Welcome to a New Planet Climate Change “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth

Not so long ago, it was science fiction. Now, it’s hard science — and that should frighten us all. The latest reports from the prestigious and sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make increasingly hair-raising reading, suggesting that the planet is approaching possible moments of irreversible damage in a fashion and at a speed that had not been anticipated.

Scientists have long worried that climate change will not continue to advance in a “linear” fashion, with the planet getting a little bit hotter most years. Instead, they fear, humanity could someday experience “non-linear” climate shifts (also known as “singularities” or “tipping points”) after which there would be sudden and irreversible change of a catastrophic nature. This was the premise of the 2004 climate-disaster film The Day After Tomorrow. In that movie — most notable for its vivid scenes of a frozen-over New York City — melting polar ice causes a disruption in the North Atlantic Current, which in turn triggers a series of catastrophic storms and disasters. At the time of its release, many knowledgeable scientists derided the film’s premise, insisting that the confluence of events it portrayed was unlikely or simply impossible.

Fast forward 11 years and the prospect of such calamitous tipping points in the North Atlantic or elsewhere no longer looks improbable. In fact, climate scientists have begun to note early indicators of possible catastrophes.

Take the disruption of the North Atlantic Current, the pivotal event in The Day After Tomorrow. Essentially an extension of the Gulf Stream, that deep-sea current carries relatively warm salty water from the South Atlantic and the Caribbean to the northern reaches of the Atlantic. In the process, it helps keep Europe warmer than it would otherwise be. Once its salty water flows into sub-Arctic areas carried by this prolific stream, it gets colder and heavier, sinks to lower depths, and starts a return trip to warmer climes in the south where the whole process begins again.

So long as this “global conveyor belt” — known to scientists as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC — keeps functioning, the Gulf Stream will also continue to bring warmer waters to the eastern United States and Europe. Should it be disrupted, however, the whole system might break down, in which case the Euro-Atlantic climate could turn colder and more storm-prone. Such a disruption might occur if the vast Greenland ice sheet melts in a significant way, as indeed is already beginning to happen today, pouring large quantities of salt-free fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean. Because of its lighter weight, this newly introduced water will remain close to the surface, preventing the submergence of salty water from the south and so effectively shutting down the conveyor belt. Indeed, exactly this process now seems to be underway. More

 

What it takes to be a great leader – TED

What makes a great leader today? Many of us carry this image of this all-knowing superhero who stands and commands and protects his followers. But that's kind of an image from another time, and what's also outdated are the leadership development programs that are based on success models for a world that was, not a world that is or that is coming.

0:45We conducted a study of 4,000 companies, and we asked them, let's see the effectiveness of your leadership development programs. Fifty-eight percent of the companies cited significant talent gaps for critical leadership roles. That means that despite corporate training programs, off-sites, assessments, coaching, all of these things, more than half the companies had failed to grow enough great leaders. You may be asking yourself, is my company helping me to prepare to be a great 21st-century leader? The odds are, probably not.

1:28Now, I've spent 25 years of my professional life observing what makes great leaders. I've worked inside Fortune 500 companies, I've advised over 200 CEOs, and I've cultivated more leadership pipelines than you can imagine. But a few years ago, I noticed a disturbing trend in leadership preparation. I noticed that, despite all the efforts, there were familiar stories that kept resurfacing about individuals. One story was about Chris, a high-potential, superstar leader who moves to a new unit and fails, destroying unrecoverable value. And then there were stories like Sidney, the CEO, who was so frustrated because her company is cited as a best company for leaders, but only one of the top 50 leaders is equipped to lead their crucial initiatives. And then there were storieslike the senior leadership team of a once-thriving business that's surprised by a market shift, finds itself having to force the company to reduce its size in half or go out of business.

2:48Now, these recurring stories cause me to ask two questions. Why are the leadership gaps widening when there's so much more investment in leadership development? And what are the great leaders doing distinctly different to thrive and grow? One of the things that I did, I was so consumed by these questions and also frustrated by those stories,that I left my job so that I could study this full time, and I took a year to travel to different parts of the world to learn about effective and ineffective leadership practices in companies, countries and nonprofit organizations. And so I did things like travel to South Africa, where I had an opportunity to understand how Nelson Mandela was ahead of his time in anticipating and navigating his political, social and economic context. I also met a number of nonprofit leaders who, despite very limited financial resources, were making a huge impact in the world, often bringing together seeming adversaries. And I spent countless hours in presidential libraries trying to understand how the environment had shaped the leaders, the moves that they made, and then the impact of those movesbeyond their tenure. And then, when I returned to work full time, in this role, I joined with wonderful colleagues who were also interested in these questions.

4:26Now, from all this, I distilled the characteristics of leaders who are thriving and what they do differently, and then I also distilled the preparation practices that enable people to grow to their potential. I want to share some of those with you now.

4:44(“What makes a great leader in the 21st century?”)

4:46In a 21st-century world, which is more global, digitally enabled and transparent, with faster speeds of information flow and innovation, and where nothing big gets donewithout some kind of a complex matrix, relying on traditional development practices will stunt your growth as a leader. In fact, traditional assessments like narrow 360 surveys or outdated performance criteria will give you false positives, lulling you into thinking that you are more prepared than you really are. Leadership in the 21st century is defined and evidenced by three questions.

5:29Where are you looking to anticipate the next change to your business model or your life?The answer to this question is on your calendar. Who are you spending time with? On what topics? Where are you traveling? What are you reading? And then how are you distilling this into understanding potential discontinuities, and then making a decision to do something right now so that you're prepared and ready? There's a leadership team that does a practice where they bring together each member collecting, here are trends that impact me, here are trends that impact another team member, and they share these,and then make decisions, to course-correct a strategy or to anticipate a new move.Great leaders are not head-down. They see around corners, shaping their future, not just reacting to it.

6:28The second question is, what is the diversity measure of your personal and professional stakeholder network? You know, we hear often about good ol' boy networks and they're certainly alive and well in many institutions. But to some extent, we all have a network of people that we're comfortable with. So this question is about your capacity to develop relationships with people that are very different than you. And those differences can be biological, physical, functional, political, cultural, socioeconomic. And yet, despite all these differences, they connect with you and they trust you enough to cooperate with you in achieving a shared goal. Great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions,because you have people that are thinking differently than you are.

7:29Third question: are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has made you successful in the past? There's an expression: Go along to get along. But if you follow this advice, chances are as a leader, you're going to keep doing what's familiar and comfortable. Great leaders dare to be different. They don't just talk about risk-taking,they actually do it. And one of the leaders shared with me the fact that the most impactful development comes when you are able to build the emotional stamina to withstand people telling you that your new idea is naïve or reckless or just plain stupid.Now interestingly, the people who will join you are not your usual suspects in your network. They're often people that think differently and therefore are willing to join you in taking a courageous leap. And it's a leap, not a step. More than traditional leadership programs, answering these three questions will determine your effectiveness as a 21st-century leader.

8:45So what makes a great leader in the 21st century? I've met many, and they stand out.They are women and men who are preparing themselves not for the comfortable predictability of yesterday but also for the realities of today and all of those unknown possibilities of tomorrow. More

 

Methane Leaks in Natural-Gas Supply Chain Far Exceed Estimates, Study Says

A little-noted portion of the chain of pipelines and equipment that brings natural gas from the field into power plants and homes is responsible for a surprising amount of methane emissions, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Natural-gas gathering facilities, which collect from multiple wells, lose about 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year, about eight times as much as estimates used by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the study, which appeared in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The newly discovered leaks, if counted in the E.P.A. inventory, would increase its entire systemwide estimate by about 25 percent, said the Environmental Defense Fund, which sponsored the research as part of methane emissions studies it organized.

“The gathering and processing sector, a piece of the supply chain that most people don’t even know exists, may be the biggest single fraction of emissions coming from natural gas,” said Mark Brownstein, who leads the Environmental Defense Fund’s work on methane emissions.

Methane is the main component of natural gas and has a more potent short-term effect on climate change than carbon dioxide. The effect that the newfound emissions would have on climate change over 20 years, the Environmental Defense Fund said, would be similar to that of 37 coal-fired power plants.

The new study, led by researchers at Colorado State University, involves measurements of 114 natural-gas gathering facilities and 16 processing plants in 13 states.

Many gathering facilities use puffs of natural gas in valves that open and close to regulate gas or liquid flow, releasing a bit of methane into the air with every cycle. Anthony J. Marchese, a professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State and the lead author of the new study, said that this practice surprised him. “I was: ‘Really? That’s what they do?’ ” he said.

Companies can substitute other relatively inexpensive technologies for the methane-leaking systems, he said, but “they’re so used to using gas pneumatic, and they think it’s so reliable, they are reluctant to change.”

The recognition of gathering facilities as a major source of methane leaks is an opportunity to look harder and fix them, and to upgrade to equipment that does not emit natural gas, Mr. Brownstein said. “None of this is rocket science,” he said. “Most of it is auto mechanics.”

The Obama administration, while promoting a boom in natural gas, has pushed for businesses to reduce leaks. The E.P.A. proposed new standards on methane emissions on Tuesday. Those rules, however, would apply only to new and modified equipment. “That clearly doesn’t begin to address the majority of the problem — the stuff that is already in the field and operating,” Mr. Brownstein said.

The agency has not closely tracked emissions from gathering facilities before. A statement by the agency in response to questions about the study said that the “E.P.A. looks forward to reviewing the upcoming E.D.F. study on methane emissions from natural gas systems.”

Citing the administration’s methane strategy and noting that “substantial new amounts of information” were becoming available, the statement said that the “E.P.A. will continue to refine its emission estimates to reflect the most robust and up-to-date information available.”

Professor Marchese said that the amount of gas that escapes from gathering facilities each year could heat 3.2 million homes. Wasting a potentially valuable resource, not to mention harming the environment, he said, mystified him. “Why would you ever vent it when you can use it to generate electricity?” he added.

A spokesman for one of the gas industry companies that participated in the study said that the research would be helpful. “This ultimately helps us perform better,” said John Christiansen, a spokesman for Anadarko Petroleum. The research would help the company “get that methane back in the sales line,” he added, “which is ultimately in our best interest — and everybody’s best interest.” More

 

Rapidly Mobilizing American Politics On Climate

CHANNELING THE POWER OF THE POPE’S ENCYCLICAL THROUGH THE PLEDGE TO MOBILIZE CLIMATE STRATEGY

The Pope calls on each of us to undertake an “ecological conversion” to protect humanity and the natural world — Creation — from climate catastrophe. He also calls for the “ecological conversion” of civilization.

The Pledge to Mobilize is a tool to achieve this ecological conversion — on the individual and national level.

The Pledge to Mobilize calls on the federal government to convert the American economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through an emergency, WWII-scale mobilization.

When Individuals take the Pledge, they commit their time, money, and vote to achieving this goal. Most importantly, they commit to spreading the Pledge to others—to spreading the ecological conversion. More

 

 

5 Radical Takeaways from the Pope’s Letter on Climate

Pope Francis recognizes that there’s no way to stop climate change without confronting the way the world does business. That’s huge.

Pope Francis just released an “encyclical,” a letter meant to serve as a guide to understanding our personal relationship to some of the most complex issues of the day through religious doctrine. This particular encyclical is on climate change and is addressed not just to the globe’s 1.2 billion Catholics, but to everyone of any — or no — faith. In it, Pope Francis boldly challenges us all to take an honest look inside our hearts and question the foundations of a society that’s created wealth for some at the expense of others and “our common home”— the planet earth.

Here are five key quotes from the encyclical that will shake up the global climate debate.

1. Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked.

“We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” It’s not hard to see how climate change hits people living in poverty first and worst, and inevitably widens the gulf between rich and poor. After extreme weather washes away their homes or drought kills their crops, those living in poverty have a harder time bouncing back than those with savings accounts and sturdier houses. But what’s really radical is how the Pope names inequality itself as an impediment to solving a looming planetary and human rights crisis. The encyclical calls out “masters of power and money” to stop masking the symptoms and address climate change in service of the common good.

Pope Francis boldly challenges us all to take an honest look inside our hearts and question the foundations of a society that’s created wealth for some at the expense of others and “our common home”— the planet earth.

2. The global economy must protect the Earth, our common home.

“The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings.” Today’s global economy profits at the environment’s expense. And the pursuit of growth is fueling environmental degradation, natural disasters, and financial crises. Pope Francis envisions a people-and-planet-first economy more in harmony with the environment that would prevent imbalances of wealth and power and foster peace among nations.

3. Everyone must divest from fossil fuels and invest in the future.

“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels… needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” Pope Francis is crystal clear that the current development model based on the intensive use of coal, oil, and even natural gas has to go. In its place we need renewable energy options and new modes of production and consumption that combat global warming. This is precisely what a growing movement of students, faith communities, socially responsible investors and everyday citizens are calling on individuals and private and public institutions to do: Divest their money from fossil fuels and invest it in climate solutions like wind, solar, and energy efficiency.

4. It’s time for powerful nations to pay their fair share.

“A true ‘ecological debt’ exists, particularly between the global north and south. … In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.” Countries in the global North have benefitted from fossil fuel-driven industrialization, while developing countries bear the brunt of the related greenhouse gas emissions. So while everyone must act to avoid climate disruption, rich countries have a greater responsibility. For starters, they must make rapid, deep cuts in carbon emissions. And they have to keep their promise to finance the cost for poorer countries to build climate resilience and transition to renewable energy through the Green Climate Fund.

5. There’s no easy way out of this.

“Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation, or blind confidence in technical solutions.” There’s only one way to meet the climate challenge: Extinguish the “dig, burn, dump economy.” And markets and technology can’t be relied on to do the job. Gimmicks like trading carbon credits as a financial commodity or burning coal in “cleaner” power plants are distractions from the only real solution: Stop digging up and drilling — then burning — oil, gas, and coal.

Pope Francis is calling for solutions to climate change that is rooted in our “deepest convictions about love, justice, and peace.” His letter to the world illuminates a radical, compassionate path that shows what it truly means to have faith in humanity. More

 

 

The Road to Paris by Albert Bates

Newspaper reporting legend Ross Gelbspan once said, lifestyle change is essential, but lifestyle change won't get us out of this climate mess. We need change of the kind that only comes from governments, acting together.

In a larger sense, we need a change of the kind that defies the arc of social history extending back to at least the last Ice Age. Let's face it. Our civilizations are built on organized murder, slavery and rape of the natural world and of each other. We are a nasty bit of work, we naked apes.

“These talks are not just about streamlining a text; they are about realizing, at a deeper level, the scope of the problem and the required scale for any response.”

Some of us work towards change at this very cellular level, exploring spiritual and social limitations, working on our group dynamics, getting under our skin with art, music and spoken word, encouraging the heathen masses to break free from our serpent nature and rise up.

There has always been a tension between “bottom up” grass roots organizing and “top-down” working for policy changes from the infrastructural brain centers. Most political activists do both, although some will not compromise, on principle, and so fail to even get inside the buildings where decisions are taken. Others, like the Green Party activists in Germany, Ireland and elsewhere, succeed in winning seats in government only to see their aspirations dashed in the reakpolitik of consensus governance. More

 

 

 

It’s time to talk about what’s next

http://youtu.be/d6z4yDu3gco

It’s time to talk about what’s next.”

This statement also applies to the Cayman Islands, in fact is is more crucial to a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) than anywhere else. “It is time for Caymanians (Americans) to think boldly about… what it will take to move our country to a very different place, one where outcomes that are truly sustainable, equitable, and democratic are commonplace.’

Caymanians ask yourselves

‘Do we want cheaper energy generated by solar and wind’?

Ask ‘how will climate change affect us?’

Ask ‘how will sea level rise affect us?’

Ask ‘how will Cuba opening to US citizens affect us?’

These are questions that very few people or organizations in these islands are asking.

Those are the words of academic and author Gar Alperovitz, founder of the Democracy Collaborative, who—alongside veteran environmentalist Gus Speth—this week launched a new initiative called the “Next Systems Project” which seeks to address the interrelated threats of financial inequality, planetary climate disruption, and money-saturated democracies by advocating for deep, heretofore radical transformations of the current systems that govern the world’s economies, energy systems, and political institutions.