Posts Tagged ‘350.org’
It’s rare for me to post a second item on the same day but this warrants it!
The full copy of this recently issued Press Release now available on the End Fossil Fuels Subsidies website is republished in full below.
PASS IT ON!
MIDDAY TWITTERSTORM REPORT
June 18, 2012
Call to #EndFossilFuelSubsidies at Rio+20 Tops Twitter
EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, celebrities Mark Ruffalo,
Stephen Fry, and Robert Redford, journalist Nicholas Kristof, and more join global push
RIO DE JANEIRO — The push to end fossil fuel subsidies at Rio+20 became the #2 most talked about topic worldwide on Twitter this morning.
The social networking site, which has 100 million active users, tracks discussions by hashtag and #endfossilfuelsubsidies ranked #2 globally and #2 in United States and Australia. 350.org, the global climate campaign coordinating the effort, estimated that the hashtag was being tweeted at least once a second, reaching millions of people around the world.
A number of politicians, journalists, celebrities, and high-profile activists joined in the campaign, helping catapult it into the spotlight:
American actor Mark Ruffalo, who recently played the Hulk in the box-office sensation The Avengers, tweeted, “Good Morn! Can you help us end fossil fuel subsidies? Pls tweet #endfossilfuelsubsidies TODAY to help us send a msg & spread the word.!!!”
The EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, who is expected to play a key role at the Rio+20 negotiations,tweeted, “Fossil fuels subsidies have no place in today’s world . They must be phased out as the G20 pledged. #EndFossilFuelSubsidies #Rioplus20.”
350.org founder Bill McKibben tweeted, “$1 trilllion is a lot of money–tired of the fossil fuel industry laughing at us, so joining the twitterstorm #endfossilfuelsubsidies.”
Activists with 350.org are projecting tweets in cities around the world, including Sydney, London, New Delhi, and New York, as well as inside the Rio+20 negotations.
Yesterday, 350.org and Avaaz unfurled a giant $1 trillion bill on the Copacabana beach in Rio, producing some spectacular photos. The global campaign Avaaz.org is delivering a petition with 750,000 signatures calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies to G20 leaders in Los Cabos, Mexico this afternoon. Over a million people have signed different petitions calling for action on subsidies in the last two weeks.
The current draft of the Rio+20 agreement released on Saturday includes a paragraph on ending fossil fuel subsidies, but negotiations now hang in the balance as oil exporting countries led by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela attempt to delete any references to the proposal. The final decision is likely to come down to Brazil, who hold sway as the host country.
The Twitterstorm can be tracked at endfossilfuelsubsidies.org. Supporting organizations for endfossilfuelsubsidies.org include: 350.org, Avaaz, Climate Reality Project, Earth Day Network, Friends of the Earth International, Global Exchange, Green For All, Greenpeace International, Greenpeace New Zealand, Natural Resource Defense Council, Oil Change International, Quercus, SumOfUs, Wild Aid, WWF
CONTACT: In the US, Daniel Kessler, email@example.com, +1 510-501-1779; In Rio, Jamie Henn, firstname.lastname@example.org, +55(0)2181061948
NOTE TO EDITORS:
1. Information on the $1 Trillion in fossil fuel subsidies: http://priceofoil.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/1TFSFIN.pdf
PRESS ADVISORY/PHOTO CALL
‘Twitterstorm’ gathers speed before Monday’s Global Cyberaction to #EndFossilFuelSubsidies at Rio+20
RIO, 15 June 2012 — Momentum is building for this Monday’s 24-hour “Twitterstorm,” a massive international online action to increase pressure on world leaders to cut nearly $1 trillion in fossil fuel subsidies at the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit.
For 24 hours between June 18th and 19th, as world leaders gather at the G20 summit and prepare for Rio+20, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will tweet with the same hashtag — #EndFossilFuelSubsidies — at celebrities and politicians, flooding the popular social network with their demand. Over 1 million people have already signed a petition calling on leaders to act.
Recent developments on the Twitterstorm include:
• Confirmation of tweet projections in Sydney, London, New Dehli, and Rio (see Notes section for times and locations) (1)
• A new website with fact sheets, a tool to tweet at celebrities and Heads of State, and more resources for activists: http://www.endfossilfuelsubsidies.org
• A new Facebook event that has registered over two thousand “Tweet Team” members to recruit participants for the day of action. (2)
• Support from over a dozen civil society groups, including 350.org, Greenpeace International, Oil Change International and WWF. (3)
WHAT: A 24-hour Twitterstorm to #EndFossilFuelSubsidies at Rio+20
WHEN: The 24-hour clock will begin at 8:00 UTC (6 PM local time in Sydney) when activists will flock to Twitter with messages that will be projected in iconic locations in Sydney, New Delhi, London, and Rio. In recent weeks campaigning groups have collected over 1 million signatures demanding that leaders act now.
WHY: According to figures compiled by Oil Change International, countries are spending as much as $1 trillion USD combined annually on fossil fuel subsidies. (4) The International Energy Agency estimates that by cutting these subsidies, the world can cut global warming causing emissions in half and significantly contribute to preventing a 2 degree temperature rise, the limit most scientists say we need to stay under to prevent runaway climate change. (5)
In May, leaders of the G20 again pledged to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. They first made the commitment in 2009 but have yet to implement the policy change at the country level.
While global warming emissions rise and gas prices spike, fossil fuel companies continue to make massive profits, which brings into doubt the need for subsidies. ExxonMobil, for example, made $41.1 billion USD in profit in 2011.
CONTACT: In the US, Daniel Kessler, 350.org, email@example.com, +1 510-501-1779; In Rio, Jamie Henn, firstname.lastname@example.org, +55(0)2181061948
NOTE TO EDITORS:
1. June 18 projection events
◦ Summary: Sydney will launch the Twitter Storm from the Sydney Opera House. Local supporters are invited to send a photo or video message to world leaders with the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as a backdrop. Projection of the Twitter feed will continue late at night around Sydney’s CBD.
◦ 6 PM (UTC+10) Sydney Opera House Boardwalks
◦ 9 PM (UTC+10) Sydney CBD
◦ CONTACT: Abi Jamines email@example.com, +61 403278621
• New Delhi
◦ Summary: There will be two projections in New Delhi.
◦ Projection 1: 6 PM – 9 PM, Moonlighting, An indoor projection while the Twitter feed is projected to an invited audience along with a speaker to discuss the issue of fossil fuel subsidies in the Indian context. (Will share speaker details soon, yet to be confirmed).
◦ Projection 2: 6PM – 11 PM An outdoor projection at a local mall called DLF Saket.
◦ CONTACT: Chaitanya Kumar, firstname.lastname@example.org, +91-9849016371
◦ Summary: There will be 3 events in London–a petition delivery at 10 Downing Street in the morning, followed by two projections.
◦ Petition delivery: 10:30am GMT+1, Number 10 Downing Street, London.
◦ Projection 1: 1:30pm GMT+1, Houses of Parliament, London
◦ Projection 2: Approximately midnight GMT+1 (Tuesday 19th June), Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square, London
◦ CONTACT: Emma Biermann, email@example.com, +44 (0) 78 3500 4720,
◦ Summary: Tweets will be displayed in the Rio Centro conference center all day.
◦ CONTACT: Jamie Henn, firstname.lastname@example.org, +55(0)2181061948
3. Supporting organizations include: 350.org, Avaaz, Climate Reality Project, Earth Day Network, Friends of the Earth International, Global Exchange, Green For All, Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Australia, and Greenpeace New Zealand, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resource Defense Council, Oil Change International, Oxfam, Quercus, SumOfUs, Wild Aid, World Wildlife Fund
‘Twitter Storm’ Planned to Pressure Leaders to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies at Rio+20
Environmental conference ideal place to end wasteful giveaways to corporate polluters, says civil society groups
Oakland, 7 June 2012 — Campaigning organizations from around the world will join forces on June 18 for a 24-hour ‘Twitter storm’ in which tens of thousands of messages will be posted on the social networking site demanding that world leaders use Rio+20 to agree to end fossil fuel subsidies.
The 24 hour clock will start at 6PM local time in Sydney (8AM UTC), when activists will begin to flock to Twitter with messages that will also be projected in iconic spots in Sydney, New Delhi, London, Rio, and other locations. In recent weeks campaigning groups have collected over 1 million signatures demanding that leaders act now to end subsidies and start to invest in clean energy solutions. (1)
According to figures compiled by Oil Change International, countries together are spending as much as $1 trillion dollars annually on fossil fuel subsidies. (2) The International Energy Agency estimates that by cutting these subsidies, the world can cut global warming causing emissions in half and significantly contribute to preventing a 2 degree temperature rise, the number most scientists say we need to stay under to prevent runaway climate change. (3)
“We are giving twelve times as much in subsidies to fossil fuels as we are providing to clean energy, like wind and solar. World leaders shouldn’t be subsidizing the destruction of our planet, especially since these subsidies are cooking our planet,” said Jake Schmidt, International Climate Policy Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In May, leaders of the G20 again pledged to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. They first made the commitment in 2009 but have yet to implement the policy change at the country level.
While global warming emissions rise and gas prices spike, fossil fuel companies continue to make massive profits, which brings into doubt the need for subsidies. ExxonMobil, for example, paid an effective US federal tax rate in 2010 of 17.2 percent, while the average American paid 28 percent.
Participating organizations include 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace. Oil Change International, Natural Resources Defense Council, and others.
CONTACT: In the US, Daniel Kessler, 350.org, +1 510 501 1779, email@example.com
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Spread the word as far and wide as possible!
Yesterday I received an email from 350.org as part of their mailing to all 350.org supporters. I have previously written a number of times, for example see here and here, about this proposed project and why it is so important to have it rejected.
Yesterday I published a lecture given in Melbourne by Britain’s eminent Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees. Lord Rees concluded his lecture with the call for us to take better care of our own planet. He, like many others, recognises the unique place in history that we occupy. For the first time a single species is capable of exerting profound changes on the Earth’s natural and physical environments.
Over and over again, scientists are reporting the rise in climate temperature of Planet Earth and the implications thereof if we do not wakeup soon to changing our ways. The Keystone pipeline is a huge potential mistake!
Anyway, to the letter issued by 350.org - note the link to send a message to President Obama works – please use it!
Direct threats from Big Oil over Keystone XL
Here’s the email that Bill McKibben just sent to US 350.org supporters who have been working on Keystone XL:
Just in case you thought there was anything subtle about the Keystone battle, you need to hear what the president of the American Petroleum Institute — the oil industry’s #1 front group — said yesterday: if the President doesn’t approve the project there will “huge political consequences.”That’s as direct a threat as you’re ever going to hear in DC, and it shows just how mad you made the oil industry last year by exposing Keystone for the climate-killing danger it is. And the oil industry can obviously make good on their threats — they’ve got all the money on earth, and thanks to Citizens United they can use it without restriction in our elections. They’re not used to ever losing.So far the Obama administration is standing firm in the face of Big Oil’s bullying – the White House made it completely clear last month that if the oil industry and its harem in Congress forced a speeded-up review, it would lead to an outright rejection of the permit for the pipeline. We expect they’ll keep their word.Here’s what I think we need to do.
1- Let the president know you’ve got his back when he rejects the pipeline. Tell him that addressing climate change is the key to our future, and that you’re glad he’s not bending.
2- Take the offensive against the oil industry. If they’re going to try and ram Keystone down our throats we’re going to try and take away something they hold dear, the handouts that Congress gives them each and every year. They’re the richest industry on earth, they’re doing great damage to the planet — and they expect us to pay for it with our tax dollars.
Can you send a quick note to President Obama covering those two key points?
Here’s the note I’m sending:
President Obama: Thank you for opposing the rushed Keystone XL pipeline permit. Responding to climate change is critical to preserving our collective future, and I hope this is a first step towards the dramatic changes we need to avoid catastrophe. PS: Please take handouts for the fossil fuel industry out of next year’s budget. There are people in America who need that money more.There’s lots more to be done, of course. In the slightly longer run, we’ve got to take on the greatest subsidy of all: the special privilege that Congress gives the fossil fuel industry to use the atmosphere as an open sewer into which to dump its carbon for free.But today — right now, in the face of this kind of straight-up bullying — it’s time to punch back. We’re nonviolent, but we’re not wimps.
A plea to sign a global call not to delay action on global warming
How many of you in Europe watched the final episode of Sir Peter Attenborough’s Frozen Planet series, entitled On Thin Ice?
Did you watch the short video in last week’s post, The power of truth? If not, it’s below.
Here’s a piece from a BBC news item from yesterday,
It is an image that is sure to shock many people.
An adult polar bear is seen dragging the body of a cub that it has just killed across the Arctic sea ice.
Polar bears normally hunt seals but if these are not available, the big predators will seek out other sources of food – even their own kind.
The picture was taken by environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross in Olgastretet, a stretch of water in the Svalbard archipelago.
“This type of intraspecific predation has always occurred to some extent,” she told BBC News.
“However, there are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.”
Re-read that last segment of that last sentence, “completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.“
So with all that in mind, please read on.
What if someone told you we should abandon all hope for global climate action until 2020? Well, that’s exactly the proposal that the United States is pushing at the UN Climate Talks taking place this week in Durban, South Africa. The 2020 delay might well be the worst idea ever.
Waiting nine years for climate action isn’t just a delay, it’s a death sentence for communities on the front lines of the climate crisis – and it could slam the door on ever getting carbon pollution levels below the safe upper limit of 350 parts per million.
It’s not too late to stop this delay from going through. Over the next three days, our team of 350.org activists in Durban will be working with our partners at Avaaz and allies from around the world to isolate the United States — and build support for the African nations that are fighting for real climate action. But it will take a massive grassroots outcry to demonstrate that people everywhere are taking a stand to prevent the United States negotiators from signing away our future.
If we raise an international alarm before the talks end on Friday, we can convince the US to get out of way of progress and help unlock the global process that can lead to bold climate action all around the world.
The climate talks in South Africa end in just 48 hours, and it’s vital that we ramp up the pressure now. To make sure the US gets the message, our team on the ground here in Durban will deliver your messages directly to the US negotiating team at a high-impact event we’re helping to pull together on Friday. We can’t say much more about it now, but suffice to say our message will be unavoidable.
This year, the 350 network has shown that people power can truly move the planet in the right direction. We mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to push for climate action in nearly every country on earth. We beat back the Keystone XL pipeline when no one said it was possible. We took over the radio waves to spread a message of hope and action on the climate crisis. And through our actions, we helped keep the hope of saving our planet — and reaching 350 ppm — alive.
The UN Climate Talks here in Durban aren’t going to get us back to 350 by themselves, but they can keep the option open by making progress on a legally binding, international framework to help nations make serious cuts in carbon emissions. In 2012, we’re going to need to do all we can to challenge the fossil fuel companies that are the real obstacles to progress. Breaking their stranglehold on our governments is the only way to really unlock these negotiations.
But right now, the most important thing we can do is keep the possibility of a strong international climate deal alive by pushing back on the United States negotiating team. In recent months, President Obama has shown that he’ll stand up for the climate, but only if he’s got a movement to back him up. On the Keystone pipeline, he’s been doing the right thing by blocking Republican efforts to push it through — now we need him to do the right thing on the international stage.
There’s no guarantee that we’ll be successful, but we owe it to our allies across the planet — many of whom are already feeling the impacts of climate change — to resist the chorus of cynics and keep hope alive. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The 350 network has pulled off the impossible before — now’s the time to step up the pressure again.
Please add your voice today: www.350.org/durban
Let’s do this,
Jamie Henn for the whole 350.org team
Just an update to last Saturday’s event.
Readers may recall that John H. and I went to the nearest Moving Planet event in Phoenix, as posted on Monday. Now 350.org have released a video of the event as seen from a global perspective.
2000+ events. 180+ countries. A single day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels. 350.org’s 2011 day of action, Moving Planet, brought together Moving Together.
Photos and Videos submitted by thousands of organizers and activists around the world — THANK YOU!
Music by Alex Forster: http://www.alexforster.net
Many thanks to our partner organizations who helped us pull this off.
Special thanks to videographers around the world who captured such amazing moments — please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want credits here.
Where’s it going?
Last Friday (10th) I wrote about a recent article that appeared in the Newsweek magazine of June 6th and mused about there seeming to be a growing awareness of the changing of the Planet Earth.
I just wanted to add a few other important elements (pardon the pun) of the current awareness.
First, at the time of writing this (June 2nd) the website that shows the monthly level of CO2 in the atmosphere was still showing the figure for April. Here it is,
Go here and check out what it is for May 2011. We all know that it won’t be below 393.18, which is already over 12% above the maximum safe level that scientists have determined.
UPDATE (June 7th): The figures for May are now on the website CO2 Now and they are 394.35 up, as predicted, from the figure of 393.18 for April, 2011.
Then go and watch this, from Bill McKibben,
Then go to the CO2 Now website and read, and ponder and think about what is becoming increasingly obvious to us all.
Three Strikes and You’re Hot
Time for Obama to Say No to the Fossil Fuel Wish List
By Bill McKibben
In our globalized world, old-fashioned geography is not supposed to count for much: mountain ranges, deep-water ports, railroad grades — those seem so nineteenth century. The earth is flat, or so I remember somebody saying.
But those nostalgic for an earlier day, take heart. The Obama administration is making its biggest decisions yet on our energy future and those decisions are intimately tied to this continent’s geography. Remember those old maps from your high-school textbooks that showed each state and province’s prime economic activities? A sheaf of wheat for farm country? A little steel mill for manufacturing? These days in North America what you want to look for are the pickaxes that mean mining, and the derricks that stand for oil.
Yes, it all seems ‘doom and gloom’ around us at present but then consider that the only way we, as in mankind, can change to a truly sustainable relationship with this Planet is through better understanding and a global realisation that the time for change is now! That is a very positive message!
Some very telling points.
I first mentioned this book on the 13th May when I was about a third of the way in. Because I thought there might be material useful to the course that has been running here in Payson, I did skip around the book looking for ‘attention-grabbing’ points. It wasn’t difficult to find numerous extracts.
Try this on page 214 from the Chapter Afterword.
As it turns out, however, the BP spill was not the most dangerous thing that happened in the months after this book was first published. In fact, in the spring and summer of 2101, the list of startling events in the natural world included:
- Nineteen nations setting new all-time high temperature records, which in itself is a record. Some of those records were for entire regions – [then some of the details]
- Scientists reported that the earth had just come through the warmest six months, the warmest year, and the warmest decade for which we have records; it appears 2010 will be the warmest calendar year on record.
- The most protracted and extreme heat wave in a thousand years of Russian history (it had never before topped 100 degrees in Moscow) led to a siege of peat fires that shrouded the capital in ghostly, deadly smoke. [Then goes on to mention the effect of this heat on global grain prices.]
- Since warm air holds more water vapour that cold air, scientists were not surprised to see steady increases in flooding. Still, the spring and summer of 2010 were off the charts. We saw “thousand-year storms” across the globe [goes into details]
- Meanwhile, in the far north, the Petermann Glacier on Greenland calved an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan.
- And the most ominous news of all might have come from the pages of the eminent scientific journal Nature, which published an enormous study of the productivity of the earth’s seas. [More details follow - not good news!]
But the greatest danger we face, climate change, is no accident. It’s what happens when everything goes the way it’s supposed to go. It’s not a function of bad technology, it’s a function of a bad business model: of the fact that Exxon Mobil and BP and Peabody Coal are allowed to use the atmosphere, free of charge, as an open sewer for the inevitable waste from their products. They’ll fight to the end to defend that business model, for it produces greater profits that any industry has ever known. We won’t match them dollar for dollar: To fight back, we need a different currency, our bodies and our spirit and our creativity. That’s what a movement looks like; let’s hope we can rally one in time to make a difference.
The latest edition of Bill McKibben’s book.
I’m about a third of the way through McKibben’s book eaarth. To say that it is disturbing is an understatement. I’ll tell you why.
Most people when they think about it have, at the very least, feelings of guilt or denial in terms of what humans are doing to the planet’s environment that humans require for survival. Many of us know in our hearts that it is probably not good news but maybe really thinking about it can be put off for a little longer!
It’s almost as though we know that those aches and pains are a sign of something potentially dangerous to our health but, hey ho, I’ll put off seeing the doctor for a little bit longer.
Then the day comes when one goes to the doctor and he confirms your worst fears; what you really knew deep in your heart.
Thus it is with the planet. Most of us know that we have been treating the planet as an inexhaustible resource for the sole benefit of mankind and to hell with the future. The you read a book such as eaarth from Bill McKibben and realise the extreme folly of denial, self-delusion, and the rest. Here’s the preface of the book,
I’m writing these words on a gorgeous spring afternoon, perched on the bank of a brook high along the spine of the Green Mountains, a mile or so from my home in the Vermont mountain town of Ripton. The creek burbles along, the picture of a placid mountain stream, but a few feet away there’s a scene of real violence a deep gash through the woods where a flood last summer ripped away many cubic feet of tree and rock and soil and drove it downstream through the center of the village. Before the afternoon was out, the only paved road into town had been demolished by the rushing water, a string of bridges lay in ruins, and the governor was trying to reach the area by helicopter.
Twenty years ago, in 1989, I wrote the first book for a general audience about global warming, which in those days we called the “greenhouse effect.” That book, The End of Nature, was mainly a philosophical argument. It was too early to see the practical effects of climate change but not too early to feel them; in the most widely excerpted passage of the book, I described walking down a different river, near my then-home sixty miles away, in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Merely knowing that we’d begun to alter the climate meant that the water fl owing in that creek had a different, lesser meaning. “Instead of a world where rain had an independent and mysterious existence, the rain had become a subset of human activity,” I wrote. “The rain bore a brand; it was a steer, not a deer.”
Now, that sadness has turned into a sharper-edged fear. Walking along this river today, you don’t need to imagine a damned thing the evidence of destruction is all too obvious. Much more quickly than we would have guessed in the late 1980s, global warming has dramatically altered, among many other things, hydrological cycles. One of the key facts of the twenty- first century turns out to be that warm air holds more water vapor than cold: in arid areas this means increased evaporation and hence drought. And once that water is in the atmosphere, it will come down, which in moist areas like Vermont means increased deluge and flood. Total rainfall across our continent is up 7 percent,1 and that huge change is accelerating. Worse, more and more of it comes in downpours.2 Not gentle rain but damaging gully washers: across the planet, flood damage is increasing by 5 percent a year.3 Data show dramatic increases 20 percent or more in the most extreme weather events across the eastern United States, the kind of storms that drop many inches of rain in a single day.4Vermont saw three flood emergencies in the 1960s, two in the 1970s, three in the 1980s and ten in the 1990s and ten so far in the first decade of the new century.
In our Vermont town, in the summer of 2008, we had what may have been the two largest rainstorms in our history about six weeks apart. The second and worse storm, on the morning of August 6, dropped at least six inches of rain in three hours up on the steep slopes of the mountains. Those forests are mostly intact, with only light logging to disturb them but that was far too much water for the woods to absorb. One of my neighbors, Amy Sheldon, is a river researcher, and she was walking through the mountains with me one recent day, imagining the floods on that August morning. “You would have seen streams changing violently like that,” she said, snapping her fingers. “A matter of minutes.” A year later the signs persisted: streambeds gouged down to bedrock, culverts obliterated, groves of trees laid to jackstraws.
Our town of barely more than five hundred people has been coping with the damage ever since. We passed a $400,000 bond to pay for our share of the damage to town roads and culverts. (The total cost was in the millions, most of it paid by the state and federal governments.) Now we’re paying more to line the creek with a seven-hundred-foot-long wall of huge boulders riprap, it’s called where it passes through the center of town, a scheme that may save a few houses for a few years, but which will speed up the water and cause even more erosion downstream. There’s a complicated equation for how wide a stream will be, given its grade and geology; Sheldon showed it to me as we reclined on rocks by the riverbank. It mathematically defines streams as we have known them, sets an upper limit to their size. You could use it to plan for the future, so you could know where to build and where to let well enough alone. But none of that planning works if it suddenly rains harder and faster than it has ever rained before, and that’s exactly what’s now happening. It’s raining harder and evaporating faster; seas are rising and ice is melting, melting far more quickly than we once expected. The first point of this book is simple: global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It’s our reality. We’ve changed the planet, changed it in large and fundamental ways. And these changes are far, far more evident in the toughest parts of the globe, where climate change is already wrecking thousands of lives daily. In July 2009, Oxfam released an epic report, “Suffering the Science,” which concluded that even if we now adapted “the smartest possible curbs” on carbon emissions, “the prospects are very bleak for hundreds of millions of people, most of them among the world’s poorest.”5
And so this book will be, by necessity, less philosophical than its predecessor. We need now to understand the world we’ve created, and consider urgently how to live in it. We can’t simply keep stacking boulders against the change that’s coming on every front; we’ll need to figure out what parts of our lives and our ideologies we must abandon so that we can protect the core of our societies and civilizations. There’s nothing airy or speculative about this conversation; it’s got to be uncomfortable, staccato, direct.
Which doesn’t mean that the change we must make or the world on the other side will be without its comforts or beauties. Reality always comes with beauty, sometimes more than fantasy, and the end of this book will suggest where those beauties lie. But hope has to be real. It can’t be a hope that the scientists will turn out to be wrong, or that President Barack Obama can somehow fix everything. Obama can help but precisely to the degree he’s willing to embrace reality, to understand that we live on the world we live on, not the one we might wish for. Maturity is not the opposite of hope; it’s what makes hope possible.
The need for that kind of maturity became painfully clear in the last days of 2009, as I was doing the final revisions for this book. Many people had invested great hope that the Copenhagen conference would mark a turning point in the climate change debate. If it did, it was a turning point for the worse, with the richest and most powerful countries making it abundantly clear that they weren’t going to take strong steps to address the crisis before us. They looked the poorest and most vulnerable nations straight in the eye, and then they looked away and concluded a face- saving accord with no targets or timetables. To see hope dashed is never pleasant. In the early morning hours after President Obama jetted back to Washington, a group of young protesters gathered at the metro station outside the conference hall in Copenhagen.It’s our future you decide, they chanted.
My only real fear is that the reality described in this book, and increasingly evident in the world around us, will be for some an excuse to give up. We need just the opposite increased engagement. Some of that engagement will be local: building the kind of communities and economies that can withstand what’s coming. And some of it must be global: we must step up the fight to keep climate change from getting even more powerfully out of control, and to try to protect those people most at risk, who are almost always those who have done the least to cause the problem. I’ve spent much of the last two de cades in that fight, most recently helping lead 350.org, a huge grassroots global effort to force dramatic action. It’s true that we’ve lost that fight, insofar as our goal was to preserve the world we were born into. That’s not the world we live on any longer, and there’s no use pretending otherwise.
But damage is always relative. So far we’ve increased global temperatures about a degree, and it’s caused the massive change chronicled in chapter 1. That’s not going to go away. But if we don’t stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, the temperature will simply keep rising, right past the point where any kind of adaptation will prove impossible. I have dedicated this book to my closest colleagues in this battle, my crew at 350.org, with the pledge that we’ll keep battling. We have no other choice.