Why we’re going to win the climate change fight — despite Trump’s election as denier-in-chief… maybe even because of it
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Why we’re going to win the climate change fight — despite Trump’s election as denier-in-chief… maybe even because of it
FEDERAL COURT AFFIRMS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF KIDS AND DENIES MOTIONS OF GOVERNMENT AND FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY IN YOUTH’S LANDMARK CLIMATE CHANGE CASE
Eugene, OR – On April 8, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of 21 young Plaintiffs, and Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark constitutional climate change case brought against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, from across the U.S. in what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” These plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Philip Gregory with Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy of Burlingame, CA, said: “This decision is one of the most significant in our nation’s history. The Court upheld our claims that the federal government intensified the danger to our plaintiffs’ lives, liberty and property. Judge Coffin decided our Complaint will move forward and put climate science squarely in front of the federal courts. The next step is for the Court to order our government to cease jeopardizing the climate system for present and future generations. The Court gave America’s youth a fair opportunity to be heard.”
As part of Friday’s historic decision, Judge Coffin characterized the case as an “unprecedented lawsuit” addressing “government action and inaction” resulting “in carbon pollution of the atmosphere, climate destabilization, and ocean acidification.” In deciding the case will proceed, Judge Coffin wrote: “The debate about climate change and its impact has been before various political bodies for some time now. Plaintiffs give this debate justiciability by asserting harms that befall or will befall them personally and to a greater extent than older segments of society. It may be that eventually the alleged harms, assuming the correctness of plaintiffs' analysis of the impacts of global climate change, will befall all of us. But the intractability of the debates before Congress and state legislatures and the alleged valuing of short term economic interest despite the cost to human life, necessitates a need for the courts to evaluate the constitutional parameters of the action or inaction taken by the government. This is especially true when such harms have an alleged disparate impact on a discrete class of society.”
If our transition to renewable energy is successful, we will achieve savings in the ongoing energy expenditures needed for economic production. We will be rewarded with a quality of life that is acceptable—and, perhaps, preferable to our current one (even though, for most Americans, material consumption will be scaled back from its current unsustainable level). We will have a much more stable climate than would otherwise be the case. And we will see greatly reduced health and environmental impacts from energy production activities.
But the transition will entail costs—not just money and regulation, but also changes in our behavior and expectations. It will probably take at least three or four decades, and will fundamentally change the way we live.
Nobody knows how to accomplish the transition in detail, because this has never been done before. Most previous energy transitions were driven by opportunity, not policy. And they were usually additive, with new energy resources piling onto old ones (we still use firewood, even though we’ve added coal, hydro, oil, natural gas, and nuclear to the mix).
Since the renewable energy revolution will require trading our currently dominant energy sources (fossil fuels) for alternative ones (mostly wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass) that have different characteristics, there are likely to be some hefty challenges along the way.
Therefore, it makes sense to start with the low-hanging fruit and with a plan in place, then revise our plan frequently as we gain practical experience. Several organizations have already formulated plans for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. David Fridley, staff scientist of the energy analysis program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and I have been working for the past few months to analyze and assess those plans and have a book in the works titledOur Renewable Future. Here’s a very short summary, tailored mostly to the United States, of what we’ve found.
This piece first appeared in YES magazine
6 November, 2015
A High Court in Pakistan has set a legal precedent, both at home and abroad by ordering the government to enforce its climate change policy and establishing a climate change commission to oversee the process. A public interest litigation case brought by a farmer against government failure to develop the required resilience to climate change as set out in the 2012 National climate Change Policy has provided fresh impetus to civil society to play a lead role in highlighting the impacts of climate change on sectors like food, water, energy and disasters that directly affect the lives and livelihoods of people.
Pakistan is the third most vulnerable country to climate change. Weak regulations at home and lack of assistance from countries responsible for global warming is increasing vulnerability and reducing resilience. Pakistan needs support to build its adaptive capacity and hopes that COP21 in Paris will achieve an agreement that will help it to develop a climate resilient policy framework that combines local action with global support to strengthen its adaptive capacity.
The 21st United Nations sponsored Conference of the Parties (COP21) will be held in Paris this December. The goal of COP21 is to produce the first meaningful, legally binding international climate treaty since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
Paris may be our last collective chance to enact meaningful climate action to prevent a 2ºCelsius (3.6ºF) rise in global temperatures within this century. Scientists warn that passing the 2ºCelsius tipping point may result in persistent, unpredictable, and extreme weather that will be disastrous for much of life on Earth.
In advance of COP21, countries have agreed to make greenhouse gas reduction pledges, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). These pledges will guide the negotiations. Each nation’s contribution is to be determined by national circumstance. No firm standards were set regarding pledges. We should all be concerned that, to date, most countries have made weak pledges that exploit this ambiguity.
The Citizens’ 2015 Global Climate Agreement Campaign has been organized to keep citizens, environmental leaders, and policymakers around the world engaged and informed about the status of country pledges and other issues related to the success of COP21. The Campaign has set the following standards we believe country COP21 pledges should reach:
1. As called upon by the UN, all countries should use their 1990 level of carbon emissions as a baseline from which to measure and pledge future reductions.
2. Industrialized countries should pledge to reduce their emissions by 25% by 2025 with further reductions in five-year increments, i.e., 40% by 2030, etc.
3. Less-industrialized countries should pledge to reduce their emissions by at least 15% by the year 2025 with further reductions in five-year increments, i.e., 25% by 2030, etc.
Covering 72 percent of the Earth and supplying half its oxygen, the ocean is our planet's life support system—and it’s in danger. Watch this video to learn why a healthier ocean means a healthier planet, and find out how you can help.
- National Geographic
Click here for 10 Things you Can do to Save the Ocean.
- by Patrick Mazza
"We have never faced a crisis this big, but we have never had a better opportunity to solve it."
- Presented to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, this short inspirational film shows that climate change is solvable. We have the technology to harness nature sustainably for a clean, prosperous energy future, but only if we act now. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it calls on the people of the world to insist leaders get on the path of a livable climate and future for humankind.
Learn more about climate change and take action at http://takeaction.takepart.com/
Image source: Andre Penner, CTV news
RIGHT NOW, the world’s remaining rainforests are being cut down and replaced with palm oil and soybean plantations, and cattle ranches. Here’s an Action Alert from Friends of the Amazon. Please take the action they suggest to send a message to the President of Peru.
“Currently, scammers are cheating native Amazonians out of their land under the pretext of creating REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) projects. These unscrupulous businessmen have been termed "Carbon Cowboys." While they say that they want to protect the forest, what they really want is to get the land for free and cut down the forest and replace it with palm oil plantations. They lie and say that they are representatives of the United Nations and the World Bank and promise the communities "billions of dollars" from carbon offset credits. Using these tactics, they trick vulnerable and trusting people into signing unfair contracts with hidden clauses giving the scammers a power of attorney that essentially gives these conmen the forest for free, allowing them to harvest the timber and replace the native forest with monocultures of palm oil trees.”
Solar energy is arguably our most viable low cost energy source. It is forever sustainable and easily captured and converted. But now the technology may have taken yet another leap forward. To date the foundational technology behind photovoltaics was a structure called perovskite, which has been made with lead. Using tin instead of lead perovskite as the harvester of light, a team of Northwestern University researchers has created a new solar cell with "good efficiency". This good efficiency solar cell is low-cost, environmentally friendly and can be easily made using "bench" chemistry - no fancy equipment or hazardous materials.
"This is a breakthrough in taking the lead out of a very promising type of solar cell, called a perovskite," said Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, an inorganic chemist and tin expert. "Tin is a very viable material, and we have shown the material does work as an efficient solar cell."
Solar cells have typically used a structure called a perovskite made with lead as the light-absorbing material. The new solar cell is made with tin instead. Lead perovskite has achieved 15 percent efficiency. It is expected that tin perovskite will reenergize the field by matching and possibly surpassing that efficiency making them the "next big thing in photovoltaics".
Kanatzidis developed, synthesized and analyzed the material and then turned to Northwestern collaborator and nanoscientist Robert P. H. Chang for help in engineering a solar cell that worked well.
"Our tin-based perovskite layer acts as an efficient sunlight absorber that is sandwiched between two electric charge transport layers for conducting electricity to the outside world," said Chang.
Kanatzidis touts their solid-state tin solar cell efficiency rating of just below 6 percent as a very good starting point. Two things make the material special: it can absorb most of the visible light spectrum, and the perovskite salt can be dissolved reforming upon solvent removal without heating.
"Other scientists will see what we have done and improve on our methods," Kanatzidis said. "There is no reason this new material can't reach an efficiency better than 15 percent, which is what the lead perovskite solar cell offers. Tin and lead are in the same group in the periodic table, so we expect similar results."
Article courtesy of Environmental News Network. Read more at Northwestern University.
Image courtesy of DOE NREL
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