Geneva/Dubai (WMO) - 2023 has shattered climate records, accompanied by extreme weather which has left a trail of devastation and despair, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

    • 2023 set to be warmest year on record
    • Greenhouse gas levels continue to increase
    • Record sea surface temperatures and sea level rise
    • Record low Antarctic sea ice
    • Extreme weather causes death and devastation

    2023 shatters climate records, with major impacts

    They’ve dedicated their lives to understanding the problems then communicating to the world only to be ignored or, worse, threatened.

    Decades ago, three pioneering Australian scientists were some of the first to warn the world about a looming climate crisis. They were branded alarmists and faced political pressure. We hear how they made their discoveries, the personal toll it took on them, and how, during the hottest year on record, they stay hopeful

    Weight of the world | The Guardian

    Next week, world leaders will head to Dubai for the Conference of the Parties—the United Nations’ annual climate meeting—to finalize the first “global stocktake,” assessing progress toward the Paris Agreement’s goals. The UN Environment Programme is not mincing words about how far from those goals nations are. Today, ahead of COP28, it is releasing a damning report: “Broken Record—Temperatures Hit New Highs, Yet World Fails to Cut Emissions (Again).”

    Emissions Should Be Plummeting. Instead, They’re Breaking Dangerous New Records | WIRED

    I am speaking with Professor Kevin Anderson from the Universities of Manchester and Uppsala about how journalists and experts have failed the public by an over dependence on reductionist thinking, as opposed to systems thinking, much needed to avert disaster.

    Instead of making the space for envisioning a better world, perpetrators of the status quo instead construct fantasies as a way to deflect criticism and delay real action.

    Kevin Anderson: Climate Failures and Phantasies | Full episode - YouTube

    Over at Mastodon Jason shared this article about living a simple life. The post offers up some helpful, worthwhile suggestions about being more thoughtful in life choices in terms of the usual practice of keeping up appearances, consumption-based living, etc.

    I looked at a few other posts from the site which offered similar good advice. But it is the packaging of minimalism and simple living that has become a bit of a meme on the internet. And while such sites might serve as an introduction to questioning consumerism as a way of life they often have something to sell. I wasn’t too surprised to see that, indeed, these folks offer a paid course. Even the simple life has a price. 😉

    But yes, it’s increasingly obvious that our modern way of life is putting strains on our mental and physical health as well as on the ecosystems of the planet. In the developed nations the top 10% have built a way of life based on hyper consumption of resources which requires constant work and a focus on income. For many the vision of the “American Dream” is playing out as something else entirely.

    We’re living in a time of persistent crises. The climate crisis serves as the background and it alone represents an existential crisis. But on top of that there are many others that surface as a result of the world we’ve built. The “simple life” and “minimalism” offer up a glimpse of something else. They hint at a calmer, quieter life with reoriented values like time spent or experiences a relationships rather than stuff. On the surface this sounds good because want to feel better, we want relief from the crises of modern life.

    But let’s not just go for relief. Too often our drive is our physical and/or mental comfort and often that means a quick fix or band aid. So, let’s not just stop at the notion that our problem is too much stuff. Yes, acquisition of too much stuff is a problem but really, it’s also a symptom of a deeper cultural problem.

    Let’s dig deeper.

    Capitalism is the basis of modern, western nations. For decades it’s been sold as congruent with democracy, almost as though it is the other half of democratic society. It’s been assumed by many to be normal, natural and the way that economy should function. Certainly this is the commonly held view in the United States. But at the base of capitalism is insecurity, the never ending drive for increased profit through increased growth and consumption. These are fundamental, foundational to the “American Dream”.

    The problem with simple living and minimalism as commonly discussed is that they serve is a temporary balm but leave us with problems. And so we just continue in long crisis. We experience it personally as perpetual longing for the unknown thing that we think will help us feel more secure, happier, content. It’s always there over the horizon. It’s to be found in documents like the US Declaration of Independence: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Happiness. Dare I say that perhaps a part of our problem is our focus on our happiness? It seems normal enough, to want to be happy and to search for what makes us happy. But happiness is ephemeral. It’s not a permanent state. And we live in a time and culture when it’s a fairly common message that what brings us happiness is the purchase of that next thing. Or, even, that next new experience. It might be a concert, movie or a trip. But no matter what we consume, the “happiness” is fleeting and within hours or days, we’re onto the next thing we want.

    My suggestion is that we consider shifting our focus away from our pursuit of happiness. And don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to be happy, to experience joy. But I would suggest that we need to go deeper in our search. That it would be more helpful and meaningful to ask other questions. To begin, what is our purpose as humans. How can we contribute to the well being of not just our families but our communities? Will our life on the planet leave a it degraded or even severely degraded to the degree that future life will suffer?

    I’m not going to claim to know all of the questions we should be asking or to have the answers. But, rather, that we should be asking more of ourselves than we have been.

    I’d like this to be a series of posts because it’s the kind of exploration that can and should branch off into side explorations. For example, what is the result of a culture that encourages a focus on the nuclear family as many of the wealthy nations do?

    Thinking living simply, there are practical considerations of how we think of exercise and physical labor in a time when many work in offices. Which is a subject can then branch off into the tools we use and how they may be measured in terms of longevity, repairability, carbon footprint, and requirements for use.

    There’s a lot to explore and I’m planning follow-ups.

    Coal must be phased out seven times faster than is now happening, deforestation must be reduced four times faster, and public transport around the world built out six times faster than at present, if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown, new research has found.

    This failure makes the prospect of holding global temperatures to 1.5C above preindustrial levels even more remote, according to the State of Climate Action 2023 report.

    World behind on almost every policy required to cut carbon emissions, research finds | The Guardian

    Went to town yesterday for groceries and put 3 gallons of gas in the car. That's my second purchase of gas this year. I put about 3.5 gallons in it on February 28. So, 6.5 gallons for the year. It's not zero but it's not too bad.

    Metabolic change is a less-talked-about, yet brutal and widespread, consequence of global warming. As ocean temperatures rise, so do the metabolisms of animals from fish to crustaceans to zooplankton. They need more food, and it isn’t always available, which is what appears to have contributed to the snow crabs’ population collapse.

    One of those little details that the wealthiest 10% of the planet can’t be bothered to think about as they go about the business of burning up the planet and apparently forgetting that this is home.

    The Hidden, Awful Way That Climate Change Imperils Animals | WIRED

    This morning I shared a post about the importance of the US and its citizens taking full responsibility for the genocide happening in Gaza right now. In response Tuban_muzuru on Mastodon asked: "Perhaps you have some ideas what we as ordinary Americans might do. "

    Perhaps you have some ideas what we as ordinary Americans might do. Washington DC has become a congregation of whores.

    I suspect the smart move is to take all that wonderful advice we're given, up stakes and leave the outside world to its fate. If the last Serb chases the last Croat through those hills, if the Russians recolonise Ukraine, if the Strong Men oppress the weak - why on earth should we care?

    There is no quick fix to the host of problems we have before us. No one-size-fits-all prescription. The problem in the US is decades in the making as are many of our global problems. And of course such problems are never just political. The various crises of our time span borders, cultures, economies and ecosystems. But for the moment I'll be writing specifically as a US citizen, focused on my experiences and observations here.

    As the problems are not just political, the solutions cannot just be protests or voting which are the two choices people most often think of first when they think of fixing problems. The solutions are not necessarily new laws or new legislators or even new parties. The solutions are long term, deep changes to culture, political process, media, economics, education and on. Democracy should run deep and it should more deeply define us. Of course I say all this knowing that many of our planetary problems have reached the level of emergency or crisis and require swift action. The same too could be said of wars that are happening right now.

    What to do? What is the action to be taken?

    It's long, long past the time that Americans stop yelling at and past one another. We don't change or build anything with that. It's just venting rather than communicating. If we want to re-engage any kind of meaningful democratic process we have prioritize meaningful communication and discussion of problems as well as possible solutions. To do that we'll need spaces. Local, face-to-face space as well as spaces online. Where do we go to learn and practice democracy? Historically it was the town square, street corners, newspapers, shops, schools, parks, libraries all served as a patchwork of public life. It's easy to see that in 2023 many of those spaces no longer exist as they once did. We've spent 80 years building roadways, strip malls and suburbs, all around fast, private transport via the automobile. Our community spaces have been replaced by highways and shopping centers populated by big box stores so that's going to be an obstacle, especially in suburbia.

    I live in a small town and we have a library that can serve as a public space for speaker events, classes and workshops. We also have several parks, at least one in the middle of town that has several covered pavilions. I suspect many small towns have spaces like that and many urban areas too.

    Let's assume that, to some degree, people can find spaces in their communities to make face-to-face gatherings happen. What can be accomplished at such gatherings and what do they look like?

    My suggestion is that we begin by simply creating small local events that can take on a variety of forms: potlucks, workshops, teach-ins, study groups and speaker events can be held by small groups of friends and neighbors or larger if space is available. There's nothing new about this suggestion and such gatherings already happen in some communities. They can be organized by individuals, friends, organizations that have shared concerns and might take place weekly, monthly or at any schedule at all as needed.

    In my own experience I've been a part of numerous weekly study groups where participants, week-to-week read and discuss books, essays, articles, topics/ideas and so on. The possibilities are limitless but what's most needed is for people to begin getting together, to take the initiative to educate themselves and one another on issues. To move forward citizens in a democracy have to be proactive in being better informed about the important problems of their community at a variety of scales. Such community initiatives and processes have been lacking in American life for decades.

    Consider that commonly the American Dream is also described as "The Rat Race". That's quite a different version of life here. But both apply. A successful life is often characterized by a good job, good money, nice car, nice home filled with stuff. In other words: work and consumption. Days are filled with commuting and working. Nights are squeezing in food, entertainment, household chores and then sleep before repeating the same again. And weekends are spent alternating between recovery, entertainment, more chores, etc. But no where in this cycle do people set aside time to get together as citizens. I can hear people laughing at the suggestion. "You want me to use my precious time away from my job and commute to read about US foreign policy in the Middle East? You want me to go to a county or town council meeting? You think I'm going to spend a few evenings this month so that I can organize a workshop at the library three Saturdays from now? That's a waste of my evenings and a Saturday!

    But we need to ask ourselves, what is this "democracy" thing we pretend to value? What is its substance? We cry and complain that "government is corrupt" and it is. It's been taken over by monied interests. That happened years ago. We don't like it and yet we refuse to do anything about it. We refuse to take even a little responsibility. We refuse to even think what our role as "We the people" IS.

    And then, when crises happen we don't know what to do. Why is the world on fire? I'll just scroll my Instagram feed. Genocide being perpetrated with MY tax dollars? Huh, I wonder what's on Prime Video tonight. We brush off our responsibilities. We make excuses about how this or that is too complex to understand. It's much easier to just watch a video.

    So, I'd characterize much of the above as community education. Taking a proactive role in better understanding what's happening and why it's happening. Learning and teaching ourselves and one another. And in that understanding, also, as communities, thinking more about what it is we actually want. If democracy is the process by which we manage our lives, a part of that never-ending-discussion is its expression in real-world actions, organizations and material projects.

    WE have to do more than vote. Back in the early 1900s the more militant labor unions, exemplified by the Wobblies of the IWW, were known for phrases like "Don't mourn, organize!" They held firmly to the idea that the world could be made better by working people when they were willing to stand up together and help one another through direct action on the job, and in their communities. Sometimes that direct action took the form of education efforts. Sometimes it took on the form of striking or strike support. It might be taking the time to protest or cook meals for those in the middle of struggles. It was mutual aid and solidarity. Many gave their whole lives to these efforts and it's a part of our history we would do well to reacquaint ourselves with.

    What can we do to build the world we want? While steps of building community-based spaces and processes for communication and discussion are critical, they are just the beginning of an ongoing process. But I would suggest that local community building is important to all of our solutions. Communication and discussion, as a part of local democracy can't really be separated out from the other work that will grow out of meeting the needs of people. They'll remain intertwined.

    But let's get onto action items. We want action, we need action. (Note: At the end of a long day I'm about to post this knowing I'd like to add more detail to this section. I hope to do that and repost at a future date).

    • As stated above, we need to immediately get busy creating educational gatherings, workshops, study groups, local, community media

    Community building - mutual aid

    • Local structures of mutual aid would also be primary. If people's needs are not being met, what are some of the most essential needs that can be met via volunteer labor and at low cost?
    • Makerspaces, tool libraries, re-use co-ops
    • Services

    Community building - local governance

    • Building local democracy. Really, this is just a placeholder for something I'm not ready to write about here.

    Immediate Response - Global crises

    Day-to-day, the two crises that most have my attention at the moment are the climate crisis and the current genocide being carried out by Israel.

    • The climate crisis is one that has guided my life. While it is immediate it's also been decades in the making and something I've been thinking about daily for 20+ years. This is the long emergency that will redefine the future of life on the planet.
    • The crisis in the Middle East, also decades in the making, is perhaps more immediate in terms of the overt violence that is being leveled against a population of civilians. Thus far the most easy to observe actions being taken in response include:
    • Organized local, individual and group efforts to call, meet with, pressure government representatives.
    • Protests in the streets, occupations.

    As it pertains to crises such as these it should be assumed that "our representatives" do not, in fact, represent us. With that assumption, it will be no surprise that they will not be immediately responsive to our opinions, calls or demands. We should be prepared for long-term protest similar to those seen with Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

    It's time that US citizens remember the general strike as an action. The changes we need will absolutely require mass disturbance and disruption of business as usual. Citizens should get comfortable with not being comfortable. Shutting down the normal operation of cities should be become the norm. If these things seem too radical then I'd suggest people do not understand the foundational, systemic problems.

    I expect that most "mainstream" Americans will show little to no interest in any of the above until the chickens come home to roost. The problem with our apathetic culture is that, well, it doesn't want to be disturbed or bothered. Americans have proven themselves to be not just unconcerned but deeply disconnected from reality until it affects them directly. While it seems that there is increasing concern of the various crises that just won't go away on their own, most notably the climate crisis, most are not concerned enough yet to actually commit to anything of substance. Sure they'll switch to EVs as those become more available and affordable but ask them to commit to rail and cycling and you might as well be making the request of a fence post.

    And the current genocide against the Palestinians, which is in part the result of US foreign policy, well, that's half a world away. It's easy to just "be confused because it's so complex" and walk away. Sadly, tragically, many won't acknowledge their complicity as tax payers that just quietly go along. History repeats itself.

    "Should we assume that Hansen and his team of researchers are right, and therefore take the drastic actions that are indicated? Or should we trust that mainstream moderate scientists like Michael Mann are correct, and calmly adopt a more gradual approach? Which choice represents the greatest risk? I think the answer is obvious." - Bread and Circuses at Climate Justice Social

    Hansen Vs. Mann — Is Global Warming Linear Or Exponential?

    The best government money can buy. It’s a bit bonkers that anyone still considers the US to be any kind of democracy. It’s not.

    Fossil fuel companies have spent millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign donations to state lawmakers who sponsored anti-protest laws—which now shield about 60 percent of US gas and oil operations from protest and civil disobedience, according to a new report from Greenpeace USA.

    Eighteen states, including Montana, Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, West Virginia, and the Dakotas, have enacted sweeping anti-protest laws which boost penalties for trespass near so-called critical infrastructure, that make it far riskier for communities to oppose pipelines and other fossil fuel projects that threaten their land, water and the global climate.

    Study: Fossil Fuel Industry Is Behind a Spate of Anti-Protest Bills – Mother Jones

    Can you see it yet? The Earth systems horizon – the point at which our planetary systems tip into a new equilibrium, hostile to most lifeforms? I think we can. The sudden acceleration of environmental crises we have seen this year, coupled with the strategic uselessness of powerful governments, rushes us towards the point of no return.

    The ‘flickering’ of Earth systems is warning us: act now, or see our already degraded paradise lost | The Guardian

    After a few years of record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events, Ripple’s experience is a sign of how climate scientists — who once refrained from entering the public fray — are now using strident language to describe the warming planet. References to “climate emergency” and “climate crisis,” once used primarily by activist groups like the U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion or the U.S.-based Sunrise Movement, are spiking in the academic literature.

    To a growing number of scientists, climate change is an ‘emergency’ - The Washington Post

    “The majority of Americans see some fairly severe environmental harms as likely to happen over the next 30 years,” says Alec Tyson of the Pew Research Center, who helped lead the survey. “For example, 73% say they think a growing number of plant and animal species will go extinct, 61% say they think heat waves will cause large numbers of people to die in the U.S. every year and 58% think rising sea levels will force large numbers of people in the U.S. to move away from the coast.”

    Reality slowly setting in.

    Americans expect climate impacts to worsen, survey finds : NPR

    For decades, we have been taught in schools and told by the media that endless economic growth is good, that it benefits everyone, and that there are no downsides. Never is any alternative discussed or even imagined. Growth, our leaders maintain, is the only way to go.

    Degrowth, on the other hand, is almost never spoken of, and when it is, the concept is deliberately misrepresented by our capitalist rulers and their servants.

    Bread and Circuses at Climate Justice Social

    Doomed or Not?

    Rebecca Solnit writing in the Guardian: We can’t afford to be climate doomers:

    “Some days I think that if we lose the climate battle, it’ll be due in no small part to this defeatism among the comfortable in the global north, while people in frontline communities continue to fight like hell for survival. Which is why fighting defeatism is also climate work.”

    A reply from Renaee Churches:

    We have already lost the climate battle and it is stories or opinions like the one above, that are preventing others from grasping this, and stopping us from taking the kinds of collective adaptive responses appropriate on a local and global scale.

    The not-too-late framing is a dangerous one. It means people are prepared to wait for global elites to roll out the energy transition, to deploy such ‘solutions’ as carbon capture technologies, or other flawed techno fixes, aimed at making those elites wealthy, while not stopping the baked in warming that is already here and accelerating. It is only when we finally break through the not-too-late taboo that we will begin the work in earnest of adaptation to reduce suffering as much as we can.

    This question and discussion is on my mind most days. I don’t think there’s a correct answer. My response is just simply that we are now in a climate emergency that will have no end in our lifetimes. That we have gone too far and must respond and keep responding. Our everyday lives should be a response and in short order, whether we like it or not, our lives will involuntarily be a constant response, a forced adaption to ever changing, worsening conditions.

    Better Catastrophe

    A flowchart for navigating our climate predicament

    Global warming is projected to rocket past the 1.5°C limit, throwing lifelong activist Andrew Boyd into a crisis of hope, and off on a quest to learn how to live with the “impossible news” of climate breakdown. With gallows humor and a broken heart, Andrew steers us through our climate angst as he walks his own. This flowchart is an invitation to join him on his narrative path and explore our predicament on your own.

    Immediately participatory.

    I want a better catastrophe

    The assessment, published in the journal Nature, Wednesday, looked at two decades worth of data from more than 1,000 scientists…

    …found that the status of amphibians globally is “deteriorating rapidly,” earning them the unenviable title of being the planet’s most threatened class of vertebrates.

    Forty-one percent of the assessed amphibians are threatened with extinction in the immediate and long-term, Luedtke said. “Which is a greater percentage than threatened mammals, reptiles and birds.”

    Climate change and development pushing world’s amphibians towards extinction. : NPR

    This summer, the United States roasted like never before. People got third-degree burns from simply falling onto hot pavement in Arizona, filling up all the beds in Maricopa County’s burn center. High humidity teamed up with the Midwest’s worst heat wave in years to send the heat index, or the “feels like” temperature, soaring above 130 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Kansas…

    Off the coast of Florida, the ocean warmed to hot tub temperatures, leading to mass death in the coral reefs.

    Climate Fiction Is No Longer Dystopian. Just Reality. – Mother Jones

    Scientists have said climate breakdown caused by the burning of fossil fuels is the cause of unusually hot summers and winters with very low snow volume, which have caused the accelerating melts. The volume lost during the hot summers of 2022 and 2023 is the same as that lost between 1960 and 1990. … Experts have stopped measuring the ice on some glaciers as there is essentially none left.

    Swiss glaciers lose 10% of their volume in two years | The Guardian

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