Friday, January 18, 2019

Climate Change has Already Caused a Mass Extinction

There is an historical precedent for the civilization ending climate crisis we are facing. An extinction event hundreds of millions of years ago has terrifying parallels to modern day climate change. We live in the age of the anthropocene, a time when human activity is decimating life on planet Earth in what is being called the sixth mass extinction event.

Around 252 million years ago an extinction event wiped out almost all life on Earth. This includes 70 percent of all vertebrate species and 96 percent of all marine species.

The Great Dying, also known as the Permian-Triassic Extinction event, was caused by climate change. Long term volcanic activity in Siberia is thought to have shrouded the earth in ash, this in turn blocked sunlight, thinned the ozone layer and caused temperatures to rise dramatically.

What we see happening today has parallels to the Great Dying the only difference is that it is happening much faster. The Permian-Triassic Extinction event took 700,000 years, anthropogenic climate change has occurred in a relative blink of an eye (Just over a century).

A buildup of atmospheric CO2 is the cause of the Great Dying and it is the primary cause of the changing climate we are witnessing today. During the Permian-Triassic Extinction event carbon spewed from volcanic discharges and associated events. The current mass extinction is being fueled by humanity.  Human activities including the burning of fossil fuels are releasing vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Although there are disagreements as to levels of atmospheric carbon 252 million years ago, it is widely agreed that atmospheric CO2 levels have not been as high as they are today in at least 800,000 years.

According to the most recent computer models the Great Dying virtually eradicated marine by rising sea temperatures which starved the ocean of oxygen. At the same time these warming seas increased the metabolic rate of sea creatures concomitantly increasing their oxygen requirements. The cause of death was suffocation.

In the Great Dying animals tried to escape oxygen deficient environments by fleeing. The hardest hit were animals in higher latitudes far from the equator as they had nowhere to migrate to. Some of the animals that lived along the equator could find some respite by migrating to higher latitudes where they could find similar habitats to the ones they left. This is thought to have extirpated half of all the marine extinctions. The rest were caused by ocean acidification and massive reductions in plant life from a thinning ozone.

During the Great Dying sea surface temperatures increased by around 11 degrees Celsius (by 20 degrees Fahrenheit) and this depleted oxygen by about 76 percent. The ocean floor was almost entirely without oxygen and sea levels were 100 feet above were they are today.

The parallels to today are frightening. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution less than 150 years ago, the earth's temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit). However, we are seeing accelerated warming with 66 percent of that warming occurring since 1975.

"Under a business-as-usual emissions scenarios, by 2100 warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of warming in the late Permian, and by the year 2300 it will reach between 35 and 50 percent," said oceanographer Justin Penn of the University of Washington. "This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change."

Man-Made Species Extinction is a Crime Against Nature
Trump's Border Walls are a Threat to both Flora and Fauna
Combating Climate Change to Slow Species Extinction
People Powered Mass Extinction
Reflections on Rhino Horn Economics and the Natural Capital Movement on World Rhino Day
Half of All Wildlife on Earth is Going Extinct
Time to Tell the Truth About Climate Change
Collapsing Fisheries and the Importance of Fishing
The Mass Extinction of our Oceans May Have Already Begun
The State of Our Oceans: We are Headed Towards a Marine Mass Extinction
Global Tiger Day: Tigers are on the Brink of Extinction
Wildlife Success Stories in 2014 and 2015
The Financial Costs of Biodiversity Loss
List of Canadian Animals and Plants that are Extinct or at Risk
Endangered Species

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Are Benefit Corporations the New Face of Capitalism?

The B Corp may give us some indication of what the future of capitalism looks like.  An increasing number of people are disgusted with the growing inequality between rich and poor. The ubiquitous feelings of marginalization and hopelessness are a recipe for disaster. At the very least they create fertile grounds for the rise of populist leaders who propagate fear and division.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Climate Change is the Real Emergency While Border Walls are a Ruse

The climate crisis is a real emergency the border wall is not. The window of opportunity to act on climate change is closing. Despite warnings from scientists, we are not seeing enough action from governments, especially the US federal government. We are on the cusp of civilization altering tipping points from which we will not be able to recover yet US President Donald Trump is preoccupied with building a border wall.  He has denied the existence of climate change, while threatened to declare a state of national emergency to build his wall. He has pledged to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement while his administration has systematically dismantled environmental protections and climate action.

Monday, January 14, 2019

8 Factors Driving Corporate Activism

Value systems drive activism and these efforts are increasingly intersecting with corporate self interest.  Companies have a vested interest in combating consumer skepticism. They know they cannot ignore consumers' distrust nor can they avoid the growing demand that businesses act in an ethical manner. Apart from the inherent value of doing the right thing, there are powerful incentives and disincentives that are driving corporate activism. Here are eight reasons why companies are feeling compelled to act.


It pays for business to be ethical. Companies like Patagonia have demonstrated how ethical conduct enhances their reputation, reinforces customer loyalty and improves the bottom line. This is in line with research shows that consumers are more likely to buy products and services from a company they deem to be responsible. According to a Nielsen survey released at the end of last year almost half of US shoppers indicate they would change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental footprint. This poll indicates that US consumer are increasing their purchases of sustainable products at four times the rate of non-sustainable products. The survey indicated that there has been a 20 percent increase in the purchase of sustainable products since 2014. In 2018 US consumers spent $129 billion on sustainable products and by 2021 that spend is expected to increase to $150 billion. Businesses benefit from science-based climate action and a recent CSE study is among a large pool of research that confirms the bottom line benefits of sustainability.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Event - Solar World Congress in Santiago Chile (Call for Participation)

The Solar World Congress (SWC) will take place on November 4-7, 2019 at the Centro Parque in Santiago, Chile.  This new and modern conference center is situated in a public park, with convenient access and many good hotels nearby. It has both an outdoor area, ideal for an exhibition, and indoor conference facilities. SWC will also include the 9th Edition of the International Conference on solar heating and cooling (SHC). There will be many parallel activities taking place alongside these conferences as well as a post Congress Technical Tour to visit landmark solar facilities in Northern Chile.

Event - Biological Solutions for the Global CO2 Challenge

Biological Solutions for the Global CO2 Challenge will take place on June 3-4, 2019 at EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany. Successful reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels to pre-industrial levels is among the most pressing current challenges for scientific innovation. Given the scale of its impact on the global ecosystems and socio-economic implications, innovative solutions are urgently needed at the chemistry as well as biological front. The EMBL conference “Biological Solutions for the Global CO2 Challenge” will bring together scientific leaders, industrial players, as well as policy makers to discuss how synthetic biology and metabolic engineering can contribute to sustainable CO2 capture and conversion.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Women are at the Forefront of Historic Change

Women are claiming their rightful place in the halls of political power and they are changing the world in the process. Nowhere is this more evident than in the blue wave that solidly rebuked the GOP's leadership in the US midterm elections of 2018.

In recent years women are making their voices heard with unprecedented vigor and in unprecedented numbers. The day after Trump was inaugurated women staged the single largest day of protest in US history. They came out again to demonstrate against Trump's first year in office with a day of national protest. Almost 2.5 million people came out for the second annual Women’s March to fight for women’s rights, resist Trump and denounce the Republican agenda. At these demonstrations they carried signs like "grab him by the midterms" and that is precisely what they proceeded to do.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Anthropogenic Species Extinction is a Crime Against Nature

Year after year we are witnessing the extinction of species. To be fair species extinction has been part of life on Earth since life originated on this planet but what makes contemporary extinctions unique is the fact that they are happening 100 to 1000 times faster than the normal natural rate of die-offs. Species extinction is being accelerated by human activities including climate change. Thousands of species are currently under threat from habitat loss, deforestation, poaching and climate change. The problem will get worse as habitats continue to shrink, forests continue to be destroyed and the climate continues to warm. Many of the species that are disappearing have yet to be identified by scientists.

According to a 2017 paper in Nature Climate Change a review of 136 studies published between 1990 and 2015 concluded that 47 percent of the land mammals and 23 percent of the birds on the threatened list are affected negatively by climate change. Primates and marsupials were found to be the most at risk because of climate change.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Corporate Activism Targeting Trump will Increase in 2019

Corporate America has challenged Trump's leadership and they will engage in unprecedented levels of climate advocacy in 2019.   They will speak out against Trump's presidency because they realize that they have no choice, silence is no longer an option. Standing up to Trump is now synonymous with protecting their brands.

As explained in The Conversation: "Staying out of politics is no longer an option for the corporate world, even if its tactics can sometimes clash with strategies to optimise profits."

Corporate resistance to Trump is not new, however, it is intensifying. CEOs from companies like Tesla, Patagonia, Starbucks, General Motors, JP Morgan and Walmart have all spoken out against this president. They have repeatedly rebuked Trump and some played an uncharacteristically active role supporting Democrats in the midterm elections of 2018.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Conservation Success Stories are Shining Light into the Darkness

You would be forgiven for not noticing the good news stories in 2018 as they languish in the shadow of some devastating events. Brazil’s new president appears intent on destroying vast swaths of Amazon rainforest and Trump continues his reign of terror as the president of the United States.

Two major climate reports (UN and US) make it painfully clear that we are rapidly running out of time. Last year was the hottest year on record after 2015, 2016 and 2017 (20 of the warmest years on record around the planet occurred in the past 22 years). More than 3 trillion tons of ice was lost in Antarctica last year and carbon emissions in 2018 hit a record high.  Despite these occurrences there was lots of good news in 2018 and not just for the environment.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Business Will Lead Climate Action in 2019

Corporate support for climate action can counter the Trump administration and help to make 2019 a turning point for climate action.  In 2018 we witnessed the awakening of corporate America as a growing number of companies came to the realization that standing up to this president is synonymous with protecting their brands. As 2018 came to a close it became clear that corporate activism is now a force to be reckoned with. Each year a growing number of companies are adopting science based environmental governance strategies. "Business is pretty much the most powerful force on the planet. If you really harness it, what change could we create as a result?," B Lab UK's Kate Sandle said.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Event - OWP Japan Offshore Wind Power

OWP Japan (Offshore Wind Power) will take place on May 16-17, 2019 in Tokyo, JAPAN. The Key highlights of the agenda include the following:

Offshore wind opportunities in Japan and a regulator’s perspectives. How to construct a successful offshore wind partnership in Japan. Pilot case studies experiences including lessons from Taiwan and Europe. Financing and funding options as well as strategies for offshore wind projects. Offshore wind project risk, mitigation and insurance. Creating the supply chain – needs and opportunities. Offshore wind technologies for the Japanese environment.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Reasons to Hope that 2019 is a Turning Point for Climate Action in the US

We can certainly use a dose of hope in the wake of the brutal year that was 2018.  No amount of optimism can obscure the destructiveness of the Trump administration. However, this darkness is countered by the promise that 2019 will augur meaningful change. Democracy is under siege from within, however, the actions of the legislative and judicial branches of government have made it possible for the liberal constitutional state to survive this Russian made Trojan Horse. It is a credit to the system of checks and balances that the Republic has withstood repeated attacks from the commander and chief.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Dark Star of the Trump Administration in 2018

The year that was will go down in history as one of the darkest in the life of the Republic. While 2017 was an awful year 2018 was worse. The corruption of Trump and his administration became painfully clear last year. Nativism and hatred are defining features of this administration. Trump's tirades against the media and his aversion to science are now inextricably linked to this president and his demonstrably amoral administration. Their unilateralism and transactional approach to the world is now infamous.