Monday, April 22, 2019


THE GENERALIST has spent Easter reading about Climate Change.

Type those two words into the Search box of this blog and you'll find a large number of Previous Posts on climate change and related subjects - especially the new industrial revolution of sustainable energy systems, circular economies and other important innovations in both thinking and technology which are emerging as we face up to the realities of our existence or extinction on this planet.

One of the best pieces is a review of The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable' by Amitav Ghosh

'Climate change..., is the unintended consequence of the very existence of human beings as a species. Although different groups of people have contributed to it in vastly different measure, global warming is ultimately the product of the totality of human actions over time. Every human being who has ever lived has played a part in making us the dominant species on this planet, and in this sense every human being, past and present, has contributed to the present cycle of climate change.'

In fact I've been involved with these issues since the early 1970s when I saw Buckminster Fuller speak at the US Embassy in London, I had also interviewed Gaia pioneer James Lovelock in 1986, His vision of the total connectiveness of all the earth systems and all living species (including us) as a web prefigured what is now called Earth Systems Science.

 I worked on the first major Greenpeace campaign on global warming in 1992 and discovered how hard it is to alert people and convince them of the reality of this existential view of a forbidding future. I bought Al Gore lunch in London on the eve of the Rio Eath Summit in 1992 when we discussed global warming. I was working for the UK national press Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian and even wrote an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times on the environmental damage being wrought on the French Alps due to the Winter Olympics. I suggest that a new ring needed to be added to the Olympic symbol signifying Earth.

Energised by Extinction Rebellion's mainstream media breakthrough and the interesting tactics they were using I felt duty bound to spend some time revisiting the issue and bringing myself up to date with the latest info. Maybe this is a good time to look back on the history of how we got to this point. As so often happens with the internet, I found what I was looking for in spades.


To start with, this essay published in 2017 is a useful 'in a nutshell' overview. A great starting point.
'The Discovery of Global Warming' by Spencer Weart is, he says, 'A hypertext history of how scientists came to (partly) understand what people are doing to cause climate change.'

"To a patient scientist, the unfolding greenhouse mystery is far more exciting than the plot of the best mystery novel. But it is slow reading, with new clues sometimes not appearing for several years. Impatience increases when one realizes that it is not the fate of some fictional character, but of our planet and species, which hangs in the balance as the great carbon mystery unfolds at a seemingly glacial pace."
— D. Schindler


 New York Times magazine devotes a whole issue to one feature. 'Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change' by Nathaniel Rich' which ran over 55pp in August 2018. A brilliant piece of work. It comes with this Editor's Note from Jake Silverstein. A great set-up for what is a stand-out piece.
It's not often the

'This narrative by Nathaniel Rich is a work of history, addressing the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989: the decisive decade when humankind first came to a broad understanding of the causes and dangers of climate change. Complementing the text is a series of aerial photographs and videos, all shot over the past year by George Steinmetz. With support from the Pulitzer Center, this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.'

Interesting to read is a critique of the piece: 'The Problem With The New York Times’ Big Story on Climate Change' by ROBINSON MEYER, published in The Atlantic [August 2018]
By portraying the early years of climate politics as a tragedy, the magazine lets Republicans and the fossil-fuel industry off the hook.


In 1968, the Club of Rome was founded at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, Italy and is now
based in Switzerland. According to Wikipedia, it consists of current and former heads of state, UN bureaucrats, high-level politicians and government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists, and business leaders from around the globe.

They have published a Climate Emergency Plan: A Collaborative Call for Climate Action. available as a pdf download. It was launched on December 4th 2018 at the European Parliament. It begins:

'To put the situation into historical perspective, the Club of Rome alerted the world
to the environmental and demographic challenges ahead as long as fifty years ago. 

The central message of 'The Limits to Growth – A Report to the Club of Rome' published in
1972, was that the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods and resources,
on a finite planet, would eventually result in the collapse of its economic and environmental
systems. Unfortunately, it seems this prediction is beginning to materialize and will
escalate, unless humanity radically changes course.

'Together with the mass extinction of species and the rise of inequality within
and between nations, climate change is human society’s most pressing global challenge.
Until recently, it was seen as a future threat; but today, increasing climate chaos is a reality
affecting the lives of millions. In the 21st Century, it will dictate the long-term prosperity
and security of nations and of the entire planet, more than any other issue. With this
emergency paper, the Club of Rome is attempting to respond to the direct calls for action
from citizens around the world, and to formulate a plan that will meet suitably ambitious
reduction targets and ensure climate stability.

'Acceptance of this reality will create the basis for a societal renaissance of
unprecedented proportions. This is the vision the Club of Rome and its partners offer - a
positive future where global inequalities are dramatically reduced, well-being rather than
growth is the economic norm, and harmony is reached between humans and nature.
Our historical recognition of the existential nature of this threat, the need for an
emergency response, and the opportunity such planning can present, is the unique
contribution which the Club of Rome wishes to bring to this debate. We are calling on
governments, business leaders, the science community, NGOs and citizens to rise to
the challenge of climate action, so that our species can survive and create thriving
civilizations in balance with planetary boundaries.'

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