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Time to Use Our Fear as Fuel: Three Takeaways from the IPCC's New Report


Time to Use Our Fear as Fuel: Three Takeaways from the IPCC's New Report

The Leap
The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is out, and it is a dramatic development [1]. The threat advisory from the world’s scientific climate community just went from orange to flashing red.

But here’s the key takeaway: limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible, and will require a rapid transformation of our economy.


The climate crisis is NOT unfolding even faster and more furiously than expected. Only those who haven’t been paying attention for the past 15 years think things are moving faster than expected. They aren’t. And guess what? They will continue to keep on moving faster than expected because linear thinking always gets left behind when things are moving exponentially.


Sure, just take power away from the 10% of the population that controls the world’s economies, that controls every major government on earth, that controls the media and that has the backing of every military in every country on earth to enforce their will, the very same militaries that are major polluters, themselves. No problem. Who do I call, first, to tell them to stop polluting?

Sorry, we don’t need more fear articles telling us what needs to be done. Anyone who has bothered to educate themselves on the subject knows what needs to be done. Fear we already have. Taking power away from this 10% may reduce emissions in a couple years, but taking that power away will take many, many more years, perhaps generations, with no guarantee of success and likely a great deal of blood shed along the way. So tell us, how are “we” to get it done.


The overthrow of capitalism is required.

Meanwhile, this author talks about the trillions of $$$ that climate chaos will cost.


Don’t get too alarmed. That hurricane hitting Florida (sustained winds of 155 mph), that just happens sometimes when Jesus sneezes.



The draconian measures suggested here are so far out in the margins of society that they really aren’t worth discussing. It will be virtually impossible to stay below 1.5C and extremely hard to stay below 2.0C. With present system emissions can be reduced. They have been reduced in the US and the EU countries and there is evidence suggesting that the even could have peaked in China. It comes down to implementing the technologies we have for renewable energy and for energy efficiency and continuing to work on finding ways to reduce emissions were more developments are needed. This clearly cannot be accomplished in the US by electing climate deniers like Donald Trump. Too many people in the US have been fed too many lies about climate change for many years for this country to move quickly enough. If tens of millions Americans would rather here lies than the truth about the climate change this will have severe consequences.


Well, one of the key points that Avi and Naomi have made is that change is going to happen and we can either choose to change or have it forced on us by climate change. However, I mostly agree with you in that, when people, like the 10%, live in relatively luxurious comfort, they generally respond with procrastination and apathy, or even denying there is a problem to begin with. I’m not optimistic about the chances for survival of North American civilization. Maybe some parts of Eurasia have a shot (hint: Scandinavia, who weathered the 2008 economic collapse quite well will probably be one). Maybe, after a couple thousand years when the climate stabilizes, and if the species survives, a new civilization can be born and learn from the mistakes of this one. Maybe.


More and more people are coming to the delusional conclusion that this escalating crisis can galvanize change on the scale that is really needed. Nothing less will do, which is why no one will do it.

There, fixed it for you!

I’m tired of all this optimistic BS. We’re fucked. There will be no grand social change to provide a better future. Too many wealthy and powerful interests are heavily invested in the current economy and have taken over all aspects of civilization. Usually, under those circumstances, the only way to break that power and control is the collapse of civilization. Maybe, after a few hundred years or so, once the last of the neofeudal corporate regimes has collapsed, we can begin a new “enlightenment” that will implement much of what Avi and Naomi propose. That’s assuming our species survives in any significant numbers to remember the wretched excess that such a small population of humanity lived in.


From now until the 2020 election is the window we have to turn things around…

It’s entirely possible that by the 2020 election, it will be the last time we can elect a slate of candidates capable of leading us into a new reality, and turn our society toward a more sustainable future. The case for taking drastic action now should be obvious to anyone paying attention but much needs to be done.

It will take 4000 people with vision to turn us toward a sustainable world!

Nationally, there are 7,383 state house representatives and state senators. Half of that is about 3700 seats. Half of the US House is 220 or so, half of the US Senate is another 52 for a total of about 4000 seats. That means that a mere 4000 dedicated people could save us, our future generations and our planet! And we are well on our way already to that number!

The US of A is strongly democratic even when the Democratic party is Republican lite! In our latest election, 2016, the voter turnout was 58%! Of the 200 million registered voters, 63 million stayed home. There are more registered Democrats (40%) than Republicans (29%) but nearly as many Independents (28%) as Republicans. Even if just 10 million more voters turned out, it would be a huge shift. It should be very clear that our country is being manipulated to help the very wealthiest in our midst get even wealthier!

We can do this if we can just get excited about it! Otherwise, nothing good is going to happen!


What are your ideas?


In the global context, a large part of the 10% live in the US.


I’m tired of this talk about optimism vs pessimism. We need to act, regardless.


Yes. It really is on us, regardless of what happens politically. It would be terrific if we had some people in office who expressed the urgency to do something about it. But regardless, we need to change our behaviors. All legislation will do is force us (or maybe incentivize us) to change. We can also simply decide to change.

There are plenty of groups making change at the local level to get involved with. You think making these changes will have little effect? Well, they are working for the kinds of changes materially and behaviorally that need to happen anyway.


“Eagle Man” asked this question in his 2004 Nature’s Way: Native Wisdom for Living in Balance With the Earth (p. 269):

“Will Nature eventually be forced to rid itself of Human, as antibodies attack a spreading, life-threatening infection?”

A recent report issued by the Stockholm Resilience Centre seems to answer his question in the affirmative:

“Our analysis suggests that the Earth System may be approaching a planetary threshold that could lock in a continuing rapid pathway toward much hotter conditions—Hothouse Earth. This pathway would be propelled by strong, intrinsic, biogeophysical feedbacks difficult to influence by human actions, a pathway that could not be reversed, steered, or substantially slowed.”

Given what’s happening to Earth System, combined with the utter incompetence of our “leaders,” I see NO REASON AT ALL to have any hope for our future!


Yep. And the 10% in the US have a lot to answer for, but that doesn’t absolve the members of the 10% that are not in the US. Case in point, the Russian billionaires who worked with American billionaires in the 90’s to siphon wealth from the Russian people the way American billionaires have been siphoning wealth from the American people for decades. And the German billionaires who have been siphoning wealth from the other EU nations (notably Greece, Italy and Spain).


Yes. I just wish I lived in one of those communities. I’ve been railing on our local transit agency and council of governments for years about the need to aggressively expand public transit and cycling infrastructure (and I am by no means alone) but all they know how to do is cry poverty. Maybe someday I’ll get to move to such a community.


I could not agree more about billionaires all over the world, not just the US. But we’re talking the top .01%. When you take a look at what constitutes the top 10% globally, it really amounts to what we would call the upper middle class on up, including many professions like doctors, lawyers, full professors, on up.

And income only explains a part of it. For example, many in the EU that we might consider being middle class actually have materially relatively modest lifestyles. One of my favorite climate scientist, Kevin Anderson, curses his fellow academics that jet around the globe from conference to conference in an activity that contributes most significantly to GHG emissions.


Keep up the good work, even though it can feel frustrating.

I live in a significantly red state, but in a very diverse and pretty progressive city. We have some options to do things locally, though we are constantly being pressured under the thumb of our state legislature that is very oppressive and likes to micro-manage despite spouting the claimed virtues of limited government.


Thanks, it is very frustrating. Though we’ve made a little bit of progress in the form of protected bike lanes…for 5 blocks. I’m in a purple city, in a blue state with a very red tax law. For this reason, there are a lot of great ideas but everything takes forever because no one has any money. We basically have to start projects, then stop until we can find more money, then do a little bit more, then stop while we find more money, then start again…and on and on and on. I often feel like giving up, building my retirement home in the boony’s and hanging out my #DGAF sign.

I figure my, as yet, nonexistent grandkids might get to see most of these projects come to fruition when they are grandparents, but, I would hope that they will be living in a thriving and progressive European city at that time since this state, and indeed, the country as a whole, will get left behind by the starved funds and slow pace of infrastructure investment (if it even exists at all).


Two things related to financing projects we are working on are (1) Participatory Budgeting and (2) a local climate fund. The Participatory Budgeting project is definetely happening - the city is allocating 1% of its budget ($2.5 million) to fund projects that are created by and voted on by residents. Very democratic. No guarantee these projects will go to address climate, environment, and health issues, but I’ll bet some will.

The local climate fund is really driven by donations from businesses, non-profits, and individuals with funds going directly to local projects that mitigate climate change. Donors get a tax deduction as well the satisfaction that the funds will stay local. This is moving forward and will hopefully be up and running soon.