This was a positive weekend not just for us, but for everyone. Climate change and unchecked abuses of power are probably two of the biggest threats to the people of this world right now, whether they realise it or not, and the lack of reporting on both in the media has been an enduring issue for us at Shamocracy. It certainly never helps if the press, that bridge between the general public and awareness of current events, restricts what information crosses over. Happily, two items that we’ve made into priorities have started making the headlines.
There was increasing coverage of the Westminster abuse scandal over the weekend, with even Conservative outlets Sky News and the Mail on Sunday opting to end the silence and take the systemic rape and murder of children by members of Parliament to the front page. Additionally, a feature focusing on the threat of climate change appeared on the Guardian’s front page on Friday, and with it came the promise from outgoing editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger that “it will be there again next week and the week after”. That the media has shown some uncharacteristic responsibility by making big deals out of these stories provides hope: maybe we’re in the midst of a shift.
2015 Gates Annual Letter
It is fair to ask whether the progress we’re predicting will be stifled by climate change. The most dramatic problems caused by climate change are more than 15 years away, but the long-term threat is so serious that the world needs to move much more aggressively — right now — to develop energy sources that are cheaper, can deliver on demand, and emit zero carbon dioxide. The next 15 years are a pivotal time when these energy sources need to be developed so they’ll be ready to deploy before the effects of climate change become severe. Bill is investing time in this work personally (not through our foundation) and will continue to speak out about it.
I love the positivity of his messages and the work he is doing to improve the lives of those that need it most. His call for us to become global citizens is greatly needed to tackle many of the problems we face and stop thinking, acting and voting just for ourselves.
However, global warming is such a big and immediate issue — we have until 2017 to start reducing carbon dioxide output, after that we lock in >2ºC dangerous, irreversible warming — that despite all the progress being made in developing countries today, the effects of climate change are likely to negate much of that work in the future.
In addition, this text demonstrates a lack of understanding about how the climate works. The carbon dioxide we emit today can take as long as 40 years to have its full effect, which means Gates’ plan of finding and deploying an energy source before the effects become severe in the next 15 years is redundant. While we can’t link specific weather events directly to global warming, we are seeing a trend of more extreme events and temperatures already — 2014 was the warmest year on record, indeed every year of the 21st century so far is in the top 15 warmest years on record.
Gates is bound by capitalist ideology, his emphasis on the need to develop a ‘miracle cure’ source of energy is evidence of that. He is a major investor in TerraPower, a nuclear startup (centralised energy sources fit into our current energy generation economic model, where large profit can still be extracted from the masses — existing low carbon energy sources are largely distributed) and climate engineering ideas such as sucking Carbon Dioxide out the air (an idea that is very controversial and will take more time than we have). Oh, and the Gates Foundation has at least $1bn invested in BP and ExxonMobil along with other investments in oil and gas exploration, production, services and engineering firms.
We have the technology we need to start solving the problem today, but it will require a fundamental shift of focus and wealth. We are putting profit before the place we live. We are betting big on the miracle cure in the future. What if that miracle never happens?
I’m currently reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, a really enlightening read which stresses the urgency of the global warming problem, the reasons for the political stagnation we are experiencing and the potential solutions and opportunites. In part of the book Klein spells out what a bad idea hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is. Coupled with the news that a recent report on fracking has been censored, I felt the need to write to my MP Jane Ellison, the Conservative MP for Battersea, to express my concerns. Here’s the letter I wrote in full. If you want to write to your own MP, WriteToThem makes it easy.
Much of world’s fossil fuel reserve must stay buried to prevent climate change
New research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands
The environment must take precedence over profits. After four decades of trade liberalisation, it’s going to be a tough fight.
Power firms to get £1bn for plants to stay open
Recently we documented how little the government invests in renewable energy — subsidies are capped at £200m/y — and this now shows where their priorities really lie and where the money is going.
Researchers achieve 40% solar efficiency
Great to see scientific progress is being made in renewables despite the lack of funding for renewable research — just £29m a year between 2000 and 2009 in the UK. Meanwhile, subsidies for fossil fuels are growing, in 2012 amounting to £323bn worldwide compared to £60bn for renewables, a ratio of 5:1. The UK Government has capped renewable subsidies at £200m a year while simultaneously subsidising fossil fuels to the tune of £757m a year and spending £418m a year in oil exploration.
Police asked university for list of attendees at fracking debate
What are they up to?
Kent police said they needed to assess “the threat and risk for significant public events in the county to allow it to maintain public safety”.
The request follows disclosures that police have been monitoring political activities at universities around the country, and spying on groups that use non-violent methods to further their aims. Last year it was revealed that police attempted to recruit an activist to become an informant and pass on information about Cambridge University students and other protesters.
Asked why it had requested the list, the force said: “Kent police assesses the threat and risk for significant public events in the county to allow it to maintain public safety and appropriately allocate resources. Police attendance was not required during the meeting, but the Dover district chief inspector did attend the event as an interested stakeholder.”
They declined to explain why the inspector would be an “interested stakeholder”.
Global weirding is here
What is quite startling about this is the visual difference between RPC2.6 (All hands on deck) and RPC8.5 (do nothing). This isn’t subjective, it’s based on research from over 800 scientists, citing more than 30,000 mostly peer reviewed scientific articles. This will happen unless we stop it. We have the ability to stop it, and it will benefit us in many more ways than just surviving as a species.