Why Rebel?

Why I am Rebelling

A personal take by one Hull Rebel.

 

In 1912:

 

In the 1970’s NASA scientist Jim Hansen realises rising carbon dioxide caused Venus to become uninhabitable, and we might be doing something similar on earth. Only faster. Sci-fi films come out, set in climate changed worlds.

At University in the 1990’s I am taught severe warnings by the world’s scientists in the IPCC Report, and of global catastrophe if we fail to reduce emissions.

And for my entire adult life, governments have utterly failed to take anything like appropriate action.

Not only have we failed to reduce emissions to zero, we have not reduced them at all. In fact, they are still increasing.

It seems unimaginable, but our very existence is now at stake.

We are now at 1.1 degrees centigrade of warming. The Paris Accord aims to limit warming to 1.5˚C. A recent scientific paper found we have only a 1% chance of meeting that aim. 2˚ to 5˚ is likely. Reference 1

“… there is a widespread view that a 4°C future is incompatible with any reasonable characterisation of an organised, equitable and civilised global community.” Beyond what we can adapt to. Devastating for ecosystems. Possibly unstable, due to numerous feedbacks.2 Even 2˚ could tip us uncontrollably and irreversibly in to a ‘Hothouse Earth’. Uninhabitable. 3

So pub quiz time, what’s the current level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere? How many know without checking?

Surely in any sane world this would be on the front of every daily newspaper? “Well done Britain, emissions down again!” / “Come on UK, we can do better”.

The answer’s at CO2.earth, and it hasn’t been this high for a few million years. (It was 280ppm before the industrial revolution.)

Our government has axed the Green Deal home improvement scheme, axed solar panel subsidies AND generation payments, effectively banned the cheapest form of renewable energy – onshore wind, … I could go on. It continues to massively subsidise the oil & gas industry, and is heavily pushing fracking, the most extreme form of fossil fuels this land has ever known.

This is why some academics, and senior figures from the oil industry and military, are now talking of the breakdown of civilisation by 2050.4  Or even facing “inevitable near-term social collapse due to climate change” – the breakdown of our society within 10 years.5

Sometimes this paralyses me with terror. Sometimes I feel powerless. Sometimes I give up campaigning and enjoy myself. Mostly I feel nausea.

I do not offer hope. Environmental organisations have been implying that if we just recycle our plastic bags and weave a bit more yoghurt we should be ok. It’s a dangerous lie. Instead, I seek courage. Courage to act in the absence of hope.

Ultimately I cannot stand by whilst our government facilitates climate genocide, and very possibly extinction.

This is why I am joining the Extinction Rebellion. Large scale civil disobedience. Non-violent direct action on a massive scale.

I don’t know whether it will work, but history shows that if three and a half percent of the population take to the streets, change happens. It’s certainly the best idea I’ve heard yet.

Of course, there is a small chance I could be wrong about all this. In which case we could end up making a better world for nothing.

On the bright side though, at least people give a care about plastic pollution now.

 


 

References

Newspaper Clipping

Coal Consumption Affecting Climate – Fairfax Media NZ, Rodney Times, 1912

1.

Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely, Adrian E. Raftery et al – Nature Climate Change, July 2017

The likely range of global temperature increase is 2.0–4.9 °C, with median 3.2 °C and a 5% (1%) chance that it will be less than 2 °C (1.5 °C). Population growth is not a major contributing factor. Our model is not a ‘business as usual’ scenario, but rather is based on data which already show the effect of emission mitigation policies. Achieving the goal of less than 1.5 °C warming will require carbon intensity to decline much faster than in the recent past.

 

2.

Climate change going beyond dangerous – Brutal numbers and tenuous hope
Kevin Anderson, now Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester; Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

It concludes:

The future is almost beyond what we can imagine, what we have ever seen before. Therefore, our role now is to think differently, to achieve greater clarity, to foster a greater imagination and to no longer keep saying that it is impossible. We must make the impossible possible.
There is real hope, but that hope reduces significantly each day.”

It was written in 2012.

 

3.

“This analysis implies that, even if the Paris Accord target of a 1.5 °C to 2.0 °C rise in temperature is met, we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth System irreversibly onto a “Hothouse Earth” pathway.”

The ‘Hothouse Earth’ Paper:  Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene – PNAS, 2018

“We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. … If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.”

 

4.

EXISTENTIAL CLIMATE-RELATED SECURITY RISK – Breakthrough, May 2019

“climate change now represents a near to mid-term existential threat to human civilisation”

This paper was reported as:

‘High likelihood of human civilisation coming to end’ by 2050, report finds – Independent
Over-conservative climate scenarios mean we could face ‘world of outright chaos’, says analysis authored by former fossil fuel executive and backed by former head of Australia’s military

5.

“Recent research suggests that human societies will experience disruptions to their basic functioning within less than ten years due to climate stress. Such disruptions include increased levels of malnutrition, starvation, disease, civil conflict and war – and will not avoid affluent nations.”

Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy – Jem Bendell, Jul 2018

“A research paper concluding that climate-induced collapse is now inevitable, was recently rejected by anonymous reviewers of an academic journal.

It has been released directly by the Professor who wrote it, to promote discussion of the necessary deep adaptation to climate chaos.

“I am releasing this paper immediately, directly, because I can’t wait any longer in exploring how to learn the implications of the social collapse we now face,” explained the author Dr Bendell, a full Professor of Sustainability Leadership.”