A stunning new study: extreme climate events building and building during the lives of our children. From UV Brussels, Lead Author Dr. Wim Thiery reveals painful numbers – and who really pays the price of our continued inaction on greenhouse gases. From Australia, author David Spratt joins our second half hour. He tells us Imaginary green words cover up terrible changes in our climate, happening already. Welcome to the emergency.
RADIO ECOSHOCK NEEDS YOUR HELP!
As we head into a difficult winter, I need your financial support to keep up my research and interviews. Radio Ecoshock is all I do, and your donations or monthly membership pays all the bills to keep this program free to all radio stations, podcast subscribers, and downloaders around the world. Given the dire news, it is probably hard for you to keep going. It is hard for me too. Your financial support signals “this matters” and really keeps me going. It’s easy to help here.
Sorry Kids – We Are Leaving You A Wrecked World
Many parents hope to leave their children some help, an inheritance. But fossil-powered wealth is leaving a different legacy – a new climate of extremes. It would take a writer in both sci-fi and horror to express what science now predicts for our kids and grandchildren.
Dr. Wim Thiery is a research professor from [VIEW] Vrije University of Brussels. He led 37 authors with a warning: kids are severely threatened by climate change – in ways older people have never experienced. The paper was published in the journal Science on September 26, 2021.
Dr. Wim Thierry, Vrije University of Brussels
We hear so many numbers and statistics, the mind goes numb. Pause for a second. This scientific report warns heat waves, storms, and disasters from unstable weather will increase 4 or even 7 times what we experience today. So the next generation will have to try to survive and recover over and over again.
With 1.5 degree warming, a new-born in 2020 will experience about 17 heat waves in their lifetime (more than four times as many as seniors today live through). But if countries only live up to current emissions pledges, that becomes almost 30 heat waves for babies recently born! With current pledges, that multiplication factor is 7 times more extreme events for a baby now than a current 60 year old. Remember, Wim is talking about the future of his own son, born in 2020. This is not “academic” for him!
At Vu, Wim is with the Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering. This new study includes river flooding in the growing catalog of disasters. I interviewed Dr. Anders Levermann about river floods, and we just had those deadly floods in Belgium and North Germany. The next generation will see many more.
According to the World Bank, about 42 percent of the world population is under the age of 25 – 3.5 billion people. The population under 25 rises above 60 percent in the Middle East and North Africa. Why should they suffer for the wealth and pollution from previous generations far away?
This new paper says: “People living in low or middle income countries will be disproportionately hit by climate change”. That is partly because there are so many young people living there. More than 2/3 of newborns live in Low or Middle Income countries. (26:51) Only 10% of newborns live in high income countries.
There is solid science warning parts of Earth will be too hot and humid to survive. Other places will be wiped out repeatedly, as Caribbean islands were by super storms. If people cannot survive where they are, they will migrate. Given the multiplying pressures outlined in this new paper, we should expectation more climate migration, but that was not included in this study.
We do not have to look overseas for climate injustice. School kids already know, often better than their parents. Wim has kids, including a toddler born near that 2020 line used in his predictive disaster charts. He talks to us about inter-generational injustice. Seniors now, or even people in their fifties, will not live to see the fundamental differences in extreme events. But people under 40 years old now will experience it. People over 50 have never experienced disaster multiplier effects in a warming world. They will not live long enough to see it. But the older generation controls most of the world’s wealth and power.
“For a 3°C global warming pathway, a 6-year-old in 2020 will experience twice as many wildfires and tropical cyclones, three times more river floods, four times more crop failures, five times more droughts, and 36 times more heat waves relative to the reference person.”
“Younger generations will live an unprecedented life”.
– Wim Thiery
IT COULD BE WORSE…
In the Discussion part of the paper, the authors suggest even these frightening findings might be too conservative. Extremes could increase even more. “For example, we treated multiple extremes within a year as one, neglected compound events, and ignored changes in event duration and intensity.” They also had to leave out slow developments like coastal flooding. Those are huge. Do we still have a worse worst-case scenario to come?
With 36 other scientists, Wim Thiery led the Science paper “Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes”.
Wim has spoken during a climate march (in 2019) to Dutch media. The Dutch language interview is here.
Speaking of climate injustice, see also this new report from Carbon Brief on the world’s worst carbon offenders.
SORRY IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Sorry kids, we didn’t intend to wreck the climate. But for bright young minds emerging today, even in high school they say “sorry” is nowhere near good enough. If we won’t fight for our children, the kids will. I doubt any politician or corporate owner today realizes the enormity of social stress and changes a destabilized climate will create. Their agreements and plans do not consider an equally destabilized society.
This paper spotlights a strange feature of long-term climate projections. Most studies and news reports sound as though the same generic person will experience the big shift. That is not true. That fantasy enables continuing dangerous actions. The assumed “we” of the media and society will not pay the penalties of trying to rebuild, or survive through heat and fire. Our descendants will pay – and it is not a bill, like having to pay out money. Survival is at stake.
Or course, as humans add more humans, an expected increase of another 2 billion people at least – more humans will be exposed to extreme climate events.
GREEN TALK HIDES INACTION: DAVID SPRATT
The world of politics and high finance are full of strange agreements, as real as unicorns. Unicorns think they can survive extreme climates. Let’s not put our faith in them. That is what I’m hearing from the Australian team of David Spratt and Ian Dunlop.
David Spratt is Research Director for the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, and co-author of the book and blog “Climate Code Red: The case for emergency action”.
David Spratt, Breakthrough Centre Australia, Photo: Centre for Climate Safety
Last year Breakthrough released a punchy report https://www.climaterealitycheck.net/downloadcalled “Climate Reality Check 2020”. They are updating that now for 2021. Every single point in the Breakthrough “reality check” burns through the nice-talk. For example, Dr. James Hansen warns THE critical measurement is the difference between energy entering Earth’s atmosphere and what escapes back into space. Citing a new NASA paper released last June, David and Ian say
“The Earth is trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did in 2005”.
David explains why Earth energy imbalance matters so much. According to the EEI, we may already be committed to another degree of warming.
Spratt: “Earth energy imbalance (EEI) is the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere (between outgoing and incoming radiation), which is driving global warming. The Earth is trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did in 2005.” They reference a June 2021 NASA study for that incredible statistic.
This Breakthrough Reality Check is mercifully short and direct. In point number 13, they remind us of the urgency factor: “If reaction time is longer than the intervention time left, we have lost control.” Let’s say we have five years left to avoid terrible climate outcomes. But it takes this civilization 10 years to respond. That’s too late. Their reference: Lenton, TM et al, 2020, ‘Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against’, Nature, vol. 575, pp. 592-595.
NET ZERO 2050?!?
With the next big climate meeting coming up in Scotland, we are awash with companies and nations promising to be Net Zero by 2050. That all sounds responsible and good. But David explains why it is a scam which delays action while the fossil burning party continues. Big fossil countries and companies like Shell, BP and Exxon support Net Zero 2050, even though that supposedly limits their products decades away. Net Zero 2050 is just Green Talk, delay, or as Greta Thunberg told a recent UN Conference: “Net Zero 2050, blah, blah, blah”.
See the Breakthrough report “Net Zero 2050“: A Dangerous Illusion.” Then you’ll understand all the green talk cover up coming out of COP26, governments and corporations all over.
“We have arrived at the painful realisation that the idea of net zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier ‘burn now, pay later’ approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar… The time has come to voice our fears and be honest with wider society. Current net zero policies will not keep warming to within 1.5°C because they were never intended to. They were and still are driven by a need to protect business as usual, not the climate. If we want to keep people safe then large and sustained cuts to carbon emissions need to happen now.”
— James Dyke, Robert Watson and Wolfgang Knorr, “Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap”, The Conversation, 22 April 2021
CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS THE BANKING SYSTEM
(or is it the other way around?)
David and Ian published a briefing called “DEGREES OF RISK: Can the banking system survive climate warming of 3 degrees C?” Big investors and the banking community want stability. David explains international banking system’s “Network for Greening of the Financial System”. It was formed in 2017 by eight central banks. The Network for the Greening of the Financial System, or NGFS, asked the banking sector to assess how they can prepare financially for a world 4 degrees C. hotter than preindustrial times. Four degrees warming may very well happen, so how will the banking system do? David points out their customers would be dead from heat stroke on the pavement outside, before they could reach the bank.
The widespread failure to understand warnings from the world’s top climate scientists would be hilarious if it were not so tragic. It sounds like asking: if a thermonuclear bomb destroys New York, how soon could employees return to Wall Street? Four degrees is like that.
This is from the Breakthrough Centre “Degrees of Risk” report:
““Prof. Andy Pitman, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes in Australia notes that global mean warming is badly understood. As a general rule of thumb, global average warming of 4°C (covering land and ocean) is consistent with 6°C over land, and 8°C in the average warming over mid-latitude land. That risks 10°C in the summer average, or perhaps 12°C in heatwaves. Western Sydney has already reached 48°C. If you add 12°C to the 48°C you get summer heatwaves of 60°C.23 Bank customers would be dead on the streets.”
As the Degrees of Risk report concludes from a raft of papers and reports: no civilization survives 4 degrees of global mean warming.
In the interview we have the conversation I avoided for years: geoengineering. Humans seem to specialize in technology that damages nature, whether that was the intention or not. We are blind to side-effects and actual impacts. Environmentalists and many scientists oppose geoengineering for those reasons. David Spratt says it is really time for desperate measures. This September, the Swiss company Climeworks opened a new industrial plant in Iceland. It doesn’t make anything. It takes carbon dioxide out of the air.
After record heat, wildfires, freak floods and storms in the horror summer of 2021, I’m hearing a big change in some circles. For example, the University of Cambridge Centre for Climate Repair just held a conference about capturing methane back from the atmosphere. You will hear a Radio Ecoshock special on methane removal in an upcoming show. It is not just carbon dioxide, but all-hands-on-deck to remove the extra blanket of greenhouse gases.
IS COLLAPSE A SOLUTION?
Some of my listeners doubt humans will react in time. They expect disaster after disaster may break up the climate killing machine we built. As I asked in a radio show some years ago, if official plans lead to failure, can we count on collapse to prevent extinction-level warming?
See our previous David Spratt interview in 2019:
Posted on June 19, 2019, by Radio Ecoshock, David Spratt explains: Climate-driven storms, droughts, and fires are coming much sooner than scientists predicted. Now an Australian report suggests civilization as we know it could break down – starting as early as 2050. It comes from former fossil fuel lobbyist Ian Dunlop and Code Red author David Spratt, with an introduction by Admiral Chris Barrie, once Australia’s former top military officer. “Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach” was published by Australia’s Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration.
But David and Ian Dunlop say: “The collapse of civilization is not inevitable, but emergency-level action right now is critical An emergency response would make climate the number one priority of politics and economics.”
Large-scale disruption is inevitable, either by failing to act fast enough, or because the scale of action now required is far beyond a gradualist approach. Warming may feed back and carry us into a greenhouse world within a lifetime. We have no experience of that. It is not just blind bankers and short-term power people. None of us really knows what that means. Is it a flaw that I stupidly believe some humans will battle through it all, and still experience enough happiness to be grateful for life?
David’s partner in these reports is Ian Dunlop. His bio says: “Ian T. Dunlop is a member of the Club of Rome. Formerly an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and chair of the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading 1998-2000.”
Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration watches over a lot of hot pots on the stove. Find their valuable reports (free) here.
SHOW NOTES FROM ALEX SMITH
These new realities are not easy. I appreciate your support, being ready to listen to the best expertise explained directly by the authors. Not everyone has the patience or the courage to build the big picture. Please act as a translator and communicator of this vital information to all your contacts. Watch for climate action. Participate. Become an activist for life, for the kids, for all the innocent species, the pulsing life of other earthlings.
Again, as always, I need your financial support to keep going. Please consider helping this work with a one-time donation or regular monthly membership. Find out how here.
I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for this opportunity. Please joins us again next week on Radio Ecoshock.
In the show, our opening clip is Greta Thunberg speaking at the Milan Youth4Climate conference in September 2021, as recorded by the BBC. She used phrases mocking climate pronouncements by UK PM Boris Johnson.
Greta Thunberg mocks world leaders in ‘blah, blah, blah’ speech – BBC News
328,807 views Sept 28, 2021
“The 18-year-old used soundbites from Mr Johnson, such as “expensive bunny hugging” and “build back better”, to highlight what she called the “empty words and promises” of politicians.”
In this program, there is also a short background clip from Shaman’s Dream (with permission).
At the end of the one hour program, I feature a clip from Dr. Tobias Friedrich, Hawaii. That comes from Radio Ecoshock 2016.