Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Volume 12 No. 1

January 2019

Twelve Year Window?
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Dear Reader,
Bitter Cold North America. January 2019 ends today with some deeply cold weather in North America and brutal heat for Australia.  Climate and weather have combined in ways that fill newspapers and the internet with a variety of commentary on what we think might be "just weather" and how much of the disruption can be blamed on climate change.  People are suffering and we presume our fellow non-humans suffer as well.  

Greta at Davos. I introduce Greta Thunberg in the banner photo above  Greta is the young  Swedish climate activist. In August 2018, she became a prominent figure for starting the first school strike for climate outside the Swedish parliament building, raising awareness of global warming.[1] In November 2018, she spoke at TEDxStockholm, and in December 2018 she addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland.  Most recently she spoke in January at the annual Davos gathering in Switzerland.  An edited version of her Davos address is given below. 

New Youth Movement. Several groups of young people have begun to take form in the USA and elsewhere.  The group that began as has attracted a new generation of young people and partnered now with the Sunrise Movement to push for climate legislation in the USA.  They are rallying around the "Green New Deal" getting traction among newly elected Democratic congresspersons in the USA.  Sunrise will be organizing in the coming months to prepare to identify and support candidates for public office.  The process will focus directly on candidates who commit to the Green New Deal.

Youth Take America to Court.  A group of 21 young Americans are suing the Federal government on constitutional grounds; making the claim that US government policies have contributed to climate change and damaged their future right to the benefits promised in the US Constitution.  See more below in Juliana v. United States.

The Now of God. More and more we will need young people to take up the challenges of the climate crisis.  We know Greta Thunberg is one superb example.  We share the enthusiasm for young people as expressed by Pope Francis at the World Youth gatherings in Panama; " you are the now of God".

Br. Kevin

Websites to visit:
Edmund Rice International

Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona

Teenage Activist Takes "School Strikes 4 Climate Action" to Davos
Banner Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
This is an edited version of a speech given by Greta Thunberg at Davos last week.

Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.
According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are less than
12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented
changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of
our CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which is
absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work on a global scale. Nor does it
include tipping points or feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas
released from the thawing Arctic permafrost.
At places. like Davos, people like to tell success stories. But their financial success has come with an unthinkable price tag. And on climate change, we have to acknowledge we have failed. All political movements in their present form have done so, and the media has failed to create broad public awareness. Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands. But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don't stand a chance.
…Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo
sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small
child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.
Either we do that or we don't.  You say nothing in life is black or white. But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie. Either we prevent 1.5C of warming or we don't. Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control or we don't.  That is up to you and me.
Some say we should not engage in activism. Instead we should leave everything to our
politicians and just vote for a change instead. But what do we do when there is no
political will? What do we do when the politics needed are nowhere in sight? Here in Davos - just like everywhere else - everyone is talking about money. It seems money and growth are our only main concerns.  People are not aware that there is such a thing as a carbon budget, and just how incredibly small that remaining carbon budget is. That needs to change today.
…No other current challenge can match the importance of establishing a wide, public
awareness and understanding of our rapidly disappearing carbon budget, that should
and must become our new global currency and the very heart of our future and present
I'm striking from school to protest inaction on climate change - you should too. We are at a time in history where everyone with any insight of the climate crisis that threatens our civilisation - and the entire biosphere - must speak out in clear language, no matter how uncomfortable and unprofitable that may be.  We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility.
Adults keep saying: "We owe it to the young people to give them hope." But I don't
want your hope. I don't want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to
feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.  Read More.


Children's Climate Rallies Gain Momentum In Europe
BBC NEWS. January 25, 2019
Thousands of schoolchildren are marching through Berlin to urge tougher measures against global warming.
Smaller protests have been organised in Switzerland, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. She is in Davos, urging the World Economic Forum (WEF) to ensure a greener future.
On Thursday, 35,000 teenagers marched in Brussels against global warming.
Thousands of school pupils went on strike in Switzerland a week ago to demand climate action.

In Brussels, home to the main EU institutions, students carried banners with slogans such as "Dinosaurs thought they had time too" and "Be part of the solution, not the pollution".
German students are mobilising with the Twitter hashtag #FridaysForFuture. A popular slogan was "There's no planet B".  Their protest coincides with government talks on how best to reduce Germany's reliance on coal and boost renewable energy sources.
The young activists are urging world leaders and corporate bosses to stick to the ambitious goals agreed in Paris in 2015 to combat climate change.


Newly Formed United States Youth Movement
Jobs. Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We're building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and well being of all people.

Scared.  We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us - if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy. We are not looking to the right or left. We look forward. Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.

USA: Carbon Dividend Legislation Revived
Climate Solutions Caucus. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was brought to life again on January 24 in the US House of Representatives by the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Originally introduced in November and later in the Senate, it marked the first bipartisan climate bill entertained by Congress in a decade.   The proposal would charge a $15-per-ton fee on coal, gas, and oil soon after they leave the ground, then rise $10 every year. It’s revenue-neutral, meaning that all the money collected would be sent to Americans in the form of a check.  It could have a dramatic effect on greenhouse gas emissions, essentially putting the U.S. back on course to meet or even exceed the cuts promised by the Obama administration in the Paris Agreement.
Green New Deal . Concern: Earlier this month more than 600 environmental groups sent House representatives a letter outlining what they envision for a Green New Deal. In addition to the usual progressive climate goals, the letter made some new and unusual demands, including a promise to “vigorously oppose” any climate legislation promoting “market-based mechanisms” (read: a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.)
Carbon Price. The world’s top scientists say a carbon price is “central to prompt mitigation” (in tandem with other stringent climate policies). There’s also burgeoning public support for action. More Americans understand the risks climate change poses to their lives than ever before, according to recent surveys. About half of Americans say they’d support a revenue-neutral carbon tax, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago. 

Juliana v. United States:  A Preview Of How Climate Science Could Play Out In The Courtroom
By Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz

As you know, in Juliana v. United  States twenty-one individual youth plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Oregon against the United States, the president, and various other federal officials and agencies, claiming that the “nation’s climate system” is critical to their rights to life, liberty, and property; that the federal government has violated their substantive due process rights by allowing fossil fuel production, consumption, and combustion at “dangerous levels;” and that the government has failed to fulfill its obligations under the public trust doctrine. As a remedy, the plaintiffs asked the court to compel the government to develop a plan to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions so that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be no greater than 350 parts per million by 2100 – a science-based target consistent with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C.

Defendant  Motion to Dismiss Denied. The plaintiffs’ attorneys at Our Children’s Trust have dubbed their case the “trial of the century.” The U.S. Department of Justice, under both the Obama and Trump administrations, has argued that no trial should take place at all. The district court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiffs had raised colorable constitutional claims; after initial discovery had been conducted, the court denied (in significant part) defendants’ motions for summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings, affirming the earlier decision that plaintiffs raised valid claims and finding genuine issues of material fact that warrant a trial. But, after repeated attempts by the government to gain interlocutory appeal at the 9th Circuit and the Supreme Court, the district court’s decisions denying the U.S. government’s dispositive motions will now be reviewed by the 9th Circuit.  Link.

Ok, here the story gets into the legal weeds for those readers who have the inclination to get more details:  In support of plaintiffs’ “source attribution” allegations and their claims concerning the U.S.’ contribution to climate change, Dr. James Hansen prepared a lengthy expert report and an accompanying co-authored paper on Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature. Hansen cites research finding that the U.S. is an “unambiguous leader” in cumulative GHG emissions, having generated approximately 25% of emissions since 1751 (“more than double that of China, which falls second in the ranking”) and that the U.S. alone is responsible for a 0.15°C increase in global temperature, and discusses emission reduction targets for the U.S. based on a global climate budget. 

Government is Culpable.  The question of the U.S. government’s responsibility for climate change is further explored in an expert report from Peter Erickson, a scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute. He notes that the U.S. produces a substantial quantity of “territorial” emissions but that this is an incomplete indicator of responsibility for climate change. He calls for consideration of the United States’ consumption emissions, which are approximately 20% higher than territorial emissions in recent decades (due to the emissions from the production of goods imported into the U.S.), and notes that the country also bears some responsibility for emissions from the burning of fossil fuels produced in the United States. Erickson further notes that the U.S. has contributed to climate change by leasing and subsidizing the production of fossil fuels, but does not quantify the effect of those leases and subsidies on climate change (vis-à-vis global mean temperature change) or its impacts.

Claim of Responsibility.   Plaintiffs’ primary goal with its expert testimony is to establish that the defendants are responsible for a meaningful contribution to climate change – an amount sufficient to prove causal relationships that satisfy the standing requirements and the even more demanding standards for showing a violation of public trust obligations and/or constitutional rights – and that climate change is the legal cause of specific injuries suffered by the plaintiffs.  Parting thought from Michael Gerrard of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law :
"Lawsuits, even if unsuccessful, can help shape public opinion," he said. "Mr. Scopes lost the monkey trial, but it led to a lot more awareness about the issue of teaching evolution."


Public Opinion Shifting
From Morning Climate: In another new US national poll released January 22, 2019, by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change, 73 percent of respondents expressed belief that climate change is happening and 62 percent said human activities play a part. More significantly, 72 percent said climate change was important to them personally, up 9 percent increase from March of last year. "People are beginning to understand that climate change is here in the United States, here in my state, in my community, affecting the people and places I care about, and now," lead researcher Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale told The New York Times. "This isn't happening in 50 years, 100 years from now."
At the same time in Davos, Switzerland, venerated British naturalist Sir David Attenborough delivered a dire message on opening day of the World Economic Forum's star-studded annual meeting. "The Garden of Eden is no more," he said. "What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years." Afterward he told journalists, "Growth is going to come to an end, either suddenly or in a controlled way. ... Unless we sort ourselves out in the next decade or so, we are dooming our children and our grandchildren to an appalling future."

Twelve Year Window? Let's Explain.
For that abdication of responsibility cited by Attenborough, newly elected U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  (photo) a New York Democrat, said in an interview this week, "I feel a need for all of us to breathe fire." But scientists took issue with Ocasio-Cortez's repeated insistence that climate change will "destroy the planet" in 12 years if humans don't dramatically alter their ways. "Twelve years isn't a deadline, and climate change isn't a cliff we fall off--it's a slope we slide down," Kate Marvel, a NASA climate scientist, told Axios. "We don't have 12 years to prevent climate change--we have no time. It's already here. And even under a business-as-usual scenario, the world isn't going to end in exactly 12 years." Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe said the junior congresswoman's characterization was neither factual nor helpful. "Every action matters. Every bit of warming matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters," Hayhoe said.

How Limited is the Time Frame?
From AXIOS: Reality check: "All the time-limited frames are bullshit," Gavin Schmidt (photo), who leads NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told Axios in an email. "Nothing special happens when the 'carbon budget' runs out or we pass whatever temperature target you care about, instead the costs of emissions steadily rise," he said. The IPCC report, for example, found the impacts worsen considerably beyond 1.5°C of warming.

  • "The thing to push back against is the implicit framing that there is some magic global mean temperature or total emissions that separate 'fine' from 'catastrophic'. There just isn't," Schmidt said.
The bottom line: Even if hard deadlines are scientifically flawed, they can be effective when it comes to activism. The 12-year time frame, in particular, has been widely adopted by proponents of climate action.
  • "We can quibble about the phraseology, whether it's existential or cataclysmic" impacts that we'll face without taking action in the next 12 years, Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent told Axios. But, he says, the reality is: "We're seeing lots of [climate change-related] problems that are already impacting lives."


Corporations and Climate: Good News/Bad News
The United Kingdom's Met Office  predicted 2019 would bring one of the largest increases in CO2 concentrations in Earth's atmosphere since measurements began 62 years ago. "With emissions already at a record high, the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be larger than last year due to a slower removal by natural carbon sinks," the British weather service said.
That probably looks like bad and good news for some multinational corporations, according to their reporting to CDP—formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project—which was revealed this week.

  • Bank of America worries flooded homeowners will default on their mortgages,
  • Walt Disney Co. is concerned its theme parks will get too hot for vacationers,
  • AT&T fears hurricanes and wildfires may knock out its cell towers.
  • Coca-Cola Co. wonders if there will still be enough water to make Coke.
  • Merck: more markets for products for weather related diseases and waterborne illness, 
  • Apple: more iPhone sales if consumers begin preparing for weather-related disasters.

France- Renewables.
Grist Jan 30, 2019
In a plan published on Friday, January 25, France said it aims to double its renewable energy capacity in the next decade. It is also doubling down on a promise it made last year to shutter four to six nuclear reactors by 2028, which is good or bad news depending on where you stand on nuclear energy (either way, you should read our recent cover story on that topic!).
As of 2017, renewables produced nearly 20 percent of France’s energy. The country wants to increase that amount to 113 gigawatts by 2028 by doubling onshore wind capacity, increasing its solar capacity nearly six-fold, and investing in offshore wind power, which is non-existent at the moment. Hydropower is also in the mix, but the current plan calls for it to increase by a small amount in the next decade, so it will still account for roughly 10 percent of France’s power supply. The plan is still in the drafting stage, which means a final version still needs to be submitted and adopted. Bonne chance, la France!

China, Not. Yet.

China, the world’s coal juggernaut, has continued to produce more methane emissions from its coal mines despite its pledge to curb the planet-warming pollutant, according to new research.

In a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications, researchers concluded that China had failed to meet its own government regulations requiring coal mines to rapidly reduce methane emissions, at least in the five years after 2010, when the regulations were passed.  It matters because coal is the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, and China is, by far, the largest producer in the world.

Coal accounts for 40 percent of electricity generation globally and an even higher share in China, which has abundant coal resources and more than four million workers employed in the coal sector. Scientists and policymakers agree that the world will have to quit coal to have any hope of averting catastrophic climate change


Pope Francis: Laudato Si:  On Care for Our Common Home
The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.  (No.13)


Thomas Berry
“What is needed is a new pattern of rapport with the planet. Here we come to the critical transformation needed in the emotional, aesthetic, spiritual, and religious orders of life. Only a change that profound in human consciousness can remedy the deep cultural pathology manifest in such destructive behavior. Such change is not possible, however, so long as we fail to appreciate the planet that provides us with a world abundant in the volume and variety of food for our nourishment, a world exquisite in supplying beauty of form, sweetness of taste, delicate fragrances for our enjoyment, and exciting challenges for us to overcome with skill and action. The poets and artists can help restore this sense of rapport with the natural world. It is this renewed sense of reciprocity with nature, in all of its complexity and remarkable beauty, that can help provide the psychic and spiritual energies necessary for the work ahead.” (Thomas Berry, “Alienation,” in The Sacred Universe, 48).


Drawdown remains a terrific guide to prioritizing a response to the climate crisis.  

NBC News interviewed Vice President of Operations and Engagement Crystal Chissell on the “6 Ways Ordinary People Can Prevent Climate Change, According to Researchers and Advocates.” The article is one of our most viewed and shared posts on Facebook.

Copyright © 2019 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.

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