny

The Climate Camp has just been a baby step on the pathway to democratic movement on energy. Camping in coal trucks and dropping banners from power station cooling stacks has been a sign that democracy has been ailing – if there were genuine engagement between the governments, private enterprises and “campaign” groups over the future scenarios for energy, then people wouldn’t need to camp outside banks and coal-fired power plants.

As a consumer of mainstream media, all you see is the blockade of a Biofuel refinery, or people gluing themselves to the entrance of the Royal Bank of Scotland, or the occupation of a plant nursery at the site of a proposed runway. If you think “what a ramshackle bunch of unwashed hippies, straining the last of their voices, railing at the State, in a vain attempt to roll back the tide of industry, progress and Thorium reactors”, then you haven’t understood the bigger picture.

People want to be engaged in the decisions made about energy in this country – properly engaged. People want to use their knowledge to influence decisions. If the only means they have of expressing their democratic will and their opposition to hydraulic fracturing is to D-lock themselves to Shale Gas drilling equipment, then perhaps they might just do that. This might happen in Poland too. The alternative would be a proper discussion between the people groups and the governments. Where’s the European Union environmental legislature while all of this is happening ? Shale Gas could destroy Poland.

Energy Collectives – Expressing Collective Democratic Will

Groups like Fair Pensions are building momentum between people groups and investing institutions – raising the flag for clean energy. This isn’t about fighting – let’s drop the battlefield language, including that word “campaign”, which is so often used in a derogatory, dismissive, belittling way. This is about getting people working together on a new, sustainable future, and it requires all the righteous anger rising up to be channelled into a positive, productive movement, fully expressing the will of the people.

Consultations and placard-waving demonstration protests are not the way forward – we need energy change, and that’s going to require a whole lot more democratic energy. People don’t want dirty energy, and they don’t want nuclear power. Dirty energy should be asked to leave the building, nicely, politely. Firm but fair.

Group Thinking – Democratic Intelligence

Investment in renewable and sustainable energy is creating long-lasting assets for the UK and other countries. We don’t need and we don’t want dirty, radioactive energy any more. A thousand cheers for German democracy !

James Delingpole : Going Underground

James Delingpole hardly ever sets his delicate foot in Wales, the country he archaically refers to as “the Principality”, apart from, ooh, about ten days a year when he holidays there, but nonetheless, feels he has some kind of inherited ex-colonial right to be affronted that large electricity generation and transmission infrastructure are going to be built there :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100088906/wales-is-in-danger-why-isnt-the-prince-of-wales-saving-it/

He gets top marks for being rather offensive himself – achingly rude, in fact, about the Welsh Assembly, besides his getting untethered about the wind farms and pylons for the transmission cables :-

“…The wind farms are bad enough on their own. But to make matters far worse […], in order for these bird-crunching, bat-chomping, view-blighting, rent-seeking monstrosities to be connected to the grid a huge 400kv power line is going to be constructed all the way from Montgomeryshire through some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery to the equally beauteous Shropshire…”

Continue reading James Delingpole : Going Underground

Iain Duncan Smith Deflects

I receive another letter from Iain Duncan Smith MP on vellum yellow with sickly pale green type. “Dear Mrs [sic] Abbess”, the letter reads, “Further to our previous correspondence regarding Stop Climate Chaos Big [sic] campaign, please find enclosed a reply from Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary.” I asked Iain Duncan Smith in person for his own and personal support for a strong Energy Bill. What did he do ? Pass my letter on to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). I would have prefered a personal commitment to the issue, but, sadly, it was not to be.

The Rt Hon continued, “I hope you find his letter reassuring…” Reassuring ? What ? Am I some kind of emotionally incontinent complainant ? “…and helpful. However, please don’t hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.”

Continue reading Iain Duncan Smith Deflects

James Hansen’s Hate Mail

Image Credit : Earth Beat Radio

New Year, new hate campaign against Climate Change scientists :-

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110126_SingingInTheRain.pdf

“Singing in the Rain : 26 January 2011 : In the past 2 – 3 weels I received a deluge of nasty-language messages saying that I should be fired, deported, run over, etc. Such a sudden burst of malice seems unlikely to be spontaneous.”

“Perhaps recent articles and internet stories provided stimulation, e.g., an article by Pat Michaels in the Washington Times and a statement by Richard S. Courtney on a blog. Michaels distorts the facts and uses quotes out of context. The Courtney statement […] mischaracterizes my testimony.”

“…The essence of my testimony, in both trials, was that the evidence for human-caused climate change is clear. I emphasized that the UK government, the fossil fuel industry, and the utility EON were aware of the effect of continued coal-burning on the future of young people. But instead of addressing the problem effectively, they engaged in greenwash…”

Over at MediaLens, the two (three) Davids are blanking the “every little bit helps” approach :-

“Focusing on personal consumption, and each of us ‘doing our bit’, is what we mean by the ‘debate’ being stuck on square one.

Asking the general public to kindly remember to switch off their lights has had about as much impact as a light dusting of sugar. Looks pretty, but causes coughing fits when eating the cake.

I can’t wait for their comments on Climate Week :-

http://www.climateweek.com/

“One week to show how we can combat climate change…inspiring millions to act.”

Supported by David Cameron ! Sponsored by Tesco (owners of a very large and unnecessary carbon footprint) !

A zero carbon supermarket ? I really cannot believe it :-

http://www.greenweblog.net/2010/02/03/tesco-opens-world%E2%80%99s-first-zero-carbon-supermarket/

Note in the following that Tesco don’t intend to carbon label their transport systems, warehousing or stores – only the products that consumers buy :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/oct/13/tesco-carbon-labels

It’s not greed…

Image Credit : G. William Domhoff

In conversation yesterday evening somebody summarised the behaviour of banks and the energy industry as “greedy”, but I simply could not agree.

“It’s not greed”, I said, “most people are just trying to make a living.”

The corporations have an obligation to make profits for their shareholders, business managers have to be pragmatic, governments have to negotiate compromises and consumers are just looking to make the best use of their cash.

This is how we find ourselves locked into a vicious cycle of energy waste, through the production and use of cheap fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are so cheap, nobody can spare the investment budget to make vehicles and power generation more efficient. Natural Gas is so relatively inexpensive that it’s cheaper to heat leaky homes than insulate them. Petroleum is so cheap (even with the rising global trade price and proposed increased taxes in the UK) that a high proportion of its energy value is wasted.

“It’s not greed,” I said, “look at who owns the wealth. The overwhelming proportion of people don’t have any control. They’re just trying to get by.”

To talk of “greed” anthropomorphises the machine of the economy, imbues it with a human emotion where it has none. To say that bankers are “greedy”, or that corporations and their Chief Executive Officers are “evil” entirely misses the point. Almost everybody is employed by somebody else, and has to follow instructions.

Even High Net Worth Individuals are under pressure to respond to their “electorates”, those who consume their intellectual property rights.

However, “just following orders” is no excuse to let people off the hook when it comes to carbon emissions, just like it is no excuse for war crimes.

But it’s not “greed”.

That would imply guilt, but guilt is not a lever that can be used successfully to correct excess carbon emissions.

Image Credit : Make Wealth History

George Osborne : Stealth Carbon Tax

Carbon Tax.

You knew it was coming in the end.

But you never reckoned a Conservative (if Coalition) Government would do it.

Everybody knew that the Carbon Reduction Commitment was going to reduce some people to tears. Something so labyrinthine was never going to work. But now it appears that this New Labour “challenge” is going to morph into a Carbon Tax.

The basic idea behind the New Labour Carbon Reduction Commitment or CRC was to encourage medium-sized businesses to lower their Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Everybody was to fully disclose their emissions the first year, and then make a report on their emissions in the following years.

At the start, they were told they would be judged on a “league table” of performance. At the start of a measuring period they would pay into a common pot according to their emissions levels, and then if they performed better than other companies in reducing emissions, they would get money back out of the pot.

But George Osborne has just waved the “league table” magically away, it seems. All revenues from the CRC will be considered as public money.

OK, OK, so all firms using more than 6000 megawatthours of power a year would be forced to take part, and maybe large companies do need a negative incentive to seriously consider how to keep their electricity use down – they seem to waste a lot, after all.

But what about those companies and organisations that don’t qualify for the CRC because they are already part of the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) ?

Any player that’s large enough to be under the EU ETS scheme gets their Carbon permits for free, and can trade them for cash if they use less than their entitlement.

OK, so in 2013 EU ETS Carbon permits will be under an auction scheme, but between now and then there is a huge disparity in the way that medium- and large-sized companies will be treated.

In ETS ? Free permits until 2013.
In CRC ? Obliged to pay a Carbon Tax.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS367283376220101021

“…John Alker, director of policy and communications at the UK Green Business Council, spoke for many across the low carbon economy when he said he was surprised by the decision. “The announcement that government is keeping the money from Carbon Reduction Commitment allowance sales has come out of the blue,” he said. “It may make the scheme simpler but this is something you’ve got to consult with industry on before plunging into.” Speaking to BusinessGreen.com, Climate Minister Greg Barker said the decision had not been taken lightly and had been made as a result of the ” catastrophic” deficit inherited from the labour government. He admitted that the changes would increase costs for businesses, but argued that the structure of the CRC meant that “progressive businesses that act to improve energy efficiency will be able to minimise their exposure”. Harry Manisty, environmental tax specialist at PwC, said businesses would effectively view the change as an additional tax, which may cause carbon price discrepancies with the EU emissions trading scheme…”

My guess is that this ploy is the opening salvo in a game of political ping pong that will ultimately destroy implementation of the CRC.

Already there have been wars and rumours of wars that people won’t play this particular emissions cutting game. For example, the start date of various parts of the scheme have been set back, and there are reports that organisations have over-assessed their Carbon Dioxide emissions now so they can look good later when they “cut” them.

George Osborne has served the first (wrecking) ball. What will the response of business be ?

George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

In the orange light-filled advertising corner : the oil and gas companies proclaiming new, untold riches beneath the melting Arctic. Technology will make us stronger, less polluting and improve the lives of the countless poor.

In the blue chain-smoking activist corner : Climate Change and Peak Oil are really, really serious, destabilising and horrible and we should all get depressed and go and lie down in a darkened room for a while.

On the other hand, most people don’t fall in one camp or the other. We worry about Climate Change some days, but we’re too pre-occupied with trivia on other days.

We have a natural in-built “happy button”, according to recent research mentioned in New Scientist magazine, so we can’t sustain feelings of doom and gloom for too long unless we’re clinically unwell :-

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727791.000-how-to-be-happy-but-not-too-much.html

We’re born to be sunny, optimistic (Teddy Miliband’s favourite word) and relaxed, only reserving adrenalin and noradrenalin for times of stress.

So why does George Marshall try to convince us that everyone is dangerously susceptible to “apocalyptic” language ?

http://climatedenial.org/2010/09/29/collapse-porn/

People can cope with being given bad news as long as they have some strategy with which to combat the problem.

It’s not wrong to tell people the truth about Climate Change just in case they get scared and worried.

Alarm is a good thing – I’d rather a fellow pedestrian shouted at me to “look out !” if I’m about to be mown down by a car as I cross the street, rather than just watching on and wincing at the crunch moment.

Continue reading George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

Caroline Spelman Shrugged

The British Government is about to announce that the people be left to the ravages of Climate Change and cope by heaving-ho and a rolling-up of the sleeves and display war-time grittedness through voluntary “Big Society” :-

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/britain-must-adapt-to-inevitable-climate-change-warns-minister-2077175.html

“Britain must adapt to ‘inevitable’ climate change, warns minister : As experts call for action now, the coalition withholds green funding and appeals to private enterprise : By Matt Chorley and Jonathan Owen : Sunday, 12 September 2010 : Britons must radically change the way they live and work to adapt to being “stuck with unavoidable climate change” the Government will caution this week, as it unveils a dramatic vision of how society will be altered by floods, droughts and rising temperatures. The coalition will signal a major switch towards adapting to the impact of existing climate change, away from Labour’s heavy emphasis on cutting carbon emissions to reverse global temperature rises. Caroline Spelman, the Tory Secretary of State for the Environment, will use her first major speech on climate change since taking office to admit that the inevitable severe weather conditions will present a “survival-of-the- fittest scenario”, with only those who have planned ahead able to thrive. Adapting to climate change will be “at the heart of our agenda”, she is expected to say…”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/7997668/Climate-change-is-inevitable-says-Caroline-Spelman.html

“Climate change is inevitable, says Caroline Spelman : Britain can no longer stop global warming and must instead focus on adapting to the ‘inevitable’ impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels, Government ministers will warn this week. : By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent : Published : 13 Sep 2010 : For the past few years Government policy has concentrated on trying to make people turn off lights and grow their own vegetables in an effort to bring down carbon emissions. But as global greenhouse gases continue to increase, with the growth of developing countries like China and India, and the public purse tightens, the focus will increasingly be on adapting to climate change. The Government will set out plans to protect power stations from flooding and ensure hospitals can cope with water shortages during dry summers….”

Continue reading Caroline Spelman Shrugged

This Is Not A Riot

[ UPDATE FROM JOABBESS.COM : ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND, EDINBURGH, CLIMATE CAMP SITE HAS BEEN TAKEN. ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION FROM process@climatecamp.org.uk, Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 9:59 PM : “Site taken! People needed NOW! At 9.15PM tonight Climate Camp took the site on RBS HQ. Get on site as fast as you can! Defence help urgently needed. Come to RBS Gogarburn Gardens, off Gogar Station Rd. More info later. x” ]

Al Gore has been telling all the young people, and well, all of us, really, to protest, in public, to make a downright law-unabiding nuisance of ourselves :-

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/114717-al-gore-calls-for-us-protests-on-climate-change-inaction

“Gore calls for major protests on government’s climate change inaction…In a post on his personal blog headlined “The Movement We Need”…”

Well, it won’t work to call people out onto the street. Most people are too busy credit-crunching, wage-slaving or favour-scraping to be able to commit to a short-term, potentially self-defeating public display of annoyance, frustration and shrill demands.

And if people do come out to the big protests, it won’t achieve much. News reports can be swept into the trash. Activists can be swept into holding facilities. Politicians can conveniently ignore anything that isn’t violent.

Drop the loud-hailers and home-made placards, I say, and do something more…focussed.

The Climate Camp want to target the Royal Bank of Scotland for financing Coal power plants and Tar Sands oil projects, which are very bad things to be doing, and smacks of huge corporate irresponsibility, considering the bank is largely owned by the British taxpayer, and I say, if you can’t make the camp (and I can’t for reasons which I shall not go into just now), do something about money in other ways instead.

What’s your money doing ? Which oppressive regimes in oil-rich countries is it supporting ? Which Fossil Fuel companies trashing your Environment do your bank support ? Why not switch your money to an ethical financial organisation ? Why don’t we all try to do this at the same time ? “Crowd-banking” could have an impact, you never know until you try.

Let’s pick, say, Monday 23rd August 2010. And let’s all spend our way out of Climageddon together on that day. Transfer your money to an ethical bank, or pledge to do so. Phone your bank and tell them you’re leaving for a sustainable bank.

Other actions possibly useful :-

1. Refuse to buy Fossil Fuels for a day.

2. Refuse to use any hot water for one day (most hot water is produced by burning Fossil Fuels). It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere – come on – a cool shower won’t hurt you.

3. Don’t spend any money on anything that had Petroleum-based plastic or Natural Gas-based chemicals in its production – which would rule out 85% of non-food purchases, I reckon.

4. If you’re working for a company or an organisation who have anything to do with the Energy industry, make a point of asking your boss, or their boss, or the Chief Executive or something what the company/organisation intends to do about moving the whole business to Renewable Energy.

5. One short telephone call could have you moving from burning Coal for your home electricity to a Green Energy account.

This is not a riot – but it is an emergency, and the response should match the scale of the problem.

Our Climate – Not for Sale.

Bloody Oil from Felix Gonzales on Vimeo.

Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway recommend that grassroots Internet writers focus on Climate Change Policy, in this Climate Science Watch interview shot at Netroots Nation 2010.

The subject of government policies to deal with Climate Change borders on the excessively dull – which is why most Internet web loggers (or “bloggers”) don’t want to touch Policy even with a full HazMat suit on.

It’s the kiss-of-interest-death to try to open up discussions on Carbon Taxation, Cap-and-Trade, Cap-and-Share, Cap-and-Dividend, Cap-and-Giveaway, Contraction & Convergence, Kyoto2, Border Tax Adjustments, Clean Development credits, Carbon Intensity and the like.

Only really seriously geeky, mildly obsessive people really want to think about the Big Picture. And many of us get stuck in a corner of unworkable aspiration, where we know something has to change, we fix on just a snippet of the giant problem, and then we find we cannot communicate it well enough for others to understand.

For example – very public insistence that the Coal-burning power generation industry has got to cease trading doesn’t make it happen, despite excellent reasoning and even entire Climate Camps of resistance and protest amongst the activist community.

This is probably because (a) most people don’t understand how banning Coal fits into the bigger Carbon picture, (b) most people don’t know how to go about asking the right people to ban Coal and (c) most of the Coal-burning industry don’t want people to look into their business too deeply so they have invested lots of money in public attitude smokescreens. No, it’s not a “conspiracy”. It’s a documented public relations exercise. Just ask Naomi and Erik.

Continue reading Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway

David Mitchell Curbs Enthusiasm

PLEASE IGNORE THE ADVERTISEMENT AT THE START OF THIS VIDEO. Video Credit : The Guardian

It’s great to see David Mitchell tucking into a big bite of the “Voluntary Behaviour Change” posse’s pie.

Let’s be honest : nobody wants to stop consuming and burning, but we’re going to have to if the Big Energy companies don’t change the way they provide us with power and fuel.

Yes, guilt is so old-fashioned. You can’t tell the public to change their consumption behaviour, trying to make them feel personally responsible for Climate Change, whilst still providing them with environmentally damaging products.

All electricity should be Renewable, all heating systems Carbon-neutral, all manufactured products Low Carbon.

Until that day, governments will continue to hire Public Relations consultants to convince the public to make different choices, and continue to fail to make any converts.

Voluntary Behaviour Change Failure

Image Credit : The Climate Change Committee

The Economic Recession has had a clear impact on the rate of British Carbon Dioxide Emissions.

However, peoples’ individual behaviour change has not been an additional factor :-

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=13675

Hat tip goes to Paul Mobbs for his note :-

“Have a look at Chapter 11/Chapter 12 for some eco-gems — e.g. “Domestic energy consumption for lighting and electrical appliances in the UK between 1970 and 2007 increased by 155 per cent…”Between 1989–91 and 2008, the proportion of children in Great Britain of
primary school age travelling to school by car rose steadily, from 27 per cent to 43 per cent…”

Asking people to curb their energy enthusiasm simply isn’t working.

Continue reading Voluntary Behaviour Change Failure

Climate Union : Sharing Principles

Image Credit : Gilbert & George, “Nettle Dance”, White Cube

I’m in the Climate Union. Are You ?

Soon we could all be, if the expansionist plans of a group of social campaigners come to fruition.

Taking in the unions, faith communities and the usual rag-tag bunch of issues activists, the Climate Union aims to establish itself as a political force for Low Carbon.

First of all, however, it has to tackle the uneasy and prickly problem of the exact name of the movement, and the principles under which it will operate.

The flag has been flown : a set of principles has been circulated for discussion amongst the “Climate Forum”. I cannot show you the finalised document yet, but I can offer you my comments (see below).

If you want to comment on the development of this emerging entity, please contact : Peter Robinson, Campaign against Climate Change, mobile/cell telephone in the UK : 07876595993.


Comments on the Climate Forum Principles
Jo Abbess
28 June 2010

I am aware that my comments are going to be a little challenging. I made similar comments during the review of the ClimateSafety briefing, which were highly criticised.

I expect you to be negative in response to what I say, but I think it is necessary to make sure the Climate Forum does not become watered-down, sectorally imprisoned and politically neutered, like so many other campaigns.

Continue reading Climate Union : Sharing Principles

New Melodies

A few new melodies…

Global Campaign for Climate Action :-
http://gc-ca.org/

10:10 :-
http://www.1010global.org/uk

James Hansen :-
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

Costa Rica ! :-
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jqJmnNVzfiUOeSlVG4f8nQMbwQYQD9FOOERO0

Pacha Mama, Cochabamba :-
http://climateradio.org/next-episode/

The Price of Carbon

The Price of Carbon

by Jo Abbess
20 April 2010

1.   Introduction

Policy strategy for controlling risky excess atmospheric greenhouse gas (Gowdy, 2008, Sect. 4; McKibben, 2007, Ch. 1, pp. 19-20; Solomon et al., 2009; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 6, pp. 205-208) mostly derives from the notion that carbon dioxide emissions should be charged for, in order to prevent future emissions; similar to treatment for environmental pollutants (Giddens, 2009, Ch. 6, pp. 149-155; Gore, 2009, Ch. 15 “The True Cost of Carbon”; Pigou, 1932; Tickell, 2008, Ch.4, Box 4.1, pp. 112-116). Underscoring this idea is the evidence that fines, taxes and fees modify behaviour, reigning in the marginal social cost of “externalities” through financial disincentive (Baumol, 1972; Sandmo, 2009; Tol, 2008). However this approach may not enable the high-value, long-term investment required for decarbonisation, which needs adjustments to the economy at scale (CAT, 2010; Hepburn and Stern, 2008, pp. 39-40, Sect. (ii) “The Consequences of Non-marginality”; MacKay, 2008, Ch. 19; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 2, pp. 40-41). Continue reading The Price of Carbon

Polar Bear : Poster Child

So, I’m standing in the G2 theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies, after the “Sceptic Backlash” event, talking with two Climate Change activists, one Irish, one American.

The question arises : since our lifestyles are causing deadly Climate Change for people in other parts of the world, maybe we should have communications based around pictures of suffering children ?

I disagree. I point out that when the environmentalists put out posters about Polar Bears, that the audience pretty quickly realised that the Polar Bears were being used as a “poster child” for Climate Change, and they started to mock the campaigning.

Continue reading Polar Bear : Poster Child

Nightmare on Easy Street

Every now and again, some well-meaning, or even lightheartedly jokey relative or friend lets me know I should calm down with the story of the risk of Climate catastrophe as it’s (a) not effective; (b) not necessary or (c) way off the end of the scale. Apparently I’m crying wolf, but there’s not even a messy puppy in the neighbourhood.

There are two narratives at work here. One is that people don’t like being preached too (neither do I), and they feel that the sum total of Climate Change communications amounts to somebody high up the authority chain telling them to change their behaviour, somehow making the common man (and woman) responsible for a problem that should actually be fixed by the governments, who have the power (or large companies and international corporations, who have the financial resources).

The moral of nearly every cultural telling of the Climate Change story is “ten things you can do to make a difference”, and a lot of people feel it will mean shivering in the dark with no car and more tax. People are so not into self-sacrifice and abstention from consumerism, and they react badly, even to the extent of skin rashes, to the fear of micromanaged austerity being thrust upon them.

But that’s not why I talk about Climate Change.

Continue reading Nightmare on Easy Street

Sustainable Future for Education

Today, I’m going to talk to you about education, and no, it’s not about the ongoing “Texas textbook massacre”, where they want to teach children about “alternatives” to the Theory of Global Warming :-

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/04/science/earth/04climate.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/texas-schoolbook-massacre-rewrites-american-history-1929320.html
http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2010/03/26/why-you-shouldn-t-worry-about-texas-textbook-changes.aspx

Continue reading Sustainable Future for Education

Climate Union

I’m in the Climate Union. Are you ?

Finally, I have to admit that I have an personal stake in the outcomes of Climate Change and Energy policy.

I have to confess to a utilitarian, yet enlightened, self-interest.

And so say all of us.

In the future, I want there to be jobs. New jobs, for young and old, for me. Productive, worthwhile employment, green jobs that don’t permanently wreck the atmosphere for future generations.

When I get sick, unabled or old, I want there to be social services. Not run on a shoestring budget owing to Carbon Taxes or Carbon Trading, but Low Carbon hospitals with well-motivated, sufficient staff; and decent, affordable sheltered housing and residential homes for the vulnerable.

I want cheap, Zero Carbon Energy; as access to Energy is an essential public good, even a human right, for those who live towards the Poles. I don’t want to be made poor by a badly managed transition out of Fossil Fuels, or expensive Carbon Capture projects that the State pays for, because Electricity generation companies want to burn dirty Coal. I don’t want to have to pay double for my power, just because new Nuclear Power stations cost so much to build.

Continue reading Climate Union

Hot Start

Hot Start
by Jo Abbess
04 February 2010
An assessment of the technology and policy for de-Carbonising the Energy systems of developed societies

1. The Aligned and Related Risks from Climate Change and Peak Fossil Fuels

1a. Key Conclusions
The Low Carbon Transition in Energy in developed countries is inevitable (Climate Change Act, 2008; EU Package, 2008; UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol, 1997); yet policy thinking and decision-making seems to still focus on the debateable “how to do it” rather than the more essential “how long do we have ?” If the window of opportunity for industrialised society to de-Carbonise proves to foreshorten rapidly, then the next few decades could be a story of economic collapse, unless there is concentrated, concerted endeavour (Sustainable Business, 2010).

Continue reading Hot Start

Boris Johnson Does Climate Change

It’s hard not to adore the man : all that blond hair and buffoonery, concealing a fairly intelligent personality, although he does have an unfortunate taste in Deputy Mayors :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jun/22/boris-deputy-resigns

Continue reading Boris Johnson Does Climate Change

Little Chicken

Now’s the right time to talk about gardening. Not just any old gardening, no. I mean food gardening, urban farming, home cropping, edible landscape-type gardening.

Now is the time to be thinking about enriching your soil for your next bumper harvest.

Get your resilience genes working !

http://www.londonwaste.co.uk/media/Compost%20Bag%20Leaflet_May09.pdf

OR

http://www.islington.gov.uk/Environment/RubbishAndRecycling/recycling_new/hrrc/compost_offer_HRRC.asp

Get into Transition mode !

In Transition 1.0 from Transition Towns on Vimeo.

Anthony Giddens : Blaming Consumers

Anthony Giddens, as a “key architect of New Labour”, disappointingly brings to the table a less than razor-sharp understanding of what is responsible for Global Warming Pollution.

He seems to be content to be cynical about the Consumers in the Free Market Economy, without questioning the role of the Producers of the Energy and goods consumed.

Continue reading Anthony Giddens : Blaming Consumers