Headline: UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ UN Sustainable Development Goals. May 6, 2019
Excerpt: Current global response insufficient; ‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature; Opposition from vested interests can be overcome for public good
…For instance, in a recent survey, even though just 36% of Republican or Republican-Leaning Millennials endorsed “Earth is warming mostly due to human activity”, 83-87% of the same group supported expansion of renewables and 60% wanted the government to do more to protect animals and habitat (Pew Research 2019). So here are some environmental causes the skeptics might be interested in: …
While not a skeptic myself, I do think it’s a waste of time to focus on whether or not people believe in anthropogenic climate-change. Find common ground and go with it.
The rest of us rely on mental shortcuts to arrive at our opinions on climate change - mostly to do with trust and perceived plausibility. In other words, how we feel/think about climate change depends in large part on whom we trust or don’t trust, as well as what information, explanations, and opinions fit with our understanding of how the world works. This is not an irrational way for non-scientists to approach a subject as complex as climate change.
But we could do better. We could live the words “science is real”…
Most Americans have accepted that the climate is changing as a result of human activity. If pressed for a reason, many will refer to the scientific consensus that such is the case. Some will refer to a 97% consensus.
Some in the medical community take a “wait and see” approach to the disease of climate change. They’re aware of computer models predicting a dangerous worsening of the patient’s condition but note that other models are not nearly so gloomy. These doctors point out that most treatments carry their own risks, so it’s best just to monitor the patient closely for the time being…However, most in the medical community acknowledge the patient will probably get worse without some sort of intervention. But many physicians aren’t convinced the prognosis is dire without aggressive treatment and so opt for a conservative approach to managing the patient’s condition. …Yet other doctors are convinced that without aggressive measures this climate change disease will inevitably progress to painful debilitation and possible death.
Overfishing, destructive fishing practices, coral harvesting and mining, sewage, sedimentation, pollution, elevated sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification are all stressors. Less stress and greater resilience to stress increase the likelihood of coral reefs living beyond the Anthropocene.
This year’s Green New Deal (GND) repeats the claim that “global warming at or above 2 degrees Celsius beyond preindustrialized levels will cause…a loss of more than 99 percent of all coral reefs on Earth”. The GND references an October 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I reviewed the IPCC report’s references and this is what I found…
In the debate, supporters of the Green New Deal came back with:
Other ideas are just cover for capitalist yearnings
Nothing significant is being done to combat climate change
There is no serious alternative to the Green New Deal
The Green New Deal is our only hope to avert catastrophe
…where once the Big Solution was seen as a means to fixing problems, it eventually becomes an end in itself - one that requires Big Problems to justify. That’s because Big Solutions tend to involve painful sacrifice (the darkness before the dawn). And that pain had better be worth it!
Habitat loss is the biggest threat to biodiversity and endangered species on the planet. Clearing land for agriculture is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Most agricultural land is used for livestock, mainly sheep and cattle.
What constitutes “state-of-the-art” technology changes from year to year. If the new technology isn’t cheap, households, businesses, utilities, and governments investing in the new technology will not invest again as they wait for the initial investment to pay off. This is called a “lock-in” effect, “where choices made at critical junctures lock in future choices and development” (Johnson, 2001)
So, what is the Green New Deal? The Deal referred to in the survey is one championed by Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, available here. Some pertinent excerpts…
Survey respondents were shown a brief description of what is being called the “Green New Deal”, followed by the question, “How much do you support or oppose this idea?” Here’s the description…
But how is it that we are getting more energy consumption with fewer emissions? Type of fuel, for one: some fuels emit more than others. Speaking of which, charts!
So how is the world doing in decoupling CO2 emissions from economic growth and energy use? The beginnings of an answer in three charts….
“…climate-ready, ecosystem-based fisheries management can help reduce the impacts of some anticipated changes and increase resilience under changing conditions. There is now a national strategy for integrating climate information into fishery decision-making…”
In that spirit, the remainder of this series will consist of brief excerpts from NCA4-II on existing or proposed adaptations to the effects of climate change. Without further ado…
Per Climate Action Tracker (CAT), current US emission trends are actually within “striking distance” of the initial Paris Agreement targets for 2020 and 2025, despite Trump’s rhetoric and the US not even being a signatory to the Agreement. This unexpected progress is thanks to “subnational” and nongovernmental actors, such as states, cities, businesses, nonprofits and others. Yes, it would be great if the federal government were on board. And, yes, we need to do a lot more…
Another theme in this report is that mitigation and adaptation efforts often yield near-term benefits unrelated to their value in reducing risks associated with climate change. Drought-resistant crops help poor farmers now. Increased energy efficiency makes business sense now. Coastal marsh restoration protects against flooding now. Even climate change skeptics could appreciate these co-benefits.