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Climate Code Red - The New Denial And The Failure Of Democracy

By Bill Henderson

21 February, 2008

A new report based upon state of the art science argues convincingly that climate change is a much more serious and immediate problem than previously perceived by even informed publics - climate change is an emergency that requires urgent mitigation measures not presently possible in our political and economic systems.

No major media outlet acknowledges let alone critiques or comments upon or otherwise covers the report. None. Not AP nor Reuters; not either ABC nor BBC. Ditto the NY Times, Wash Post, Guardian, Le Monde, Asahi Shimbun or the South China Morning Post. Not one major news agency, paper, TV or radio outlet so much as acknowledges the existence of a report on a subject that is life and death for humanity and most of the species with which we presently share creation on this small blue planet.

Conversely, reports on temporal economic subjects, on flaky topics such as steroid use in baseball or Asian access to the internet receive wide coverage. A report on the worldwide increase of GM crops, for only one example, has 184 news articles listed on Google News including all of the above major media outlets. The climate change is a life and death emergency report has 12 news articles listed with the Canberra Times being the only non-net news source listed.

Uh??? What gives?

Sutton and Spratt's Climate Code Red makes the heretical mistake of insisting that climate change is an emergency requiring an escape from business as usual, from BAU, and this is the ultimate Chomsky, the ultimate threat to the business interests of all those owning and employed by the major media. Sutton and Spratt wrote a report where climate change is more important than BAU, where climate change isn't just a problem to be solved within the continuing evolution of our present socio-economy but where our vast laminate of personal and corporate plans stretching out into the future is threatened by needed emergency action.

We can't have this conversation; we can't debate the necessity of emergency action that subsumes BAU. The new and ever present climate change denial is that yes, climate change is real and caused by our greenhouse gas emissions, but we have at least a half century to solve this problem and we will develop the policy and technological instruments to mitigate climate change and the other emerging global-scale problems in the continuing expansion of the evolving global economy.

Sutton and Spratt heretically challenge this denial: what are the implications of the big melt - what was the science, the models and predictions; what are the lessons to be learned from the Arctic and from the wrongfootting of the IPCC by too low a climate sensitivity prediction over the past decade, and from the emerging science of slow feedbacks: the changing albedo, filling sinks and melting permafrost?

Climate Code Red dares to speak the brutal truth that we are close to if not already over a tipping point to runaway warming that requires not just an immediate and substantial reduction in GHGs but also action to scrub existing GHGs from the atmosphere.

And, heretically, such an immediate and substantial GHG reduction can not be accomplished within BAU and that we therefor need governance innovation such as the hopeful example of the wartime mobilization which transformed the American and other socio-economies in order to defeat Hitler and the Axis during WW2.

Stern made the point that climate change was the biggest market failure in history - Isn't our inability to even consider climate change as an emergency requiring such governance innovation the ultimate failure of democracy?

"These scientific imperatives are incompatible with the “realities” of “politics as usual” and “business as usual”. Our conventional mode of politics is short-term, adversarial and incremental, fearful of deep, quick change and simply incapable of managing the transition at the necessary speed. The climate crisis will not respond to incremental modification of the business-as-usual model.

"There is an urgent need to reconceive the issue we face as a sustainability emergency, that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. The feasibility of rapid transitions is well established historically. We now need to “think the unthinkable”, because the sustainability emergency is now not so much a radical idea as simply an indispensable course of action if we are to return to a safe-climate planet."
Climate Code Red

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