Extinction Aversion 1215

Man made climate change has appeared to me for three decades to be sufficiently proven, and it has that cardinal virtue of a scientific hypothesis, you can see the things which it predicts will happen, come to pass before your eyes, like being uncomfortably hot in your Edinburgh flat on Easter Monday.

Direct action of the illegal kind is a very important weapon in the arsenal of protest. It represents a challenge to the state’s monopoly of force. While it may appear non-violent, in fact by imposing your body into a space and blocking it off, that is an assertion of physical force. What the Extinction Rebellion protests showed this week was the reticence of the Metropolitan Police in dealing with nice, middle class and largely white protestors. That reticence is to be welcomed; the fact that it is not extended to other groups is what is to be deplored. The alternative is to argue for everyone to get beaten up by Plod equally, which is not a sensible line to take.

I broadly support the Extinction Rebellion protest. In terms of gatecrashing climate change on to the political agenda, they have had a good and entirely necessary effect. Their use of what was in effect force, certainly did some harm in restricting the movement of people around London, and in some cases will have impacted the ability of struggling people to earn their living. It also disrupted public transport systems which are a good thing. But these are minor items if you accept that climate change is whirling its way to becoming an existential threat – and that is a premise which I do accept. The disruption is outweighed by the intent to do a much greater good, in terms of the justification of the people doing the protesting. Whether it succeeds in prompting real action by government and achieving a balance of good, is a different question. I fear we have to get rid of the Tories first.

I accept that climate change is a worldwide phenomenon and action in individual states of limited utility. But individual states can inspire by example, not least by showing that a switch to a greener economy can lead to a major stimulation of economic growth. I do not pretend to expertise in green economics. What follows are rather some homely policy nostrums which I believe should form a part of a coherent approach to green policy.

1) Home Insulation

The Tory Government has effectively abandoned and cancelled home insulation schemes; in effect nothing whatsoever is happening. Yet the government’s own plan to reach committed emissions targets by 2050 explicitly depends on one third of all savings being achieved by insulation in Britain’s existing stock of over 20 million very poorly insulated homes.

There is the clearest case here for government action. The aim should be to upgrade 4 million homes a year. Full funding should be provided to local authorities and housing associations for their stock. Householders should face a legal obligation to bring home insulation up to high defined standards – with generous means-tested grants available from central government funds, which should meet 100% of the cost for all those in straitened circumstances, and a decreasing percentage thereafter based on income and wealth. Private landlords should be forced to comply and self-fund up to the value of four months’ rent, with grants available for higher costs. Failure to comply should lead to the landlords’ property being confiscated by the local council, with tenancies protected.

Those are the broad outlines of a policy which would provide massive employment and contribute to a major Keynesian boost for an economy crippled by years of austerity, as well as make a major difference to emissions.

2) Ocean Energy

Wind energy has made massive strides, and to a lesser extent solar and hydro. But disappointingly little has been done to harness the restless energy of the seas. Government support for research programmes into utilising wave and current energy is pitifully small, given the potentially vast and reliable energy resource available, to the UK in particular.

On tidal energy, those objecting to the Severn or Wash barrage schemes on the grounds of effect on wildlife habitat are failing spectacularly to see the wood for the trees. Of course biodiversity is massively important, but we are fighting a battle in which some resources will need to be sacrificed. The Severn, Wash and Swansea Bay schemes do not require substantial technological innovation – they are basically just low head hydro – and should be pushed ahead as urgent projects. Simultaneously major research funding should be given to innovation. I suspect the harnessing of currents rather than waves would be the first to fruition.

3) Aviation Fuel Tax

Cheap flights are the opiate of the people. I cannot buy in to the argument that aviation fuel tax is only viable if everybody does it. Planes landing can very easily be taxed on any fuel they have in their fuel tanks brought in from third countries. If hub passengers transiting are reduced in favour of fuel tax free destinations, I cannot see that as a bad thing. An aviation hub is a particularly undesirable thing to become, from any sensible environmental view.

Flying is a major contributor to pollution and there is far too much of it. The tax free fuel status that makes flights cheaper than trains is ludicrous. Aviation fuel should be taxed at the same levels per calorific value as road fuels.

4) Expand Rail Networks

Nationalisation and re-integration is of course the sensible prelude to any development of rail transport. The UK is chronically behind most of the developed, and even much of the developing, world in terms of high speed rail lines. This needs to be rectified as does the chronic over-concentration of transport resource on South East England. HS2 should run on to Aberdeen and Inverness, not just be confined to the southern third of the UK.

On a wider note, with demand for rail transport buoyant, re-establishment of many Beeching axed lines should be undertaken with a view to a simple containerised nationwide freight distribution system as well as passenger transport. Rail is far more energy efficient than road. The preponderance of road transport is simply the result of perverse incentive from government policy.

Light rail and tram systems should be expanded in cities. Here in Edinburgh, the poor planning and execution of the start of a tram system should not put us off. Trams should be a local service, not fast and stopping frequently, but rather akin to buses, as in Manchester. They should not be confused as in Edinburgh with an express airport service, with very few and inaccessible stops.

5) Encourage Micro-Generation: Abolish Nuclear

The UK had an immensely successful programme of encouraging domestic solar generation through feed in tariffs, so the Tories cut it, as they cut the less successful insulation grants. Generous feed-in tariffs for domestic generation should be rebooted, while technologies such as heat pumps and exchangers should be zero rated for VAT (as should bicycles).

By contrast, the massively expensive nuclear power projects should be scrapped immediately. I lived almost all my adult life under the impression nuclear energy involved some fiendishly clever technology, until I realised it generates from bog standard steam turbines, and the nuclear part is simply a ludicrously complicated, incredibly expensive and devastatingly dangerous way to – boil water.

The real attraction to governments of nuclear power is the precise reason governments dislike micro-generation – nuclear power promotes a massively centralised security state, and links in well to weaponisation. It is the most expensive electricity of all, and should be immediately closed down.

The above represent my own thoughts on possible short term policy responses to climate change. I acknowledge quite freely that it is not my area of expertise and is perhaps insufficiently radical, and certainly insufficiently broad and detailed. It has however focused my mind on the great economic stimulus that can be gained from wholesale pursuit of the necessary technologies at the government level.

I have deliberately concentrated on unilateral measures rather than international negotiation, because I am sceptical there is sufficient will for progress on the latter or that governments around the world intend to stick to commitments. I have viewed it from a UK not a Scottish perspective because action is required immediately, and Scotland starts from a much better place anyway.

That I am thinking on this at all is in a way evidence that Extinction Rebellion achieved their aim from their immediate action, though it is those in power they seek to influence, not random bloggers. I am very sceptical of their declared desire to “negotiate with government”. If David Cameron were still in power, he would undoubtedly “hug a swampie” and make all kinds of green noises, then continue shutting down environmental programmes. Those around Theresa May are quite clever enough to recommend such an approach, as a potential Tory rescuing image as the party otherwise crashes to electoral disaster.

I would recommend Extinction Rebellion to keep blocking the roads and stay clear of the politicians. If they could refine their tactics to concentrate more on direct action against the big polluters and their financial backers, and move away from shocking the public through inconvenience, that might be tactically good for a while. But on the whole, I applaud. Vigorously.

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1,215 thoughts on “Extinction Aversion

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  • Sharp Ears

    There is a graph on this page which shows the year on year rise in earth’s surface temperature.

    The rise commenced in the 1940s with a few dips afterwards. From the end of the 1970s, the trend to date is upwards.

    ‘In its annual climate summary released on Wednesday, delayed several weeks because of the government shutdown, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reported that Earth experienced its fourth warmest surface temperature in records going back to 1880. NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency also found 2018 to be the fourth warmest year on record. The five warmest years on record are the now past five years—2016, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2014, in that order.’

    https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Earth-Had-Its-4th-Warmest-Year-Record-2018-Say-NOAA-and-NASA (inc explanation)

  • N_

    Why does Extinction Rebellion refer to Prince Charles as “they”?

    ER’s demands include that the government “work with other institutions” to communicate the urgency for change, and that the government be led by a focus group “Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice”, which would itself be a new institution. (Job for you, Zac!) I would imagine that some of Prince Charles’s associates – for example Tony Juniper, the recently appointed chairman of “Natural England” and a holder of the Rothschild Medal who co-authored Prince Charles’s batshit book “Harmony” – would be openly supportive of these institutions were they ever to come into existence. It’s not as if the Steinerites don’t already own organisations that exert an influence in the fields of “education”, medicine, veterinary medicine, and agriculture.

    (The posed photo of him in that book wearing what look as though they could be patent leather shoes when supposedly tending to some chickens is hilarious.)

      • ADKC

        Carbon trading, Cardon offset, taxation that disproportionately (only really) affects the poor, the financialisation of carbon, the continuation and expansion of the western economic model, the continued exploitation of the South and third world, etc. means that “Extinction Rebellion” and the capitalist interests behind them are absolutely about class.

        • Grhm

          Thank goodness our grandparents weren’t so ideologically squeamish as you.
          They didn’t refuse to join the fight against fascism on the grounds that it was organised in Britain by the ruling class; they just got on with what needed to be done.
          (Or most of them did. Those who refused went to prison, and quite right too.)
          Sorry to keep harping on about Britain in WWII, but it is the only historical crisis I can think of that is remotely comparable in scale, and it is an object lesson in what can be achieved if the economy is harnessed and directed towards a specific goal… even without overthrowing capitalism first.

          • ADKC

            Germany was defeated by a Russia, Britain and US just watched.

            I’m not surprised that you are pushing the Britain in World War II narative because it enables to avoid discussing and engaging in the very issue you choose to dispute.

            “You only speak of the green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.”

            “But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.”

          • Clark

            “…even without overthrowing capitalism first”

            Notable that after the crisis of WWII, the famous post-war Labour government implemented some of the greatest moves towards economic and social justice ever seen. This is what happens when people learn the power of community by acting together to address a crisis.

          • Grhm

            Indeed Clark.
            And also the effectiveness of a command economy.
            Funny, but when laissez-faire economists recognise that their own lives are at stake, they suddenly stop advocatingcompetition and deregulation.
            They’ll entrust other peoples lives to the hocus-pocus of ‘hidden hands’ but not their own.

          • Clark

            Grhm, I think the context was critically important; during WWII people accepted the need for a command economy because they recognised the immense threat, and the commands issued were accepted because they were appropriate for addressing that threat.

            But the approach of invading armies is a threat on a human time-scale, whereas environmental catastrophe is much slower.

          • Grhm

            Continental fascism may have been a less urgent threat to Britain in 1939 than the threat of global warming was in the early 1970s (when scientists first warned politicians about it)… but, unlike in 1939, in 1972 our political representatives decided to do fuck all about it.
            Consequently, the issue has since become more and more pressing.
            I don’t think you are correct any more to say that this is a long term threat.
            Urgent action is necessary, NOW.

          • Clark

            Grhm, no, I very much agree that drastic action is needed immediately. I was referring to the psychological effect that it hasn’t been treated nearly as urgently as it should have been, and that it has been easy for gainsayers to dismiss, because of the short time-scale of human perception relative to such geological-scale changes.

            It should have been recognised as a very serious problem decades ago. Because it wasn’t, it is now an urgent crisis.

      • N_

        @Grhm – “Global warming is not a class issue.”

        Social change is a class issue first and foremost. You want people who say so locked up or shot, don’t you?

        Covering up the truth that social change is a class issue is the whole point of the eco-fascist “stop climate change” discourse – and of the whackball “extinction” rubbish that it is currently purveying.

        What size do you want to get the world population down to, Grhm?

  • U Watt

    The Global Warming Policy Foundation is a think tank founded by climate change denialist Nigel Lawson. It is funded by oil companies.

  • michael norton

    Nicola Sturgeon declares ‘climate emergency’ at SNP conference
    Will Nicola call for the Scottish oil industry to be shut down?

  • Steemit

    Craig comes out with “it has that cardinal virtue of a scientific hypothesis, you can see the things which it predicts will happen, come to pass before your eyes, like being uncomfortably hot in your Edinburgh flat on Easter Monday”.

    Now here is some science:


    And I quote: ‘The date of Easter is calculated from the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring equinox in March’.

    What this means is that Easter Monday can occur irregularly, by up to a month, between late March and late April.

    So Craig, being all scientific, is complaining that the weather in this year, on Easter Monday, in mid April, is warmer than in years when it occurs on the equinox in March.

    Hey, but then, Craig believes in 16 years old who know it all.

    And Craig, as always, will indulge in the usual censorship, despite his claims to the contrary:


    • glenn_nl

      You’re a day late and a dime short with this feeble point. That weak objection came very early on, and it didn’t get very far.

      Hope you didn’t get too excited about it.

      • Steemit

        [ Mod: From Craig’s moderation rules for commenters:

        …. the adoption of multiple identities within the same thread is not to be allowed.

        Comments under all sockpuppet identities may now be deleted. ]


        So you disagree with the science?

        And you are Craig’s spokesman?

        And I am a day late? Please forgive me for not hanging on Craig’s every word, like you so obviously do?

        • glenn_nl

          It’s not “science”, it’s a feeble “gotcha!” because CM had mentioned the late Easter. Everyone of you anti-science denialists jumped on that like they thought they’d won the Cleverest Poster of the Year competition 🙂

          Just for the hard of thinking like yourself – CM was not claiming he’d written a paper based on the late Easter, and that the entire “argument” (if it really can be flattered with such a description) over AGW hung upon it.

          Perhaps you’d like to explain away the record breaking warm February too – if you could be a bit less verbose, you’d save a corresponding amount of time.

    • Dave Lawton

      michael norton
      April 29, 2019 at 20:48

      “Indonesia plans to move capital city as it is slowly sinking underwater”
      Well they should stop cutting down their forests using slash and burn.

  • sam

    I used to believe it too
    However knowing how many lies come out of the MSM why not check the evidence by looking at the evidence that is not ever reported on the MSM
    A good place to start with Prof Svensmark
    We are after all talking about geological time not 150 years and everything works in complex cycles
    All xR want to do is get legislation to force through 5G (spy technology) and ‘smart cities’ where we will all live in shoe boxes and be spied upon
    Its interesting what the BBC promotes and what it ignores!

    • Clark

      “I used to believe it too”

      ..and then apparently stopped believing when the Arctic ice melted twice as fast as predicted and 20 of the 22 previous years were the hottest on record, in the year that the two warmest ever days in winter were recorded:

      Temperature hits 21C on record warmest UK winter day – AOL
      https://www.aol.co.uk/…/temperature-hits-21c-on-record-warmest-uk-winter-day/ – Cached
      26 Feb 2019 … The UK has experienced its warmest winter day since records began for the second day running. Records were broken in England and Wales, …

      Record breaking February, mild winter – Met Office
      https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/…/february-and-winter-statistics – Cached
      1 Mar 2019 … Record breaking February, mild winter … Scotland and Wales all recording the warmest February day as well as the warmest winter day. 21.2C …

      Seattle hit 79 degrees Tuesday, hottest winter day on record | king5 …
      https://www.king5.com/…/281-afa373f2-6f08-49fd-b4c1-b2bb23bba93c – Cached
      11 Mar 2019 … Tuesday was Seattle’s hottest day from November to March since records started in 1894, reports the National Weather Service.

      • glenn_nl

        Facts be damned, Clark – Sam now realises someone might be trying to cash in on something. Or the government might want to tax us more. So that means it must be a conspiracy, and the whole thing is out of the window.

        But I imagine it’s the dramatic collapse in species, those going extinct and huge reduction in the numbers of those remaining (apart from humans of course) which has really won him around. That obviously proves there’s nothing wrong.

        • Clark

          “Or the government might want to tax us more. So that means it must be a conspiracy”

          Yeah, I don’t get this. If governments want to increase taxes, can’t they just increase taxes? I thought setting tax rates was what governments did? Why go to all the alleged trouble and expense of (1) creating an international, all-party, secret cabal of politicians (apart from oh-so-honest Republicans and the odd Tory of course) to (2) bribe thousands of scientists in hundreds of countries and every scientific body in the world to risk their academic reputations and future careers by conspiring to fabricate a false scientific case, with faked tree rings, ice cores, satellite measurements, space photos of the icecaps etc. etc? Surely step (1) would be enough on its own, without the scientific subterfuge? And are there any other examples of this elaborate method of increasing taxes?

          • Clark

            And what about all the hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of other scientists, engineers and technicians who rely on the global temperature data, like railway and bridge designers who need to take thermal conditions into account for expansion, boat designers who need water temperatures to choose materials and design engines for specific environments, aeronautical engineers who need the temperature and pressure at varying altitudes or need to calculate limits to the speed of sound, flight crew, refrigeration engineers, food storage technicians, epidemiologists, bee suppliers, etc. etc. Aren’t they likely to notice that their reference data has all been fudged? “Now listen up everyone, you have to remember to subtract a degree, and two above the Arctic circle, to account for the global warming conspiracy fudge”. You’d think someone would have said something occasionally over the decades it’s been going on…

  • Clark

    At my local XR meeting this evening – 12 of us who had taken part in earlier XR actions, and around 40 new inductees.

    Why? Maybe this:

    World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice
    William J. Ripple Christopher Wolf Thomas M. Newsome Mauro Galetti Mohammed Alamgir Eileen Crist Mahmoud I. Mahmoud William F. Laurance 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries
    BioScience, Volume 67, Issue 12, December 2017, Pages 1026–1028, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix125
    Published: 13 November 2017

    – “To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”


    Over fifteen thousand scientists; that’s quite a conspiracy, eh? Or maybe this is what’s making XR so popular:

    Expert credibility in climate change
    William R. L. Anderegg, James W. Prall, Jacob Harold, and Stephen H. Schneider
    PNAS first published June 21, 2010 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1003187107
    Contributed by Stephen H. Schneider, April 9, 2010 (sent for review December 22, 2009)

    – Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.


    Of course, various anonymous commenters on blogs say otherwise, so it must be a load of bollox.

    • michael norton

      European Union needs CO2 tax to tackle climate change, says Brussels top job hopeful Frans Timmermans
      “What we also need to do is to make sure that carbon trading goes up by lifting the price of that,” Timmermans continued, arguing the EU should follow the example of plastic waste.

      “What we introduced for instance in the plastics legislation is that producers are also made responsible for the waste they create so if you can’t reuse or recycle and it becomes waste then the costs will increase and that’s how you make producers responsible for the waste they create,” Timmermans said.

      Timmermans is among those hoping to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission after May’s elections.

      That makes a lot of sense for a eurocrat.

      • michael norton

        President Emmanuel Macron, attacked the problem from the bottom up, he targeted the poor and the barely manage workers, this has spawned the Yellow Jacket Rebellion.
        Why should the low paid always have to be the losers?
        Why can’t the rich sometimes be the losers?

          • mog

            If ER take an explicit stand against Neoliberalism and the plans to financialise ecosystems, if they make clear that ‘net zero emissions’ is not zero emissions (and support the latter) and that biodiversity offsetting is not a way of halting the extinction, and if they distance themselves from the corporate front groups posing as environmental NGOs and elect a leadersjip without ties to the World Bank or the global oligopoly, then I will consider joining.

          • Clark

            Mog, XR consists of autonomous affinity groups, using discussions based on inclusivity and active listening to make their own plans for action; you can almost certainly find a group that shares your approach to “creating a world that is fit for generations to come” – Principle 1, below.

            Personally I don’t claim to know what may prove effective; I merely have my own ideas, hunches, and motivation to act. If members of the business, political, economic, NGO and financial communities propose monetary ways to advance Principle 1, I think their contributions should be examined for compatibility with all the Principles, and I will not blame or shame them – Principle 8. That said, it seems inescapable to me that neoliberalism, ie. the unrestrained pursuit of purely monetary profit, is entirely incompatible with the Principles.

            Mog, I think this is new to all of us. We aren’t looking to a leadership to come up with some perfect set of predefined answers. Rather, we are in agreement that the current course is self-destructive, and that we should take collective responsibility through radical inclusivity and active listening to find a better way; “We openly challenge ourselves and our toxic system”
            – – – – – – –

            Extinction Rebellion – Our Principles and Values.
            All are welcome who want to adhere to our principles and values.

            1 We have a shared vision of change:
            Creating a world that is fit for generations to come.

            2 We set our mission on what is necessary:
            Mobilising 3.5% of the population to achieve system change – using ideas such as “Momentum-driven organising” to achieve this.

            3 We need a regenerative culture:
            Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.

            4 We openly challenge ourselves and our toxic system:
            Leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.

            5 We value reflecting and learning:
            Following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.

            6 We welcome everyone and every part of everyone:
            Working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.

            7 We actively mitigate for power:
            Breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.

            8 We avoid blaming and shaming:
            We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.

            9 We are a non-violent network:
            Using non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.

            10 We are based on autonomy and decentralisation:
            We collectively create the structures we need to challenge power.

            Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take action in the name of Extinction Rebellion. Join the Rebellion!

          • N_

            @Clark – Principle 8 implies quite clearly that the filthy rich should not be blamed for the current social system or for f***ing up the environment.

            Maybe the use of jazz hands and other hand signals and “induction” sessions for new members obscures the relevance of this?

            Extinction Rebellion propaganda expresses a “neither left nor right” ideology – as is dear to among others the Five Star Movement – albeit wrapped in shiny words about welcoming people “who vote for all political parties or none” and about “working to get at least one non-white face in the press photos improve diversity”. “Neither left nor right” always means right, as Charles Peguy observed. That’s true whether the idea is explicitly couched in those terms or sugar-coated.

            Meanwhile, are you sure you’re happy with the number of working class and dispossessed people there are on the surface of the world – billions and billions of us – breathing out all this carbon dioxide?

            A large proportion of the world’s people cook over wood on open fires. Unhygienic, eh? I read an article in National Geographic that blames the way people cook for, among other ailments, lung cancer. What a load of absolute crap! Before 1900 fewer than 200 cases of lung cancer were recorded worldwide. Cooking dinner over a wood fire never harmed anyone.

          • Clark

            Mog, I’m not suggesting that you be neutral. Find a suitable affinity group and work with them; probably the majority of groups share your alignment, eg. the groups that blockaded the stock exchange last Thursday.

            Other groups take a more legalistic approach, and others develop market or investment-based measures. Yet others contribute through media, music and art. But they’re all supporting the principles.

          • Clark

            N_, no I’m not happy that billions of us are dispossessed and economically coerced into labour we hate, destroying the natural world that would give us pleasure if only we had time to enjoy it rather than consuming crappy products and media to complete the obscene economic cycle, and no I’m not the least worried about the well under one tonne of CO2 exhaled by each of us per year; it’s the ~twenty tonnes that capitalism coerces us into releasing that’s the problem.

            And no, I’m not going to blame anyone for the position in the toxic system they happen to find themselves in; the currently-existing rich people didn’t somehow manifest capitalism for their own benefit, and none of them working alone or even in a small group could somehow reliably dissolve it. It’s a system, greater than the sum of its parts, and it evolved, it wasn’t dreamed up by evil men to torment you personally, and it threatens the lives and futures of the rich just as much as it threatens everyone else’s.

          • michael norton

            from the map you showed ( pity you can’t zoom in to get a more precise view)
            Finland, that bastion of modernity, transitioning to a Nuclear Future,
            are greater CO2 pushers than the United Kingdom.
            Where in the U.K. it is government policy to soon have one third of electricity consumed within the U.K. produced by off-shore wind turbines, within U.K. waters.

          • Clark

            Britain has installed lots of wind generation capacity, about 16GW of the UK’s ~55GW peak demand. The intermittency of wind and solar are the major components of the “base load problem”.


            At the bottom right of the ‘meters’ on the above link you’ll see five ‘ITC’ dials; these are the high-voltage direct-current interconnectors to Ireland and Europe, and can deliver power either way, so these ‘dials’ have zero at their centres, where the ‘needle’ points straight up.

            The ‘Irish’ and ‘E-W’ ITCs connect Britain with Ireland. Ireland is at the “end of the line” as it were; it has interconnectors to Britain only, so if Britain is short of electricity due to lack of wind, Ireland usually has the same problem and therefore can’t help.

            The ‘French’, ‘Dutch’ and ‘Nemo’ ITCs connect the UK with mainland Europe (Nemo only opened this January). Adding their maximum capacities 2.4 + 1.0 + 1.0 = 4.4GW comes to much less than the 26GW shortfall produced by UK-wide calm conditions and no solar (at night).

            Wind capacity is much quicker and cheaper to install than nuclear, but delivers much less consistent power. Nuclear suffers massive political, cost and construction problems, all of which could have been avoided had it been developed sensibly, but it wasn’t, so now, constructing nuclear capacity is so slow and fraught with problems that large-scale expansion of wind and interconnectors looks like the best approach.

            I don’t know what Finland’s problem is, but very slow approval and construction of nuclear power stations seems likely.

        • michael norton

          From your map Clark
          it would seem our close friends in Ireland are more Carbon hungry than us in the United Kingdom
          I wonder what foul things they are up to?

          • Clark

            It could be the energy mix for electricity generation; Blair’s government promoted natural gas to replace coal-fired generation in Britain (and then sold off our long term gas storage facility, nearly plunging us all into darkness in March 2018). Or maybe the more rural conditions necessitate more transport per capita. Whatever; we’re all in this pink boat together, and everyone has to help everyone else solve all the problems, or we’ll all go down together too.

  • N_

    Extinction Rebellion is a name used by Compassionate Revolution Limited, a company registered at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, GL5 1DF. Compassionate Revolution Limited is also the holding company for Rising Up.

    The Exchange is a project of the Stroud Common Wealth Company Limited. Notice the Exchange’s three-fold symbol – that’s called a triquetra. Now have a look at the symbol used by Triodos Bank. (Yes I know the handedness is different.)

    Stroud is the hub of a large-scale Steinerite presence that involves a great number of interconnecting organisations. That was precisely what Helen Saunders was fighting against and why she ran the Stop Steiner in Stroud website. That site has been taken down now that she is no longer with us because she got killed under a train that the coroner ruled she must have thrown herself under even though there was no evidence that she had felt suicidal.

    A good entry point for those who wish to appreciate the scale of the Steinerite presence in Stroud, Gloucestershire, is to look at interlocking directorships.

    Also appreciate just how much “government relations” work over a period of years was required for the cult not only to get state money for some of its schools but to achieve its current position where it is allowed to oversee the “inspection” even of those of its schools that are inside the state sector. The schools are important to it not only because almost all cults like to indoctrinate children but because the cultists believe that the souls of “great people” will attend such schools once they reincarnate.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father William and his two sisters Annunziata Rees-Mogg and Emma Craigie have been strong supporters of the cult’s schools.

    This raises the question of who the crazed cultists believe JRM to be a reincarnation of. Any ideas?

    • N_

      A look at the Resurgence Trust and its trustees and the organisations they are connected with is another good entry point for appreciating the scope of this filthy eco-fascist web.

      • Clark

        N_, do you really think you’re a Marxist? Because your comments contain a lot of conspiracy theory and the like – you know, Powerful Individuals with Hidden Connections Pulling Strings Behind the Scenes stuff, runes, symbolism, your obsession about Purim coming up with hints that Jewish doctors conspired to kill Stalin, what gender people should be permitted to identify as, and other people’s reproduction statistics. To me these seem like Right-wing themes. Conspiracy theory is the converse of political and economic theory, such as Marxism.

        Yes, Compassionate Revolution Limited is Gail Bradbrook and Roger Hallam’s company, two of the founders of XR. This is not a secret, and I have no reason to believe that it’s sinister. If Helen Saunders was thrown under a train then somehow the train driver didn’t see your Steiner murder team, or maybe you’re suggesting some MKULTRA-type mind-control plot; whatever floats your (presumably non-pink) boat I suppose.

        Look, this stuff is all beside the point. Either you accept that human activity, dominated by capitalism, is precipitating an ecological crisis, or you don’t.

    • Socrates

      I knew Helen and spoke at length with her the day before she died. Sadly there is ample evidence she was extremely depressed and paranoid, no reason at all to doubt that she took her own life and no evidence of any third party involvement.
      Much as I detest the Steiner cult and its presence in Stroud there is no reason to believe their hostility went beyond online attacks on Helen.

  • SEA

    Hello Craig,
    I certainly appreciate your insights and dedication to speaking out!
    I was impressed with the Global Research article “Climate Disruption is Not Due to CO2” by Prof. Claudia von Werlhof and wondered if you would comment on this, please. The James Corbett Report featured an interview “Andrea Saltelli on the Crisis of Science” that also supports the idea that political agendas are manipulating scientific truths.
    It is my experience that most citizens are very responsible in their everyday and conscious of their impact on the environment, but while we are diligently sorting our garbage, nuclear fallout is raining down upon us. In my view, we should replace the faddish labels like “Man Made Global Warming” and “Man Made Climate Change” with “POLLUTION” (period) It is plain to see who the mass polluters are–the very one’s that are promoting the CO2 agenda.
    Many thanks for your time and efforts!

    • Clark

      Prof. Claudia von Werlhof is a political and social scientist, not a climate scientist.

      Yeah, political, and even more so media and monetary agendas distort science; try Bad Science and Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre. But you can demonstrate the greenhouse properties of CO2 in your own kitchen:


      Here’s the article you refer to:


      To answer some of the points:

      2) These pollutants were recognised and environmental regulations were introduced to control them; scrubbers on industrial and power station chimneys, catalytic converters on vehicles etc. This was the solution to acid rain which nearly deforested much of northern Europe.

      3) Ozone depleting CFCs were phased out under international treaty:


      4) Climate models are not required in order to verify global warming, which is deduced from basic science about CO2 begun in the 1800s. Computer models are required to predict the future climactic effects of raised CO2 concentrations – short of a few extra planets to experiment on, there is no alternative – but they are verified by setting them to conditions measured in the past, and seeing how well they ‘predict’ past changes.

      5) The oceans are absorbing most of the extra heat accumulated by the increasing greenhouse effects. This is well quantified, and it is killing the great corals. It is also causing ocean water to expand, raising sea level. You’ll find all this in the IPCC WG1 reports.

      7) The risks of climate engineering are taken so seriously that it is banned under international treaty:


      8) The secret use of HAARP was to modulate the natural polar electrojet in order to communicate by Extremely Low Frequency radio waves with submerged nuclear strike submarines. Yes, there’s a patent for HAARP weather modification; it’s a “speculative patent”, as is this:



  • Clark


    Restore nature on a massive scale to help stop climate breakdown:

    To avoid a climate emergency we need to act fast. Rewilding and other natural climate solutions can draw millions of tonnes of CO2 out of the air through restoring and protecting our living systems. We call on the UK government to make a bold financial and political commitment to nature’s recovery.


    • Paul Barbara

      @ Clark April 30, 2019 at 21:15
      This is O/T, but I’m sure you will be interested in it – it’s your mate Ben Goldeacre.
      There used to be someone with the same name who had a regular slot on the Guardian, but his picture showed a much older man; perhaps this guy is his son. Anyhow, his 15-minute video backs up my contention about Big Pharma and ‘vaccine safety’, though it isn’t about vaccines specifically.:
      ‘WHEN THE NEWS MEDIA TELLS YOU “STUDIES PROVE IT’S SAFE”: HOW PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES HIDE NEGATIVE STUDIES’: https://www.brasscheck.com/video/when-the-news-media-tells-you-studies-prove-its-safe/?omhide=true

      • Clark

        The lecturer in the TED Talk video linked at brasscheck.com is Ben Goldacre, who wrote the books Bad Science and Bad Pharma. He has a blog http://www.badscience.net and he had a column of the same name in the Guardian for eight years – this is the same person, but he uses a picture of Frankenstein’s ‘monster’ which I suppose may be the “much older man” you mention?

        The examples he cites in the TED Talk are mentioned in Bad Science and explored in detail in Bad Pharma. I again urge you to read Bad Science; it is particularly revealing about MSM coverage of scientific issues. Bad Pharma is much more detailed and technical, and intended more for the scientific and medical communities.

  • Clark

    Mog: Roger Hallam:


    – “The intelligent people on the political left have woken up to the fact that we’ve got an existential emergency that could destroy human society in the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s in the cards. A lot of us have already gone through the grief process. But these [newly awakened] people just had that enlightenment. They’re in shock. They’re maintaining a veneer of ‘It’s sort of OK.’ This is what the Green Deal [a United Kingdom government policy initiative] is about. It is an attempt to pretend that industrialization can stay the same. We can all still be wealthy. We can all still have great jobs. It is like Roosevelt’s New Deal. But the New Deal was based on the idea that we can carry on plundering nature and nothing’s going to happen. Maybe that was right in the 1930s. But it’s not right anymore. It’s a matter of physics and biology. We simply cannot maintain these levels of consumption. They haven’t reckoned with that. One of the main reasons the climate debate has not gotten into a serious mode over the last 30 years is because people who are in charge of informing the public are terrified of telling the public that they can’t have the high consumer lifestyle anymore. It’s a taboo. But like any addiction, there comes a moment of truth. We’re there now.”

    – “For 30 years we’ve had one political metaphysic, reform,” he said. “You either reform or you are irrelevant. But now, we have two massive, exponentially increasing structural faults—the inequality problem and the climate problem. A lot of people—because of path dependency dynamics—have worked for 30 years in this lost-cause sort of space. They’re desperate for change. For 30 years they’ve been putting their money on reform. The tragedy—and you can see this in the history of political struggle going back hundreds of years—is there’s a flip where the reformists lose control. They’re still living in the past world. The revolutionaries, who everyone thinks are ridiculously naive, suddenly come to the fore. It’s usually a quake. It’s not a gradualist thing. It’s a double tragedy because it’s a quake and the revolutionaries usually aren’t organized. I think that’s what’s happening now. It has very big implications for [resistance against] fascism. Unless you have a clearheaded mass mobilization on the left which is connected with the working class you’re not going to be able to stop the fascism.”

    • N_

      Roger Hallam has verbal diarrhoea, what he says about society is superficial, and his ties to the “anthroposophy” cult are documented.

      For 30 years we’ve had one political metaphysic, reform. You either reform or you are irrelevant. But now, we have two massive, exponentially increasing structural faults—the inequality problem and the climate problem. A lot of people—because of path dependency dynamics—have worked for 30 years in this lost-cause sort of space. They’re desperate for change. For 30 years they’ve been putting their money on reform.

      Blah blah blah. What a load of verbiage.

      The tragedy—and you can see this in the history of political struggle going back hundreds of years—is there’s a flip where the reformists lose control. They’re still living in the past world. The revolutionaries, who everyone thinks are ridiculously naive, suddenly come to the fore. It’s usually a quake. It’s not a gradualist thing. It’s a double tragedy because it’s a quake and the revolutionaries usually aren’t organized. I think that’s what’s happening now. It has very big implications for [resistance against] fascism. Unless you have a clearheaded mass mobilization on the left which is connected with the working class you’re not going to be able to stop the fascism.

      Do you notice that he doesn’t give any EXAMPLES of all these generalisations that he is fast-talking as if they are based on a deep historical understanding? He just careens on from one glossy phrase to another. What is “political struggle”? Who are the “revolutionaries”? What is a “mass mobilisation”? What is “fascism”?

      By “the intelligent people” one assumes he means the core of what his fascistic cult believes to be the “root race” of the “coming epoch”.

      A lot of us have already gone through the grief process.

      Oh how my heart bleeds.

      They’re in shock. They’re maintaining a veneer of ‘It’s sort of OK.’ This is what the Green Deal is about. It is an attempt to pretend that industrialization can stay the same. We can all still be wealthy. We can all still have great jobs. It is like Roosevelt’s New Deal.

      Yeah yeah – Roosevelt’s New Deal has long been a hate target for the right wing in the US. Same as the NHS and more generally the welfare state in Britain.

      Have a look at the kind of right-wing scum associated with the origins of the “organic farming” movement, and not just the batshit crown prince’s hero Eve Balfour of the Soil Association. Gerard Wallop, also known as Viscount Lymington and the Earl of Portsmouth, author of “Famine in England” and an advocate of allowing tuberculosis to continue its job of culling the working class, is an excellent example.

      But the New Deal was based on the idea that we can carry on plundering nature and nothing’s going to happen.

      What is this gibberish?

      But we get the point – this guy seriously does not like demand-side macroeconomic policy.

      Maybe that was right in the 1930s. But it’s not right anymore. It’s a matter of physics and biology.


      We simply cannot maintain these levels of consumption.

      Well, what’s it going to be then? Everyone consumes less? Or reduce the number of people? Or the lovely middle of the road solution where most people consume less and many people get killed?

      One of the main reasons the climate debate has not gotten into a serious mode over the last 30 years is because people who are in charge of informing the public are terrified of telling the public that they can’t have the high consumer lifestyle anymore. It’s a taboo. But like any addiction, there comes a moment of truth. We’re there now.”

      This guy’s like a motormouth maniac. Does he know what “taboo” or “addiction” mean?

      But here we get a glimpse of what this operation is all about: the government working with the cult to “communicate” to “the public” that the public are too rich and it’s time for them to face reality.

      And I come back to this bit:

      Unless you have a clearheaded mass mobilization on the left which is connected with the working class you’re not going to be able to stop the fascism.

      One thing these evil cultists backed by public relations agents and followed by naive tossers will NOT do is to mobilise anything that is “connected with the working class”.

    • mog

      Extinction Rebellion hasn’t quite decided what that negotiation is going to be.

      So they demand the replacing of the global economic system of capitalism and the corrupt system of crony governments that are incumbant throughout the world.
      Great !
      Maybe, decide what the negotiating points are going to be first though.
      Maybe decide how you are even going to decide what the negotiating points are going to be.
      A few people have tried overthrowing capitalism before, I seem to remember…

  • N_

    Owen Jones, interviewing Roger Hallam (Lord of Extinction Rebellion): “Doesn’t it mean more of a full frontal assault on capitalism though?

    Roger Hallam the “Atlantis” nut Steinerite farmer: “Absolutely“.

    Could you make it up?

    These people should be a laughing stock. Imagine being so committed to wanting to keep most people out of touch with real social issues as to say “absolutely” in answer to Jones’s naive question!

    • Clark

      So N_, to summarise this comment and your 17:05 above; you claim, but present no evidence, that Roger Hallam has ‘ties’ to some cult I only ever heard of from you. You don’t like Hallam’s verbal style and he didn’t mention some things you thought he should have. There are some other people you think are similar and you disapprove of equally. And these, er, facts(?) demonstrate that Hallam wants a lot of people to be slaughtered. Is that about it?

      • Clark

        N_, it all leaves me wondering why anyone should heed your oddly esoteric ranting. Maybe you should give that daffodil back to a proper Marxist.

  • Clark

    N_, look, there seems to be a general lack of humanity in our conversation, to such an extent that there’s little actual communication going on, eg. above you seemed to think that I might want the majority of people culled, whereas my actual intention in participating in XR is to avert catastrophe and prevent as much suffering and death as possible.

    Maybe we should just chat a little? I’m pretty open about myself in comments, so you have an idea of some of the experiences that have shaped my outlook; my upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness clashed with my aptitude for science, I did a year of a physics degree before dropping out, partly because most graduates were being snapped up by armaments companies. I dabbled in New Age hippydom until rejecting it in the 1990s, and these days I’m into critical thinking, freedom of information, open data and libre software. What about you?

  • Clark

    MPs make history by passing Commons motion to declare ‘environment and climate change emergency’:


    UK Parliament declares climate change emergency:


    Michael Gove commits to discussing a Citizen’s Assembly with Sadiq Khan:


    • glenn_nl

      Fantastic news. For all the bitching, whining and cynicism for the miserable nay-sayers here – we are at last getting some traction on a subject which could not be more serious.

      Not sure which is worst – the flat-out denialists, or the miserable gits who sit around scoffing at anyone making an effort.

      • Clark

        Thanks Glenn; I’m very glad that XR seem to have made some progress. Of course politicians’ words are often just a load of hot air, but if they don’t follow through they’ll have us lot impacting their profit margins by grounding small boats and holding raves in their shopping paradise and glueing ourselves to their offices again. The High Court has just approved expansion of Heathrow airport so I expect fun will break out again soon.

        Deniers and scoffers – well, I do my best to persuade them, but they’re a very minor annoyance compared with ecological breakdown. What I really don’t get is why they don’t want to join in; rebellion has been fun so far by keeping it non-violent. The atmosphere in Oxford Circus was fantastic:

        Alternative URL:

        I think it might be the non-violent bit they don’t like; they’re not really interested in avoiding catastrophe unless it involves killing some rich capitalists. If they supported the opposite side maybe they’d be into fox hunting or something.

  • Clark

    Mog, regarding your “net zero” complaint:

    According to the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report (AR5 in 2014), we could emit only a further 120 gigatonne of CO2 for a 66% chance of remaining below 1.5 centigrade increase, or just under 270 gigatonne of CO2, for a 50% chance. 120 gigatonne is only two or three years’ worth of emissions. The IPCC’s 2018 SR15 report expanded this to 420 / 580 gigatonne CO2 for 66% and 50% chances respectively, but only by assuming massive negative emissions later this century:

    – “Carbon budgets reflect, at their simplest, emissions being kept within the budget to limit warming to below the 1.5C target. However, virtually all of the future emissions scenarios produced by “integrated assessment models” (IAMs) featured in the SR15 do not keep positive emissions within the carbon budget.

    – Rather, these scenarios reduce emissions much more slowly, with positive emissions from fossil fuels being counterbalanced by negative emissions from bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and natural climate solutions, such as afforestation. These scenarios generally overshoot 1.5C, with global temperatures reaching as high as 1.8C by mid-century, before increasing amounts of negative emissions act to draw temperatures back down.


    Your complaint about XR seems to be back to front; XR are stressing urgency in emissions reduction, whereas it’s the newer IPCC SR15 report that offers more time, but only by relying upon technological / organic carbon capture, which hasn’t been demonstrated yet.

    This is consistent with my experience of most of the XR membership; most have a great love of nature and a suspicion of industrial ‘solutions’. I’d bet that few have any faith in technological carbon capture, and are entirely unwilling to risk a further 0.8 centigrade increase lest it trigger one of the tipping points. I’ll know more when I’ve seen the latest XR film which is all about the science; I’ll be attending a screening on the 15th.

    • mog

      This is consistent with my experience of most of the XR membership; most have a great love of nature and a suspicion of industrial ‘solutions’.

      Again, this is not about the membership Clark. It is about the leadership and the leadership’s intersection with elitist NGOs and corporate power.
      There is now a government ’emergency’ declared nationally, which I am sure will spread internationally. But what actually is meant by it? What actual actions might result?

      The motion called for the declaration of a climate emergency and urgent remedial action such as a green industrial revolution as well as changes to transport, agriculture and other areas.
      This is all that I have read, and all that I will expect to read for the time being. To actually reduce consuming, to actually try to develop a trajectory based around low consumption, intermediate/ appropriate tech, land based livelihoods, co-operative social systems or democratic monetary systems – these would challenge the core power of our society : neoliberal capitalism and the usurous system of finance behind it.
      This ‘constructive’ criticism has been going on for well over the past 30 years that I have been involved in it. In fact it goes back at least to the time of the enclosures and the social movements which have opposed capitalism from its inception. In monetary terms it goes back to ancient Greece.
      It’s as if ER think they have magically broken through where all else has failed, and just a few relatively friendly arrests on Waterloo Bridge and an outspoken young Swede have pursuaded the psychopathic elites that ‘the game is up, we’ll get on board now, we just didn’t see how important it was before now’.
      I don’t think that is how it works.
      In a world where everything that moves in the realm of power politics and the religion of neoliberal economics is branded, fake, deceptive, then why should we not be hyper sceptical of an apparently ‘successful movement’ which has all the hallmarks of a public relations campaign behind it?
      Capitalists see our situation as an opportunity (true to form in the age of ‘disaster capitalism’). They seek to usher in a new paradigm of financialisation, smart cities and ‘a green industrial revolution’. and to grab lots of land and to make lots money.
      Are we to think that a group like the World Bank has both a long history of dispossessing the world’s poor, yet from the start has promoted Greta Thunberg’s mission in good faith?
      I have been part of citizens assemblies before, and it’s a kind of torture. They have no power. How would they get power? What is ‘power’? etc.

      • mog

        “Policy and regulation will always have a part to play in steering us towards achieving the SDGs [sustainable development goals] by 2030, but it is equally important that evolving products meet the needs of investors desires to see us achieve environmental and social impact, and investors are looking for those products right now.”

        There is more than $40 Trillion in pension assets in the OECD area. The main aim of a pension is to provide for us in the future when we are more vulnerable. It is long term investing at its best and no other product out there presently could be merited as needing more attention.

        They are coming for the pension pot. (and a portion of the savings pot).

          • mog

            Clad in a crimson coat and matching hat as she dashes between fundraising discussions with a London hedge-fund owner and meetings to rally Extinction Rebellion volunteers, Bradbrook tells me she now knows that she would — if necessary — give her life for the cause.


            Ah yes, those hedge funds are ‘on our side now’, I see.

          • Clark

            “this is not about the membership”

            The model currently being promoted within XR is that members self-organise into groups, which decide upon action in group discussions. Therefore group actions don’t necessarily support ‘leadership’ decisions. From what I’ve seen so far, this has actually worked in practice, for instance on the Easter weekend the “political team” called for a one week ‘pause’ to disruption in London, but a day or two later members marched to and held Parliament Square for a further day or more, and the following Thursday some groups swarmed the City and blockaded the stock exchange.

            I don’t think the ‘leadership’ will have much impact without membership group actions, and I’m not sure it’s right to think of the political and financial team groups as the ‘leadership’. Get involved is my advice; XR is really quite open, no one refused to chat with me, quite the opposite, but it’s helpful and polite to learn the group discussion conventions and accompanying hand signals.

            “It’s as if ER think they have magically broken through and […] have persuaded the psychopathic elites…”

            XR avoids blaming and shaming. ‘Psychopathy’ is merely a label for one axis of human variability; no one asks to be born more psychopathic than anyone else. It’s the system that’s toxic, promoting people with particular traits to positions of power, and replacing them as needs be. To change the system we need to change the incentives it responds to; it probably wants people out working and shopping rather than eating free food and dancing at free gigs round a pink boat in Oxford Circus. Non-violent direct action is the tool to establish our preferred conditions.

            “Capitalists see our situation as an opportunity […] to grab lots of land and to make lots money”

            Of course. But in UK/US/EU type countries they need the backing of the state and its police. That’s why Roger Hallam advised us to take disruption to the capital cities.

            I think Nevermind has a good point about local opposition and disruption, but I recommend adding to it. Yes, oppose and disrupt directly, at fracking sites for instance, but support that disruption with simultaneous actions in the capital cites.

            “I have been part of citizens assemblies before, and it’s a kind of torture. They have no power. How would they get power?”

            By being backed by autonomous groups trained in non-violent direct action.

            “Ah yes, those hedge funds are ‘on our side now’, I see”

            Investments already have effects. The objective is to apply pressure so as to change what effects they have. This does not preclude you from advancing your favoured politics, not even within XR.

  • Bill Thomson

    Do we have computer models to predict the outcome of awareness of climate change and is glueing oneself to a lampost an effective strategy?

  • michael norton

    When a new technology comes in, it is rarely thought through how to decommission that technology.
    Plastic were a by-product of oil, yet not a thought what to do with the monstrous mountains of waste?
    Nuclear power for electricity came in, yet not a thought what to do with the monstrous mountains of nuclear waste.
    The most up-to-date figures from the trade body Oil and Gas UK show there are around 11,000 wells in the North Sea.

    A total of 2,379 of them are expected to be decommissioned in the next 10 years.

    There are established techniques for stopping the flow and capping them, but who – or what – will raise the alarm if one starts to leak?

    • Clark

      Your comment seems to answer its own question about leaking oil wells.

      We don’t have anything like mountains of ‘spent’ nuclear fuel; more like one hill, and that’s for the whole world. My preferred solution is to store it retrievably, underground, in areas of stable geology. There are proposed reactor designs that potentially could digest it and harness the copious energy it contains. Such reactors have been designed and computer-simulated, but not really prototyped; you can look up the Amster and Mosart reactor designs for instance.

      Plastics could likewise be buried, or even incinerated if regulation is good enough to ensure high enough temperature and scrubbing of flue gasses. But the big problem with plastic items is that they get so dispersed – semi-intentionally, by using them as packaging. I think that international legal controls on production, use and disposal are needed.

      • michael norton

        Clark, my point is,
        new technologies are initiated and people make money but without a care in the world for future generations who will have to sort their shit out,
        for example Nuclear Waste.

        • Clark

          I agree that commercial accountability is a joke. Some new environmental laws have been introduced in the last couple of decades, but, probably due to commercial lobbying, their burden has fallen mainly upon the general public, where it hurts the poorest the most. This wasn’t the stated intention of “the polluter pays” laws, but it is the practical outcome. Neoliberal dominance of politics again.

          Nuclear power is rather a special case. It wouldn’t have been developed commercially; too expensive and requiring too much security. Instead it was pushed hard and funded enormously by governments (US, USSR, UK, France, China) in an atmosphere of outright political panic in the two decades after WWII – they were genuinely worried, quite justifiably at the time, that whoever mastered it first might take over the world.

          So then the US rushed through its earliest reactor designs for commercial development; the Pressurised Water Reactor and its variants were licensed for commercial use, as the incentive in the Atoms for Peace programme, which then developed into the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Even its inventor Alvin Weinberg said it was too dangerous and produced too much waste for civilian use; he didn’t quite live to see himself vindicated by the Fukushima disaster – probably just as well, as it would have given him no pleasure.

          So now we have about 400 of these monsters near sea level, each with a nuclear load comparable to an entire nuclear war, just waiting for society to self destruct and the waters to rise. Great.

          To me it seems perfectly simple to make about a twentieth the amount of nuclear ‘waste’ – just keep U238 out of the reactors. U235 is the nuclear fuel and comprises less than 5% of the fuel elements. Over 95% is U238, which is only included for non-proliferation purposes, mandated by the NPT. It’s just an impurity that the nuclear reaction turns into highly radioactive heavy isotopes. You can do even better than that with the thorium fuel cycle, but these options haven’t been developed.

  • peter

    The truth about the “greenhouse effect”

    About the supposed link between global warming and CO2 emissions, it is simply not true that CO2 has a major greenhouse effect. It is worth remembering, here too, that CO2 is a minor gas. Today it represents only 0.04% of the composition of the air; and its greenhouse effect is attributed the value of 1. The major greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is water vaporwhich is ten times more potent than CO2 in its greenhouse effect. Water vapor is present in a proportion of 2% in the atmosphere. Those facts are, in principle, taught at school and at university, but one still manages to incriminate CO2 alongside this learning, in using a dirty trick that presents the warming effect of CO2 as minor but exacerbated, through feedback loops, by the other greenhouse effects.

    How status quo science brainwashes people and turns them into obedient robots who spout scientific nonsense

    I believe in science: I mean that I believe in the possibility of objectively knowing reality through science. I believe that there are truth and falsehood, that science allows us to distinguish between the two, and that truth must be known; that scientific knowledge must be placed in the hands of the population. I also believe in freedom. I believe that every man is entitled to lead his life and to manage his goods as he sees fit, that he is the only possessor of himself, and that statist socio-economic control is as morally reprehensible as it is harmful in its social, economic, and environmental consequences.

    I note two things distressing me: firstly, the population is increasingly misinformed scientifically; and secondly, the media and governments take advantage of this to propagate a theory that is doubtful, namely that of anthropogenic warming, and to promote coercive measures on its behalf. Few people take the time to get vital information about the actual CO2footprint; and few people, more generally, are still interested in science. I deeply regret that our Western societies have succeeded in cultivating such mistrust of science: such a reluctance to have confidence in its capacity to know the world objectively and to transform it positively.

    The theory of anthropogenic warming claims to be scientific; but if people accept this theory, if they hold it to be true, it is clearly not out of interest for science. Such a fragile theory, in view of the CO2 facts I have presented to you above, could never have been accepted by people who truly care about science; and who possess a deep understanding in that field. In my eyes, there are two main reasons—or if you prefer, two main types of feelings—that make people let themselves be seduced by the theory of anthropogenic warming so readily. In the first place, the Catholic religion is in decline in the Western world; and what I call ecologism comes to replace it.

    In the second place, Westerners have a pronounced taste for self-flagellation; and the theory of anthropogenic warming provides justification for that tendency, possibly anchored in our Judeo-Christian heritage. So, on the one hand, we have religious feelings: faith in a new system of thought, which is ecologism; the veneration of a new divinity, which is benevolent and protective Nature. On the other hand, we have a feeling of guilt, expressed in our conviction that, if the climate warms up, it is our fault; and that if we do not immediately limit our CO2 emissions, we will have sullied and disfigured our planet……


    • Clark

      Peter, Extinction Rebellion is about ecological degradation and the ongoing mass extinction as well as global warming.

      I care deeply about science, therefore I should correct a factual error: “Over the last 30 years, there has been a gradual increase in the CO2 level;” on the relevant geological timescale, it is going up like a rocket; it has never, in all Earth’s history, risen a tenth as fast as human activity is forcing it to at present. That is shown on these graphs:


      In the spirit of scientific discussion, I pose to you these questions:

      You wrote: “CO2 is a minor gas;” Are you aware of Anders Ångström’s criticism of CO2 global warming theory?
      Do you accept that prediction of real world effects is the best test of a scientific theory?
      What do you think is causing the world to warm and the polar ice to retreat year on year?
      Do you understand positive and negative feedback?
      Do you claim to have full knowledge of the potential feedback loops in Earth’s climate system?
      Are you aware of the fossil fuel companies’ deliberate corruption of the science of global warming?

      I find it interesting that you introduced your political orientation and your beliefs about religious influence into the discussion: “I believe that every man is entitled to lead his life and to manage his goods as he sees fit…” This does not confer upon anyone the right to degrade the common environment, indeed, when applied to all, it precludes any such right, whether pursued knowingly or in ignorance.

      • Grhm

        I admire your tact and patience, Clark.
        My inclination would have been just to tell the stupid bastard to shut his stupid face.
        You’re a better man than me.

        • glenn_nl

          This lazy “Peter” is simply doing a cut-and-paste from BS sites like this:


          If you take a section of quite specific text like this from “Peter” above :”Westerners have a pronounced taste for self-flagellation; and the theory of anthropogenic warming provides justification for that tendency, possibly anchored in our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

          Now that just rolls off the tongue, right? Search for it – with quotes around the search, and Gor Blimey, what’s this?


          The exact words! Blow me down with a feather, gov! These blinkin’ denialists ain’t just sold and bought for, they’re freaking lazy!

        • Clark

          Grmh, Extinction Rebellion Principle 8:

          “We avoid blaming and shaming: We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.”

          Peter has been misled, ultimately, by the fossil fuel companies’ legally mandated pursuit of profit on behalf of their shareholders. The argument here proceeds in public, making it important to answer such objections.

          • Clark

            And if Peter and other readers learn that they can check scientific matters for themselves, and come to understand for themselves that they have been misled, they may be tempted to rebel against the toxic system which misled them, as happened to me.

            We need everyone, and everyone is crew.

          • Grhm

            I think you are taking that principle too far.
            If you let dangerously irresponsible people know they will never be held to account for their words and actions, they will continue their behaviour.
            There is ample evidence of this on this thread.
            Almost the only thing that seems to have given N- pause for thought and diverted him from his tirade of arrogant nonsense, was when I mentioned how traitors like him were treated in a previous existential emergency.

          • Clark

            Poor old N_, imagine how he’ll feel when he finally twigs and remembers all the stuff he’s posted. I couldn’t wish anything worse upon him than being what he already is.

          • michael norton

            Round my way, South East England, the ruthless councils/developers are culling every tree and every plant to concrete over the lot, the excuse
            “we need more houses”

            they need more money and environment, atmosphere, pleasure in your countryside means nothing whatsover to these evil fuckers.

          • Clark

            The UK does need more accommodation, to help bring the cost down as much as anything, but I don’t like the way they go about it. Local authorities seem to just rubber-stamp the developers’ proposals. In Chelmsford they redeveloped the old Compton factory site. Good that they reused brownfield land, but they could have kept more of the characterful old buildings, and they cut down the most mature trees despite saying they wouldn’t. That really pissed me off.

            In my village some new houses were built; quite nice. BUT, when the project was proposed a survey was circulated around the village; a majority said they’d be happy for more development if improved local services came with it, like a shop and increased bus service. Nothing.

            The trouble is that such things aren’t ‘profitable’, because the big companies undercut them on prices, or only service the busiest bus routes. Even our pub has closed down, but what can you expect when beer from the supermarket is a quarter of the price?

            But this modern isolation of everyone is literally killing people:


            Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity. Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut. We cannot cope alone.

            Also, how come London has nearly all the better-paid work?

          • Clark

            “Heathrow campaigners lose challenge against third runway”

            Hmm. Looks like it could be time to stock up on super-glue, make some over-sized puppets and practice singing to the police again. Coming?

          • michael norton

            The developers have taken to netting trees and hedges to stop birds nesting, this is so they are not asked to stop developing while the nesting is going on,
            utter disregarde for the natural world.
            So shocking, money is their GOD.

  • Clark

    I posted this comment later than I did the one below. There are factual errors here, too.

    “If we study, however, what has been happening at the geological level for several million years, we realize that the present period is characterized by an extraordinarily low CO2 level. During the Jurassic, Triassic, and so on…”

    Actually the Triassic was from about 252 million to 201 million years ago, and the Jurassic from about 201 million years ago to about 145 million years ago. Transition to those climactic conditions would almost certainly precipitate a mass extinction; that’s why I’m rebelling against extinction!

    “…far from benefiting the current vegetation, the reduction of the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere would be likely to compromise the health, and even the survival, of numerous plants”

    This cannot be so because about 300 parts per million has been the maximum concentration in the past 800,000 years, until human fossil fuel use increased it above that level in about 1900AD.

  • michael norton

    Nearly 30% of the U.K.’s electricity is planned to be generated by wind power by 2030, 11 years time,
    under a new deal announced by the U.K.government.

    The move will help the U.K. towards an aim of getting almost all of its power from low-carbon sources.

    The plan will see the offshore wind industry invest £250 million over the next 11 years. The government says it will create thousands of jobs.

    Last year, on and offshore wind turbines provided 17% of the U.K.’s energy needs.

    Quite impressive.

    • Clark

      It is impressive, especially how much faster its capacity has increased, relative to seventy years and vast investment in nuclear. £250 million over 11 years looks dirt cheap too.

      But it’ll necessitate much higher capacity in HVDC links to the continent, to cover intermittency. There are some planned, but not nearly enough.

    • Clark

      There is massive demand for palm oil, for soaps, detergents, conditioners and food. Maybe if it could be synthesized, or made by genetically modifying a cell culture to produce it, demand could be progressively reduced. Other measures from those outside Indonesia could be international political pressure leading to international regulation under a treaty.

      Demand for laundry and bathroom products should be massively reduced. Barely an ad-break passes without powerfully manipulative media designed by psychologists to convince us that we’re inherently dirty, smelly and infectious unless we apply Miracle Product X, ideally four times a day.

      • michael norton

        As the World will be moving away from Oil and Coal towards Methane and as there essentially is no limit to how much Methane there is, how will this Dash for Gas play out with Global Warming ?

        • Clark

          It buys a little time.

          Methane is the major constituent of natural gas. Methane is CH4 – one carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms. The simpler hydrocarbons are chains of carbon atoms, with hydrogen atoms bonded onto the other bonds, like this:


          The carbon and the hydrogen both burn with oxygen, releasing energy. Methane has the most hydrogen to carbon ratio, 4:1, because there are no carbon-to-carbon bonds; methane’s carbon has all four of its bonds occupied by hydrogen atoms. So of all the hydrocarbons, methane provides the least carbon dioxide emissions for the most energy. Coal emits the most CO2.

          That’s why Blair’s government policy was to “dash for gas” – converting over half the electricity generation and installing millions of central heating boilers – so that “Britain would lead Europe” in reducing CO2 emissions.

          Coal power stations take ages to warm up and run efficiently so they are usually run continually, whereas gas power stations are a lot more versatile. So a further reduction in emissions is achieved by using gas on demand, filling in when output from wind and solar is low.

          But even the remaining emissions have to be stopped in the next few decades, because so much carbon has already been burned and accumulated in the atmosphere and oceans. Like most things decided by politics, pointless squabbling has delayed action until the last minute. Conversion to natural gas could have bought us couple of centuries if Hansen’s warning to Congress had been heeded in 1988. Now, it would buy us less than two decades but we’re not even on course for that, and it takes time to build power stations.

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