21 November 2019

Climate emergency (2): The scientific case

by David Spratt. Second in a series

Part 1 |

Our climate is already too hot, with dangerous heatwaves and bushfires, droughts and crop failures, and coastal flooding becoming more intense and destructive.

Accelerating climate warming could result in social breakdown and global economic crisis.

But Australia’s government, held back by vested interests, is failing to protect us and the things we care about.

Like other emergencies, together we need to take every possible effort to restore a safe, healthy climate. We have the resources and knowledge to succeed.

If the government makes climate its primary focus and strives to make big changes within a decade, and the community makes a wholehearted effort, we can succeed.

Is climate an emergency?

An emergency situation is a threat to people, property and/or society that has the potential to overwhelm them. So why has climate warming now reached this emergency condition?

With the present level of warming — 1.1°C higher than the late-nineteenth century — the Earth is already too hot and unsafe: we are in danger now, not just in the future. Catastrophic heatwaves and bushfires, droughts and crop failures, and cyclones and coastal flooding are reaching around the globe: from the Mediterranean to Mozambique, from south Asia to the Philippines, in the Pacific and across the United States.

18 November 2019

Climate emergency (1): “Something has shifted”

Welcome to this “rough guide” blog series on the climate emergency and climate emergency campaigning. This series looks at some of the questions frequently asked about the topic: what does the science say, what is an emergency, does the climate crisis fit the bill, what can councils do, how can we talk about it, what needs to be done, what about business, can the political system deal with an issue this big? And many more. Climate emergency campaigning is relatively new. There are not too many recent precedents about how to achieve a change in society’s normal functioning to solve an overwhelming threat.
by David Spratt. First in a series.

Contemporary culture is fast-moving and unsettled. From constant digital disruption and precarious employment to insecurity about nations’ and peoples’ places in a globalised world, and changing expressions of identity, we live in a world that is restless.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman writes of a “self-propelling, self-intensifying, compulsive and obsessive ‘modernisation’, as a result of which, like liquid, none of the consecutive forms of social life is able to maintain its shape for long.”

Twenty-first century consumerist culture is fashioned to fit individual freedom of choice, and to ensure that responsibility for choice and its consequences are on the shoulders of the individual, rather than society.

Bauman describes a world of hyper-consumption: “Culture today is engaged in laying down temptations, luring and seducing, sowing and planting new needs and desires, a demand for constant change, serving the turnover-oriented consumer market.” Culture manifests itself as “a repository of goods, competing for the unbearably fleeting and distracted attention of potential clients”.
It is difficult to try and keep up. For many people, it is unsatisfying and seems out of control.

“Staying alive in  the future”

Add in the darkening clouds of climate disruption, the degradation of Earth’s natural systems, and the proximity of the sixth mass extinction event in history, and it is not difficult to understand why people are disturbed about the future. Mental health issues are projected to be the biggest epidemic in the West this century. Deep concern about environmental and social crises are affecting more and more people.