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Humanity Faces Climate "Suicide" Without US Rejoining Paris Agreement, Says the UN Secretary General

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/12/02/humanity-faces-climate-suicide-without-us-rejoining-paris-agreement-says-un

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Here’s what Mr Guterres demanded the nations of the world do:

  • Put a price on carbon
  • Phase out fossil fuel finance and end fossil fuel subsidies
  • Shift the tax burden from income to carbon, and from tax payers to polluters
  • Integrate the goal of carbon neutrality (a similar concept to net zero) into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions
  • Help those around the world who are already facing the dire impacts of climate change


In my mind - I think this is largely the right track - the way Guterres explains things.

But I would like to see two additions

  • Rights for the Environment, which would affect all corporations all of the time, and place we the people and the environment front and center, instead of just the shareholders.
  • A plan to set aside Half the Planet for wild nature, or as wild as possible, including mass migration corridors on land. Cities, where most of now live, are not to be left out, and all cities should follow best practices environmentally wherever they have the remit to do so.

Except…that the Paris agreement is exactly that, and agreement. It’s not a contract or binding treaty.
It’s not worth the paper it’s written on. In the end, Paris was a place for the worlds biggest polluters to get together and make themselves feel better by making empty promises to the people of the third world and to the earth.
The Paris accords were a fucking joke. Only no one is laughing as the planet hurtles toward 500ppm and oblivion.

For example, here in Calgary, we now use goats in place of lawnmowers in our wilder areas, on hillsides by the river for one, and this type of thing is capable of much expansion, and new ideas will follow this lead.

For another example, too many cottonwood/poplars were planted on the upland prairie in the city in the past. Every time there is a particularly big and gusty windstorm, weak branches break off, damging this and that. These trees are I believe evolutionary wise a riparian species, adapted to the banks of our rivers - not the upland prairie regions. Surprisingly, spruce and pine do quite well, along with a number of other tree types.

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I disagree entirely.

The Paris Agreements were a step along the way, as was and is the IPCC and now the Biodiversity Contingent at the UN.

Until people become more scientifically literate - it is all uphill.

But rather than criticize these pioneer movements, we should admire their tenacity in this so far uphill struggle.

The tide is turning, and as always, leaders out in front are at first the butt of jokes - until they aren’t.

In Obama’s new book, he heaps praise and admiration on Angela Merkel of Germany. She is a scientist as well as possibly the world’s most competent politician, in my view anyways, and apparently Obama’s. I do not think it is a coincidence that she is both scientist and world leader, and if even Angela Merkel is having a rough time getting what needs to be done done - it is a warning of how many interests have to be accommodated before we get where we want to be.

We are humans after all - we dither and blunder - always wait until it’s almost too late.

But China is now a world power in all regards, including space exploration, with their resounding and spectacularly difficult Moon Landing by Chang’e 5. They are going to the Moon for real in the near future, with a crew and their own space station.

Kennedy showed us the way - divert our competitive urges to worthwhile objectives, like space exploration, and see what happens.

Israel is in space, the UAE soon, Russia, India, even Canada has an arm out there.

Get on board - the wagons are rolling west.

I remember a physicist’s report long ago - no matter how much we recycled and went green, you could only delay the inevitable - too many humans not enough resources - - -

Unless we went to space !

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From The Guardian on Dec 13, 2015 (my emphasis):

Professor James Hansen – credited as being the “father of climate change awareness” - told the Guardian the talks that culminated in a deal on Saturday were just “worthless words.”

Speaking as the final draft of the deal was published on Saturday afternoon, he said: “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

Here’s a fun activity when you’re trapped inside with a climate column – track down the “or else”… sometimes it’s screaming from the headline (emphatically, if vaguely), and sometimes it takes a bit more careful scrutiny. I think I found Hertsgaard’s (or Guterres’) here (my emphasis):

The trillions of dollars now being invested to revive pandemic-battered economies also must be spent in a “green” way, Guterres argued, or today’s younger generations will inherit “a wrecked planet.”

The reason I play this is because I live in California, where we’ve already seen so much or else that our ominous skies of orange doom have smeared clear across the continent:

More than 4 million acres of California went up in flames in 2020 – about 4 percent of the state’s land area and more than double its previous wildfire record.

Five of the state’s six largest fires on record were burning this year.

In Colorado, the Pine Gulch fire broke the record for that state’s largest wildfire, only to be surpassed by two larger blazes, the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires.

Oregon saw one of the most destructive fire seasons in its recorded history, with more than 4,000 homes destroyed.


And incidentally, my brother’s house burned down when all of Berry Creek, CA was consumed on Admission Day, 9/9 of 2020. Intermittent mass-evacuations and power shut-offs concurrently with a global pandemic, all over the state this year. Up there it says 4 million acres, double our previous record and 4% of our land, for God’s sake, went up. It’s getting to where there’s not a heck of a lot of else left behind that or anymore. We’re like Australians, here in California, where “the worst consequences of climate change” are already here. Bad enough for me to become the last of my clan left around here.

Define “climate suicide” if you dare. It’s tricky to nail down specifics without admitting we’re already there.


Proxima Centauri, the closest potentially habitable planet to earth, is 4.2 light years away. With current technology, that trip would take humans 6300 years to get there.

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If Guterres were to require countries like China and India to meet the stated objectives he would be accomplishing something. The fact that these two largest polluter countries continue to get a free pass on global carbon emissions is a perfect example of how senseless the Paris accord actually was.

I am not that ambitious ~ (Proxima Centauri)

Asteroid mining, perhaps solar collectors in orbit, a Moon base by the Shackleton Crater at the Moon’s south pole, international cooperation in Earth orbit and on the Moon - all of which would diffuse tensions, raise human awareness of science and - perhaps not least - lead to as yet unimagined paths to a viable future.

Just as the American Moon Landings had people from all over the world saying - "We did it ! ", despite not being Americans, so too I applaud China’s men and women of science, and even their politicians, for going forward like this.

Democracy just had a ‘near death experience’, in the words of a writer whom I cannot properly credit.

There are different experiments underway for governance - in India, China, Russia etc…

I prefer our experiment here above all others, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see and appreciate the humanity we all share.

Looked at closely - these various systems of governance seem to me to be convergent.

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Are you serious , we can’t even get to a fraction of light speed .

That’s the problem the illusion of the superiority of man over nature . Nothing more cruel to nature than mankind . Wake up people the big self is kicking our butts , we the little self are part of the big self ,don’t we see this . The law of cause and effect .

We are primitive in our understandings .Advanced technology without advanced thinking leads to demise . Denial is useful for those that wish to continue the illusion. Acceptance and Responsibility are for those that seek for the illusion to end .

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You obviously have no idea whatsoever about what I am referring to.