[Nov 2-8 2020] Volume is power
Welcome to this weeks edition of The Weekly Climate! 🎉
WUHU BIDEN WON! This might actually give us a shot at ensuring a livable future for future generations but seriously, we have a long way to go. Biden and the rest of the world will need to put on their working gloves ASAP.
Sometimes I imagine talking to my long deceased grandparents about the world we live in today. The post-truth era with Trump, populist governments around the world, the fossil fuel industry, the total inaction on climate change and so on. And I wonder about their responses. When they were a bit younger than I am today we were in the middle of World War II. Our country was occupied by the Nazis. The outlook from that period must also have seemed very dire. Total war with no end in sight. Later on the East block, the Berlin wall. So much death, destruction and human misery. I imagine the fear they must have had for their children. Whether they would grow up in a Nazi totalitarian regime. And I wonder whether they would attempt to calm me down by saying something like “things have been worse” or whether they like me would be outraged about the future we live in. One thing I definitely feel when thinking about this dead grand parents heart-to-heart is embarrassment. I feel embarrassed about having to explain all the fucked up stuff that have happened on my watch and are continually happening.
I both take comfort and have great reverence in the fact that the world is continuously changing. For good and bad. You can see it just 12 years ago in John McCains concession speech to Obama how dignified and almost “stylish” it was compared to how Trump is behaving. But then again the past also had it’s fair share of crises from World Wars to Cold Wars. Back then supposedly leaders of the “free” world couldn’t get away with lying every single time they were on TV. But today they can and they do. Populism rules. Whoever is part of the largest and loudest group of — excuse me — stupid people on Facebook gets to steer our governments. Where the content of Facebook in turn is steered by whoever has the most money. I think Sam Harris’s 10 year old TED talk about how “Science can answer moral questions” is on to something. Through the power of knowledge we can actually determine what the right answer is to many questions. Yet that answer become an opinion in a political game, far from the scientific fact that it is. Instead it’s whoever is loudest is right.
We see it here in Denmark with our climate-elected government’s feeble attempts at introducing two vegetarian lunch days as a form of climate action. But that legislation was rolled back a few days later because the unions wouldn’t stand for it. Seriously — if a government can’t even introduce two measly vegetarian lunch days in the public sector then I doubt politicians and the way the “system” is structured today will ever solve the climate crisis.
Is this failing of our governments to address anything that has real meaning and real value the symptom that ultimately will make our civilization collapse?
Naively, one would assume that having access to the amount of information that we have today should prevent all these bad things from happening. We know climate change is happening, we know Trump is and was lying, we know the fossil fuel industry is destroying our planet and our societies, yet we keep on allowing it. The amount of information seems to have the opposite effect. Why?
Sun Tzu said that “Knowledge is power, but that doesn’t seem to be true anymore. Today “Volume is power” seems more accurate today. Whoever has the biggest loudspeaker has the power. Whether you purchased that loudspeaker with money, votes or facts. That I think is one of the biggest tasks that stand before Biden and the rest of the world.
📰 In the news
Here are the most interesting and important news items from last week!
🇺🇸 Story we follow: U.S. Presidential Election
WUHU! Biden won! The future just got a chance. I had to scrap all my anti-Trump articles this week and just stick with this one about what Biden can do on climate — even with a republican senate. This will probably be the last post in this series about the U.S. Presidential Election.
☠️ Story we follow: BPs climate aspirations
BP has announced that it will slash oil production by 40%. If history teaches us anything it is that this will be just another load of bullcrap just like Beyond Petroleum were 20 years ago. But we will see. By putting the story up top here we aim to track it carefully.
Climate & Science
🔥 Smoke cloud from this summers bushfires in Australia is 3x larger than anything previously recorded in Australia.
🐾 A 2C world will release 230Gt more carbon from the soil equivalent to 4x that of China over the past century.
💨 Category 4 hurricane Eta wreaks havoc in Nicaragua and Honduras and is headed towards Cuba and Florida.
⚡️ Electrification of heat from gas in U.S. homes could reduce carbon footprint of buldings by 44%.
🔋With energy storage market raging, pumped hydro doesn’t want to be left behind.
🌞 New report analyzes the future of solar in Latin America and it’s looking good.
🍭 Up until last week Vestas offshore business was a joint venture with Mitsubishi, but a new deal brings Vestas in full control of it’s offshore business.
Major Carbon Emitters
🎅 The fossil fuel industry keep on trying to involve the public in it’s demise as was seen last week with Shells total Twitter fail which enabled the climate activists of the world to tear into it.
🧛♂️And Amy Westervelt of Drilled even enlightened us with a picture from a Shell strategy document showing that it has a plan for what to do in case the public catches on.
🛢 Fossil fuel industry get’s the nuclear treatment in a new attempt to push a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty through the world’s governments. Yes please 👏
📈Greentech Media dives into the counterintuitive question of why falling levelized costs of energy for renewable energy aren’t causing wholesale electricity prices to drop.
🍔Vegetarian and vegan food products in Europe can now use a variety of descriptions formerly reserved for meat-based products.
🙋♀️Greta Thunberg hears your (politicians) excuses, and she’s not impressed.
🌪 Category 5 typhoon Goni hit the Philippines last Sunday and wreaked death and destruction.
🔥 Emissions from the Amazon wildfires doesn’t stop until 4 years after the blaze has stopped because trees damaged by the fire are dying slowly.
All we can save bookclub and other books
📕 Heated bookclub week 5 is back — and also what looked to be a killer election night show. Damn so sad I missed this one live.
📽 Review of Rebellion movie about the people’s uprising to push climate action
As I have been unsuccessful in finding any good english speaking European podcasts about the climate crisis it’s no surprise that all of these (except one) is about the election. However, I think they provide some really good an interesting perspectives:
Drilled — Update: Donziger headed to trial with no representation: The New York Judge has denied Donziger’s request for his lawyers to be present for his trial and he’s now due to appear on Nov 9.
How to save a planet — How much does the President matter for the climate? Discussing how much the U.S. president really matters when it comes to taking action on climate change. (Published on Nov 5 prior to Biden winning).
A matter of degrees — After Trump: The Silver Linings Playbook: Similar to the above except this one is published on Nov 8 after the Biden victory.
💪One way to take action: Talking
The Problem: Not enough people are taking climate change seriously
You’re here so you’re not in the problem group. But one thing that struck me the most about the U.S. election is the fact that almost half of the votes were for Trump. 70.000.000 people voted for him. We’ve seen so much irrationality surrounding COVID. People who got shot because they didn’t want to wear a mask. To solve the climate crisis we need everyone to help. It’s not enough that we make Bidens half of the votes carbon neutral. We need every single one of Trump’s voters (or the equivalent in your country) to do that too. So my question is: How do we get an anti-mask-climate-denier-Trump-voter to go carbon neutral? How do we make them switch out their polluting car with an EV, electrify their home, support a carbon tax and so on?
I must admit that I don’t know. I can only see one way and that is by law. Politicians have to force these people to do it. It has to be illegal not to do it otherwise they won’t.
And that is why talking about climate change is probably the single most important thing anyone can do. Because to get the politicians to take the right steps, even with world-saving Biden administration we need more volume.
Solution(s): Turn up the volume
The past two years has turned up the volume quite a lot — heck I had my own personal climate transformation in this period. Two key moments happened: Greta started striking in the EU and Sunrise Movement in the US launched the Green New Deal. Last year on September 20 4.000.000 young people went on strike. None of those events would have happened if the people involved didn’t talk about climate change. When people talk, things happen. Remember we need your old conservative Uncle John to talk about climate change too. And you’re the one who can talk with him about it. You’re the one who he will very likely listen to. People his own age can’t make him listen otherwise you wouldn’t need to talk to him — only the generation after him can.
In the coming years we need to put massive pressure on the politicians to act. We need to show them that they have to act on climate change or we will take away their power, which is the only thing they fear. We need Uncle John to join us in the demonstrations to come.
Let’s get the amazing Katharine Hayhoe to explain why talking is important:
One action: Voice
Here are a few ideas for how to talk about climate change this week:
Family / friends dinner: Going to a dinner? A big one? Bring up the topic. Talk about some of the items I pushed in this newsletter. Here’s a bonus one and a good icebreaker (literally unfortunately) about an iceberg the size of Norfolk on collision course with an island full of penguins.
SoMe: As you’ve probably guessed I’m not a big fan of SoMe’s especially Facebook but people are there, so share one of the articles from this weeks newsletter that resonated with you and comment on it. An easy one is what Biden can do with a republican senate.
Make content: All of the best climate communicators out there started the same way. They started to produce content. My newsletter is a small attempt at getting better at that. What’s your angle? Do you live in a neighborhood hard hit by climate change? Document that on Youtube or Instagram. Let me know if you decide on one of these things and I’ll happily help push it (also if you just want to produce but dunno about what reach out please, I have a ton of ideas that I don’t have time to do).
Remember, you don’t have to be Katharine Hayhoe or a climate scientist to talk about climate change. In fact it’s important that you aren’t. Your perspective on climate change is as relevant as anybody’s because as it affects everybody it’s highly unlikely that you’re the only one who sees things your way. Anyone can talk about climate change, but it’s important to do it in a good and constructive way. Here’s a few tips:
A fun way to start: A fun game I like to play is to ask people to think about something that won’t be affected by climate change. You can pretty safely say to just about anything “nope that will also be affected by climate change”. If nothing else it provides interesting discussion and makes people who never thought about it before think about the complexities of our society.
Skip the doom and gloom: Yes you can talk about icesheets melting, wildfires, species extinction, flooding and all that but when it comes to action it’s important to not talk about how aweful fixing this is going to be. But rather (as I tried to do for a few issues) talk about how awesome the future where climate change is fixed is going to be.
Make it relatable: Many times when I talk about climate change with people in the end they’re giving up and saying something like: “Uh but what can we do?”. Make climate action relatable. The last three newsletters contained concrete actions about what anyone can do. Tell them about those and tell them why they matter. All details are in those issues (and they might even sign up to get more tips, ahem😇).
Be personal: People relate to personal stories. Tell them why climate change matters to you. Has it always mattered to you? What made it matter to you? How do you think about it?
Community: Help us stranger
Here’s a few things I would love to hear your answer on in the comments below:
How is your local network of people thinking about climate change? Are everyone die-hard climate fighters? Who can you talk to this week that are indifferent about climate change? Do you have any ideas about how to talk to Trump-similar voters about climate change? Do you have any ideas about producing any content about climate change? Pitch them to us! Any comments on this issue - let me know in the comments below!
That’s it for this week folks! If you feel like I’m missing something, please let me know.
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See you all next week 👋