Friday, December 31, 2010

Letting go of the private car | OpenFile

Letting go of the private car | OpenFile: "Taking away private parking from the development was a measure to keep costs down and attract the local, community-minded demographic developers aimed to attract.

By mid-November, all 96 units available at market rates had sold. The 12 remaining units will be sold at below-market rates, the sale of which will be managed by Habitat for Humanity and Portland Hotel Society Community Services.

“Each parking stall costs approximately $50,000,” architect Gregory Henriquez says. Paring down parking to 15 stalls was a considerable savings. But selling parking spots was more difficult than attracting condo buyers.

“We sold all the units without the parking stalls, and then sold the parking separately afterwards. One hundred and eight people didn’t buy a parking stall. I don’t think we could sell them all,” he says. “It shows you how we overbuild parking in our city.”"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Part II - Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up

Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up
Part two of an investigative report. (Part 1:
Above: Courtesy of Stephanie McMillan | CODE GREEN
Bolivia Versus the World
"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable ..." George Orwell

11 December 2010. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 16 in Cancún, Mexico.
Bolivia repeatedly opposes attempts to pass the text. Bolivia's UN Ambassador, Pablo Solon, objects on the grounds that the draft proposals are far too lax to stop global warming. Solon stands his ground until conference chair Patricia Espinosa bangs the gavel at 3:31 a.m. saying: "The objections and complaints will be noted duly."
A key clause of United Nations rules is that all agreements must be reached in harmony. However, Espinosa seems to have a very broad interpretation of this rule. Harmony, Espinosa stated, does not necessarily mean unanimity. Despite the lack of unanimity, Espinosa approves the text, which includes a deadly 2-degree limit for global warming. The negotiators and heads of state cheer like ravenous hyenas, drowning out Bolivia with rapturous applause. Bolivia stood alone, strenuously opposing the pyrrhic victory.
The overruling of Bolivia's position demonstrates the clear disdain and callous disregard for vulnerable countries who refuse to be coerced – reflected clearly by the jettisoned UN principle of consensus. This clear abuse of the framework agreement on climate protection would never have been attempted or tolerated if the state in opposition had been a rich, powerful state such as the United States or the European Union (EU). (One may recall COP13 in Bali - American resistance stood in the way of an agreement. Papua New Guinea had to suggest that they "lead or get out of the way" before the US would join the consensus.) Bolivia, the world leader in the battle on climate change, has vowed to file a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the text approved in Cancún.
A primary reason why Bolivia opposed the so-called Cancún "agreements" was the fact that the 2ºC target – identified as extremely dangerous – completely disregards the climate science as well as the accelerating climate impacts and climate feedbacks already happening today. Another very revealing component to this document is the language: "4) … with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and that Parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal …." The word "should" in policy does not demand commitment. In legal documents, "shall" is considered mandatory. If I tell my son he "should" clean his room rather than he "will", "shall" or "must" clean his room, I know damn well it is never going to happen. A future binding or non-binding agreement, one that parties "should" take urgent action on, demands no accountability whatsoever. The word "should" appears in the document 38 times. In stark contrast, the word "must" appears only four times.
The fact that the Cancún Agreements passed without consensus (the UNFCCC consensus rule is adoption by virtue of no objection or unanimity - meaning all 192 members voting in favour) is revealing. On 7 December 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, Papua New Guinea proposed that, rather than descend to the lowest common denominator, the parties should strive for consensus with a fallback of 75%. This proposal was summarily dismissed by the Chair. [1]
21st Century Suicide Pact
SOLD. Our Earth's shared atmosphere. A catastrophically dangerous 2ºC temperature rise, as well as the commodification of Earth's final remaining natural resources, was accepted by all countries save Bolivia. Over 70% of atmospheric space (the US is historically responsible for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions; the EU, 27%) has been designated to the wealthiest 20% of the world, thus denying developing and vulnerable countries the opportunity to achieve the fundamental development necessary in order to meet their basic needs and transition to zero carbon societies. This leaves 80% of humanity competing for the less than 30% remaining interest. The suffering and devastation that will result from the greatest heist in history is unparalleled desperation, starvation and death on a massive scale.
SOLD. Life itself. During the last days of the Cancún climate summit, 5,000 Latin American campesinos blocked the main (and only) highway leading in and out of Cancún. In stark contrast, the rich of the wealthy obstructionist states lit a candle in the window of their warm, comfortable homes. How will citizens react when they finally realize – after wading through the rubbish heaps of corporate media propaganda – that the value of human life was tossed on the garbage heap in Cancún in order to protect the global economy? It is true that those in the Pacific Ocean, the vulnerable atolls, Bolivia and Africa will be burying their children and loved ones before the wealthy, obstructionist states, such as my own, must bury theirs. But make no mistake. Very few people, if any, will escape nature's final performance. Without urgent emergency action, rapid climate shifts resulting from runaway climate change are practically inevitable with the suicide pact that was passed – without consensus – in Cancún.
The art of propaganda has been nothing less than brilliant. The deceit is so thick - you need a knife to cut through it. The corruption and greed so deep you need wings to stay above it and thigh high boots to wade through it. An alluring tapestry of luminous lies, interwoven with finely textured deception and silk-like corruption – as smooth and seductive as freshly churned butter. The pursuit of man's mind by way of domination has been the greatest and most successful experiment – the manipulation of man's mind has resulted in a massive erosion of empathy, which has allowed status quo "business as usual" to continue uninterrupted with little resistance. Capitalism effectively bred a contempt for our Earth that multiplied like a virus. The pollution of mind mutated into narcissism with inflicted self-hatred to form a suicidal Molotov cocktail. Those who have succumbed now hold hands in a circle and taunt the very planet that gives us life. The ugly side of humanity continues to violently pierce our Earth Mother with drills and slash her beautiful skin with razors. She is losing breath. She is dying. Yet, when she lashes back, it will be with an Armageddon deathblow against which our own actions will resemble childish prattle. And perhaps not until this time will global society finally recognize that our shared purpose was not to compete with one another and claim dominance and superiority over our Earth Mother – but rather our role was to protect, defend and nurture. The human family – under the arm of its EuroAmerican "big brother" – will have finally succeeded in conquering our shared planet, only to find that we have destroyed ourselves.
Climate Genocide
Major greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting developed states continued to dominate the climate talks in Cancún as the Earth burned. Corporate media continued to pander to those who own them, those who control the system. The major GHG-emitting developed states have and will continue to coerce, bribe and bully the strong developing states such as Bolivia and the vulnerable states such as Tuvalu. Such vulnerable states, as well as Africa, will be decimated if temperatures are allowed to rise by 2ºC. In reality, we are now looking at 3ºC to 5ºC. Further, a global temperature rise of 3ºC to 5ºC will mean much higher temperature extremes for Africa – a furnace for African agriculture. Certain death. The harsh history of the continued exploitation, the raping and pillaging of beautiful Africa and her people, will finally be complete. There will be nothing left for rich nations to steal except for the sun's energy falling on an empty landscape void of life – and there is little doubt the world's wealthiest, ethically-bankrupt states will steal this, too. 

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. While a precise definition varies among genocide scholars, a legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." Because of the influence of Joseph Stalin, "this definition of genocide under international law does not include political groups."
It should. This genocide is being carried out openly by the world's wealthiest – individuals and corporations alike – in collusion with the governments of the obstructionist states, with full knowledge of the consequences.
Agriculture | The Disappearing Bread Basket
Strangely and eerily absent in scientific papers and IPCC reports is any reference to protection of agriculture. This is not an oversight. In 1987, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee noted the threat to agriculture in particular, and stated its belief that "global warming is a potential environmental disaster on a scale only exceeded by nuclear war." Once the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) low risk temperature rise of 1ºC was dismissed and essentially buried, the emphasis on protecting agriculture disappeared as well.
When global temperatures increase by more than 1ºC, approximately half of the world's agricultural regions will experience crop decline. But due to the ocean heat lag effect, that 1ºC of increase will commit us to more than 1.5C, which is food catastrophe for low latitude (the most climate change vulnerable) nations and disastrous for food security and agricultural productivity in other regions. Above 2C is global food catastrophe with agriculture in decline globally, taking civilization with it.
Keep in mind that scientists believe the "agreements" from Cancún represent a real life 3C to 5C temperature rise this century (as early as 2040-2050) and a global 7C if even the paltry commitments are not honoured.
This coming loss of agriculture – known yet ignored – will amount to certain mass genocide as millions, becoming billions around the world, will be left without food. There will be no sharing of food as even wealthy countries will be hard pressed to feed their own people. Importing for wealthy countries will be a thing of the past as vulnerable countries struggle to feed their own people. And all the while the Monsanto's of the world will be salivating over the potential profits of genetically engineered foods, which could come to dominate and control the entire remaining food chain. An economy – no matter how strong – cannot provide nourishing soil, nor the right conditions to grow food. An economy – no matter how strong – cannot magically create water. Bolivians will lose access to water and, following, Africa will lose the ability to produce food. And all of the money in the world will not make this not so. [2]
Does Anyone Care? Yeah, the Pentagon
Will the decision in Cancún to ignore food security lead to violence, fundamentalism and terrorism – all directed at the wealthy GHG-emitting obstructionist states? What would you do if your children were dying in front of your eyes, because rich, developed nations were unwilling to stop growing their economies, unwilling to abandon a fossil fuel economy, unwilling to stop deforestation, unwilling to live within nature's limits? If everything around you is dying, you have nothing to lose through violent retaliation.
Not to worry. While diseased cultural norms have kept the public distracted with shopping and irrelevant corporatized propaganda, the military has been gearing up for years for our upcoming climate wars. Indeed, while well-funded lobbyists engaged the public in a deadly game of "is global warming real?", this issue was never a matter of dispute within the military and the US Pentagon itself. Within the realm of militarism, climate change and the deadly threats it presents have always been seen as unequivocal and the dangers it presents are viewed as unparalleled in magnitude. From the National Security and Threat of Climate Change Report: "Unlike the challenges that we are used to dealing with, these will come upon us extremely slowly, but come they will, and they will be grinding and inexorable. But maybe more challenging is that they will affect every nation, and all simultaneously" (VADM Richard Truly). Such stark warnings – even from the highest officials in the military ranks – continue to be ignored.
Climate Imperialism
COP16, Cancún, Mexico. The largest economic conference in history was an epic failure for humanity. And as the world burns, the wealthy elites stuffed their custom gold-lined Brioni pockets with dreams and promises of unsurpassed wealth predicated upon climate catastrophe in the 21st century. Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist who is co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change, stated in an interview on 14 November 2010:
"The climate summit in Cancún at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.… [I]t's a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization.... One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.…"
Although Edenhofer clearly recognizes and perhaps believes himself that there is no other way that wealthy obstructionist states will step up to the plate unless they can further enhance their economic power by commodifying the Earth's last remaining natural resources, he does state this: "What we need to look for is an oasis that is the non-carbon global economy. It's about the common departure for this oasis." Edenhofer states unequivocally that only a non-carbon global economy can prevent climate catastrophe. In complete contrast, the Cancún outcome clearly tells us that the major GHG-emitting developed states are absolutely not about to end their addiction to the fossil fuel economy. Yet the fact is, only if we achieve zero carbon – at a speed and magnitude unparalleled in our entire history – can we prevent climate catastrophe.
IPCC 2007 Assessment Science Technical Report. Question 10.3: "If emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced, how quickly do their concentrations in the atmosphere decrease?"
"While more than half of the CO2 emitted is currently removed from the atmosphere within a century, some fraction (about 20%) of emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere for millennia. Because of the slow removal process, atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase in the long term even if its emission is substantially reduced from its present levels. In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilized at a constant level."
Ultimate Denialism
In our unparalleled, corporatized mind game of ultimate denialism, we can pretend that green capitalism, green consumerism, conservation, flying less, the right light bulbs, transforming our Earth's forests into carbon markets, etc. will all avert climate catastrophe – but this is unfortunately not true. The only way to avert climate catastrophe is to END our dependency on all fossil fuels. Unfortunately for our children, this view has been painted with the corporate brush as "radical" – a most brilliant word recently hijacked by those who have sold us off in the name of greed.
"… [T]he word radical [comes] from the Latin radicalis, meaning 'root.' Radical analysis goes to the root of an issue or problem. Typically that means that while challenging the specific manifestations of a problem, radicals also analyze the ideological and institutional components as well as challenge the unstated assumptions and conventional wisdom that obscure the deeper roots. Often it means realizing that what is taken as an aberration or deviation from a system is actually the predictable and/or intended result of a system." [3]
The word "radical" is not a derogatory word to denote wild people, it is a term to embrace, one that describes critical thinking, root causes and self reflection. This is absolutely essential if we are to win the war on climate change. Yes, we can keep going on our suicidal journey, but the reality is that at the end of the road there will be nothing left except death. We are in a race to our own extinction, taking countless species with us – and it seems that if anyone tries to stand in our way with warning signs of "Danger Ahead," they are pushed aside as we keep running as fast as we can – straight to the precipice.
Death, Lies & WikiLeaks

In Cancún, the wealthy obstructionist states, the states that are most responsible for the global planetary crisis in the first place, attempted to kill off the Kyoto Accord once and for all, replacing it with the "noted" Copenhagen Accord. This sleight of hand will effectively extinguish the threat of binding obligations on the wealthy nations while also eliminating the obligations of the 1992 climate convention. Any international climate accord that cites 2ºC, as sought in Copenhagen and Cancún, will be a legally and lethally binding agreement. What we are witnessing today is nothing less than the greatest crime ever committed against humanity.
The largely unnoticed 2009 State of the Future Report, the most comprehensive report ever produced to look at the future of the planet, states that due to climate change, "billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilization will collapse." Saving the lives of billions is clearly off the real agenda behind the international climate negotiations. It is clear that global monetary wealth has evolved to become the only real issue behind this broken, corrupted process.
Even mainstream media recognize the glaringly obvious. The Guardian reports on 3 December 2010 that hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the dirty real life politics. The powerful greenhouse gas emitting states use money and threats to buy political support while spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage. "[D]istrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog climate negotiations and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial 'Copenhagen accord,' the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009." The US diplomatic cables, made public by WikiLeaks, clearly revealed how the US looks for dirt on vulnerable and developing states opposed to its business-as-usual approach and its steadfast refusal to tackle global warming. Further, the leaked cables revealed how financial and other aid is used by the world's most powerful countries to gain political backing.
WikiLeaks reveals unequivocally that climate prostitution amongst the obstructionist states has become status quo. In a US Embassy cable, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, suggested the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) countries "'could be our best allies' given their need for financing." Hedegaard and Froman discussed the need to "neutralise, co-opt or marginalise unhelpful countries including Venezuela and Bolivia." Hedegaard again links financial aid to support for the accord, noting "the irony that the EU is a big donor to these countries." In April 2010, after this discussion, the US cut aid to Bolivia and Ecuador, citing opposition to the accord.
The US, determined to keep their crumbling imperialist empire intact, has continued to seek allies to protect self interests from states who could, in united fashion, threaten current global power structures. This is evident in a cable from Brussels on 17 February reporting a meeting between the deputy national security adviser, Michael Froman, Hedegaard and other EU officials. Froman stated that the EU needed to learn from Basic's (four large developing countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China) skill at impeding US and EU initiatives thereby playing them off against each other in order "to better handle third country obstructionism and avoid future train wrecks on climate." Hedegaard demonstrates the complicit silence of the EU by stating that she "hoped the US noted the EU was muting its criticism of the US, to be constructive."
It's not as though we didn't suspect this – climate justice activists have been battling climate opportunists for years. It is just that now it appears the players are so egocentric, they're not even going to pretend otherwise. The question is, how did the greatest crisis ever to present itself to civilization come to be dominated by economic interests, in essence destroying our opportunity to prevent cataclysmic, irreversible climate change when we've understood for decades that it could be prevented? What happened to our threshold of 1ºC, which in 1990 we were warned not to exceed?
The Death of 1ºC

As discussed in Part I, 20 years ago it was recommended by the UN Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) that the global average temperature not be allowed to rise more than 1ºC on the very reasonable principle of precaution. Their recommendation was based on not exceeding the historical temperature limit that has existed throughout the age of agriculture. (Civilization is based upon and now absolutely dependent upon agriculture.)
The IPCC was formed in 1988 out of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) AGGG (although proposals for the IPCC appear earlier). It appears that the formation of the IPCC was when the dynamics began to shift and climate change modelers – such as neoclassical economist, Bill Nordhaus – became heavily involved and most influential. Managing climate risk responses rather than simply focusing on reducing carbon dioxide emissions became the leading imperative. However, the First Assessment Report (FAR) Working Group 1 published by the IPCC in 1990 included the following in the Summary for Policymakers: "We calculate with confidence that … immediate reductions in emissions from human activities of over 60% [are needed] to stabilize concentrations at today's levels…" (p. 1).
Tragically for the children of today and tomorrow, despite scientists calling for urgent emission cuts in 1988 and the UN AGGG report in 1990 citing 1ºC as the maximum temperature rise that the planet must not exceed, the 2ºC target became predominant in global climate policy by 1996. Climate models had been introduced in order to establish if and how far the global temperature could be allowed to rise above 1°C. The original European Union (EU) policy was an easing up on the 1ºC with a range of 1ºC to 2ºC. In 2001, the IPCC noted "warming over 1.5ºC raises serious potential threats for some systems and regions." In a short time, 2ºC was cited as the absolute limit to avoid planetary catastrophe (runaway global climate change). Prior to this, the EU's position was that a 2ºC temperature rise was not safe because 2ºC could not ensure safety from runaway global climate change but would rather "minimize" it. From this time, the imperative 1ºC seemed to simply disappear.
The EU proposed 2ºC as the policy target in 1996. [4] The European Council (25 heads of government of the European Union) restated the 2ºC target in 2005, concluding that it was both scientifically justifiable and, more telling, that it was vital to promote cost effective action to ensure temperatures did not rise beyond the 2ºC limit. "Cost effective" is policy-making jargon implying that environmental protection measures will only be applied if it is certain that such measures will not result in any economic cost. Economic cost is determined by a cost-benefit analysis after externalizing social and environmental costs. In fact, the final paragraph of the final report of the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment (synthesis report) stated that it could not be said with certainty that mitigation of global climate change would have any economic benefits beyond the economic costs of unlimited global climate change.
Also in 2005, the British, chairing the Group of Eight (G8) meeting, reaffirmed the 2ºC target. The statements made by the G8, although not legally binding, were made with the intent that the 2ºC target would eventually become an accepted target of a global treaty. All eight of the G8 countries were amongst the 15 top-ranked leading export countries in the world.
As the Earth Burns
A 2005 EU report stated that the European Council first agreed on the 2ºC goal in 1996, based predominantly on the impact studies assessed in the second assessment report of the IPCC, even though the IPCC suggested that the risk of severe climate change impacts would increase markedly beyond a temperature rise of 2ºC. The EU considered 2ºC as a threshold. This is confirmed as recently as October 2009 by the European Commission: "... 2°C. That threshold is important because it minimises the risk of dangerous runaway climate change." The 2005 report continues that recent studies have strengthened the argument that the EU's target is high risk and that significant impacts on ecosystems and water resources are likely with a temperature increase as low as 1ºC. The report notes that once the global average temperature increase exceeds 2ºC, climate impacts on ecosystems, food production and water supply are projected to increase significantly, unexpected climate responses are more likely, and irreversible catastrophic events may occur.
In December 2010, a series of papers was published by the Royal Society. They are alarming. One critical paper, When Could Global Warming Reach 4°C?, states that with high emissions and strong carbon cycle feedbacks, we could reach a lethal 4ºC as early as 2060. A separate paper, Beyond 'Dangerous' Climate Change: Emission Scenarios for a New World, states that the impacts associated with 2ºC have been revised upwards, sufficiently so 2ºC now more accurately represents the threshold between "dangerous" and "extremely dangerous" climate change. Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre, states in the published paper that if the world is to keep within a global temperature increase of 2ºC, this will require World War II-style rationing in the developed world.
Peak Delusion
Thousands of years from now, if there is still a human species on what will be left of Earth's biosphere, this will be a story that so defies all logic and all sensibilities, no one will ever believe it.
"It may seem impossible to imagine that an advanced society such as ours could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing." – Elizabeth Kolbert, in Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
Ironically, many consider humans to be a brilliant, superior species. There is a term for such irrational logic. It is defined as Homo economicus: "Homo economicus, or Economic human, is the concept in some economic theories of humans as rational and narrowly self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgments toward their subjectively defined ends. This theory stands in contrast to the concept of Homo reciprocans, which states that human beings are primarily motivated by the desire to be cooperative, and improve their environment." The Homo economicus perverse view of the world has reached peak influence in past decades as neo-classical economics. 

Homo Economicus
30 November 2010: Emergence of the chair's text. All references to the Tianjin negotiated text (October 2010) and to proposals from Bolivia and the People's Agreement of Cochabamba (April 2010 – recognized in UNFCCC text in Bonn, June 2010) have vanished. [6]
8 December 2010 in Cancún: After pressure from Bolivia, the Chair re-introduced the bracketed section related to degrees (1ºC, 1.5ºC and 2ºC). However, she did not re-introduce key Tianjin bracketed sections, such as establishing an international tribunal.
10 December 2010: In the final text that passed the corrupted international climate negotiating process in Cancún, there is no mention of halting all further fossil fuel exploration, nor is there mention of major GHG-emitting developed states commencing a plan to begin capping extractions of current reserves. Eliminated from the text was the reference to 1ºC and guaranteed human rights in every action. Technology transfer to developing countries was eliminated. Gone are mechanisms of enforcement, including the proposal for an International Court of Justice. There is no mention of the impact of war and military industries on greenhouse gas emissions, as wars emit more emissions than entire countries.
There is no mention of stopping or even halting further expansion of the Canadian tar sands. The text includes no alternative options for reducing GHGs – no laws, positive regulation, or control of financial transactions – proposals that Bolivia had made to ensure that humans create a different relationship with the rest of nature through defense and recognition of the rights of nature.
The Cancún text implies there was consensus on launching new carbon market mechanisms even though this was not agreed upon. For example, the Earth's forests are to be transformed into carbon markets, a move that indigenous peoples from all over the world have opposed and continue to vehemently oppose. Bolivia's proposal for nations to conserve and preserve forests was not included. Of course there is no mention in the text of why it is ethically unjust to profit from pollution of our shared atmosphere, therefore important to make the practice illegal. Gone from the text is the essential zero carbon language – the most critical, most neglected and most denied aspect of climate change mitigation.
Disregarded was the advice of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to end subsidies to fossil fuels (which amounted to $558 billion worldwide in 2008). In the meantime, our inaction on climate change in 2009 alone has cost $1 trillion (IEA). [5] Governments claim a limit of 450 ppm, yet the IEA estimates that due to complete inaction in 2009, it will now cost an additional trillion dollars to stabilize the atmosphere at 450 ppm. Of course nothing has happened in 2010 either and Cancún promised further inaction. The recent IEA report stated that further delay will only escalate the crisis, that stabilization at a deadly 450 ppm simply will not happen.
In bitter irony, the investment necessary for the world to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies is approximately $30 trillion – approximately the same amount as the global transfer to the world's banks following the engineered banking crisis of 2008.
The reality is ugly – wealthy states have trillions in bail-out money for "saving" the banks and corporations, but when it comes to saving lives of ordinary citizens, families and vulnerable peoples, such an investment is of no interest to the elites in power.
The Cancún Climate Agreements were prepared in direct response to requests from parties urging the president to present a text that covers all the issues and paints the whole picture of the outcome. It reflects the current status of the efforts of the delegations to converge on a "balanced" outcome [7] (with the one exception noted – that being Bolivia):
• agree to continue to agree on nothing, commit to nothing, and do nothing to prevent planetary global climate catastrophe
• agree to abandon the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
• agree to abandon the Kyoto Protocol principles
• agree to allow the global temperature to increase by 3°C to 4.2ºC
• agree to ignore catastrophic impacts on world and regional food and water security
• agree to ignore the catastrophic risks to planet Earth from Arctic climate feedbacks
• agree to continue supporting the fossil fuel industry, committing to the collapse of agriculture, civilization, humanity and most life on Earth
• agree to deny that the world is into dangerous interference with the climate system
• agree to deny that a planetary global climate emergency exists
• agree to deny the human rights – especially the right to survival – of the billions of most climate change vulnerable and indigenous peoples
• agree to deny the rights to survival and human rights of all future generations
• agree to deny the rights to survival of living ecosystems and all other species
• affirm that this agreement serves as a continuation of the delaying tactics and prevarication led by the industrialized nations in order to avoid complying with their human rights obligations and their obligations under the clear intent and terms of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [8]
"Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves." – Eric Hoffer
Right now, the world must acknowledge and accept the reality that the UN climate change negotiations over the past two decades have served as nothing more than a brilliant and lethal distraction – a diversion that protected and allowed the global economic power structures to continue business as usual for the last 20 years – while emissions soared a further 40%. A far cry from the 66% emission reductions that scientists already knew were necessary back in the 1980s if the world was to avoid climate catastrophe. Lost is the window of time we had to set in motion legitimate solutions and measures for transitioning to a global zero carbon economy. Like the sham of corporate social responsibility and voluntary compliance, this process of climate change negotiations, too, has failed the people – a violent assault on the world's most vulnerable who have been thrown out with the swill.
Have our intoxicated, manipulated minds become too diseased to see clearly what is happening now?
Have we become so desensitized that we are prepared to watch billions suffer, starve and die – simply because we lack the imagination to see a better world and lack the strength and resistance necessary to demand it?
The climate crisis is the final lap in the final race for what is left of the world's remaining resources. When the race is over, the "winner" will be alone – to preside over an Earth that will resemble a global nuclear holocaust, a world that reeks of decay and death – and all of the money in the world won't make it not so. The climate negotiations have become a corrupt broken process – an instrument not to legitimately slash emissions but rather to further expand corporate profits at any and every expense … in this case, life itself.
Next in Part III: Economy Versus Life Requires Tyranny Over Mind
How did delusional thinking come to replace rational, critical thinking?
[1] TIME TO BE BOLD: If one counts the G77, representing 130 developing states, along with some low-lying states or small island states that were not members of the G77, with some of the member states of the European Union, then possibly over 75% of the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would have been prepared to sign and ratify a strong, legally binding agreement. It could be argued, on the one hand, that such an agreement would have been irrelevant because the major greenhouse gas producers would not have signed on. On the other hand, citizens in the major greenhouse gas producing states could have used a new legally binding agreement to pressure their governments to commit to stronger emission reductions; signatories to the new protocol could have forced the delinquent states to comply either through the International Court of Justice or through an International Climate Justice Tribunal set up specifically under the UNFCCC to address the failure to comply with international obligations under the UNFCCC. COP16, in Mexico, must respect the demands of the majority.
[2] Hello. This is the Map to the End of Our World. Good bye. | Climate Food2
[3] Robert Jensen's (2004) book Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream.
[4] By 1996, the EU commissioners focused not just on a target for keeping 2000 emission levels to 1990 levels, but also on working toward a maximum allowable temperature target of 2ºC. The EU target drew inspiration from being toward the lower end of the mid-range IPCC emissions scenario in the IPCC 1995 Second Assessment Report (SAR). This was interpreted to be a 2ºC temperature rise by 2100 and as the point beyond which climatic "dangers" would become more visible. While integrated assessment models provided possibilities for suggesting "danger" points, they did not uniformly suggest a specific target. IPCC did not highlight a specific target – instead they made a distinction of small (under 2ºC), medium (2–3ºC), and large (over 3ºC) temperature increases. Upon doing this, the IPCC intentionally or unintentionally conveyed a message that policy would be framed within these cited distinctions.
[5] The International Energy Agency defines "cost" as the cost to the fossil fuel economy according to the conventional, environmentally perverse, cost-benefit analysis. In reality, ending fossil fuel subsidies and subsidizing clean, safe, renewable energy would be a massive benefit to the zero carbon energy industries and to all future generations.
[6] 16 August 2010: Bolivian UN Ambassador Pablo Solon reported that after the climate change conference in Bonn, proposals from the People's Agreement of Cochabamba were still in the negotiating document: "After a week of negotiations, the main conclusions of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) have been incorporated in the document of United Nations on Climate Change, that now has been recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries which have been congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week August of 2010." The most important points that were incorporated for consideration in the next round of negotiations before Cancún, which took place in China, are:
1) 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries for second period of commitments from the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017.
2) Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1ºC and 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
3) To guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries.
4) Full respect for the human rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants.
5) Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People's Rights.
6) Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature.
7) Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice.
8) Rejection of the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries.
9) Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries.
10) Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to exclude from the protection of the intellectual property rights those ecologically sustainable technologies that are useful to mitigate climate change.
11) Developed countries will allocate 6% of their national gross product to actions relative to Climate Change.
12) Integrated management of forests for mitigation and adaptation, without applying market mechanics and with the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.
13) Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest for plantations, since the monoculture plantations are not forest, and instead encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests.
[7] Opening statement on draft text document. Note by the president.
[8] A People’s Assessment on the Outcome of the Cancún Climate Negotiations. Dr. Peter Carter is the climate policy advisor for Canadians for Action on Climate Change.
Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Breathe Toronto - Rally for Transit City

Breathe Toronto: "RALLY FOR TRANSIT CITY! Come together on Sunday, December 19th to demand loud and clear that City Council save Transit City, and proceed with the biggest TTC expansion in recent history as planned. As the last Council unanimously endorsed (including Ford!) Event posting: CLICK HERE

Toronto as we know it is under attack. As of his first day on the job, Rob Ford has begun disassembling years of hard work put into making the TTC a more accessible, wider reaching and faster service that was about to embark on its biggest expansion in decades. An expansion that would help reduce traffic and take thousands of tailpipes off the road, with certainty to seriously reduce the illness and death that result from living in the exhaust fumes of so many cars and trucks, as well as taking a major chunk out of our city’s contribution to Global Overheating. All of that came crashing to a halt on day one as Ford cut City funding for Transit City, effectively killing the project. Unless there is a drastic and positive response from the people of this City."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Supprimons les tarifs de transport à Montréal - Gratuité contre inégalités

Supprimons les tarifs de transport à Montréal - Gratuité contre inégalités: "Ce site défend l'accès libre et universel aux transports collectifs. On y refuse la discrimination fondée sur le revenus et l'inégalité d'accès aux ressources de la communauté. Y est contestée la place de l'automobile et la menace qu'elle fait peser sur la population. Le droit à la mobilité est une revendications de premier ordre. L'essors de l'environnement urbain et la lutte aux changements climatiques demandent des actions immédiates. Pour ces raisons nous réclamons la gratuité des transport publics pour les usagers et usagères de la STM.

Pour faire avancer le monde... "

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Blog Post: Proud to Be Pink

A big thanks to the ftpeditors who invited me to post on this blog. I'm looking forward to sharing posts and talking about the transportation revolution with you! - Trasie

I confess, I'm a button-a-holic - but that's the topic for another blog post!

On today's to-do list: order a button from Spacing Toronto.

If you missed it, here's Don Cherry's speech (at the Torontoist) that he delivered at Toronto City Council's recent swearing-in, which explains why several people on my social media feed are also ordering buttons.

Oh, and insert celebratory "Our Mayor/Council Rocks" post here: they lowered the cost of low income transit passes! 

(Cross-posted at Witch-Ways, where I've been crafting magic on the internet since 1994)

Friday, December 10, 2010

[Part 1] Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up

Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up

Part one of an investigative report.

By Cory Morningstar

December 10, 2010

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."
- Lao Tzu

Behind every tragedy there is a story. This story is non-fiction and begins in the 1980’s. It involves the Rockefeller funded Villach conferences, the entrance of the neoclassical economists, propaganda, and most importantly the disappearance of the 1ºC temperature threshold cited as the safe limit in 1990 by the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases.

Like so many stories there was a villain. In this story, the villain’s name was ‘Insatiable Greed’ – like the Agent Smith virus, uploaded into ‘the Matrix’, Insatiable Greed was a terminating virus capable of multiplying.

Insatiable Greed was warned by the United Nations working group that “ beyond 1ºC there might be “rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage.” He was also warned that a 2ºC increase was "viewed as an upper limit beyond which the risks of grave damage to ecosystems, and of non-linear responses, are expected to increase rapidly." Non-linear in this case means runway climate change.

Earth and her inhabitants would clearly be threatened if the 1ºC threshold was to be exceeded. However, Insatiable Greed, did not listen. Insatiable Greed dismissed the wise advice – only interested in knowing how much further destruction could be continued before the Earth would reach her maximum limit where catastrophe would be unavoidable. Being the virus he was, Insatiable Greed used the tools available to successfully infect and multiply – effectively burying the initial warning of 1ºC, thus ensuring the Earth’s inhabitants would believe the extremely dangerous threshold of 2ºC would be safe. This is the story.

The Origins of 2ºC – Neoclassical Economist Bill Nordhaus

The 2ºC temperature rise "target," which is the only limit in the text of the ‘noted’ Copenhagen Accord, may well be one of the least understood cover-ups in history. The first suggestion to use 2° Celsius as a critical temperature limit for climate policy was not made by an esteemed climate scientist. Rather it was made by well-known neoclassical economist, W.D. Nordhaus, in a discussion paper of the prestigious Cowles Foundation. In 1977 Nordhaus stated: "If there were global temperatures more than 2 or 3° above the current average temperature, this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years.”[1]

This temperature increase is in fact well outside of the natural limits of the past 10,000 years during which agriculture and civilization developed. It is also higher than has existed over the past couple of million years.

"A rich man's cat may drink the milk that a poor boy needs to remain healthy. Does this happen because the market is failing? Not at all, for the market mechanism is doing its job – putting goods in the hands of those that have the dollar votes."

The author of the ice cold quote above is none other than our neoclassical economist and Yale University Professor Bill Nordhaus (Nordhaus and Samuelson, 2005), originator of the now infamous 2ºC threshold target that has come to dominate climate discussions and to dismiss all sensibilities as our Earth spins toward a terrifying, irreversible apocalypse.

Today, this 2ºC target, largely defined as the maximum allowable warming to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate has replaced an almost unknown 1ºC target highlighted in the 1990 UN AGGG (United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases) report when climate change as a global issue was widely unknown.

Nordhaus has been one of the most influential economists involved in climate change models and construction of emissions scenarios for well over 30 years, having developed one of the earliest economic models to evaluate climate change policy. He has steadfastly opposed the drastic reductions in greenhouse gases emissions necessary for averting global catastrophe, "arguing instead for a slow process of emissions reduction, on the grounds that it would be more economically justifiable." In a brilliant review by Richard York, Brett Clark and John Bellamy Foster, the frightening "logic" of Nordhaus is fully exposed.

The Origins of 1ºC – United Nations 1990

"…[B]eyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage."

- United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases

In 1986, three international bodies, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), who had co-sponsored the Villach Conference in 1985, formed the Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG), a small international committee with responsibility for assessing the available scientific information about the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the likely impact.

In 1990 the AGGG calculated what level of climate change our planet could tolerate, also referred to as "environmental limits." These levels and limits were summarized in the document, “Responding to Climate Change: Tools For Policy Development,” published by the Stockholm Environment Institute.

The targets and indicators set limits to rates and total amounts of temperature rise and sea level rise, on the basis of known behaviour of ecosystems. The AGGG report identified these limits in order to "protect both ecosystems as well as human systems." The report states that the objective is: "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [human made] interference with the climate system."

It adds: "Such a level should be achieved within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner." Thus the report requires limits to both the total amount of change and the rate of change.

Further, they warned that a global temperature increase "beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage." A temperature increase of 2ºC was viewed as "an upper limit beyond which the risks of grave damage to ecosystems, and of non-linear responses, are expected to increase rapidly." [For "non-linear," read "runaway global climate change."][2]

The Framework Convention on Climate Change signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 should have ensured that staying within the AGGG-identified ecological limit of a 1ºC temperature rise is a central objective. But it didn't. This investigation attempts to spell out why.

From the AGGG report. The low risk indicators:

Sea level rise

· maximum rate of rise of 20–50 mm per decade

· maximum total rise of 20–50 cm above 1990 global mean sea level

Global mean temperature

· maximum rate of increase of 0.1ºC per decade

· maximum total increase of 1.0ºC

The AGGG report also identified the CO2 [equivalent] concentrations corresponding to these as 330 – 400 ppm for 1ºC and 400 - 560ppm for 2ºC. It is critical to understand these concentrations cited from the report are far below the 350 ppm that has become the status quo target of today.

Citing a need for climate stabilization, a Dutch Ministry of Environment funded project concluded in 1988 that this would preferably be at just 1ºC above pre-industrial temperatures, but certainly with a maximum target of 400 ppm CO2 concentration (Krause, 1988).

Further Origins of 2ºC | Environmental Defense Fund & Rockefeller

Altering the framing of the climate change issue

Cost benefit analysis (CBA) is used like a bible to convey and perpetuate an image of science being driven by facts as opposed to politics. The high risk 2ºC target does not take note of the fact we are beyond dangerous climate interference today, and that even 1ºC represents a immediate danger today, rather it represents the cost-benefit view. This view is to justify the limit by comparing benefits of avoiding climate damages – with costs of reducing economic growth. In this case instead of the benefit being ‘the benefit of staying alive’ – the benefit is expressed as percentage points of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Further origins of 2ºC trace back to a traffic light system in the early 1990’s[4] as well as discussions within the Bellagio workshops held in Europe in 1987. Gordon Goodman, an AGGG member and Executive Director of the Beijer Institute (later, the Stockholm Environment Institute) received money from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to commission two inter-linked workshops in September and November 1987 at Villach and Bellagio respectively. On 28 September 1987, the first of two workshops convened in Villach, Austria.[3]

In the report it states that the workshops were carried out under the auspices of AGGG. The report states that AGGG members had limited input and control over these workshops. It is reported that papers contributed by twenty scientists, economists, and policy experts provided background material for working sessions where some fifty scientists and other technical experts from fourteen developed and developing countries examined the consequences of the emissions of greenhouse gases, with measures that might be used to limit or adapt to these effects.

It is stated that the objective of the Villach workshop was to provide a technical basis for deliberations by a group of high-level policy makers which convened subsequently at Bellagio, Italy, on November 9th, 1987. The said findings and the recommendations of the Bellagio workshop appear in a report titled "Developing Policies for Responding to Climatic Change" (Jaeger, 1988) published by the World Meteorological Organizational and the United Nations Environment Programme in April 1988.

The project to organize the two workshops was initiated by the Beijer Institute (for whom Bill Nordhaus has written numerous papers), the Environmental Defense Fund (U.S.) and the Woods Hole Research Center (U.S.). A steering committee included Michael Oppenheimer from Environmental Defense Fund while sponsorship was provided by a small handful including: the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (U.S), the German Marshall Fund (U.S.); Rockefeller Foundation (U.S.) and the Beijer Institute.

This workshop was supported by AGGG and behind them the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The Bellagio conference proposed that policymakers should set a maximum rate of temperature increase at 0.1ºC per decade as the maximum tolerable limit and a second target, and a 1ºC - 2ºC above preindustrial temperature target. This appears to one the earliest references to a 2ºC maximum temperature change (along with rate of change) from a working group. The underlying principle for the rate of change target was that of the adaptability of ecosystems to climatic change, whereas in the case of the temperature target it was the boundary between changes that could be accommodated without serious or costly implications.

However, the goal of 0.1 °C per decade could only be achieved “with significant reductions in fossil fuel use” - World Climate Programme, 1988, p. 24, (emphasis in original)

Investigation into these workshops raises many questions. It has been suggested that the Villach conference was critical to altering the framing of the climate change issue. It was known at that time that to reach the 0.1°C per decade target, the rate of CO2 emissions could have to be reduced by up to 66%.

Rockefellers were now embedded with those who would be addressing policy change. Such policy, yet to be written would be the principle means of effectively ending global societies addiction to fossil fuels – which would effectively destroy the Rockefeller empire built on oil.

From 1968-1978, Frederick Seitz was president of Rockefeller University as well as chairman of the board of directors for the Science & Environmental Policy Project – a project set up to advocate global warming skeptism. Seitz was also the founding chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, a tobacco industry consultant and a prominent skeptic on the issue of global warming.

In what must be the most bitter of ironies, the 2°C limit reemerged in 1990, in the same influential UN AGGG paper where the 1ºC is cited, 2ºC was also cited as being a high risk target. [Rijsberman, Swart, 1990] We can only assume that pressure from outside and within the negotiations - from governments influenced and controlled by both corporations and economists must have played a crucial role in killing off the 1ºC suggested temperature rise the world was warned not to surpass.

Psychotic Delusion

In an address titled "Economic Issues in Designing a Global Agreement on Global Warming" presented by Nordhaus to the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Science (10-12 March 2009), Nordhaus argues that it is not legitimate to try to second guess the market, going so far as to propose that people may "come to love the altered landscape of the warmer world." It is most revealing that the world's foremost scientists on climate change who understand the terrifying risks we now face due to lack of action invited one the most influential voices calling for caution and moderation to give a keynote address.

Nordhaus uses his own magical economical model to spit out the very best apocalyptic scenario he would like our governments to adopt – one, in Nordhaus's skewed view, that strengthens the economy. If the world does nothing, Nordhaus believes, we will reach a temperature increase of 3.1ºC by 2100 (a gross underestimate by most standards) and 5.3ºC by 2200. Instead, he suggests, the world should choose to spend what allows the temperature to rise by 2.6ºC by 2100, increasing to 3.5ºC by 2200 (keep in mind that any temperature increase will eventually double for future generations due to the inertia of the climate system). He presents this scenario delusion, which supports atmospheric concentrations rising to approximately 700 ppm, despite the fact that scientists claim such temperature increases will be catastrophic beyond measure. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research states “Our survival would very much depend on how well we were able to draw down carbon dioxide to 280 ppm”.

To Nordhaus – his numbers are nothing less than an epiphany – rather than doing nothing at all, we can save the world 3 trillion dollars. He insists that any attempt to stay below 2.6ºC – accepting that this is an eventual rise to 5.3ºC – would be a big mistake. Wassily Leontief and John Kenneth summarized this delusional train of thought quite strikingly: "Departments of economics are graduating a generation of idiot savants, brilliant at esoteric mathematics yet innocent of actual economic life." Of course, this description does not apply to all economists and there are the mavericks such as Kenneth Boulding, Howard Odum, Hazel Henderson, E. F. Shumacher and Herman Daly to name a few.

In a 1997 paper, Linking Weak and Strong Sustainability Indicators: The Case of Global Warming, the authors define the neoclassical delusion as follows: "In several contributions, damage cost calculations of climate change like that of Nordhaus (1991), Cline (1991) and Fankhauser (1995) were criticized especially from an ecological perspective. It had been argued that mere neoclassical optimisation concepts tend to ignore the ecological, ethical and social dimension of the greenhouse effect, especially issues of an equitable distribution and a sustainable use of non-substitutable, essential functions of ecosystems.

The ecological argument addresses the use of damage cost values for computing optimal levels of emission abatement neglecting the special function of the atmosphere as a sink for greenhouse gases. This function is absolutely scarce and essential for the global ecosystem. It is feared that, by putting certain monetary values on this essential natural function, politicians may be encouraged to 'sell it' in exchange for goods being possibly of higher value in a short time horizon (e.g. income)."

Science is Politics | Politics is Science

In the 1980’s, although there was scientific uncertainty in regards to the precise time, location and nature of particular impacts, scientists stated it was inevitable that in the absence of major preventive and adaptive undertakings by humanity, significant and potentially disruptive changes in the earth’s environment would occur and that human-induced climate change would have profound consequences for the world’s social and natural systems.

Responding to these dire warnings, the redesigning and innovation towards decarbonization of energy systems comprised just one of several preventive measures that found itself moving up on the policy agenda towards the late 1980s. This was a direct result of the active policy engagement by a range of scientific institutions. The urgent scientific call for global action to prevent potential climate catastrophe opened the door to the global politics of the climate.

Intergovernmental negotiations soon transformed the vision of prevention into a more restricted mitigation/adaptation agenda. By 1992 it is clear that influential interest groups and powerful institutions had become heavily involved in the negotiations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), OPEC countries, oil-importing developing nations and private industry/corporations. The OECD has been heavily criticized by several civil society groups as well as developing states. The main criticism has been the narrowness of the OECD on account of its limited membership to a select few wealthy states.

In 1997–1998, the draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was heavily criticized by developing states. Many argued that the agreement would threaten protection of human rights, labor and environmental standards, and the most vulnerable countries. Critics argued (correctly) that the MAI would result in a 'race to the bottom' among countries willing to lower their labor and environmental standards to attract foreign investment. The OECD's actions against harmful tax practices has also raised criticism. The primary objection is the sanctity of tax policy as a matter of sovereign entitlement. Saudi Arabia played a key role interfering, and shaping international climate policy since international negotiations began in the 1990’s in order to ensure that the billion dollar oil industry would not be affected.

As a consequence of such interference by many powerful players who sought to ensure the economic and political power structure would not be threatened, adaptation surfaced as the primary goal in international climate science and policy, effectively replacing the goals of prevention and mitigation from the 1980’s.

By 1992, unwilling to sacrifice economic growth, negotiating parties rejected strict targets and timetables for emissions reductions, rather, through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) countries avoided the necessary targets and trajectories by instead agreeing to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere at a level that were to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

The result would be a vicious race to the bottom. Science became politics. Politics became science.

Which brings us to our current climate crisis we now face dead on.

A recent and revealing example of questionable politics within science can be found in Hansen’s recent papers. Although the Arctic sea ice is diminishing faster than what scientists ever thought possible, Hansen recently revised the number required to refreeze the Arctic sea ice upwards - from 300-325 ppm to 300-350 ppm. Considering we have feedbacks which are now operational, this revision can be hard to believe. This is a brilliant example of questionable politics within a realm of brilliant scientists. One could argue that as we are at 390 CO2 today – the melting of the ice in the Arctic could be caused by being over 350 ppm. To date, this upward revision has gone relatively unchallenged. The first Hansen paper published establishing 300-325 ppm for the Arctic sea ice was published prior to the creation of the brand When McKibben and Hansen were criticized and asked the obvious question – why was focusing an entire campaign on the number/brand 350 – when the safe boundary for the planet was under 325 ppm, the number was revised upwards. Further, the science of Veron et al states that temperature-induced mass coral bleaching causing mortality on a wide geographic scale started when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded 320 ppm. When CO2 levels reached 340 ppm, sporadic but highly destructive mass bleaching occurred in most reefs world-wide, often associated with El Niño events. So why aim for 350?

It is possible that the science has been adjusted to accommodate the brand? This brand has been funded by Rockefeller Brothers and others who are set to lose if the world were to do what is necessary to get back down to 300 ppm – that being a complete abandonment of fossil fuels. The abandonment of fossil fuels is the greatest threat to the current power and monetary structure in the world.

2008: Hansen – Where should Humanity Aim?

A further imbalance reduction, and thus CO2 ~300-325 ppm, may be needed to restore sea ice to its area of 25 years ago.

Assessment of Target CO2

PhenomenonTarget CO2(ppm)

1. Arctic Sea Ice 300-325

2. Ice Sheets/Sea Level 300-350

3. Shifting Climatic Zones 300-350

4. Alpine Water Supplies 300-350

5. Avoid Ocean Acidification 300-350

2010: Hansen: French National Assembly May 2010

Assessment of Target CO2

PhenomenonTarget CO2 (ppm)

1. Arctic Sea Ice 300-350

2. Ice Sheets/Sea Level 300-350

3. Shifting Climatic Zones 300-350

4. Alpine Water Supplies 300-350

5. Avoid Ocean Acidification 300-350

An excerpt from Climate Code Red: ‘350 is the wrong target: put the science first’ :

… But that is only half the story. Here’s what else Hansen et al. said (emphasis added) in their article in Open Atmos. Sci. J. 2:217-231:

“Equilibrium sea level rise for today’s 385 ppm CO2 is at least several meters, judging from paleoclimate history. Accelerating mass losses from Greenland and West Antarctica heighten concerns about ice sheet stability. An initial CO2 target of 350 ppm, to be reassessed as effects on ice sheet mass balance are observed, is suggested”

It is important to note that this paragraph is not about the Arctic sea-ice tipping point, it’s about Antarctica. Hansen explains in the same article that 350ppm is a precautionary target to stop global loss of ice-sheets, because the paleoclimate record shows 450ppm ± 100ppm as boundary for glaciation/ deglaciation of Antarctica. In the next paragraph, attention turns to the question of Arctic sea ice:

“Stabilization of Arctic sea ice cover requires, to first approximation, restoration of planetary energy balance. Climate models driven by known forcings yield a present planetary energy imbalance of +0.5-1 W/m2. Observed heat increase in the upper 700 m of the ocean confirms the planetary energy imbalance, but observations of the entire ocean are needed for quantification. CO2 amount must be reduced to 325-355 ppm to increase outgoing flux 0.5-1 W/m2, if other forcings are unchanged. A further imbalance reduction, and thus CO2 ~300-325 ppm, may be needed to restore sea ice to its area of 25 years ago.”

The central point is that Arctic sea-ice is undergoing dramatic loss in summer, having lost 70-80% of its volume in the last 50 years, most since 2000. Without summer sea-ice, Greenland cannot escape a trajectory of ice-sheet loss leading to an eventual sea-level rise of 7 metres. Regional temperatures in the Arctic autumn are already up about 5C, and by mid-century an Arctic ice-free in summer, combined with more global warming, will be pushing Siberia close to the point where large-scale loss of carbon from melting permafrost would make further mitigation efforts futile. As Hansen told the US Congress in testimony last year, the “elements of a perfect storm, a global cataclysm, are assembled”.

In short, if you don’t have a target that aims to cool the planet sufficiently to get the sea-ice back, the climate system may spiral out of control, past many “tipping points” to the final “point of no return”.

And that target is not 350ppm, it’s around 300 ppm.


The most powerful, most aggressive agreement on climate in existence to this day, The People’s Agreement, was written at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in April 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia. fought to highlight their brand /number in the agreement. They did not succeed.

McKibben now makes reference to 350 ppm as being “the upper limit”, and in a recent radio interview McKibben stated that pre-industrial levels might be the only safe zone. In spite of his acknowledgment of pre-industrial levels being a safe zone, despite mention of the 280 ppm in a recent ‘future’ scenario written by McKibben himself, and despite pressure from climate justice groups and activists - refuses to endorse the Cochabamba People’s Agreement. This agreement is the only democratic agreement ever drafted to date that has the potential to save civilization from catastrophic climate change.

McKibben states will not endorse the agreement as Hansen does not agree with the science of 300 ppm. This is ironic as on the website it now reads:

“These considerations have led to see the 350 ppm target not only in terms of CO2, but CO2e. On a technical level, this becomes a more ambitious target, incorporating other greenhouse gases. On a practical level, it signifies the same priorities 350 has embodied all along. Any climate target lower than where we are right now—be it 350 CO2e, 350 CO2, or anything else—represents a transformative shift in how the world operates.”

In effect,, now recognizing themselves as 350 ppm eq. goes beyond the targets of even that of Cochabamba. So what is the real reason they do not endorse it? Or maybe, 350 just means whatever you want it to mean – after it all it’s just a brand under the tcktcktck corporate umbrella – and without an expedient plan to zero – it is meaningless.

John Holdren – We are already beyond dangerous

Such inaction is impossible to justify today. Leading climate scientist John Holdren on 3 November 2006:

“Climate change is coming at us faster, with larger impacts and bigger risks, than even most climate scientists expected as recently as a few years ago. The stated goal of the UNFCCC – avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate – is in fact unattainable, because today we are already experiencing dangerous anthropogenic interference. The real question now is whether we can still avoid catastrophic anthro-pogenic interference in climate. There is no guarantee that catastrophe can be avoided even we start taking serious evasive action immediately; But it’s increasingly clear that the current level of anthropogenic interference is dangerous: Significant impacts in terms of floods, droughts, wildfires, species, melting ice already evident at ~0.8°C above pre-industrial Tavg. Current GHG concentrations commit us to 0.6°C more.” [5]

Furthermore, James Hansen has been pressing for a global climate state of emergency since 2008.

Paleoclimate scientist Andrew Glikson interviewed by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio Australia, 2009, in response to the question “what has to be done?”stated: “extremely rapid reduction in emissions … I would say, 80 percent within the next ten years or so … people like me have been looking at the evidence about this on a day to day basis and we have been doing it for years, and to look in to the abyss at this length is a daunting task.”

"My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference…" "The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation." – 2010, Andrew Glikson

Next: Part 2: Greenpeace - Grassroots Goes Big Green and with it 1º Vanishes


[1] Nordhaus 1977, p.39-40; see also Nordhaus 1975, pp. 22-23, where the same words are to be found, excluding a suggestive diagram.

[2] Hansen: The paleoclimate record does not provide a case with a climate forcing of the magnitude and speed that will occur if fossil fuels are all burned. Models are nowhere near the stage at which they can predict reliably when major ice sheet disintegration will begin. Nor can we say how close we are to methane hydrate instability. But these are questions of when, not if. If we burn all the fossil fuels, the ice sheets almost surely will melt entirely, with the final sea level rise about 75 meters (250 feet), with most of that possibly occurring within a time scale of centuries. Methane hydrates are likely to be more extensive and vulnerable now than they were in the early Cenozoic. It is difficult to imagine how the methane clathrates could survive, once the ocean has had time to warm. In that event a PETM-like warming could be added on top of the fossil fuel warming. After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.

[3] Reports in the early 1990s established a target-based approach for climate policy – a ‘traffic light’ system for climate risk management consisting of three colors - green, amber, and red. Green was to symbolize limited damage and risk impliying a temperature rise of less than 0.1◦C per decade. Amber symbolized extensive damage and risk of instabilities, implying a temperature rise of between 0.1 and 0.2◦C per decade. Red symbolized considerable disruption to society and possibly rapid non-linear responses, and would occur with temperature rises of above 0.2◦C per decade. Note that the margin between green and amber was also estimated to be up to a maximum temperature increase of 1◦C, while the margin between amber and red was defined at 2◦C.

[4] There are conflicting reports as to under what auspices these workshops were held. Both the Beijer Institute of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the AGGG have been cited in conflicting reports.

[5] Holdren is advisor to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.