Defines runaway climate change fairly briefly
Use technology to make your worldview/desired society attractive, accessible, and affordable. Build a community to help make the changes you want.
RunawayDaily can be a community newsletter for organizations responding to climate change.
Understanding and adapting to runaway climate change
Tim Kelley of the True Purpose Institute is talking about being the change you want to see in the world.
He described this exercise - for systemic change or personal relationships:
A shorthand: imagine your romantic partner disappeared and your ideal one manifested him/herself in front of you. How would you behave in that relationship? Then, act that way with your current partner.
Tim pointed out that we tend to criticize others’ behavior, then let that legitimize your own bad behavior. This exercise frees/obligates us to act and interact at a higher level, as defined by our own values.
I’m at The Global Summit, 3rd edition, in London. TGS is a forum for discussing sustainability, economic development, and change, held in conjunction with the Summer and Winter Olympics every two years in London.
I’m getting to meet some very cool people doing some very valuable work, largely nonprofit-based. Every problem being aired here deserves attention and effort.
Experiencing a moment of despair, though. Every one of the countries and organizations represented here will experience huge changes due to climate change in the near future. But that isn’t very strongly on the minds of anyone here, as far as I can tell, except me. It’s all important, but it will all be affected by the huge changes that have already started in our world.
Lindy Wafula, empowering women politically in Kenya – a ground zero for climate change
See my new post on Examiner.com.
I just got home from a wonderful workshop at Esalen, the Big Sur retreat for studying humanistic alternatives to our current culture. I’d like to share a bit about the workshop, and then a bit more about how those of us concerned about runaway climate change can regard – well, our current culture.
The workshop was called Cultivating Inner Freedom, and it was focused on helping make more effective choices, not least overcoming procrastination. The theoretical basis for the workshop is Nonviolent Communication (organization | Wikipedia), a set of techniques for easing barriers between people and helping us work together more effectively. (Among other descriptions.)
Nonprofits need to consider their entire “environment” when planning for the future. This means the natural environment as well as the state of the economy, business and political trends, and funding prospects.
I think that climate change is going to become a much bigger issue in the next few years, and that it will affect the economy, business, politics, and society much more than it has to date. In doing so, it will affect the mission of most nonprofits – and funding prospects for all nonprofits.
A few years ago, Al Gore came out with An Inconvenient Truth – a presentation, book, and movie about climate change. He said that we have to cut CO2 emissions to keep climate change within a limit of 2C (3.2F) of warming. If we didn’t, the world would go into “runaway climate change” – fast, out-of-control warming, melting of the polar ice caps, sea level rise, and extreme weather.
James Hansen is a hero of the fight to understand and stop climate change. He has co-authored a new paper about climate change in Earth’s past, which can be used to help anticipate climate change in the near future.
The paper is only available to people with access to scientific journal articles. Fortunately, Hansen has provided a publicly accessible brief online.
Sadly, though, the brief is very hard to understand. It’s probably only comprehensible to those who have a scientific background and a good working knowledge of recent work in climate science, including Hansen’s own work.
A typical working journalist would tend to either not understand Hansen’s brief at all, or misunderstand the points Hansen is trying to make. Climate science skeptics and deniers could easily use the brief to make claims of their own, undermining Hansen’s work.
Hansen says that there are three main ways to understand climate change trends of today:
Today I began researching news about runaway climate change on the Web – and the bad news is, there is no news.
A search on the term “runaway climate change” for the last 24 hours, using Google News, yielded no results. None. Zip. Nada.
This is sad. Runaway climate change means that human-generated warming has set off new processes in nature. These processes, if the “runaway” assertion is true, have their own momentum. Warming from these processes will continue, whether human-generated warming continues or not. The Earth will warm by at least several more degrees, with huge consequences for humanity, no matter what. (Slowing or stopping human-generated warming would still slow warming in the coming years, greatly easing sustainability crises, and perhaps limiting the ultimate extent of warming that occurs.)
During the Cold War, one of the leading ideas and acronyms was MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. The idea was for both sides (the US and the then-USSR) to have so many nukes that it would be, well, MAD for either side to start anything serious. A nuclear exchange would utterly destroy both sides.
Today, we have a MAD-type situation with carbon emissions. The major polluters – the US and China in the first rank – are each emitting enough CO2 to put us beyond the “safe” limit of +2C of total warming. (We’ve already had +0.8C, and are starting to suffer serious consequences, with at least +0.6C in the pipeline if emissions stopped tomorrow.) Europe and European Russia, together, make up a third major player that roughly equals the US and China in CO2 emissions.
To ordinary people living their lives, today’s global warming is imperceptible, and even the effects – changes in weather, in growing seasons, and so on – take hold gradually. The most dramatic recent predictions, from MIT and others, are for 10F – that’s 6C – of warming this century. While this would change life as we know it, it’s still “only” an average change of about 1F per decade; not a really earth-shaking deal in any specific ten-year period. The effects come from the accumulation of warming, one decade after the next.
There is a kind of climate change, though, that would be far more immediate in its impact. Abrupt climate change (Wikipedia entry here) is a sudden increase of anywhere from 2C to, perhaps, 10C of warming – that’s 3F to 16F – in about one to three years. Even at the low end, abrupt climate change would disrupt rainfall and change temperatures so much that getting the harvest in at today’s levels would be impossible, and widespread starvation would be almost impossible to avoid. Wars and more or less widespread breakdowns of order would probably ensue. At the higher end of the scale, the impact would be many times worse.