Telling the Truth: The War on Climate Change is Over. We Lost

Neoliberal sparkle dust and Alice-in-Wonderland thinking is not going to leave humanity with a livable climate.

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Climate disruption is an ecological emergency. A report warns B.C. could face many more fires like the devastating Okanagan Mountain Park forest fire in 2003. ((Richard Lam/Canadian Press)

Prince Edward resident Rosalind Adams didn’t pull any punches: “If you ‘green’ Canadians are going to be assholes in the climate crisis, at least tell the truth.”

Adams writes, “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees C., to prevent climate catastrophe, global CO2 emissions must fall to about 17.6 billion tonnes annually by 2030…The global CO2 emissions must fall to about 17.6 billion tonnes annually by 2030.”

Notice, the Report does not specify what an individual country’s emissions should be. But Canadian political parties and media, hopelessly captives of Big Oil, are suggesting  that by reducing Canadian emissions by 50% by 2030, Canada would fulfill its climate responsibility—something the IPCC Report does not suggest.  

Canadians having a carbon footprint of 10 tonnes or 7 tonnes per person by 2030 does not contribute to achieving a global average of 2.1 tonnes per person by 2030. Instead it contributes to a situation where many, many more people than us must have carbon footprints of less than 2.1 tonnes by 2030 to make up for our failure.”

In a Facebook posting, Adam writes, “So what the dominant Canadian story on the IPCC Special Report is basically saying is that it is a matter of internationally agreed upon climate science that Canada, or perhaps more importantly, North America, should maintain the privilege of having emissions levels multiple times higher than almost any other country in the world.” So much for climate justice.”

Neoliberal sparkle dust and Alice-in-Wonderland thinking is not going to leave humanity with a livable climate.

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Protests by Extinction Rebellion’s seemingly inexhaustible army of activists made plenty of headlines last week. Getty Images

Extinction Rebellion’s first demand is that Governments must tell the truth—climate disruption is an ecological emergency. Governments must tell the truth and work with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.

Greta Thunberg says, “I support Extinction Rebellion. What they are doing is good. Civil disobedience is important to show this is an emergency. We need to do everything we can to put pressure on the people in power.” 

So what does climate science tell us?

Adam Sacks explains, “Because of the vast inertial mass of oceans’ ability to absorb temperature and carbon dioxide, there is roughly a 30-year time lag between greenhouse-gas emissions and their effects. The  result of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide we see today, in the range of only 330 parts per million (ppm), are not the result of today’s concentrations of almost 390 ppm. In 2018, carbon dioxide levels reached 411 ppm at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, the highest monthly average ever recorded. We don’t know with any accuracy what this means for future climate disruption.

The second out-of-control component is positive (amplifying) feedback loops. Feedback loops are self-sustaining, amplifying cycles. For example, global warming leads to melting glaciers which  eventually increase ocean saturation with carbon dioxide which leads to atmospheric carbon dioxide. We don’t know with accuracy when a feedback loop is triggered or how to reverse them.

The radical destabilization of life on earth, today’s floods, extreme weather swings, forest fires, typhoons and storm surges are symptoms , the result of 300 years of our relentlessly exploitative, extractive, and exponentially growing technoculture, against the background of ten millennia of hierarchical and colonial civilizations.

Another truth: You can’t bargain with the forces of nature.

To believe that our political parties will meet the level of emissions reductions that the IPCC claim are necessary, demands a level of faith way beyond belief in talking snakes and virgin birth. Better to give up dangerous magical thinking. That’s how we got here. Better to  accept that the war against the environment is over. We lost.

So what are we left with? Protecting as best we can our children’s and grandchildren’s future.




Image result for rosalind adams prince edward county

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chamge Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C., to prevent climate catastrophe, global CO2 emissions must fall to about 17.6 billion tonnes annually by 2030. This implies a global per capita average of 2.1 tonnes.

Canada’s Green New Deal says a Canadian carbon footprint of 10 tonnes per person meets the demands of this science.

The Green Party of Canada says a Canadian carbon footprint of 7.1 tonnes per person exceeds the demands of this science.

Both organizations contend that these reductions from our current 22 tonne per person carbon emission level contribute to achieving the scientifically necessary global average.

These are lies.

If they were taught the truth about climate disruption, a Canadian child in grade five or six could easily spot the deception. As things stand, most Canadian adults, including most self-identified climate activists, including David Suzuki and Naomi Klein, are too deceived, too lazy, too stupid, too uncaring, too deep in denial, or too invested in their own class interests to understand the basic math.

Here it is, for anyone who gives a crap.

Canadians having a carbon footprint of 10 tonnes or 7 tonnes per person by 2030 does not contribute to achieving a global average of 2.1 tonnes per person by 2030.

Instead it contributes to a situation where many, many more people than us must have carbon footprints of less than 2.1 tonnes by 2030 to make up for our failure. This is the rule of averages.

(For example, for every one person with a carbon footprint of 7.1 tonnes annually, more than 2 people have to have a carbon footprint of zero to bring the average down to 2.1 tonnes, or 5 people have to have a carbon footprint of one tonne, and so on.)

It also contributes to a situation where it would have to go without saying that in addition to being denied access to their fair share of the world’s remaining burnable fossil fuel, these low-emitting people would also have to be denied the right to use their carbon emissions quota to keep CO2 out of the atmosphere.

So much for any semblance of global justice with the Green New Deal or the Green Party plan.

In this situation it is the people with carbon footprints lower than 2.1 tonnes who are contributing to saving a livable climate; it is certainly not us.

Q: If the world’s biggest polluters, Canada among them, are only going to cut their emissions in half by 2030, how many of the world’s lowest-emitting countries, how many of the world’s poorest and most energy-starved countries, how many of the world’s countries least able to cut their emissions without inflicting great suffering and risk on their people, must also cut their negligible emissions in half to bring global average per capita emissions down to a safe level (for the people of the global north—a 1.5 degree rise is actually life-threatening for hundreds of millions if not billions in the global south)?


Fuck the Green Party, fuck the Green New Deal. Fuck the NDP, the Liberals, and the Conservatives; they’re even worse.

If we want government that isn’t going to kill our children, destroy civilization, decimate or extinguish all other species of life on earth to protect the privilege and power of the rich, we are going to have to govern ourselves.

Rosalind Adams: “Declare a climate emergency today.”

Prince Edward County Coun. Kate MacNaughton introduced a motion at the committee of teh whole last week in an effort to have the municipality declare a state of climate emergency. BRUCE BELL 

Adams demolishes objections of the fainthearted 

My name is Rosalind Adams and I am speaking to motion CW 181 2019.

I appeal to you not to declare a “climate urgency”.

To pick up from where the last discussion left off, Council downgraded the proposed declaration from “climate emergency” to “climate urgency”. This had nothing to do with science, but sprang from a disinclination to take the kind of action declaring a climate emergency would demand.

It is hard to fathom why, when hundreds of millions of people’s lives are in danger, when our own children’s and grandchildren’s chance of decent survival is threatened, Council wouldn’t want to do everything its power to change things.

I can only imagine two possible explanations. One is the belief that continuing the status quo is worth ending the world for everyone. The other is confusion about climate change and our responsibility to reduce our emissions. I hope that it’s the latter. So I am going to try to clear up some confusing statements made by Council at the last meeting.

Statement #1. We all produce carbon dioxide every time we breathe out, so how can we really reduce our carbon emissions?

The carbon dioxide we breathe out comes from how we use food and oxygen to get the energy we need. When we burn food in our bodies it is converted to water and carbon dioxide. All the carbon dioxide we exhale comes from food recently produced by photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process where plants use energy from the sun to make food from carbon dioxide and water. This creates a cycle. Plants are pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at the same rate that things that eat plants are releasing it. So we don’t disturb the carbon dioxide concentration by breathing.

On the other hand when we burn fossil fuels we are releasing hundreds of millions of years worth of sequestered carbon on a time scale of a few centuries, mostly over the last fifty years–far more carbon dioxide than all life processes on earth release, far more than what the biosphere can absorb. This excess is going into the atmosphere increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide, and warming the planet.

To reduce our emissions, we don’t need to stop breathing, we need to stop burning fossil fuels.

Statement #2. The entire country of Canada only contributes between 1.5 and 2 % of total global carbon emissions, so it won’t make much difference if we lower our emissions.

This is the “I’m only one person, so I can do whatever I want and it’s not going to matter in the big picture” mentality, but multiplied by 36 million.

Everyone in the world is only one person. What is pushing global carbon emissions over the threshold is the aggregation of carbon emissions made by individual human beings.

We each share the climate with almost eight billion other people, who are all our equals. So a good way to see if how we are proposing to act in the climate crisis is okay, is to ask the question, What if everyone does what we do?
We are already seeing what happens if only a small percentage of the world’s population have high levels of fossil fuel use: the aggregate carbon emissions of this group are changing the atmosphere in a life-threatening way.

And that’s not even with everyone acting the way Canadians do. Even among the world’s worst emitters, we stand out. The national emission level Greta Thunberg is protesting, Sweden’s, is 5.9 tonnes per person. Her young European Union comrades are protesting an average level of around 8 tonnes. Canada’s per capita emissions are 22 tonnes.

If everyone in the world had our size carbon footprint, and was following our emissions reduction plan, by 2030 global emissions would be 10 times higher than what is consistent with a survivable future. But that would not really matter, because we would have overshot that possibility by 2021, two years from now. Luckily the world cannot produce enough oil for this to happen.

But our continued ignoring of climate change, and continued high emissions create acceptability on the global scene for this kind of behaviour, and encourage others to adopt it, when we need to be doing the opposite. They also make it impossible for us to demand that other countries lower their emissions.

Which brings us to Statement # 3. China, India, The E.U., the U.S., and Russia all have far greater emissions levels than Canada. It is they who need to lower their emissions, not us.

Let’s look at India. India’s carbon dioxide emissions are 2455 million tonnes per year, about three and a half times Canada’s. Their greater emissions are not unexpected. India has a population of 1.3 billion, about 35 times as many people as Canada. India consumes lots more food than Canada too. That doesn’t mean the people of India eat too much, or that Canadians eat too little.

All the countries mentioned have populations at least 4 times greater than Canada’s. To make relevant comparisons, we have to factor in these differences. To see who really needs to lower their emissions, we must use per capita values and hold them up against the IPCC report’s livable-climate target of 2.1 tonnes per person by 2030.

India’s per capita level is 1.9 tonnes. To meet the 2030 target, they do not have to make any reductions. China, the E.U., and Russia all have considerably higher emissions levels: around 8 tonnes per person for China and the E.U. and 11 for Russia. These countries are responsible to make considerable cuts by 2030 to reach the 2.1 tonne per person target. But none of the so-called top emitters have anywhere near the same responsibility as Canada, where average per capita emissions are 22 tonnes.

Our personal carbon emissions do not have a lesser impact on the climate if we live in a country with a low population. The atmosphere and the climate do not recognize borders. We are all just people making emissions. Canadian people make bigger emissions than any other people in the world, and we need to cut our emissions more deeply than anyone else.

Statement #4. Declaring a climate emergency would be divisive.

This is true, but the question we need to ask here is, divisive compared to what?

Declaring a climate emergency might feel alienating to some people in the County because of conflicting ideologies.

But not declaring a climate emergency, not declaring and acting like our collective house is on fire, will cause this house to burn down, figuratively speaking.

Global temperatures forced higher will cause weather disasters to exceed our ability to deal with them. The cost of emergency response, clean-up, rebuilding, infrastructure repair, the social cost of large numbers of people incurring devastating losses, will cut deeply into communities’ ability to provide essential services like healthcare, education, child- and elder-care. Large numbers of people in need competing for depleted to non-existent resources will be far more divisive than differing ideologies.

Human caused climate change also poses an undeniable threat to both global and local food systems. Failing to address climate change will inevitably lead to food crisis. We have seen this situation in microcosm lead to civil unrest and war in other parts of the world. A climate-induced global food crisis has the potential to do this on an unprecedented scale. Talk about divisive.

There seems to be the impression that by not declaring a climate emergency, Council can choose not to have a climate emergency. This is not the choice. The choice you are facing is to declare a climate emergency and do all you possibly can to avoid catastrophe, or to do little to nothing about it and contribute to destroying the future for everyone.

In conclusion that I would like to remind Council that you all are part of “everyone”.

Do not declare a climate “urgency”. Declare a climate EMERGENCY today.


County committee opts for climate urgency (May 21)

Climate emergency by-law in Prince Edward County


Climate emergency by-law in Prince Edward CountyDebris comes up on the property at 10 S Front St, as water comes up over the boardwalk (Photo: John Spitters / Quinte News)

The words ‘climate emergency’ are back in, in Prince Edward County.

As water levels continue to rise on Lake Ontario to record highs for the second time in three years, council voted 10-3 to include the words climate emergency instead of climate urgency when it comes to reestablishing an Environmental Advisory Committee.

Councillor Kate MacNaughton pulled the motion for a second attempt to have her motion contain ‘the strongest wording possible’ as the municipality recognizes a very serious problem, a very serious emergency that requires immediate attention.

Rosalind Adams and Jim Gronau both made delegations to council regarding the importance of this issue, and four others spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting on Tuesday night at Shire Hall.

Federal Bay of Quinte NDP candidate Stephanie Bell spoke, stating she was appalled by their previous decision as “we urgently need to act on this emergency”.

Mayor Steve Ferguson says they have a situation they have to deal with and including language as strong as possible is important.



Council supports declaration of climate emergency