Listened Saturated trees and carbon rationing from ABC Radio National

New Australian research suggests trees may not be the carbon sponges we think they are. The findings compliment a larger international study that suggests the world’s major forests are saturated and will soon begin emitting, not absorbing carbon. Also, the Finish experiment where citizens are being given individual carbon allocations. It’s all about making carbon trading a very personal affair.

This was an interesting episode of Future Tense, exploring the part played by trees with global warming, as well as Finish experiments with carbon rationing through the use of data. Although positive in that it can help individuals make a difference, is also reminds me of James Bridle’s discussion of the use of data and technology to counter the impact of data and technology in New Dark Age:

Computation is both a victim of and contributor to climate change. Page 69

Bookmarked The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations (The New Yorker)

What felt impossible has become thinkable. The spring of 2020 is suggestive of how much, and how quickly, we can change as a civilization.

Kim Stanley Robinson discusses the way in which the current crisis has rapidly rewritten our imagination.

The virus is rewriting our imaginations. What felt impossible has become thinkable. We’re getting a different sense of our place in history. We know we’re entering a new world, a new era. We seem to be learning our way into a new structure of feeling.

Our ability to adjust to respond to the idea of ‘flattening the curve’ has demonstrated our ability to move beyond the neo-liberalosm and the individual to instead focus on the greater good.

Just as there are charismatic megafauna, there are charismatic mega-ideas. “Flatten the curve” could be one of them. Immediately, we get it. There’s an infectious, deadly plague that spreads easily, and, although we can’t avoid it entirely, we can try to avoid a big spike in infections, so that hospitals won’t be overwhelmed and fewer people will die. It makes sense, and it’s something all of us can help to do. When we do it—if we do it—it will be a civilizational achievement: a new thing that our scientific, educated, high-tech species is capable of doing. Knowing that we can act in concert when necessary is another thing that will change us.

This then gives us hope for the responding to the multi-generational Ponzi scheme that is global warming and the new imagination required to respond to that.

You can’t fix extinctions, or ocean acidification, or melted permafrost, no matter how rich or smart you are. The fact that these problems will occur in the future lets us take a magical view of them. We go on exacerbating them, thinking—not that we think this, but the notion seems to underlie our thinking—that we will be dead before it gets too serious. The tragedy of the horizon is often something we encounter, without knowing it, when we buy and sell. The market is wrong; the prices are too low. Our way of life has environmental costs that aren’t included in what we pay, and those costs will be borne by our descendents. We are operating a multigenerational Ponzi scheme.

Bookmarked On Deconferencing (CogDogBlog)

Conference on… but I am deconferencing. I am looking for better ways to share knowledge, ideas that can include more people and less travel, but just plain… better.

Alan Levine responds to posts from Bryan Alexander, Will Richardson and Stephen Downes about climate change and conferences. He argues that this is neither either or. In some respects, the choice to say no is in fact a point of privilege:

The number of people who have the means to attend these confluences are excruciatingly small compared to the number of educators in the world. It can sure look like a prestigious club. When you are not in it.

Sometimes conferences are something that is a part of the hustle.

Let me tell you what it’s like being self-employed. Just getting pay is a second full time job. Every small to medium sized contract I have comes with hours submitting paperwork, following up with HR departments, asking if they got the paperwork, and trying not too much to nag your client to check up on getting that payment. Or just shrugging and starting work in hopes of getting paid maybe within weeks of doing the work.

In the end, what is needed is to stop and consider the Academic Conference Industrial Complex as a whole, not just focus on global warming.

Personally speaking, this discussion of the wider impact and implication of conferences has me thinking about a piece I wrote a few years ago thinking about the hidden professional development made possible by conferences, especially as conferences go online because of things such as coronavirus:

Bookmarked Under the Weather – Believer Magazine (Believer Magazine)

As a philosopher, Albrecht determined to identify and name this condition. The word he came up with was solastalgia, a portmanteau word of the Latin solus, which means “abandonment and loneliness,” and nostalgia. Nostalgia has not always had the warm and fuzzy connotations it does now. When it was first used, in the seventeenth century, it described a diagnosable illness that afflicted people who were far from home but could not return. Soldiers were particularly susceptible, as were people forced into migration by conflict, colonization, and slavery. The cure, it was thought, was simply to return home and be soothed by familiarity — otherwise, the sufferer’s distress would continue, even to the point of death. To Albrecht, if nostalgia was a sickness caused by the displacement brought about by seventeenth-century globalization, solastalgia was its twenty-
first-century counterpart.

Ash Sanders takes a deep dive into living with the burdens of a world falling apart.
Liked On Power and Climate Change – Will Richardson (Will Richardson)

I worry, however, that we are failing to understand the significance of this moment. I worry that we will wait to begin to address both the intellectual and emotional aspects of climate change until some curriculum writer or policy wonk decides it’s appropriate. And I worry that when we do begin to embrace this challenge in schools that we will do so with a disregard to the larger context of how power relationships in our society really hold the key to whether or not we’re going to solve it.

Liked If you love Australia, climate change should scare the hell out of you | Greg Jericho (the Guardian)

If you love Australia, climate change should scare the hell out of you because the reef, our rivers, our wildlife, our fresh air, even, as we have seen since December, our relaxed summer holidays are going to be stripped away from us.

Our government has more reason than most others outside of the Pacific Islands to be demanding global action on climate change.

Bookmarked Global Apathy Toward the Fires in Australia Is a Scary Portent for the Future by an author (Intelligencer)

These fires are just one disaster, of course, and the planet has many test cases like it ahead. But it would be among the most perverse grotesqueries of climate change if it brought about the end of these kinds of global prejudices — not to be replaced with a sense of common humanity but a system of disinterest defined instead by ever smaller circles of empathy.

David Wallace-Wells discusses the lack of global outcry at the current bush fire crisis in Australia which has been unfolding for months. He suggests that the biggest challenge we face is working together globally.
Listened Deputy PM slams ‘raving inner city lunatics’ for bushfire climate link from ABC Radio National

Michael McCormack said people in disaster areas “don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time”.

Hamish Macdonald challenges Michael McCormack on the connections between the current crisis and global warming. McCormack argues that it is not the right time for such discussions that are being driven by Greenie lunatics, instead we should be focusing on supporting people. The question that comes up again and again, if not now when?

Here is a link to the audio:

Replied to I’m sick of the same circular climate change discussion. This is what I’m doing instead (ABC News)

There’s nothing stopping me aiming to cut my own emissions by the recommended 45 per cent. But have I tried? No. Far easier to wait for an agreed, society-wide consensus.

That’s when it hit me: we can’t bemoan passive self interest at a global level while practising the exact same approach in our own lives. Succumbing to the lure of disempowerment is what has cost us most dearly in the response to climate change. That is what I would go back in time to warn people.

Conal Hanna, although I do not necessarily agree with Martin Lukacs that individual change is a bit of a con, I wonder if it is a useful narrative strategy for getting people to actually think about the problem?
Replied to Mallacoota residents and holidaymakers describe ‘apocalypse’ as Victorian bushfire approaches – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
I remember standing on a beach in Rye twenty years ago wondering if y2k would cause havoc. It seems like nothing compared to what is being faced this year. All I can say is stay safe everyone.
Bookmarked If we each spent $200 to help prevent climate change, here’s how we could transform Australia (ABC News)

On average, Australians are willing to chip in an extra $200 a year to prevent climate change. It turns out that money could go a long way.

Responding to the findings of the Australia Talks National Survey, Nick Kilvert and the team at the ABC speak with a number of specialists to identify what they would do now in response to the climate debate. Some of the suggestions provided include investing in research, subsidising electric vehicles and installing solar panels.
Bookmarked ‘What could I have done?’ The scientist who predicted the bushfire emergency four decades ago (the Guardian)

Dr Tom Beer’s pioneering 1980s research into bushfires and climate change has, to his dismay, proved all too accurate

Graham Readfearn discusses Tom Beer’s research with CSIRO in the 80’s and 90’s exploring the impact of global warming on bushfires after the Ash Wednesday Bushfires of 1983.

“It seems obvious, but actually we found the correlation was not temperature and fires, but relative humidity and fires. Temperature goes up, it gets drier, and then the fires go up,” says Beer.

Liked The glacier melt series 1999/2019

In 1999 I travelled to Iceland to document a number of the country’s glaciers from the air. Back then, I thought of the glaciers as beyond human influence. They were awe-inspiring and exhilaratingly beautiful. They seemed immobile, eternal. I was struck at the time by the difference between the human scale and the scale of geo-history. For me a glacier or a rock seem solid, but on the geological scale, rocks and glaciers are constantly in motion.


This summer, twenty years later, I went back to photograph the same glaciers from the same angle and at the same distance. Flying over the glaciers again, I was shocked to see the difference. Of course, I know that global heating means melting ice and I expected the glaciers to have changed, but I simply could not imagine the extent of change. All have shrunk considerably and some are even difficult to find again. Clearly this should not be the case, since glacial ice does not melt and reform each year, like sea ice. Once a glacier melts, it is gone. Forever. It was only in seeing the difference between then and now – a mere twenty years later – that I came to fully understand what is happening. The photos make the consequences of human actions on the environment vividly real. They make the consequences felt.


This August, I joined a group of people to commemorate the passing of Okjökull, the first glacier in Iceland to vanish entirely as a result of human activity. It was a humbling experience. A plaque laid at the site bears an inscription, drafted by the Icelandic writer Andri Snær Magnason, that poses a question to future generations: ‘We know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.’

Watched Not Today – the television program which tackles the big questions, but not today | 7.30 from YouTube

During this week’s bushfire crisis, many politicians were hesitant to answer questions from journalists about climate change. But now thanks to satirist Mark Humphries and his co-writer Evan Williams, there’s a new program more willing to accommodate their unwillingness to address the issue.

Mark Humphries’ responds to Scott Morrison’s unwillingness to get involved in any sort of discussion around the current bushfire disaster grappling Australia with a satire of the Today Show. I especially liked the question cancelling headphones from Denial Direct.

Pat Campbell has added his perspective:

The right time to discuss Climate Impact

While Katherine Murphy explains that Morrison’s avoidance is because of the current governments record is one of unmitigated shame and failure.

With Morrison’s silence, Harold Holt, the prime minister who went missing, has started trending again:

Liked

Liked Climate crisis stories must be human centered by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

We live in a consumerist society where everything is presented in terms of products. So, let’s talk products. Tim Burton’s Batman was released 30 years ago. So was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And, yes, Star Trek: The Next Generation is thirty-two years old. In less time than that, it could all be over.

Liked Facing unbearable heat, Qatar has begun to air-condition the outdoors (Washington Post)

To survive the summer heat, Qatar not only air-conditions its soccer stadiums, but also the outdoors — in markets, along sidewalks, even at outdoor malls so people can window shop with a cool breeze. “If you turn off air conditioners, it will be unbearable. You cannot function effectively,” says Yousef al-Horr, founder of the Gulf Organization for Research and Development.

via Clive Thompson