• Unintended consequences: Russpartikel der riesigen Flächenbrände in der Arktis dunkeln den hellen, sonnenlichtreflektierenden Schnee ab und beschleunigt das Abtauen der Permafrostböden: „neben der Hitze der Feuer erwärmt vor allem die verstärkte Sonneneinstrahlung auf den verkohlten Flächen das Erdreich. Damit nicht genug: Der Ruß der Brände zieht um die Welt, auch in Europa wiesen Forscher ihn nach, und legt sich über die hellen Eis- und Schneeflächen in der Polregion. Auch Flächen, an denen keine Brände wüten, erwärmen dadurch schneller.“
• Klimawandel in Wales – Ein Dorf muss dem Meer weichen: Das walisische Dorf Fairbourne ist für die Bewohner wohl nur noch ein Zuhause auf Zeit. Sie bekommen die Folgen der globalen Klimaerwärmung hautnah zu spüren: Das Dorf soll umgesiedelt werden.
• Extinction Rebellion kick off weekend of protest with Dalston blockade: Other events included mass bike ride through A10, Olympic park traffic blocks as well as talks and panels in London Fields.
• Gute Kritik an der weltweit beachteten Bewaldungs-Studie vergangene Woche: We Can’t Just Plant Billions of Trees to Stop Climate Change: the hype around Bastin’s study is creating misconceptions about the problem and primary solution, which could be problematic in the long-run. They fear a focus on tree planting could distract policy-makers from acting on other efforts to reduce carbon emissions and stop climate change. In a different study published last week in the journal Science Advances, Chazdon and colleagues argue for a more focused approach. They say that focusing on tropical rainforests is a more efficient means of halting climate change using trees. They considered both available space and cost-opportunity factors that would make restoration most feasible in what they called “restoration hotspots.”
• Klimawandel und Schädlinge: Gentechnik als Lösung?: Mithilfe der Gen-Schere CRISPR/Cas sollen Bienen resistent gegen Pestizide gemacht und Korallen an den Klimawandel angepasst werden.
• Genetic fixes for the climate crisis: scientists from the University of Texas identified a gene in a species of coral that is activated when coral becomes heat stressed; Researchers have discovered that cows can be selectively bred to be more environmentally friendly; Scientists from the Salk Institute in California are developing an “ideal plant” that could help slow global heating; a gene […] that makes rice resistant to floods and droughts; a strain of bacteria capable of converting plant matter into a biobutanol.
• Seit mehr als einem Monat leidet die indische Metropole Chennai unter Wasserknappheit – nun hat der erste Versorgungszug die Millionenstadt erreicht. Doch damit ist das Wasserproblem nicht gelöst.
• Monsunregen in Südasien: Eine Million fliehen vor Wassermassen: In Nepal, Bangladesch und im Nordosten Indiens haben heftige Regenfälle der Monsunzeit schwere Überschwemmungen und Erdrutsche ausgelöst. Zahlreiche Menschen starben, mehr als eine Million Bewohner der Region in Südasien mussten ihre Häuser verlassen.
• Grüner Wasserstoff als Klimaschützer – Der Sauberstoff: Wasserstoff, hergestellt aus Ökostrom, ist für die Industrie nahezu die einzige Möglichkeit, klimaneutral zu wirtschaften. Der Aufwand für Stahlwerke und Raffinerien wäre enorm, und die Hürden sind hoch.
• Noam Chomsky beim Jacobin-Mag über den Klimawandel: „the alternative [to a green new deal] is a catastrophe so awesome that all else pales in comparison“.
Estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) suggest that, if emissions remain unchanged, by 2100 sea levels could rise by more than eight feet. This would irreversibly affect many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Do you think there’s a chance we may avoid this?
If anything like that happens, the calamity will be on a scale that is almost imponderable, most severe as you say for the poorest and most vulnerable, but awful enough for the rest of society as well. And it is not the most threatening current projection. We are approaching ominously close to the level of global warming 125,000 years ago when sea levels were 6–9 meters higher than today, and the rapid melting of Antarctic sea ice threatens to narrow the gap, possibly by nonlinear acceleration, some recent studies suggest.
Is there a chance to avoid such catastrophes? No doubt. There are well-worked out and sound proposals; economist Robert Pollin’s work on a Green New Deal is the best I know. But the task ahead is enormous, and there is not much time. The challenge would be great even if states were committed to overcoming it. Some are. But it is impossible to overlook the fact that the most powerful state in human history is under the leadership of what can only be accurately described as a gang of arch-criminals who are dedicated to racing to the cliff with abandon.
It is hard even to find words to capture the scale of the crimes they are contemplating. A small but telling example is a 500-page environmental assessment produced by Trump’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling for cancelling new automotive emissions standards. They have a sound argument. The study projects that by the end of the century temperatures will have risen 4 degrees Centigrade. Auto emissions don’t add that much, and since the game is pretty much over, why not have fun while we can — fiddling while the planet burns.
It’s hard to find the words to comment — and in fact it passed with little notice.
The attitudes of the leadership influence opinion in the Republican Party, whose members typically do not see global warming as a particularly serious problem. In fact it is ranked very low among crucial issues by the population in general (and the growing threat of nuclear war, the second existential issue, is not even listed in attitude surveys).
In a recent Vox article, Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council comments: “The belief that this enormous, existential problem could have been fixed if all of us had just tweaked our consumptive habits is not only preposterous; it’s dangerous. It turns environmentalism into an individual choice defined as sin or virtue, convicting those who don’t or can’t uphold these ethics.” How do we move away from neoliberal frameworks that prioritize consumerist freewill to a model that targets, for example, the one hundred companies that are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions?
I don’t think we can count on market forces. The time scale is all wrong. Much more drastic action is needed. Those most responsible for destroying the environment can be curbed by regulatory mechanisms that are in principle available, and should be under democratic control. It’s not just a matter of curbing major polluters. Major structural changes are necessary to deal with what is in fact an existential crisis: efficient mass transportation to mention only one example. Far more substantial efforts in decarbonization, to mention another. Here the market is sending all the wrong signals, lethally in this case. Venture capital can make more profit with new apps for iPhones than in long-term investment for decarbonization, which is starved for funds.
It is well to recall the warning of Joseph Stiglitz thirty years ago in a World Bank Research Publication, before he became chief economist of the World Bank (and a Nobel laureate): we should beware of “the religion” that markets know best. “Religion” is not a bad term for the obsession with market solutions in the neoliberal age. And like other fanatic religious beliefs, it has led to not a few disasters.