Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Anthony Marr's writing "so impassioned people think he's exaggerating"

Anthony Marr's writing
"so impassioned people think he's exaggerating"

Yesterday, I received a message from a friend informing me of the following entry into the Tribe of Hearts email discussion list, which was one of the comments on the Guardian/UK article titled "Climate Change? Try Climate Breakdown" (2009-03-13 - see bottom of this email):


From : L
To: "Tribe of Heart's email discussion list" ..
Sent: Monday, March 23,
Subject: Re: [heart2heart] Language and direction

First, and most obvious, is that the language used by environmental or any activists is really important in conveying a message that is truthful. Activists ought to strive for neither under nor overstating a problem.

Secondly, climate breakdown is upon us, and as I understand it (based on reports from other credible sources), is greatly exacerbated by the eating habits of earth's industrialized nations...I'm taking about these nations' addiction to farmed-animal products, and plenty of it. Therefore, I'm thinking, more than ever, animal rights activists ought to strongly consider campaigning with a message that promotes a vegan diet rather than campaigning for 'humanely raised' farmed-animal products.


From: W
To: "Tribe of Heart's email discussion list" ..
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 12:15 PM
Subject: Re: [heart2heart] Language and direction

Wow. That really makes me want to do something besides sit at this desk 40 hours a week, basically contributing to climate breakdown (I like that term).

Anthony Marr has been going about this for a while now, but I think because he's so impassioned in his writing people tend to think he's exaggerating (especially where methane is concerned). It isn't that I thought that, it's just rather - oh, I feel so helpless!

Any thoughts on how to educate people who don't want to listen or hear this? Or who think it's just another ploy by animal activists to get people to stop having fun? er, I mean, eating animals?

Thank you so much for passing this on. I am going to send it to all I know!



From: Anthony Marr:

Thank you, W. At least now I know that my writings are being read. ;)

First, I am more than willing to adopt the term "Climate Breakdown" in place of the nondescript "Climate Change", if only because, case in point, it will exonerate what I have written and will be writing from being considered exaggerations, unless the term "Climate Breakdown" itself is considered an exaggeration, which to me it definitely is not.

Second, I think that there is a high probability that all articles written about "climate change" so far, mine included, could be understatements. Why? Google "climate change than expected", and see what you find - "... stunned scientists... much worse than expected" and "... much faster than expected... exceeded the worst case scenario of current computer models by a wide margin...", etc, over a number of years. The question is: When it is all said and done, i.e. after the M-Bomb has been detonated and run its course, how much of an understatement our most impassioned statements will prove to be?

Third, the Nobel-Prize-winning IPCC Report, where methane barely merited a mention, is itself a gross understatement. And the current agenda of the upcoming UNFCCC climate change convention (Copenhagen, Dec 2009, the successor of Kyoto), unless revamped to reflect the real urgency of the global environmental crisis, will cause the mass extinction of over 10 million species within a century, and this is a deliberate understatement on my part (since my own estimation indicates over 15 million of the current 20 million species), lest this be considered an exaggeration.



Published on Friday, March 13, 2009 by The Guardian/UK

Climate Change? Try, Climate Breakdown

What's clear from Copenhagen is that policymakers have fallen behind the scientists: global warming is already catastrophic

by George Monbiot

The more we know, the grimmer it gets.

Presentations by climate scientists at this week's conference in Copenhagen show that we might have underplayed the impacts of global warming in three important respects:

A: Partly because the estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) took no account of meltwater from Greenland's glaciers, the rise in sea levels this century could be twice or three times as great as it forecast, with grave implications for coastal cities, farmland and freshwater reserves.

B: Two degrees of warming in the Arctic (which is heating up much more quickly than the rest of the planet) could trigger a massive bacterial response in the soils there. As the permafrost melts, bacteria are able to start breaking down organic material that was previously locked up in ice, producing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane. This could catalyse one of the world's most powerful positive feedback loops: warming causing more warming.

C: Four degrees of warming could almost eliminate the Amazon rainforests, with appalling implications for biodiversity and regional weather patterns, and with the result that a massive new pulse of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Trees are basically sticks of wet carbon. As they rot or burn, the carbon oxidises. This is another way in which climate feedbacks appear to have been underestimated in the last IPCC report. Apart from the sheer animal panic I felt on reading these reports, two things jumped out at me.

The first is that governments are relying on IPCC assessments that are years out of date even before they are published, as a result of the IPCC's extremely careful and laborious review and consensus process. This lends its reports great scientific weight, but it also means that the politicians using them as a guide to the cuts in greenhouse gases required are always well behind the curve. There is surely a strong case for the IPCC to publish interim reports every year, consisting of a summary of the latest science and its implications for global policy.

The second is that we have to stop calling it climate change. Using "climate change" to describe events like this, with their devastating implications for global food security, water supplies and human settlements, is like describing a foreign invasion as an unexpected visit, or bombs as unwanted deliveries. It's a ridiculously neutral term for the biggest potential catastrophe humankind has ever encountered.

I think we should call it "climate breakdown". Does anyone out there have a better idea?

2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books "The Age of Consent: a Manifesto for a New World Order" and "Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain".

He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper.

Visit his website at www.monbiot.com


Anthony Marr, founder and president
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)

No comments: