Category Archives: Climate Debt

Kate’s Outline


C  N  P    O U T L I N E

Theme : will be based on the concept of oil and crude materials and their destruction of nature and society as a whole. The idea is the spilling of oil will have an effect everywhere with its drips touching everything.

General storyline I (maybe with someone else) will walk up representing humanity/Big Oil. Will admire this beautiful piece, and then spill all over it. Subject matter/ pieces in the whole canvas: forest, ocean, desert, cityscapes, possibly Iowa City, polar ice caps, human health, and how our culture is impacting these elements.

Main characters me, the piece, humanity. 

Interviews / Research Erica Damman (arts medium), Richard Priest (oil background), online research of artists of inspiration

Arts Medium  slanted canvas with acrylic subjects. Then real oil or a replacement will be spilt over it, dripping on ceramic/plastic figures of humans on a map.

Oil Companies: Climate Change Report Card

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-15-06-pm Vice magazine did a little report card on the climate records of various oil and coal companies.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the results:

ExxonMobil: “Poor”

— Aggressively seeded disinformation about climate science and the risks of climate change. These acts are compounded by the fact that Exxon scientists knew about, and were actively studying the perils of carbon emissions on the climate as early as the 1970s.

— Once called the Paris Agreement a “step forward,” but has yet to acknowledge the goals set by the agreement for reducing carbon emissions and preventing an increase in global average temperature.

— Has stated that climate change is, according to the report, “a contributor to the physical risks faced by their businesses,” such as the impact of rising sea levels on its factories and infrastructure.

— Claims to support a revenue-neutral carbon tax, saying: “A properly designed carbon tax can be predictable, transparent, and comparatively simple to understand and implement.” Still, the company has supported the tax inconsistently, according to public statements.

— On the issue of renouncing disinformation on climate science and policy, ExxonMobil scored “egregious” for its role in discrediting climate science, especially through its membership of lobbying groups like the Global Climate Coalition.

BP: “Fair”

— Despite its affiliation with groups that work to discredit climate science and policies, BP has a better record than the other companies when it comes to “consistently” affirming climate science, and the need for a reduction in carbon emissions.

— BP left the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2015, stating that the group’s position on climate change “is clearly inconsistent with our own.”

— Publicly “expressed support,” according to the report, for the Paris Agreement and its goals for limiting the increase of global average temperature.

— Failed to disclose any public details about climate-related physical risks.

Climate Change and Clothing

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-09-38-pm Forbes recently had an interesting piece on how the fashion industry is looking at its role in climate change.

Check out these numbers:

Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.

– More than 150 billion garments are produced annually, enough to provide 20 new garments to every person on the planet, every year.

– Americans throw away about 70 lbs of clothing per person every year.
– Fast fashion garments, which we wear less than 5 times and keep for 35 days, produce over 400% more carbon emissions per item per year than garments worn 50 times and kept for a full year.

– Cheap synthetic fibers also emit gasses like N2O, which is 300 times more damaging than CO2.

– Over 70 million trees are logged every year and turned into fabrics like rayon, viscose, modal and lyocell.

– Cotton is the world’s single largest pesticide-consuming crop, using 24% of all insecticides and 11% of all pesticides globally, adversely affecting soil and water.

– Plastic microfibers shed from our synthetic clothing into the water supply account for 85% of the human-made material found along ocean shores, threatening marine wildlife and ending up in our food supply.

– The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter of freshwater resources on the planet.

– A quarter of the chemicals produced in the world are used in textiles.

Can Small Forests Lead Climate Action?

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-00-09-pm The NY Times looked at the expanse of private forests in the US recently, and the role of private managers in taking the lead in reforestation and climate action.

Here’s a clip:

“More than half of the 751 million acres of forestland in the United States are privately owned, most by people like Ms. Lonnquist, with holdings of 1,000 acres or less. These family forests, environmental groups argue, represent a large, untapped resource for combating the effects of climate change.

Conserving the trees and profiting from them might seem incompatible. But Ms. Lonnquist is hoping to do both by capitalizing on the forest’s ability to clean the air, turning the carbon stored in the forest into credits that can then be sold to polluters who want or need to offset their carbon footprints.”

Climate Change and Rivers

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-8-22-09-am Open Rivers in Minnesota had a nice interview with the Chief Meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio, on the impact of climate change on our rivers in the Midwest.

Here’s a clip:

“OR] How does living near the Mississippi River shape you today?

[PH] Our rivers and lakes are a barometer of climate change. We’re seeing much higher volatility in our river systems and our hydrologic cycle. It’s well documented that it’s not raining as often in Minnesota, but when it does, it’s raining harder. That fits with the shift in climate. You increase the vapor in the atmosphere by roughly four or five percent, and you get exponential increases in rainfall when it does rain. I’ll give you an example. In 2013 the Mississippi River level at St. Cloud went from the seventh highest reading to the third lowest reading in just over two months. So we’ve seen this trend toward wetter springs and early summers in Minnesota, toward an increase in early warm season precipitation. And then it shuts off later in the summer. So we’re getting a trend toward these high variabilities in our river levels, where we’re getting record floods in early spring and summer, and then a record drop to low water levels in late summer and early fall. That doesn’t happen every year, but we’re seeing a trend. There is higher volatility in our river systems, and the Mississippi is part of that.
[OR] So that causes some challenges for cities and urban planning and so forth, doesn’t it?

[PH] Indeed it does. City managers around the state are scrambling to deal with that. Our urban infrastructure was built around a certain set of climate assumptions from more than a hundred years ago. Those climate assumptions are no longer valid, especially when it comes to precipitation intensity. The 2012 Duluth flood is a great example of a city being overwhelmed by the kind of extreme weather we’ve been having. We have had four major 1000-year rainfall events in Minnesota since 2007. Three of them were in southern Minnesota, one in the Duluth area. That was a $100 million infrastructure damage event in Duluth. Cities all around the area are dealing with these higher water events, where places like Mound, near Lake Minnetonka, were overwhelmed by high water levels. It’s Interesting to watch, as climate shifts, even when it seems like our national policy makers are slow to react, our local cities policy makers are well aware of this. They’re on the front lines of climate change and they’re dealing with it every year.”

New Study: 9 Out of 10 Latinos Stress Climate Action


A new study by NRDC, which examines the views of Latinos on climate change and environmental action, finds that “Latinos often rank acting on climate high as a national priority,” and that “9 in 10 Latinos want climate action, and 86 percent support carbon pollution limits on power plants.”

Here’s a clip:

“A majority live in California, Texas, Florida and New York, states that are among the most affected by extreme heat, air pollution, and flooding.

Latinos are heavily represented in crop and livestock production and construction, where they’re at elevated risk from climate-change-boosted extreme heat. They are three times more likely to die on the job from excessive heat than non-Latinos.

On average, Latino children suffer the same from asthma as non-Latinos, but they are 70% more likely to be admitted to the hospital and twice as like to die from asthma.

Latinos generally have less health insurance coverage than non-Latinos, so they struggle to access health care when afflicted by climate-related illnesses.”

New Study: Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years (thanks to climate change)

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-12-26-20-pm The Guardian recently featured native Iowan and former NASA climatologist James Hansen and his new study, “Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions.” Hansen gives an urgent call for climate action:

“…James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.

This rate of warming is bringing Earth in line with temperatures last seen in the Eemian period, an interglacial era ending 115,000 years ago when there was much less ice and the sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today.

In order to meet targets set at last year’s Paris climate accord to avoid runaway climate change, “massive CO2 extraction” costing an eye-watering $104tn to $570tn will be required over the coming century with “large risks and uncertain feasibility” as to its success, the paper states.”

Chinese Views on Climate: In Chinese

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-6-36-29-pm In an attempt to reach more voices, the NY Times sought out Chinese readers in its Chinese language edition last fall, and translated their views on Paris climate summit.

Here are some samples:

The responses included criticism of what they called government failure in curbing choking smog in Chinese cities and claims that China was being unfairly targeted on a global stage. Some looked at energy use and its consequences while others expressed optimism that with good governance, a community could clean up its mess.

Here is a selection of the responses. They have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dependence on Fossil Fuels

I blame the three Chinese oil giants over their crude oil processing standard. And China’s infrastructure is frustratingly inadequate. There would be fewer cars and the air quality would improve if there were better public transportation. It is a complicated chain effect, and the underlying problem is bad governance.

— Li Muzi

The main issue is fuel structure. China is using too big a percentage of fossil fuels. A secondary issue is its low standard in refining its fossil fuels.

— Ran Cheng, Chengdu, China

People always say, let’s restrict gas-burning vehicles and instead encourage electric cars. But bringing cars like Tesla into China won’t make a difference. They run on electricity and not on fossil fuels, but most of the electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. So the source of our problems is still there.

— Seamus Wu

Water Is Not Better

China pushes hydro power as clean energy. But hydro power brings proven damage to the ecosystem. Maybe it means less carbon emission, but it has some disastrous effects, too.

— Forest Deng

A China Problem?

Just look at Beijing now, you will find how hypocritical China is.

— Jammy Hsieh, Taipei, Taiwan

Carbon emission is not any single country’s problem. You can’t just blame China. Other countries like the U.S. and the U.K. are just as bad emitters as China. Blaming China alone is unfair.

— Kl Soon, Malacca, Malaysia

You Americans and Europeans went through the same: economic growth first and environmental cleanup later. China is on the same road as you were! If this is not a carefully dressed innuendo, then what is it? It is like saying when you pollute, it is legal, but when others do it, it is not! Cheap shot!

— Jessy Gu, Shanghai

China will do the world a big favor if it can clean up its own environment. Let’s not wish for any more than that.

— Chen Lianhao, Xinyang, Henan, China

To me, smog is just a visual problem for now. China will be doomed if it ever becomes more than that.

— Xu Ning, Zhengzhou, Henan, China

There Is Still Hope

People used to throw trash everywhere outside my apartment building. Then the community built a recycling station and ran educational campaigns about sorting your garbage before taking it out. Now our community is much better. The people are nicer.

It takes the government and NGOs working together to improve neighborhood service and public education.

— Wang Zechen

There is nothing wrong with saving fuels and cutting emissions without hurting the economy and people’s lives. It’s for an environment we all share.

— Zhang Yunlong, Dezhou, Shandong, China

A Dystopian Beijing

I published a sci-fi story that did not feel so sci-fi called “The Smog Society” in 2006. The story is set in a heavily polluted Beijing in the future, where everybody wears a mask when they go outdoors. The protagonist, Lao Sun, is a retiree and a member of the Smog Society, a nongovernmental organization that runs independent monitoring of the air quality for real, uncensored data.

Nine years later, everything has become our everyday reality. Beijing has become the smog capital, with its air pollution as bad as that of London on Dec. 5, 1952. The official air-quality reports are not reliable. The Chinese have learned to make fun of it and of themselves, posting surreal photos on social media and writing smog jokes. They research on different brands of masks and air filters. My friends, middle-class elites with good educations and handsome incomes, are all worried about their children. When the government lifted the ban on a second child and encouraged couples to have children, one mom said, “The weather is depressing. What is the point of choosing kindergartens, or buying a house close to a good school? What is the point of choosing between a public school and an international one? It’s all pointless. I feel guilty and anxious seeing my kid grow up in this environment.”

I think China has moved past the time when people could be reduced to statistical numbers and living equaled surviving. Perhaps policy makers should change the way they think accordingly as they handle pollution and other issues where people’s lives are at stake.

— Stanley Chan, 34, Beijing, tech start-up manager and science-fiction writer