“Climate change is real and represents a serious risk to everything that we care about, and right now we’re not doing enough.”
No 2485 Posted by fw, July 2, 2019
“Chances are you don’t think you’re very important. You’re not a president, celebrity, or leader of an international company. I want to tell a story in which you are the main character. You’re a citizen of a global, industrialized civilization. Its development over the past few hundred years has transformed the lives of billions of people, and in doing so, [has transformed] the rest of the planet. We now know that the fossil fuels we burn as part of our daily lives are changing the Earth’s climate. What you do with this knowledge makes you one of the most important people in all of human history because you have the chance to change how we power our civilization, and so avoid dangerous climate change. So far, only a very small section of our society truly understands the scale of the changes required, and how little time we have left to make them. This is a film about the race against climate change, and why what you do over the next 20 years will be so crucial.” Dr. James Dyke
Dr. James Dyke is currently a senior lecturer in Global Systems, University of Exeter. He works with community groups and local government authorities to help facilitate discussions on how cities can transition to low carbon and healthy places to live.
Today’s repost is a follow-up of yesterday’s piece Growing fears about climate emergency spurs UK prof’s reset from academia to film maker activist.
This repost features Dr. Dyke’s filmed interviews with a mix of pundits. Although he sends a mixed message of despair and hope, he does conclude his film on this positive note:
“This journey has shown me that climate change is real and represents a serious risk to everything that we care about. But I’ve also seen that solutions do exist. We have the answers and people are already transforming food, energy, transport, and policy. To achieve the required transformations within a couple of decades appears an impossible task. And right now we’re not doing enough. To keep our children safe, to allow our civilization to flourish, we need all sectors of society to play their part. We need everyone involved. We need you.”
When all is said and done, I still find Dr. Nate Hagens’ Earth Day talk, which I titled The Great Simplification coming next decade with 30% drop in capitalist economies, to be more persuasive – which is not to diminish the importance of Dr. Dyke’s film. It’s Hagens’ systems synthesis approach to the big-picture issues facing human society that won me over. Hagens asserts that climate change is just a ‘symptom’ of a “bigger picture.” The bigger picture, he states, reveals a very different story about our predicament – “one that integrates human behaviour, energy, and money into this superorganism, emergent dynamic of how humans are currently functioning.” Globally, humans are turning into an energy-squandering superorganism, like some blind, purposeless amoeba.
Under this framing, viewing humanity as a superorganism, Hagens declares four things that are NOT likely to happen –
1/ “We’re not likely to grow the economy AND mitigate the Sixth Mass Extinction and climate change; 2/ We’re not likely to grow the economy by getting rid of the bad fuels and replacing them with rebuildables [renewables that have to be rebuilt every 20-30 years]; 3/ We’re not likely to choose to leave fossil carbon in the ground because it’s so tethered to our experiences, our life standards, our wages, our profits, our growth, the cheap stuff that we buy; and 4/ Governments are not likely to embrace limits to growth before limits to growth are well past.”
Having said that, below is my embedded video of Dr. James Dyke’s 39-minute film, The Race is On: Secrets and Solutions of Climate Change, as published on You Tube. Accompanying the film is my long, full chronological transcript of the audio, including myriad subheadings added to facilitate a quick overview of the film’s content, as well as selective viewing of topics of interest.
To view the film on You Tube, without my transcript, click on the following linked title. Or if you prefer, the film and related information is also available here — Take Actions at ClimateRaceFilm.org
This film is about the human race against climate change
0:07 – James Dyke (JD) — Chances are you don’t think you’re very important. You’re not a president, celebrity, or leader of an international company. I want to tell a story in which you are the main character. You’re a citizen of a global, industrialized civilization. Its development over the past few hundred years has transformed the lives of billions of people, and in doing so, [has transformed] the rest of the planet. We now know that the fossil fuels we burn as part of our daily lives are changing the Earth’s climate.
What you do with this knowledge makes you one of the most important people in all of human history because you have the chance to change how we power our civilization, and so avoid dangerous climate change. So far, only a very small section of our society truly understands the scale of the changes required, and how little time we have left to make them.
This is a film about the race against climate change, and why what you do over the next 20 years will be so crucial.
You will meet scientists, economists, entrepreneurs, activists and citizens at the forefront of this race
1:35 – JD — I’m Dr. James Dyke. I’m a lecturer in sustainability science here at the University of Southampton. A large part of my day job involves thinking about climate change. What’s driving it? And how may [it] affect us now and far into the future. So you may think I’m something of an expert about climate change.
But there’s another type of climate change. What it means to me, my family and friends, and pretty much everything else I care about. To be honest with you, I did a pretty good job of keeping these two sorts of climate change separate because I didn’t really want to think things through.
“Denier” is a label that we sometimes throw at people who dispute the fact that humans are changing the climate. But I think I was in something of denial myself. It’s taken me some time to realize what we must do to avert disaster.
In this film, I will go behind the headlines and show you just how urgent the situation is, and the alarming assumptions that lie at the heart of all government’s proposed solutions. But this is a story of hope. I’ve seen that the UK is ideally placed to lead the required technological and social revolutions that could produce not just a stable climate, but a better society. Along the way I’ve met the scientists, economists, entrepreneurs, activists and citizens that are at the forefront of transforming the UK. After all of that, you will understand what climate change means, what it really means. It’s not about saving the planet. It’s actually more ambitious than that.
Assuming that the climate is going to be static, that temperatures won’t change much, are dangerous beliefs
3:14 – Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies — Our society has grown up, has invested, has assumed that climate is going to be static. That sea level is not going to rise too fast. That patterns of rainfall are not going to change. That temperatures are basically going to stay the same.
We have a hundred million people living within one metre of sea level rise. We have trillions, tens of trillions, hundreds of trillions of dollars of investments within one metre of sea level rise. And that is investment that we’re going to lose if we allow climate change to proceed under the worst case scenarios.
Human wellbeing depends on the health of our planet’s climate, oceans, soils, and ozone layer
4:02 – Kate Raworth, Senior Lecture Associate and Lecturer, Oxford University — If we think about human wellbeing, it depends upon two key things. It depends upon meeting the needs and the rights of everybody in the world to health, water , education, housing. And that depends upon the health of our planet on a stable climate, healthy oceans, fertile soil, a protective ozone layer. If we don’t protect this phenomenal, unique, living planet on which we live, we have no chance of meeting our needs and having a thriving economy. We have to start to look at these together and realize that the living planet is the source of all of our sustenance.
UNITED NATIONS — PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT — 2015
“The Paris climate agreement has been reached.”
AIM – Limit global temperature increase well below 2°C.
How long have we got to limit global warming to no more than 2°C?
5:13 – JD — Let’s say that the international community takes its responsibility seriously and we do manage to limit warming to no more than 2°C. How long have we got to put in place the changes required, given our current rates of emissions, let’s say?
At the most, we have 20 years — PROVIDED we don’t exceed our fixed carbon budget
5:28 – Prof. Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director, Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester – Our current rates of emissions, probably we’d have about 20 years to use up all of the carbon budget for 2°C of warming. What the science makes really clear is that for any particular temperature we can put a certain amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and that, if you like, is a carbon budget. It’s like having your salary for the month. And that’s how much we can spend. And if we carry on spending at the moment at the current rate – 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year — we’ve got, at the most, 20 years. And then no more emissions after that.
Even at 2°C, many of the poorest among us, typically non-whites, will die
But let’s be clear at 1.5°C and 2°C, I mean that is a dangerous temperature threshold for many people on the planet. And [if] it’s only 2°C, many people will die. They’ll be poor. They live a long way from the northern hemisphere that has caused most of the problem. They are typically non-whites.
If we exceed 2°C, we won’t be able to adapt to extreme, accelerating impacts – heat waves, sea level rise, severe storms, floods, and droughts
6:20 – JD — So far our actions have led to an increase of 1°C globally. That doesn’t sound like very much but as we continue to put more greenhouse gases in the air, and trap more energy from the Sun, the climate will respond with more extreme heat waves, more sea level rise, more destructive storms, more floods in some places, and droughts elsewhere.
We will have to adapt to the climate change we’ve already put in place, but if the climate warms beyond 2°C we won’t be able to keep up with these accelerating impacts. This is why the international community established a guardrail of 2°C of warming. Similar to a fence keeping unwary travelers away from a dangerous cliff edge, the 2°C limit was intended to balance the need to continue grow economies while reducing the risk that such growth could produce disastrous environmental change.
Trying to adapt to a moving climate target “is, in fact, just wasting our money”
7:20 – Dr. Gavin Schmidt — So there are technological fixes to some aspects of climate change. But these things aren’t free, and they’re not going to do it everywhere. Right? So some places will have the barriers. London will have a new barrier. New York may have a new barrier. But Shanghai won’t. Bangladesh won’t. Calcutta won’t. Because it’s not appropriate. They’re not in positions where these things can work. And the problem with building a barrier is that you minimize the damages now and everybody’s happy, until it gets over-topped. And then you’re actually setting yourself up for an even bigger bill later on. And we’ve done that an enormous amount of times. And if we try to adapt to a moving target, what we’re doing is, in fact, just wasting our money.
“What were previously considered to be once-in-a-hundred-years storms will occur more frequently”
8:19 – JD — The winters of 2013-14 and 2015-16 saw a series of major storms batter the UK. These produced widespread flooding and caused billions of pounds and damage to roads, bridges, homes and businesses. And it’s impossible to say that climate change “caused” such storms, but there is an increasing amount of research that clearly shows that climate change loads the dice towards warmer and wetter winters in the UK, which will increase the chance of such extreme weather in the future. What were previously considered to be once-in-a-hundred-years storms will occur more frequently.
It’s not that simple to just swap fossil fuel energy for renewables or nuclear
9:10 – Prof. Kevin Anderson — Many think that the principal challenge is just swapping out current fossil fuel power stations, coal and gas, for wind turbines or arguably nuclear. But that misunderstands the challenge that we face. Firstly, only about 20% of the energy we currently consume is actually electricity – 80% of it is not electricity. And if we’re serious about decarbonizing the energy system, we have to make much more of our energy system electric, probably near 80%. So we need to significantly increase the amount of electricity that we actually generate.
Powering civilization with renewables within two decades is “a colossal challenge” – but may be possible
9:44 – JD — In order for us to avoid dangerous climate change, we need to figure out how to power this city and the rest of our civilization with renewable energy. That’s a colossal challenge because it requires the transformation of our energy infrastructure within a couple of decades. Now many would assume that that might be actually impossible and that it would be foolhardy for us to even try. We want to show you that that’s not true.
The United Kingdom can stop burning coal, oil, and gas to provide heating power, and it can do that at the same time as keeping the lights on. That doesn’t depend on science fiction technologies or magical thinking, but it will require some imagination.
Economic growth drives climate change but doesn’t make us thrive – We need an economy that makes us thrive without driving climate change
10:28 – Kate Raworth — Our economy is currently based on a need to grow, whether or not it make us thrive. Climate change, I believe, is making us realize that we need an economy that makes us thrive whether or not it grows. So it’s a fundamental mind flip.
What we need now is a new green industrial and social revolution at a world level
10:46 – Prof. Kevin Anderson — The UK has a history of being at the forefront of the industrial revolution. And what we’re looking for now is a new green industrial and social revolution. And the UK has all the financial wherewithal and the intellectual wherewithal, and this huge renewable potential, to be demonstrating at a world level what real leadership is.
Can we transform the UK by 2040?
11:11 – JD — The Zero Carbon [Britain] report paints quite an optimistic vision of the United Kingdom. But are we going to get there in time? Are we going to be able to transform the UK by 2040?
The UK has everything we need to get to Net Zero, but do we have the will to do it?
11:20 – Paul Allen, Principal investigator, Zero Carbon Britain — Well, forces that shape our lives exist on many different levels. But the research we’ve been doing over the past 10 years has been looking at — Have we got all the tools and technologies? Or are we waiting for the Eco-widget to be developed before we can do this? We’ve shown clearly we have all the tools and technologies we need to get to Net Zero within a couple of decades. We’re not waiting for anything. We have everything at our disposal. The question is do we have the will to do it?
Dr. Dyke visits UK’s pioneering wind and solar projects
11:50 – JD – The UK has the best potential for wind power in Europe and it’s rapid development now sees it generate around 15% of the UK’s total electricity demand. Over the past 10 years, electricity generated by solar panels in the UK has increased 10 times. I went to see some of these pioneering projects to better understand how they’re disrupting the energy system.
Huge floating solar plants that can power 1,800 houses
12:21 – Nick Boyle, Founder and CEO, Lightsource RE — The QE2 floating installation just outside London is pretty much like the rest of our large solar plants, except for one particular point, and that’s the fact that it actually floats on the Queen Elizabeth the Second reservoir, which is quite unique. In fact, in terms of its uniqueness, it’s the world’s first deepwater floating solar park. It’s 6.3 megawatts. To the layman that doesn’t mean very much. In layman’s speak, that’s about enough to power about 1,800 houses.
Being able to deliver cheaper electricity than fossil-based fuels makes renewables market winners
This is probably not the answer that people expect. But the reason why renewables are going to continue to grab market share and become the predominant producer of electricity is not because it’s Green, and it’s not because people have this social conscience, although clearly they do – some of them do. It’s because of price. An increased deployment will only continue to drive down price. And I’m sorry – if I’m able to deliver electricity cheaper than coal or oil or gas, they will come with me.
Cooperatively owned and managed wind farms create “real sense of community participation”
13:37 – JD — Westmill is a cooperatively owned and managed wind farm. How does that work? How does the cooperative function.
13:45 – Mike Blanch, Founding Member, Westmill Energy Farm Coop — Well, it functions in many ways like any other wind farm. We employ people to service and maintain the turbines and monitor them. But we also have a board of directors who are elected by the members – the members get a say in who’s running the coop, and they also get a say in how the profits are distributed. It’s one person, one vote – and that’s a very important principle — regardless of how many chairs you have, it’s one person, one vote.
14:15 – JD – So there’s a real sense of community participation in this facility.
14:21 – Mike Blanch – There is a lot of participation. And we get a lot of people [who] still come along to our AGM [Annual General Meeting] where a conventional sort of share offered might be a bit duller. And people in the community have also been involved in trials of new ways of selling power between themselves from the sale of a generator on their own houses. So a real interest locally. And lots of people like to come and visit. We have a whole set of volunteer guides who enjoy talking about it, as I am now.
The good news — These projects show UK has the technology and the will, but can they scale up by 2040?
14:50 – JD – The projects that we visited demonstrates that the United Kingdom can be powered by low carbon electricity. We have the technology. And community-run and -operated wind and solar farms demonstrate that we have the will. Given the opportunity, people can organize themselves and invest their time, energy and money into building the solutions that we need to avoid dangerous climate change. This needs to happen faster.
The bad news – political action is needed to spur energy transformation
Unfortunately, changes to the planning process has made onshore wind extremely challenging. And there have been reductions in the financial support for solar. Neither of these developments will kill these emerging technologies, but they are slowing down its deployment at a time when we need it to be happening faster than ever. For that to happen, the enthusiasm and commitment of individuals, communities and organizations needs to be matched with political action.
Why the gap between political words and what physics demands we do?
15:52 – JD – So why is there such a large gap between the political rhetoric of what they say we’re going to do and what the physics seems to demand that we do?
Politicians are betting that negative emission technologies will allow us to keep growing the economy and suck CO2 from the atmosphere
16:00 — Prof. Kevin Anderson – Well this isn’t actually directly the policymakers fault. This is very much that a certain cadre within the scientific community – these are certain types of modelers that bring together the economics and the science together – they’ve suggested that the best way we can deal with this is to have, in the future, a technology for removing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere — a negative emission technology. These technologies do not exist. They’re sort of postulating these are some future option. And they’re saying, well, if we can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in huge quantities in the future, then we haven’t got to reduce our emissions quite so quickly today. Which, of course is very appealing to policymakers, and to the rest of us as well. We can carry on going on holiday and carry on living our lives as we are today, knowing that some future technology that does not currently exist will solve the problem for us.
The reality is that “negative emission technologies don’t really exist yet”
16:46 – JD – But given the tremendous importance of these negative emission technologies, people might be rather surprised to learn that they don’t really exist yet.
To assume they work, is to pass on to our children the risk of future temperatures of 3°C, 4°C, 5°C
16:55 — Prof. Kevin Anderson – Well, they don’t exist, they do not exist, so there are no even moderate-scale negative emissions technologies that work anywhere on the planet at the moment. But more disturbing to me, as well as that, is that they are the basis of every single 2°C scenario that was submitted to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – that’s the UN body that brings together the world expertise on climate change. So, every single 2°C scenario that they have assumes that these negative emissions technologies will work at huge scale in future. Therefore, they provide a much more rosy, glossy picture that the policymakers like to see. Ultimately it is a moral hazard. We are relying on these technologies – it’s not that technologies are necessarily bad; we should be researching them, we should be developing them — but to assume that they work, is a moral hazard, is incredibly dangerous thing to do that we’re going to pass on to future generations the significant risk [that] these technologies will not work. And if they do not work then we will be bequeathing them [future generations] a temperature of 3°C, 4°C, 5°C future.
“We’ve tried everything except for actual mitigation”
We’ve tried everything except for actual mitigation. So 27 years after the first IPCC report we still haven’t been prepared to grasp the nettle to start to significantly reduce our emissions.
“We’re locked into the worldview that growth will eventually solve all of humanity’s problems”
18:16 – JD — Rather than making the required reductions in greenhouse gas now, the international community has put its faith in future negative emissions technologies because this means economic growth is not threatened. We’re still locked into the worldview that growth will eventually solve all of humanity’s problems, and so politicians continue to be largely judged on whether their policies increase the size of economies.
“Mainstream economic theory is stuck on a collision course with the climate”
What this means is that mainstream economic theory is stuck on a collision course with the climate. And we don’t have much time to turn it around.
It’s convenient for vested interests to pocket their profits and stay with the current economic system
18:53 – Kate Raworth — Yeah, it’s a great question: Why is mainstream economic theory so resilient in the face of financial crisis, climate change, extraordinary levels of inequality? I believe it’s because it is incredibly convenient for vested interests, who are profiting from this current system. And actually, if you look at the mainstream theories that students are being taught, it really fits very well with neoliberal thinking, which says that the market is efficient, so let it get to work. That the state apparently is incompetent, so don’t let it meddle; the Commons are tragic, so sell them off; the society, well, it doesn’t exist, so don’t worry about it; the household economy is domestic, leave it to the women.
It’s time to come up with an economic theory that fits the twenty-first century
With this kind of script we end up with a very narrow, market-based, competitive economic theory. It works very well for those neoliberal interests and the powers that be. If we’re going to transform it so we recognize climate change and extreme inequality, we need to rewrite that script and come up with an economic theory that fits the twenty-first century.
So the challenge today is that the economics that students are learning, and that policy is being driven by, that’s being discussed in our Parliaments, and written about in the media – it’s based on the textbooks of 1950. And those in turn are actually based on the theories from 1850. Economic theory is literally centuries out of date.
It’s no wonder that the students at universities are rebelling, because they know that what they’re being taught is in no way equipping them for this future.
To become part of creating a new economy, begin now to change the way you shop, eat, travel, bank, invest, volunteer, and actively demonstrate
20:40 – Because the economy is constantly evolving, we can all be like little butterflies that trigger off a bigger effect. We can all be part of building a critical mass to change the economy. In a way we’re all economists because [we’re] all shaping the way our household is evolving. So, we can ask ourselves: If I want to be part of creating an economy that works for all, that is distributive and regenerative, how does the way that I shop, eat, and travel affect that? How does the way that I bank, invest, volunteer, demonstrate.”
We’re more than mere consumers, we’re participating citizens in our society
All these ways that I’m actually contributing that, and making sure that we don’t get portrayed just as a consumer, which again is a very neoliberal, narrow way of who we are. We are not consumers. We’re citizens. We’re neighbours. We’re demonstrators. We’re voters. We’re volunteers. And in this lies all of the richness of the way that we contribute to the new economy.
Paul Allen says we have the technologies and knowledge, all we need is the will achieve a zero-carbon Britain. [Personally, I’m skeptical]
21:46 – Paul Allen – Well, what we’ve been doing is modelling [for] the past 10 years, in increasing detail, the fact that we have all the technologies and how many wind turbines we’ll need, and how many buildings we have to insulate. The new report that we’ve just launched – Zero-Carbon Britain: Making It Happen – looks at the different barriers, the psychological, the sociological, the legal, the economic barriers, and every time we’ve found good research that shows how we can do it. We have all the tools we need, and we know how we can overcome all the barriers. We just have to pull it all together and find the will to do it.
There are dappled rays of the zero-carbon future here now in the present. It’s all there. It’s not something that we can’t see. It’s here, there, and everywhere. We just imagine over time all of those dappled rays joining up and becoming the new normal, and then we have zero-carbon Britain.
Continuing on a business-as-usual trajectory is equivalent to a society playing Russian roulette
22:36 – JD – Where we’re headed in 2100 under a business-as-usual, burn-all-the-fossil-fuels scenario is going to be a different planet, and one in which we have no experience of as a society. Things are being pushed in certain directions, and we are seeing amplifying effects that make them worse. We can see these changes pretty much everywhere we look. The changes in the acidity of the ocean, because of so much carbon going into the ocean are affecting coral reefs now. The bleaching events that we had in 2016 are unprecedented in any observations that we have. The Barrier Reef in Australia, one of the great natural wonders, half of it was totally devastated this year. I think it’s going to take years to recover if indeed it does.
We are changing things and you don’t need to be a scientist to see these things changing.
The safest path is to make the changes that the physics demands that we do
If we don’t do anything, it’s going to remove that safe niche for feeding nine billion people on the planet. It’s going to cause international fragmentation, building of walls, international wars over resources, holding back water. It’s a very, very, very much more turbulent future if we don’t do anything. Easiest and simplest path to keeping life recognizable is to actually make the changes that the physics demands that we do.
The increasing risks going forward, in a business-as-usual scenario, are equivalent to a society playing Russian roulette with ever more chambers filled with a bullet and us holding it to our children’s head.
First, we need to exploit the existing economic system as it is and as best we can
25:28 – Kate Raworth — So I think about this kind of change on two tracks. The first is that we need to use all the economic institutions’ incentives we have right now – like taxes, and feed-in tariffs, and government investment in a long-term green infrastructure – to start making that future happen now. We need to use the current economic system as it is.
Second, teach current students an economic mindset, the tools and creativity of build a thriving economy for this century
But it’s the second track that I’m excited about, because by 2040, and hopefully a long time before then, the students who enrolled to study economics — let’s go back to the roots – ‘economics’, it means household management. And who could want to be the student of anything more necessary than that? Household management for the twenty-first century.
Those students should know that they are learning about our full household, the economy within society, within the living world. And that they’re being taught an economic mindset, and the tools, and the creativity to go out and create a thriving UK economy for the twenty-first century.
So I want to see different textbooks, with new diagrams, and new ideas at the heart of them – ones that will actually make the founding fathers of economics proud of us today.
We need leadership from our families, our institutions, our universities, our workplaces forming top-down, bottom-up coalitions
26:43 – Prof. Kevin Anderson — A lot of people think of leadership as just being about the policymakers and the Prime Ministers. But it’s not. Leadership occurs within our family, our institutions, our universities, our places of work. And what we need is that leadership at all of these different levels, all these different tiers. The role of the policymakers is to see where that leadership has been successful elsewhere and then just scale that up to work across the whole of society. So ultimately this is a partnership between top-down and bottom-up. And if you have that partnership, I still think we have a chance of holding to 2°C framing of the Paris commitment.
Everyone needs to be involved in thousands of climate change actions around the world
27:22 – Prof. David Sloan Wilson, Evolutionary Biologist & Anthropologist, Binghamton University, US — This is not something that can be solved only at a global scale. Yes you do need these international agreements, but you also need the same thing at progressively smaller scales all the way down to the local scale. Everyone needs to be involved in this, from a single household, to small groups to cities, to states and so on and so forth. And so what you need to do is poly-centric governance.
27:55 – JD – Despite inaction by the US government, cities and states across North America are joining voluntary schemes that will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Many corporations are reducing their carbon footprints as they realize that climate change threatens future profits. 350.org is helping build grassroot campaigns that directly address climate change, while Transition Towns inspires local people to build sustainable communities they would love to live in.
The key to these and thousands of other climate change actions across the world is the realization that we all ultimately benefit from a stable climate. This is poly-centric governance at work. By joining with others we can affect change where we can or continue to press for effective action at other scales.
Rebecca Kinge is engaged because she finds climate change “incredibly frightening”
28:54 – Rebecca Kinge, Southampton Collective — Climate change is just incredibly frightening to me, and so that’s why I get involved in community projects really because I want to try and do something about it in a meaningful way.
29:07 – JD – So how are you responding to climate change? What are you doing?
Kinge is involved in community action at the city and neighbourhood levels
29:11 – Rebecca Kinge — My response to climate change is all about community action and activity at a city and a neighbourhood level. A lot of the solutions have to come from the community. We have to understand climate change better. We have to learn from and with each other about it. and we have to think about opportunities for behaviour change. And we also have to think very much about a positive difference that tackling climate change can make to our lives.
I’ve been inspired by almost everywhere I look in the place where I live. Transition Towns are running some amazing projects locally. And there are creatives organizing, and festivals to celebrate all sorts of different elements of our community. And there are arts and heritage activities happening everywhere. I think it’s amazing. And I think people would be astounded if they knew how much positive sustainable action is happening in cities and towns across the world.
How bad are the health impacts from vehicle emissions in our cities?
30:25 – JD — As well as emitting an awful lot of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, there are also significant health impacts of the numbers of car and truck van journeys that we make. Just how bad is it in our cities?
Electric vehicles do not necessarily make for livable cities – We need a change in mindset to get the cities we deserve
30:37 – Megan Streb, Sustrans — In certain parts of London, they actually exceeded their particular emissions, for the whole year, in the first 5 days. And it’s important to note that that’s not just from the fumes that are spewing out the backs of the cars, but it’s also from tire wear, from using brakes. So even if we’re looking for a future replacing like for like with electric vehicles isn’t going to be the full solution. We have to look at things differently and that’s why livable cities are so important.
So what happens often is it’s kind of “If you build it they will come” scenario. You build more roads, people will fill up the roads, because it seems a bit more convenient. Same for cycle infrastructure. You build really good cycle infrastructure, more cyclists will turn up. But it’s also rethinking that public space. Those public spaces could be transformed by building high quality cycle infrastructure. By putting in dedicated public transport networks. It could be by creating parks where there used to be roads. I mean there’s an awful lot of options available to us. But it’s going to take a bit of political will, and it’s going to take a change in mindset that people in cities deserve better.
Consider the impact of foods, especially meat, on our carbon footprint
32:02 – JD — When it comes to our personal contributions to climate change, there is one activity that is often overlooked. We know that flying is incredibly damaging. We should insulate our homes. Use energy-saving devices and drive less. But there is something we all do every day that adds up to one of the largest drivers of climate change. And most people are unaware of just how important it is.
32:29 – Dr. Tony Curran, Senior Public Engagement Fellow, University of Southampton – Well, people are often surprised to hear is the food that you eat – or sometimes throw away – accounts for between 20% and 30% of your overall carbon footprint. So nearly a third of all greenhouse gas contributions come from food. Why is that so large? To a large extent we’ve become used to eating meat in the developed world. And meat has a high carbon footprint attached to it – often due to the methane the ruminant animals like cows produce. And, also, it’s the key driver of deforestation globally. So cutting down all those trees that used to absorb CO2, and when you look forward, this is a big worry because the latest World Resource Institute estimate is that the amount of meat we’re going to consume is going to go up by 95% by 2050 because countries like China are going to become affluent enough to demand it, like we currently do.
33:19 – JD — So given that foods impact on climate change is so large, what can we do to reduce that?
33:25 — Dr. Tony Curran – The biggest thing that meat eaters can do is reduce how much meat they eat. Or even just switch from beef and lamb, the really high carbon footprint meats, to pork and chicken, which only have about one-third of the carbon footprint. People often ask me what the carbon footprint of their diet is. And I show this chart to illustrate that no matter what your starting point is, everybody can take one step down and it makes a meaningful reduction in their overall food-carbon footprint.
Be mindful that eating out-of-season foods requires emission-generating transportation systems
We could all eat sustainable diets by 2040. What it would look like is we don’t waste too much food. We don’t transport things around the world and eat out of season. And the main thing is we have a low meat diet.
To get to a zero-carbon 2040, a small percent of our population would have to make rapid and radical changes to their lives
34:17 – Prof. Kevin Anderson — In order to get to a decarbonized 2040, we would have to start today. And the implications of that are going to be very significant for our society. It will have to become a much fairer society, because the majority of emissions come from a relatively small percent of the population. That particular group, as you include people like myself, will have to make some very rapid and radical changes to how we live our lives.
Responding to climate change is an opportunity to overcome long-standing environmental, equity and social issues
But I think climate change, and responding to the challenges of climate change, is a real opportunity to overcome both the environmental issues and some of the equity and social issues that have arisen in the last few decades.
Might the climate challenge unleash a global sense of collective purpose?
34:57 – Paul Allen – Once we can unpick the perception management around climate, so we don’t see it as just a thing for leftists, but see it as a collective challenge that crosses race, cross boundaries, cross borders – it’s something that matters to us all. That unleashes a sense of collective purpose way beyond the Apollo program, that goes right across the world, that will give us the sense of collective purpose that we’ve been yearning for, for well over a generation.
Don’t fight the existing reality, focus instead on building a new model that makes the existing model obsolete
35:31 – Kate Raworth – It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the number of barriers and challenges that we could see to creating this new vision. Whether it’s the mainstream financial system that is working hard to keep itself in power and accumulating gains of the current economic structure, but I’m inspired by Buckminster Fuller who said: “If you want to change something, don’t fight the existing reality. To change something you have to build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” And I passionately believe that while some of us focus on challenging those barriers to change, others have to focus on building that new model. Speaking to it, drawing its pictures, finding its language, speaking richly about a new economic story. We have to bring forth that new economy because it’s already there. Speak about it. Join it. Contribute to it. That’s where I think we’re going to overcome those challenges.
Ending on an upbeat note —
36:34 – JD — This journey has shown me that climate change is real and represents a serious risk to everything that we care about. But I’ve also seen that solutions do exist. We have the answers and people are already transforming food, energy, transport, and policy. To achieve the required transformations within a couple of decades appears an impossible task. And right now we’re not doing enough. To keep our children safe, to allow our civilization to flourish, we need all sectors of society to play their part. We need everyone involved. We need you.
37:14 — END OF FILM
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