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Personal Carbon Trading

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Research in this area has shown that personal carbon trading would be a progressive policy instrument – redistributing money from the rich to the poor – as the rich use more energy than the poor, and so would need to buy allowances from them. This is in contrast to a direct personal carbon tax, under which all lower income people are worse off, prior to revenue redistribution – though a direct carbon tax may be applied to businesses, after a period in which they have time to adapt and prepare.

See for an update on research

Proponents of personal carbon trading claim that it is an equitable way of addressing climate change and peak oil, as it could guarantee that a national economy lives within its agreed carbon budget and ensure a fair access to fuel and energy. They also believe it would increase ‘carbon literacy’ among the public, while encouraging more localised economies.

But personal carbon trading has been criticised for its possible complexity and high implementation costs. As yet, there is minimal reliable data on these issues. There is also the fear that personal “rationing” and trading of allowances will be politically unacceptable, especially if those allowances are used to buy from industries who are already passing on costs from their participation in a carbon levy or trading schemes such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Analysts have noted that to implement any effective carbon rationing system, “the government must convince the public that rationing levels are fair, that the system is administered transparently and fairly, and that evaders are few in number, likely to be detected and liable to stiff penalties if found guilty.”

The UK’sTyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has been researching this scheme since 2003, and produced a report in 2009.

The scheme was the subject of a UK government pre-feasibility study in 2008, with an All Party Parliamentary Group report in 2011. In May 2008 the government department DEFRA completed a pre-feasibility study into Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQ’s) with the headline finding that “personal carbon trading has potential to engage individuals in taking action to combat climate change, but is essentially ahead of its time and expected costs for implementation are high”. Based on this DEFRA announced that “the (UK) Government remains interested in the concept of personal carbon trading and, although it will not be continuing its research programme at this stage, it will monitor the wealth of research focusing on this area and may introduce personal carbon trading if the value of carbon savings and cost implications change“. The UK’s Climate Change Act 2008  grants powers allowing the UK Government to introduce a personal carbon trading scheme without further primary legislation.

Later that same month the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee produced their report on the subject, which concluded that ”personal carbon trading could be essential in helping to reduce our national carbon footprint” and rebuked the Government for delaying a full feasibility study, stating that “although we commend the Government for its intention to maintain engagement in academic work on the topic, we urge it to undertake a stronger role, leading and shaping debate and coordinating research”.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) after its CarbonLimited project published a report in 2009 proposing personal carbon quotas.

Norfolk Island, an island in the pacific ocean between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia is trialling the world’s first personal carbon trading programme, starting in 2011 (NICHE – Norfolk Island Carbon Health Evaluation – project).

A review of research into personal carbon trading was published in 2014



Addressing Climate Change Denial

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Denial of Climate Change and its Effects images-1

Sometimes we humans look as though we are running over a cliff to our downfall by denying or ignoring the destruction we inflict on our habitat, the biosphere and its ecosystems: causing climate change by greenhouse gas emissions, exhausting natural resources, converting almost all wild habitats for our use and polluting air, water and soil through waste and chemicals.

There is now seen to be a risk that the average global temperature will rise by 4 0 C   during this century. Any average global temperature increase above 4 0 C is hard to adapt to. For example it would make life difficult if not impossible in much of the tropics, and eventually lead to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the rising of seal levels by many metres. To find anything comparable we have to go back to the Pliocene – last epoch of the Tertiary period, 3m years ago. There were no continental glaciers in the northern hemisphere (trees grew in the Arctic), and sea levels were 25 metres higher than today’s. In this kind of heat, the death of the Amazon is as inevitable as the melting of Greenland.

We are already beginning to experience extreme weather more often, resulting in drought or floods, loss of  crops and human life, and destruction of the living environment.   We do not know how much it will accelerate as one effect of it leads to another (such as ocean acidification meaning less CO2 absorbed by the ocean).

A three-degree increase in global temperature – possible as early as 2050 – would throw the carbon cycle into reverse. Instead of absorbing carbon dioxide, vegetation and soils start to release it. So much carbon pours into the atmosphere that it would pump up atmospheric concentrations by 250 parts per million by 2100, boosting global warming by another 1.5C.   There could be runaway change (See David Wasdell’s video interviews on this site  and his own papers). The chances of avoiding four degrees of global warming are poor if the rise reaches three degrees and triggers a runaway thaw of permafrost. The chances of avoiding five degrees of global warming are negligible if a rise of four degrees releases trapped methane from the sea bed.

We could then repeat some of the crises in the past that took 1m years to recover from, but this time with it man-made. When temperatures were between 4 and 5 degrees higher 55m years ago, following a very sudden burst of global warming in the early Eocene, alligators and other subtropical species were living high in the Arctic.  With 5 degree increase it can mean large-scale extinction of plant and animal species and the loss of millions of human lives, like 65m years ago with the extinction of the dinosaurs. It could then rise higher as at the end of the Permian, 251m years ago, when global temperatures rose by six degrees, and 95% of species were wiped out. For the effects of temperature increases by degree see an overview online.

This can all be avoided if we act now both to reduce carbon emissions and take carbon out of the air (which we can now) and store it safely, geologically or biologically, copying natural processes, or by drilling deep underground (See for example artificial trees and also in the journal Scientific American)  More research funding is needed for this. Clean BioChar or biological charcoal that does not reduce the oxygen in the air and does not put the carbon back over time could be part of the solution but research is essential to ensure safety with this and other solutions. See the Permaculture network’s warning on BioChar.

Part of the failure to take these risks on board and address them fully is denial, and defence against feelings of anxiety or despair and powerlessness.

Part of it is due to the limitations of our unchecked cognition as it has evolved so far.

Mixed together this is a powerful cocktail.

For an overview see the New Scientist 18 August 2014 article by George Marshall “Hear no climate evil”.

George Marshall is the author of Don’t Even Think About It: Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change, which was published by Bloomsbury between August and October 2014 in 3 countries. He is the founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network in Oxford, UK

Defence against anxiety and powerlessness

The overwhelming and seemingly hopeless struggle portrayed by the media and many campaigners provokes feelings of anxiety and powerlessness.

Our response to climate change is uncannily similar to an even more universal disavowal: unwillingness to face our own mortality, says neuroscientist Janis Dickinson of Cornell University. She argues that aggressive assertion of group identities, political polarisation, and angry denial found around climate change is consistent with “Terror Management Theory” (TMT) which is used to explain behaviour in the face of reminders of mortality. See J. L. Dickinson (2009) The People Paradox: Self-Esteem Striving, Immortality Ideologies, and Human Response to Climate Change in Ecology and Society, Vol 14 (1). Online

And more recently her paper on How Framing Climate Change Influences Citizen Scientists’ Intentions to Do Something About It published online by Taylor and Francis

This shows how mentioning dangers for humans did not increase participants’ interest in taking personal action on climate change, but mentioning dangers for birds was highly effective! Others, such as psychoanalytic psychotherapist, Rosemary Randall on the Question Time on Climate Change event organised by the RSA in London describe typical defences too. See the video of this discussion

Limitations through Unchecked Cognition and Cultural Biases

The Noble prize winner in (behavioural) economics, the psychologist Daniel Kahnemann, has studied human cognition and behavior in the market place. Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel prize in economics for his research on the psychological biases that distort decision-making, in the market place and elsewhere. One of these is “loss aversion”, which means that people are far more sensitive to losses than gains. One form of this is ignoring the compound interest on debt and credit card loans the increase of which was part of the recent debt crisis. This is hard enough to do mathematically. Take J. Zinman’s powerful analogy for compound interest using a chessboard of a $1 of interest per square that doubles until the 64th. Try estimating it. It is by then $9000 quadrillion.

Kahnemann regards climate change as a perfect example as it seems like a distant problem that requires sacrifices now to avoid uncertain losses far in the future. So some argue that we have to experience, see and feel the effects in the present to act, have an emotional shock and feel the hurt, if you like – but that might be too late and result in panic.

Many of us have no spare time, energy, money or attention to address it with others either – immediate survival or earning enough to support our families occupy us.

Nicholas Stern, author of the influential Stern Review on the economics of climate change, describes it as the “perfect market failure”. As Marshall points out, discussions about economics invariably turn into self defeating cost-benefit analyses:

Stern offers a choice between spending 1 per cent of annual income now, or risking losing 20 per cent of it in 50 years’ time. This language is almost identical to that Kahneman used two decades earlier in his experiments on loss aversion. Is it surprising that when a choice is framed like this, policy-makers are intuitively drawn towards postponing action and taking a gamble on the future?

Another of Kahneman’s biases is an “assimilation bias” that bends information to fit people’s existing values and prejudices. If cost/loss and uncertainty around climate change really are universal psychological barriers, it is hard to explain why 15 per cent of people fully accept the threat and are willing to make personal sacrifices to avert it. Most of the people in this group are left wing or environmentalists and have managed to turn climate change into a narrative that fits with their existing criticisms of industry and growth.

Uncertainty and ambiguity leave room for people to choose to believe what they want. Scientists reinforce distance with computer predictions set two generations in the future and endless talk of uncertainty. One of the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses the word “uncertain” more than once per page. The “uncertainty principle” in the original global climate change conference statements for assessing and guarding against risk  does not counteract this. Climate change is complex, there is a lot of difference in the effects in different countries or locations, and the models currently cannot predict accurately all the time, leaving room for the doubters to point out where there are contradictions. Scientists need to have amongst them specialists in communication who can provide the information on what is known and agreed on, and what the effects and risks are, while being clear on what is uncertain, especially in the details; constructive scepticism and disagreement is necessary for good science but it does not have to lead to inaction.

The media in the UK like to promote debate – but this can be without regard to how much the key participants on each side have valid knowledge and information. This makes it all the more uncertain. Up till recently such debates have not been between climate scientists with a similar knowledge base – though now 97% of them agree on the serious fast increase in greenhouse gases and the human contribution.

Conservatives may justify climate inaction on the grounds of cost and uncertainty but they, too, are able to accept both as long as they speak to their core values. As former US vice-president and climate sceptic Dick Cheney said: “If there is only a 1 per cent chance of terrorists getting weapons of mass destruction, we must act as if it is a certainty.”

Strongly held values can explain the convictions of those at the ends of the political spectrum, but they do not adequately explain the apparent indifference of the large majority in between. If asked, most agree that climate change is a serious threat, but without prompting they do not volunteer it. This indifference is another form of denial, with which we started.

The law of unintended consequences and Lock-in

This is another example of the limits of unchecked cognition. Robert Merton, the creator of many key concepts in sociology in the last century, first named this and identified five factors involved: ignorance (including info not available), error, immediate interest or gain overriding any long term damage, basic values and self-defeating prophecy.

Merton, Robert K. (Dec 1936). “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action”. American Sociological Review 1 (6): 894–904. See online

What is called “lock-in” – habits, routines, social norms and cultural values, unquestioned assumptions, and of course locked-in longer term investments (as in energy infrastructure or the extraction of coal, oil or natural gas) – are all part of this. This can put the response time globally into 3 or 4 decades, even if we act as fast as we can now.

Ways Forward

The problem itself is far from being what Stephen Gardiner of the University of Washington in Seattle calls a “perfect moral storm” or market failure, and the situation is not hopeless; but dealing with it will require a more sophisticated analysis of human cognition and the role of socially shared values in building conviction, and a mutually reinforcing multi-pathway approach going in the same direction to make the necessary transition.

Take the presentation of information to raise awareness. Facts can be produced on waste and pollution such as the production of each laptop generating waste that is 4000 times its weight, see Hawken, R. and others Natural Capitalism (1999). But this may not have an emotional impact or leave a lasting memory.

Sometimes visual presentations have more impact. A video was produced to show the accumulated impact of used car waste. Carbon Visuals: Animating the world’s cars

This has to be done alongside practical examples of how people are tackling the problem.

To see how the sun-earth system together with the biosphere determine our climate is very complex, possibly beyond our modelling capacities. This requires scientists working together. Historical studies going back millions of years need to be combined with mathematical modelling based on more recent data (see again David Wasdell). But as James Lovelock said recently we cannot afford to spend too much time on the details of climate modelling. He points out that “all the modelling we do shows that the climate is poised on the jump up to a new hot state. It is accelerating so fast you could say we are already in it.” He says we need to focus on learning more about climate change so to be able to adapt to it better. We cannot afford to “fiddle while Rome is burning” as he put it. He points out that global warming has hardly been mentioned in the UK election campaign in April 2015.

There is a growing awareness that we need to focus equally on reducing carbon emissions and on taking carbon out of the air by mimicking nature, geo-engineering that is very low risk, as mentioned above (6th paragraph). This is beginning to be addressed in the recent reports from the IPCC.

Again as with leaders in other systems, people’s assumptions, agendas, reputations, research grants and the years they have invested in research or models can be at stake. Trust, and real collaboration in the service of something bigger than any individual, alongside the commitment to the principles of good scientific method and truth, is needed for this to happen.

One way of counteracting the inability to see or comprehend and feel the accumulated impact of a number of small actions at a collective level is shown by the work of Peter Senge and colleagues. They point out the need for – and give examples of – systems leaders who bring people together who represent different parts of a system within society. They then use tools and skills to help them break down the barriers to trust, real dialogue and reflection between them so that they can see and make sense of the system and its interacting parts together. They can then work together on generating a future vision, creating solutions, trying them out in practice and learning by doing. Others can then follow. For methods and examples see their paper. They give examples of projects in cities bringing together the public and private sectors with community-based organisations, and multinational companies designing more sustainable products, production processes and product life cycles involving their supply chains throughout the world.

We need a critical mass of leaders who have the capacities for this. Senge and others identify some of these capacities, such as to:

(1) See and map the larger system with others sharing the same question, with the humility, based on an awareness of their own limitations, to go beyond their own vantage point or areas of knowledge or interest.

(2) Foster reflection and more generative conversation to:

Open minds to surface assumptions and see that the problems may be in and between each of us in the system, as well as “out there”,

Open hearts to listen,

Open the will to let go of pre-set goals and agendas,

and so build relationships in the process.

(3) Shift the conversation from reactive problem solving to co-creating the future by sharing aspirations and building a common vision, then trying things out and learning in a safe way, building confidence by joint accomplishments and working through tensions and frustrations on the way.

This can lead to a mature understanding of the situation and of the conditions for positive social change and innovation

At the same time “massive small change” at the local, national and international level is a key driver of change as ideas can be tested and examples and role models created for others to follow, while empowering groups and networks. At the international level this can be a small enterprise of young engineers creating affordable and easy to use technical solutions to problems in the less developed economies where there is lack of access to electricity, poor irrigation or drought, crops failing, etc. (The massive small change and engineers without borders network organises occasional conferences that support this). Or local community groups and enterprises around the world, in rich and poor economies, creating more sustainable ways of living that are  attractive and at the same time fit the needs and realities of the 21st century (The Transition Towns Network and the older Natural Step Movement are examples of these). Local businesses wanting to explore a more environmentally aware approach to prosperity and growth, within ecologically safe limits can form socio-economic networks for sustainability in the full sense in their local communities, supported by their local universities and by national or international knowledge and learning networks and alliances. Local community networks are often involved with scientists too in regenerating local ecosystems or in protecting animal and plant species from the effects of rising global temperatures or the destruction of  natural habitats. This means looking for the type of ecosystem best adapted to this century and not trying to conserve the type of wild area we are used to. For UK and Ireland Rewilding and for a Wildlife Trust’s comments on it go to.

System leaders, groups and networks like these can transform anxiety, doom and denial into a sense of urgency with a realistic confidence and hope as more and more practical, cost-effective and attractive solutions are found and demonstrated. People can feel empowered, able to do things together with others. Innovators like these in businesses and local communities, within networks, can be a key force for change that national governments and international forums or agencies can encourage, support and be informed by.

This can counteract the defences and the limits of unchecked cognition that lead to a breakdown of co-operation and our fears becoming a reality, an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy (to use another of Merton’s concepts) at work.


Climate Change & Global Temperature: Update

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CO2 Emissions & the Speed of Increase in Global Temperature    
Four new clips.   Scroll past headings for brief descriptions, youtube links & audio podcasts.

1. New Data on Earth’s ClimateSystem Amplifying the Effects of CO2 Increases –using a different method based on Historical Data
2. Risks of a Runaway episode in the Global Climate System: its Implications – Introduction
3. Risks of a Runaway episode in the Global Climate System: its Implications – Scientific Data
4. Risk of not using the best possible data & observations to estimate Global Temperature Increases

By David Wasdell,
Director of  Apollo-Gaia Project
June 2012

See also the 8 short June 2011 video clips explaining the greenhouse effect due to increases in CO2 in the atmosphere, the amplification of this by the earth’s climate system, the faster increases in global temperature that result, and the potentially disastrous effects of this on human and all life on the planet.
In these 4 more recent  clips made in June 2012 David describes in more detail the results of a recent study by the Apollo Gaia project that set out to address two questions:
(1)   By how much does the earth’s climate system itself multiply or amplify the effects of what we have done by changing the composition of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so as to increase the average global temperature?
(2)   Is there a tipping point or critical threshold beyond which the climate system takes off on its own momentum into a runaway episode in which case we have no further ability to control it?

This new study is based on a different methodology developed over the last four years. It promises to produce more reliable results than the system modelling done so far that informs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Papers are now being presented and about to be published based on this new method. Climate scientists recognise its importance, including the head of the IPCC. Normally new studies lead to debate. As a leading scientist said recently, debates on the validity of findings on climate change need to be between climate scientists, not scientists and non-scientists. The media might thrive on debate but it needs to be between those with the relevant knowledge and information. 95% of climate scientists agree on the seriousness of the situation. Science thrives on debate – let us hear the debate on this between scientists, and hope that this new study leads to a revised consensus on estimates and risks if necessary, the implications of which can then be debated and discussed more widely.

1. New Data on the Amplification by the Earth’s system of the effects of increases in CO2 in the atmosphere
In this first clip David first describes the change in method two years ago (2010) from attempting to model mathematically the feedback processes in climate change to conducting an empirical historical study of the earth system in the past, combining 5 disciplines, to track how the earth’s system is sensitive to, and so amplifies, the effects of increased CO concentration in the atmosphere. He uses a metaphor to illustrate the change in method. The  answer to the first question on amplification and sensitivity has serious implications as it is 2 ½ times greater than the estimates of current models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Audio: Amplification of CO2 effects

2. The Boundary Conditions and Risks of a potential Runaway episode in the Global Climate System and its Implications – Introduction
All the work on the response of the earth’s system to CO2 increases has been based on historical change. This has in the past been very slow and only just a little out of equilibrium. Today this change is about 300 times faster, bringing with it new feedback processes that increase the amplification of the effects of CO2 increase. David uses a metaphor to illustrate amplifying and damping feedback, and the imbalances between them. He ends by pointing out that we are at a point where there is a very real possibility of a runaway episode in which amplifying feedback is stronger than damping feedback. This allows global temperature to increase exponentially, to accelerate without limit, rather than tend towards a new equilibrium.
Audio   Runaway – 1

3. The Boundary Conditions and Risks of a potential Runaway episode in the Global Climate System – The Scientific Data
Graph 1 compares different computer models of how the earth’s climate system responds to changes in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Current change being 300 times faster than historical records the sensitivity or speed of response of the earth’s system is much higher. This means that there is a serious possibility of a tipping point or critical threshold being approached beyond which a runaway episode begins. Temperature goes on increasing: the faster it goes up the faster it goes up (non-linear change).
Graph 2 illustrates this. This shows how the amplifying effect of the strength of the feedback factor (feedback processes within the climate and earth systems in response to increases in CO2) in turn increases the global equilibrium temperature as it approaches the damping critical threshold of 3.3 Watts per square metre in radiated energy from the earth for every degree rise in the earth’s surface temperature. If this feedback factor is bigger than this measure of energy radiated from the earth the rise in temperature accelerates and the gap between energy in and out gets bigger and bigger.  But there are factors that will push the strength of the feedback beyond the critical threshold into an episode of increasingly faster runaway behaviour and temperature increases. This implies more intensive and faster interventions by us now before this happens.  For a full explanation of this see the 2012 Istanbul presentation link on the front page of
Audio  Runaway – 2

4. Risk of not basing estimates of Global Temperature increases and their effects on the best possible data and observations
Future changes in the earth’s climate system and the natural environment on which human life and all life depends will be greater than those we see today. Powerful analogy of misdiagnosing a temperature increase in a child. Very dangerous to dismiss climate change as a hoax.
Audio Risks

Climate Change – Explanation & New Study July 2011

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Climate Change: Explanation and Implications of a New Analysis 

July 2011

Understanding the Problem and Pointing to a way forward

David Wasdell has been working with top climate scientists  around the world to draw together the findings from a 6 year study of how the earth’s climate system responds to increases of CO2 and other Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so that we can better assess the risk of more dangerous rises in the average global temperature. This study is based on palaeontology, systems analysis and mathematical calculations rather than computer models that cannot yet represent all the complexities of feedback dynamics in our climate system. The first formal presentation of results has been at the 3rd Global Conference on Global Warming inLisbon in July 2011.

In the 8 short recordings presented here he goes through all the key concepts and facts to understand how changes in CO2 can affect global temperatures.  He then goes on to explain how, and by how much, the resulting global heating is amplified by the feedback processes of the earth’s living and physical systems. The whole process exposes life on earth to serious risks. He points out that we can solve the problem as long as we draw down or take out excessive CO2 from the atmosphere as well as eliminating further emissions through our way of living and the energy sources we use. The necessary changes in the way we live can lead to a good quality of life while in the short term demanding a whole systems change and efficient co-operative action to avoid the most dangerous consequences. We discuss together the resistance in people and institutions to facing up to these facts and the risks.  It is important to show that practical solutions exist so that anxiety and denial can be transformed into a sense of urgency, realism and action, and mobilised around the world.

The discussion between David and myself (John Bristow) is recorded in a series of 8 segments, between 5 ½ and nearly 9 mins long, each of which addresses a question or key fact or concept. These are available in both audio and video versions, with the video accessible on You Tube for use also in presentations if required. These links are given under each of the segment summaries:

1. David introduces himself and his work. David has a highly relevant mix of an understanding of climate science helped by his knowledge of physics, together with a background of research and consulting in complex, large scale social systems. He has focussed on resistance to change and strategic interventions to overcome it. Top climate scientists were involved in the study conducted over the last 6 years (the Apollo-Gaia or Sun-Earth system project)     5 mins 25 secs


Audio  Update on climate change 1

2. The greenhouse effect explained  The balance in the form of a dynamic equilibrium between short wave (light) energy received from the sun and long wave (infra-red energy) emitted by the earth has been disturbed by recent excessive increases in CO2 emissions that prevent heat leaving the earth even more. These are driven by the increase in use of fossil fuels since the dawn of the industrial revolution. In recent decades the availability of cheap energy from coal and oil has driven economic growth and consumerism that occurred alongside the growth in population – a whole system change.     5 mins 34 secs


Audio Update on climate change 2

3. Amplifying feedback explained. The contribution of global warming caused by the increased concentration of CO2 is in turn amplified by feedback processes within the climate and earth systems. This speeds up the rate of increase in average global temperature. Some examples are given of the family of amplifying feedback processes or loops within these systems.     6 mins 30 secs


Audio Update on climate change 3

4. Estimating climate sensitivity.  This is defined as the amount by which the average global temperature increases as a result of a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere (measured in parts per million).This new analysis goes beyond the limits of computer modelling to calculate a value for climate sensitivity based on historical records of the effects of change in CO2 levels in the past. These findings are alarming and were first published in July 2011.       8 mins 3 secs


Audio Update on Climate Change 4

5. Consequences of increases in global temperature. There are long time delays between cause and effect in the global system. Increase in global heating in turn eventually drives rise in global temperature, and many other natural phenomena. For instance we already see melting ice (both land-based and floating), changes in rainfall patterns, increased frequency of floods and droughts and the intensity of storms. Rise in sea level is already observed and can only accelerate in the future.

The consequences for humanity are profound. Because of long time delays, significant increase in temperature is already “in the pipeline” as a result of current changes in CO2 in concentration. The risks are so great now that we need not only to stop putting any more CO2 into the atmosphere but also begin taking out the CO2 already there, using George Bush’s analogy, we need to stop the addiction to fossil fuels and detox the system (take CO2 out). 6 mins 29 secs


Audio Update on climate change 5

6. Anxiety and denial arising from highly disturbing information. As if temperature increase were not enough, the earth’s climate is also subject to a series of tipping points with an even more disturbing possibility of setting off “runaway” feedback processes. Both processes are illustrated by examples in the earth’s climate system. Eventually a new equilibrium may be found but this is likely to be less hospitable to life on the planet for thousands of years. Such fast change in global energy balance and temperature has not been seen before in the earth’s history. We need to build confidence in our ability to solve the problem in order to overcome denial and mobilise action based on a realistic sense of urgency.          8 mins 44secs


Audio  Update on climate change 6

7. Risk assessment needs updating. While there is significant uncertainty concerning thresholds of tipping points and the onset of runaway, it is important to make the distinction between uncertainty and risk. It is essential to update conservative assessments of temperature increase, and to understand that the risks are now seen to be so great that they cannot be taken even if some uncertainties remain. There now needs to be a consensus around the facts presented in the current analysis as it is subject to testing and peer review in the best practice of modern science. These findings will then need to be more widely known, supported by positive strategic solutions.               8 mins 10 secs


Audio Update on climate change 7

8. Next steps. As the analysis is seen to be solidly grounded and viable solutions emerge, it becomes totally unacceptable to block or misrepresent valid scientific findings. While becoming more aware that to do this is to hold the life support system on earth to ransom, it is important to find ways of helping people see there are practical alternatives to keeping the current system as it is. It then becomes possible to address the particularly collusive interdependencies between the different parts of the power elite and the key institutions in society that reinforce vested interests in maintaining the status quo.           7 mins 21secs


 Audio Update on climate change 8

The extended version of Part 1 of the Lisbon presentation gives in-depth resources to explore the material further:

The pdf itself is at

Apollo-Gaia Project, Meridian Programme     (Hosted by the Unit for Research into Changing Institutions (URChIn)
Websites: and

Click here for 4 further video clips by David Wasdell on the New Study








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