Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mike Hulme dismisses divestment as "feel-good campaign"

Mike Hulme explains in The Guardian why "fossil fuel divestment is a misguided tactic". He lists diverse arguments: divestment is not a policy tool; it shifts focus on the 2 degree goal only and thus supports a naive narrative, and climate change is not only about fossil fuels but it is a wicked problem. Finally, there are the killer arguments "this does not work for India" and "this is feel good campaigning".  When reading this,  I got stuck with the argument of  "feel-good campaigning". What exactly is meant by this, and why is it used as a derogatory term?

Mike Hulme once mentions Vattenfall in his article, and this reminded me of an annual campaign here in Hamburg against Vattenfall: "Lesen ohne Atomstrom"  - "reading without nuclear energy, the renewable literatur festival". It is a high rank cultural event in its fourth or fifth year. It started as a counter-initiative to a campaign by Vattenfall that once had promoted literary events in Hamburg to improve its public image. Today, "Reading without nuclear energy" is an anti-nuclear, pro renewable energy and climate change campaign with considerable political influence; after a public vote last year, the Hamburg senate had to repurchase the power grid from Vattenfall.

Can you apply here Mike Hulme's arguments? (surprisingly, Vandana Shiva will represent India at this event). In my understanding, Mike Hulme's critique maybe does not fully cover the relevance of such a  "feel good" campaign. From an anthropological point of view, this is one of the many ways how climate change  and energy issues come to matter in public life. Events like "Lesen ohne Atomstrom" are part of emerging climate change cultures, where science-based knowledge is translated into vernaculars. Here, wicked problems like climate change, energy use, neoliberal politics, regionalization etc. are brought together and are negotiated, and I hesitate to judge this prematurely from a purely distanced science- and expert point of view. What Mike Hulme might disqualify as "purely symbolic" sometimes bears hidden political power. For example, Nina Hagen will recite Bertolt Brecht and thus provide a German "capitalism vs climate" moment that is both place-based and rooted in history.
(slightly changed 22.4.2015).

Be afraid, be very afraid

We are all aware of the dire situation facing earth as we know it in the face of climate change, with dangers lurking in the not too distant years.  How do we know?  Well, there are outspoken scientists (no names – and there are only a few remaining) who seriously take it upon themselves to warn us.  There are well known prominent scientific journals (no names) that publish accounts of the coming doom.  And then there is the media and their frequent short horror stories – doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t.

I recently came across a small film, which, if we deconstruct it (all the rage these days) is a wonderful metaphor of what might await us.  The film depicts the battle between humans and nature.  High stakes, high uncertainty, stakeholder involvement, it is all there – in just over 2 minutes. Nature appears as a continually changing force, a torrent to be reckoned with.  Humans appear helpless in its wake.  Only a concerted effort diverts disaster.

While the film has nothing to do with climate change, a deconstruction allows us to see the conceptual similarities of what we might face if we continue doing as we do.  It is only a very short film but it is necessary to watch it until the bitter but happy end to catch the full metaphor.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Das Umweltbewusstsein der Deutschen

Das Umweltbundesamt (UBA) hat einen Bericht veröffentlicht, der die Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen online-Umfrage enthält. Die Autoren der Studie sind Dr. Gerd Scholl und Maike Gossen vom Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung; Dr. Brigitte Holzhauer (holzhauerei); sowie Michael Schipperges (sociodimensions).

Die Daten wurden vom Institut forsa/Marplan vom 8. Juli bus 6 August 2014 erhoben. Es wurden 2.117 deutschsprachige Personen ab 14 Jahren befragt, die in Privathaushalten in Deutschland leben. Die durchschnittliche Interviewdauer betrug 40 Minuten. Die online Erhebung wurde teilweise mit Interviews kombiniert, um eine Vergleichbarkeit mit früheren Datensätzen zu ermöglichen. Die Fragen wurden durch Focusgruppen erstellt, mit Vertretern von sechs 'sozialen Milieus'.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

PNS and Chinese Science

I was recently asked (from someone located in China) ‘to what extent “postnormal” conditions may acquire significance more in the democratic West than in  authoritarian countries.’ History hints that China might have had, and still has, elements of PNS. I conclude that in the end, PNS, in its current configuration, is  about power and control, no matter where one sits and, unfortunately, as a unified concept, PNS  resembles Swiss cheese, making it all the more difficult to explicitly determine exactly what it is.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rahmstorf und Mann detektieren ungewöhnliche Abschwächung der AMOC und vermuten den Grund im Abschmelzen des grönländischen Eisschildes

An diesem Montag erschien in Nature Climate Change der Artikel

S. Rahmstorf, J.E. Box, G. Feulner, M.E. Mann, A. Robinson, S. Rutherford und E.J. Schaffernicht

"Exceptional twentieth-century slowdown in Atlantic Overturning Circulation"

Das Abstract lautet:
"Possible changes in Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) provide a key source of uncertainty regarding future climate change. Maps of temperature trends over the twentieth century show a conspicuous region of cooling in the northern Atlantic. Here we present multiple lines of evidence suggesting that this cooling may be due to a reduction in the AMOC over the twentieth century and particularly after 1970. Since 1990 the AMOC seems to have partly recovered. This time evolution is consistently suggested by an AMOC index based on sea surface temperatures, by the hemispheric temperature di fference, by coral-based proxies and by oceanic measurements. We discuss a possible contribution of the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet to the slowdown. Using a multi-proxy temperature reconstruction for the AMOC index suggests that the AMOC weakness after 1975 is an unprecedented event in the past millennium (p>0.99). Further melting of Greenland in the coming decades could contribute to further weakening of the AMOC."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Are emissions stabilised?

Today the International Energy Agency has published  data about last year's carbon dioxide emissions. They stand at 32.3 billion tonnes, the same as the year before.

This would be good news if it signalled a global trend, which would be a complete surprise. Stabilising carbon emissions is the goal of international climate policy which has proven elusive over the past decades. Common wisdom is that we will see many years of rising emissions globally before a plateau is in sight.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This changes nothing - The Guardian campaign on climate change

The Guardian has embarked on a campaign to put climate change in the spotlight again. Starting last weekend it used the first pages of its print edition to publish comments by high profile campaigners like Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and George Monbiot. These were accompanied by powerful artwork from Anthony Gormley, Nele Azevedo and Judy Watson. The motto of the campaign is 'Keep it in the ground', don't burn the vast amounts of fossil fuels that are still buried underground. Otherwise we would fry the planet.

The campaign kicked off with Naomi Klein. She asks 'What is wrong with us?'

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marcel Severijnen: Evaluation report on Climate Dialogue published

Evaluation report on Climate Dialogue published
by Marcel Severijnen

As announced before  a final evaluation report on the closed weblog Climate Dialogue has been published by PBL (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

Neues aus der Klimafalle

Politikthriller, Skandalmaschine, Verschwörungstheorien, Machtkämpfe: die Klimamaschine läuft auf Hochtouren, der Klimagipfel in Paris 2015 naht, die Akteure bringen sich in Stellung. Hier ein kurzer Überblick über die Ereignisse der letzten Tage: Rajendra Pachauri ist von der Leitung des IPCC zurückgetreten. Ihm wird sexuelle Belästigung einer Mitarbeiterin vorgeworfen. Er selbst sagt, dass sein Email account geknackt worden sei. Nun wird natürlich manche Krokodilsträne geweint, mit seinem Namen sind der Nobelpreis 2007 ebenso verbunden wie "Himalayagate" oder angeblich unsaubere Beraterhonorare. In Nature sagt Gabi Hegerl: "“He had his very own style of chairing the IPCC — but he was a very effective leader,” während Hans von Storch, der laut Tagesspiegel schon 2010 Pachauris Rücktritt forderte, zu den Umständen, die nun dazu geführt haben, sagt: "Das ist traurig", doch auch für Pachauri gelte die Unschuldsvermutung. Pachauri selbst sagt: “For me, the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission, it is my religion and my dharma.” Die potentiellen Nachfolger stehen schon bereit, Nature nennt Jean-Pascale van Ypersele, Thomas Stocker und Chris Field als Kandidaten.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bruno Latour's climate wars

Some time ago we had a discussion about Latour's pronouncements on climate change and climate policy. This discussion was sparked by Werner's post Gaia ist kitzlig. The discussion was conducted entirely in German. I said in one of the comments that we should have a separate thread so here goes.

During the discussion I criticised Latour strongly, based on an interview he had, together with the late Ulrich Beck, given to the FAZ. I have now come across a paper by Latour, based on a talk he gave in Vancouver in September 2013. In this paper he develops his idea about a climate war and his distaste for the notion of 'climate change' in greater detail.