Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

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12 Nov 2023

Happy birthday sustainability

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Happy birthday sustainability

It was 40 years ago that the seeds were sown for one of the defining terms of our era: sustainability. In late 1983, the United Nations, at the urging of Canada and a handful of other nations, decided to create a commission on the future of the environment. There was growing concern about uncontrolled pollution and overuse of natural resources. A decade earlier the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment had warned of the dangers of environmental destruction. In the same period the Club of Rome, a gathering of world scientists, educators, economists, humanists, industrialists and civil servants, published Limits to Growth. It warned of impending shortages of natural resources provoking a huge debate. The Science Council of Canada published The Conserver Society, saying that society must “begin the transition from a consumer society preoccupied with resource exploitation to a conserver society engaged in more constructive endeavours.”

In 1984 the United Nations announced the World Commission on Environment and Development, a group of distinguished government, business and academic experts from around the world. The commission, headed by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, held hearings around the world. In 1987, it released its historic report Our Common Future, saying “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable—to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Brundtland Report used the term sustainable development but over the years it has been shortened to sustainability. This is a good way of describing the goal but we need to keep a focus on the kind of development we are using. Right now too much of it is still based on fossil fuels whose emissions are ruining our climate and overuse of natural resources, such as forests and fish, which are creating shortages and a less stable environment for our future.

12 Nov 2023

Going in two directions

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Going in two directions

A report on how fossil fuel production is rising despite promises to cut it shows the hypocrisy of nations around the world. It comes at a time when greenhouse gas emissions are rising, the climate is warming and becoming more extreme and people are facing disastrous floods, fires, droughts and storms.

“Governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce  more than  double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.” This comes despite 151 national governments having pledged to achieve net-zero emissions. The Production Gap report comes from five expert organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme. Along with it comes a warning from António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General: “We cannot address climate catastrophe without tackling its root cause: fossil fuel dependence.”

As individuals we are caught in the middle of an epic battle for our future. We know that we need to cut emissions dramatically. Many people are switching to electric cars, mass transit, heat pumps and energy efficiency but it is far from enough. At the same time too many industries, especially fossil fuel producers, keep on polluting, supported by politicians who refuse to lead us into a cleaner future.

24 Oct 2023

Some good climate news

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Some good climate news

Finally, some good news on the climate front. Today the International Energy Agency [IEA] released a report saying we are moving toward a post fossil fuel era. Investment in clean energy has risen by 40 per cent since 2020 both because of the need to stop climate change and because it makes economic sense. This is a historic shift and one that is essential if we are to prevent more climate catastrophes. For many years fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, have provided about 80 per cent of the global energy supply. The IEA forecasts this will start to drop this decade, although not fast enough to stop climate change. It was 50 years ago that we saw the first major oil blockage by a group of Arab countries. It caused a huge economic upset and led for some time to the phrase “off oil” as countries struggled to deal with supply shortages. Once oil supplies resumed the world went on to consume even more oil and other fossil fuels, driving up air pollution and climate change. Now that clean energy is getting cheaper the world is finally starting the long overdue shift away from polluting fuels.

15 Oct 2023

Eating ourselves to death

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Eating ourselves to death

In the 1973 French film, La Grande Bouffe, [the big feast] four men decide to gorge themselves to death on fine cuisine. It was a satire on excessive consumption, but now we are starting to see the reality. People are literally eating themselves to death, though at a slower pace than in the film, with too much unhealthy food, causing heart disease and diabetes. We are also eating up one species after another, whether “bush meat” in the tropics or fish species in decline that end up on our dinner plates.

We humans are inquisitive and acquisitive. These characteristics took us from caves to the moon. But our uncontrolled consumption of the planet’s resources and the resulting pollution threaten our very future. Overconsumption is the root cause of unsustainability. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development said everyone is entitled to satisfy their needs and reasonable wants. What we see now is an orgy of consumption by the rich minority of people. Too many people feel this consumption brings enough pleasure that it offsets the fear of environmental collapse.

Either people don’t realize or don’t care that it will take decades, even centuries to undo much of the damage we are inflicting on our world. We are entering a whole new era in which climate change will inflict huge damage, we will lose species, and food production will likely fail to keep up with demand. We need something to trigger a great change in our thinking. People need see themselves living well within nature’s ability to regenerate natural resources and safely assimilate our pollution.

9 Oct 2023

Running out of time

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Running out of time

Pope Francis

A highly respected world leader, Pope Francis, has warned that we are running out of time to save ourselves from the climate changes we are creating. In a blunt message he said, “the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.” He said a number modern of technologies have destroyed what used to be a healthy and harmonious relationship between humans and nature. “We have not realized that at the same time we have turned into highly dangerous beings, capable of threatening the lives of many beings and our own survival.” His statement comes eight years after his powerful statement on sustainability that accused the rich and powerful of turning a blind eye to environmental destruction while continuing with excessive and wasteful consumption.

The pope’s latest critique of the modern world was released after a summer of record heat, drought, wildfires and floods as the global temperature continues to rise because of greenhouse gases released by human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels.

29 Aug 2023

Mea culpa

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Mea culpa

If we are to change our lifestyles to live within nature’s limits we have to start by admitting some hard truths. The first is that most people in the industrialized world are consuming and polluting far too much. My own mea culpa: I’ve always enjoyed driving cars, especially sports cars. Over the past 60 plus years of driving I’ve probably released more than 200 tonnes of CO2. And that’s not counting the emissions from travel for pleasure and business. Ironically some business travel was to work on environmental projects. What next? I try to limit driving while planning for either a pure electric car or a plug-in hybrid that will drastically reduce emissions. I have a heat pump on order to replace a gas furnace. I’ve reduced meat consumption. These are small steps and not enough to reach net zero but they are a start. And, we all have to start someplace. How about you?

8 Aug 2023

Hard to face reality

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Hard to face reality

Recently, I watched an interview with some western farmers struggling to deal with crippling droughts that have become more severe in recent years. They were asked if climate change was the cause. Both dodged the question saying there had always been droughts. That is true but scientists say human-caused climate change is making weather more extreme and is behind the terrible heat waves, droughts and forest fires around the planet. The interview reminded me of a conversation a few years ago with a friend who had been a medical doctor and was always well informed about the news. When I mentioned that climate change was getting more severe he kept raising arguments to question such an idea. I have been writing about climate change for 40 years and have seen the solid science behind the forecasts that have become reality. I used to be annoyed by denials but now I feel more sympathy. After all, it’s hard to admit many of the things we have been doing all our lives, such as driving fossil-fueled cars and burning natural gas, are causing a climate crisis that will kill people and wreck economies. In the United States it has become a political issue with climate change deniers leading a major political party. We need to stop the arguments and find ways to get together to find solutions for the crisis we have created.

31 Jul 2023

Looking ahead to 2050

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Looking ahead to 2050

What might our world look like in 2050? Do we have a chance to avert climate disaster? A group of Canadian academics is writing about how we might do it. The Environmental Governance Lab at University of Toronto is publishing a series of “We Did It!?” stories from the perspective of writers in the year 2050. The lab is hosted by the U of T Department of Political Science and the School of the Environment and includes writers, mainly from Canadian universities. The focus is on the political choices and social dynamics that could bring about a Net Zero Canada by 2050. The writers assume that after a slow start there will be an all-out push to renewable energy in the coming decade. They predict economic reforms aimed at more equitable income distribution, and Energy Aid policies. They see the country moving to a circular economy where “wastes” are recycled and reused to a much greater extent. It’s not all roses. They say that the global average temperature may be held to under a 2-degree warming and we will avoid utter catastrophe, but will live in a far more uncertain, dangerous, and precarious world than we had hoped. The new normal includes nearly constant deadly heat waves and flooding.

This is a welcome attempt to look at how the world might change enough to stave off a climate collapse. Too much of the public dialogue has been about technical fixes and funding of big companies. We need more broad looks at how social attitudes could shift from high consumption and pollution that is driving climate change to lifestyles that fit within the planetary boundaries we keep ignoring.

15 Jul 2023

Smoke signals

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Smoke signals

When I get up in the morning I always check the weather forecast. Now I also check the smoke forecast on Firesmoke. We may have fair weather but still be plagued by smoke blowing south from the hundreds of forest fires burning across Canada’s north. Some days I look up and the sky is brown with air pollution. It will be a bad day for breathing. It’s just one more signal of our climate crisis. The north has become so hot and dry that it’s like a campfire waiting for a match. Around the world this summer people are suffering and dying in record heat waves. Crops are withering. June was the hottest month on record. Storms are becoming more fierce.

Despite decades of warnings and agreements to reduce climate changing pollution we’ve made no progress. About 80 per cent of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas. We have been adding large amounts of renewable energy in recent years but that is mainly coping with growing demand and the old fossil fuel burners keep pouring out pollution that harms our health and is destroying our climate.

We have to face a stark choice. We can make unprecedented cuts to fossil fuel use which will cause huge disruptions to our economies and lifestyles for years as we shift to renewable energy. Or we can continue to stumble along and change the climate so much that our civilization will crumble. Hard choices. Time’s a wasting.

17 Jun 2023

Danger signals

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Danger signals

It’s ironic that Canada, one of the world’s major oil and gas producers, is taking it on the chin from climate change. The country is heading toward a record forest fire season thanks to extreme high temperatures and dry forests from our warming climate. Homes and businesses are burned to the ground and tens of thousands of people have become climate refugees in their own country. Thousands of firefighters from around the world came to Canada to help but they are facing uncontrollable walls of fire as high as a 30-storey building. Smoke from the wildfires travelled thousands of kilometres, poisoning the air in cities as far south as Washington, DC. Forest fire smoke, once a faraway problem is choking millions of people in the biggest cities. Air pollution readings shoot into the danger zone. These fires add an exclamation point to a recent study by the international scientist group Earth Commission. It said human activities have pushed the planet past seven out of eight scientifically established safety limits and into “the danger zone.”

BC Forest Fire 2023.
Credit: B.C. Wildfire Service

It is a sign of the profound unsustainability of our economy and lifestyles that that Canada, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, is suffering so much from climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. Even as fires rage and people flee for their lives, many politicians continue to push for more fossil fuel production instead of cutting greenhouse gas emissions sharply every year.  The burning question is how frightened people will have to be to demand governments enforce stringent pollution controls and stop the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

31 May 2023

The decline of life

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on The decline of life

When I got my first car, quite a few years ago, one of the first products I bought was bug remover. From spring through summer the windshield and front of the car were pasted with dozens if not hundreds of dead insects after a drive. Now, the most I see is a handful of insect splashes on the front of the car. It’s a visible symbol of the decline of life on our planet. In a recent article the academic journal Biological Reviews published an article trying to put some numbers on the crisis in life on Earth. “The global-scale decline of animal biodiversity … represents one of the most alarming consequences of human impacts on the planet,” write the authors. They looked at population trend data for more than 71,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians fishes and insects. They found that 48 per cent of species were in decline, mostly in tropical regions. The major cause of decline is loss of habitat as wildlands are cleared to cut timber and create more farms and ranches.

Polar bears at risk

“Animal populations and whole species are declining across the tree of life,” they write describing it as the “defaunation” of the planet. The loss of biodiversity is so high they say that life on Earth is entering its sixth mass extinction. The great extinction was 65 million years ago when a huge asteroid plowed into our planet and wiped out about half of plant and animal species at the time, including the dinosaurs.

Scientists have long warned that as the web of life shrinks we start losing ecological or natural services that make our planet habitable. These include maintenance of our atmosphere and water supplies, pollination of many foods and knowledge that leads to development of medicines.

29 May 2023

Cleaner energy coming

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Cleaner energy coming

And now some good news about sustainable development. According to the International Energy Agency [IEA] annual investment in renewable energy is up by nearly a quarter since 2021. More money is going into clean energy projects than into fossil fuels that are causing climate change.

About USD 2.8 trillion is set to be invested globally in energy in 2023, of which more than USD 1.7 trillion is expected to go to clean technologies – including renewables, electric vehicles, nuclear power, grids, storage, low-emissions fuels, efficiency improvements and heat pumps – according to the IEA’s latest World Energy Investment report. Solar power spending is expected to hit $1 billion a day.

Coal and solar in Denmark

“Clean energy is moving fast – faster than many people realize. This is clear in the investment trends, where clean technologies are pulling away from fossil fuels,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

More people are buying heat pumps instead of gas furnaces, and electric vehicles instead of gas and diesel. The world’s biggest car makers are switching their production to electric vehicles as countries order phase-outs of internal combustion engines over the next decade or so.

Despite this good news we are far from reducing the production and use of fossil fuels. The IEA says more than USD 1 trillion, will be invested in coal, gas and oil this year. We are still far from meeting the greenhouse gas reductions needed to prevent disastrous climate change.

9 Apr 2023

Suzuki signs off

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on Suzuki signs off

It’s time to say goodbye to one of my favourite TV hosts, David Suzuki, who has headlined The Nature of Things science show since 1979. I met David about 40 years ago when I was environment reporter for The Globe and Mail and he was a guest columnist for the paper. By then he was turning this classic science show into a window into the environmental destruction that was creating such damage and conflict between those who benefited and those who suffered. I was impressed by his dedication to environmental protection. A geneticist by training, he brought scientific inquiry and a love of nature to the TV screen, telling people nature is the basis for our survival and we destroy it at our peril. For his work, including the TV show, articles, books and speeches David was given many awards. At 86, he’s retiring but the show goes on, co-hosted by his daughter, Sarika Cullis-Suzuki and Anthony Morgan. Happy retirement, David.

1 Mar 2023

The Climate Book

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on The Climate Book

When the most influential young woman in the world writes a book it’s worth reading. Greta Thunberg, famous for mobilizing people around the world to push for climate change action has turned to print. The Climate Book, is a collection of short articles by Thunberg and 105 scientists, writers, economists, historians, philosophers, indigenous leaders and environmental activists.

It explains what climate change is and how the world is failing to do enough to stop the crisis. The book is about more than how the climate works. It covers everything from melting ice shelves to economics, from fast fashion to the loss of species, from pandemics to vanishing islands, from deforestation to the loss of fertile soils, from water shortages to Indigenous sovereignty, from future food production to carbon budgets. It’s a handbook for people who want to know how the world is changing. At 464 pages it’s not a quick read but it’s a lot easier than the thousands of pages of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It’s also more candid since these are personal pieces, not controlled by governments.

In 2018, Thunberg then 15, started spending Fridays outside the Swedish Parliament calling for stronger action on climate change and holding up a sign reading School Strike for Climate. Her dedication and blunt, candid style inspired millions of young people around the world to demonstrate for climate action. She goes from protests to speaking to the rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the US Congress and the United Nations.

Greta Thunberg
as a schoolgirl calling for climate action

Thunberg’s writing burns with the anger and sense of betrayal young people feel when they have been promised something important by older people who fail to deliver. She hopes the book will help inform and mobilize enough people to demand serious change that it will move our political and business leaders to the kind of dramatic action needed to head off a climate catastrophe.

Her message is clear and blunt. Forget about incremental change. It won’t be enough to save us. “The climate crisis cannot be solved within today’s systems,” she writes. Thunberg, who has become an expert on climate says, “…we need immediate, drastic, annual emission reductions on a scale unlike anything the world has ever seen.”

The book is a cri de coeur from a young woman who will grow up in a world in which the climate is becoming more hostile to us humans. It is especialy a call for the rich, high consuming people of the world to stop destroying the environment before it collapses taking our civilization with it. She compares our high polluting lifestyle to walking on thin ice. We risk falling “…into the deep, dark, cold waters. And if that should happen to us, there will not be any nearby planet coming to our rescue. We are completely on our own.”

13 Jan 2023

California dreaming no more

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on California dreaming no more

In the mid-1960s California dreamin was a popular song. I remember listening to it on the car radio as I drove to work through the snow. California, with its beaches, mountains and trend-setting culture seemed like paradise. No more. The town of Paradise, California was burned to the ground by an uncontrollable forest fire in 2018. It was one of many violent and deadly wildfires that are sweeping the world. On TV, I now watch killer floods in California. People are swept to their death by raging rivers fed by giant rainstorms.

If ever there was an example of how climate change is wrecking the world it’s in the Golden State. It’s not the only part of the world suffering from climate change devastation but it’s probably the one that’s had the greatest fall. For years California and much of the U.S. southwest has been suffering from a historic drought. Water shortages were becoming common and agriculture, heavily dependent on irrigation, was reduced. Now the state is being hit with what are known as atmospheric rivers that carry huge amounts of tropical moisture and dump it on one region after another. Scientists say they are becoming longer, wetter, and more intense on our warming planet.

31 Dec 2022

A tale of two COPS

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on A tale of two COPS

We’ve had two huge global meetings on two of the greatest threats to our future, the climate crisis and the biodiversity crash. Thousands gathered at what are called Conferences of the Parties [COPS] in Egypt and Montreal. There were endless negotiating sessions as most of the world’s countries pushed their agendas, which especially for climate were sometimes in clear conflict. At least for climate the issues are clear even if the solutions are hard for many to swallow. Billions of tonnes a year of air pollution is changing the world’s climate, causing huge fires, droughts, giant storms and killer floods. We’ve got to virtually eliminate this pollution but that means retooling most of the world’s energy system to get it off fossil fuels. Countries did agree on money to compensate nations stricken by climate disasters but failed to agree on a deadline to stop producing and burning the fuels that are causing the climate crisis.

Biodiversity is one of the other great crises we face. The world’s great tropical forests are being cleared for timber and agriculture. This is leading to the extinction of tens of thousands of species. The oceans are being swept clean of big fish by giant nets that catch everything in their path. Again, the conference ended with promises of money to encourage biodiversity rich countries to preserve their species.

In both cases countries agreed to spend more money but they did not agree on the fundamental changes in values and the way we do business. The world is still dominated by an economic system that is supposed to grow forever on a finite planet. Until the political and business leaders come up with a new approach we will keep paying for the damage but not stopping the practices that are destroying our future.

22 Nov 2022

What kind of future?

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on What kind of future?

The world that seemed relatively safe and stable even a few decades ago is in deep trouble. It is beset with problems, including climate change, biological extinction, economic instability and inequality, war and a pandemic. It’s been 35 years since publication of the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, the Brundtland report which popularized the term sustainable development. A whole generation has been born, grown up and is taking control of the world. Did they even hear the messages of the Brundtland report? Do they understand the need to move from our current free markets to sustainable development? Can they do it?

A thoughtful series of essays called Which Future Are We Living In? tries to look at where we are and where we are headed on the quest for sustainability. It’s from a group of thinkers called the Great Transition Initiative, a project dating back more than two decades. In the words of Paul Raskin, head of this project, we are moving into the “the Planetary Phase of Civilization… a global social-ecological system,” that includes economic globalization, digital technology, ecological destabilization and far-flung cultural influence. He ways we are trying to deal with this new world with, “A political economy rooted in globalized capitalism and a state-centric order … ill-adapted for managing the interdependencies and instabilities it generates, as illustrated by feeble official responses to mounting perils.” Raskin warns that outdated institutions are failing to deal with the great crises and losing public confidence. There is a rise in authoritarianism and a decline in democracy.

The international system is struggling with how control powerful business interests who want a free market where they can make vast sums of money with little or no accountability for the environmental and social side effects. Some are trying to reform the current system, often working through the United Nations with its set of goals for sustainability. The recent global conference on climate change in Egypt gives a sense of how that fails to do enough. Despite ever worsening climate change effects, the latest conference was were unable to get an agreement to actually cut emissions.

Raskin and others in his group fear we are sliding into an authoritarian Fortress World where the rich and powerful grab what they can of shrinking natural resources and leave most people poorer off. It’s the scenario from The Hunger Games movies.

It’s not the world that most people want to live in but it’s the one we’ve built. Can we build a better world? The essays find some hope in the uptick of civil society campaigns across the spectrum of justice, peace, labor, and environmental issues. People are mobilizing against uncontrolled climate change. Young leaders like Greta Thunberg are galvanizing youth to call for real efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. People are trying to find a better model of civilization, but there is still no powerful global movement with a coherent plan for the future.  

20 Nov 2022


Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on COPout

The world the faced climate change crisis again. And the world blinked. Again. After two weeks of intense negotiations at the annual global climate conference there was still no agreement to phase out the fossil fuels that are causing increasing destruction in the form of floods, fires, droughts and huge storms. The big coal, oil and gas producing and consuming nations refused and emissions keep rising. The best nations at the 27th Conference of the Parties could do was agree to create a loss and damage fund from high-emissions nations to at least partially compensate poor countries for climate impacts like flooding and drought. For example, Pakistan faces some $30 billion in costs after one-third of the country was flooded this year. The small South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu will likely disappear this century as the seas keep rising. The world’s climate has already warmed by more than 1C since pre-industrial times and is rapidly heading toward 1.5C, a point that climate scientists say will lead to drastic and irreversible climate changes. Despite the threat to the future of human civilization many countries continue to develop even more fossil fuel sources and to cut down forests that now store carbon.

14 Nov 2022

8 billion and counting

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on 8 billion and counting

Tomorrow the world passes another milestone. The United Nations is calling it The Day of 8 billion saying that is when it estimates the world’s population will reach that mark. That’s eight thousand million people to feed, house, clothe and care for. This at a time when the environment is already over-stretched and starting to fall apart. It’s not just the number of people. It’s how much each consumes and discards as waste and pollution. A 2022 study by the London School of Economics and Political Science lays it out. It said high income regions, such as North America and Europe, are responsible for 74 per cent of cumulative excess resource use and resulting ecological damage to the planet. It was based on the use of materials such as metals, minerals, fossil fuels and biomass between 1970 and 2017. It said China is responsible for 15 per cent of global excess material use while the low-income countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia are responsible for only eight per cent. There is a similar pattern for pollution, particularly greenhouse gases emissions. We are already well into overshoot for the ability of the planet to keep supplying natural resources and absorbing our pollution. Increasing the population increases the pressure but the increasing consumption as people become richer is the true driver of damage. According to the 2022 study “High income nations need to achieve a dramatic reduction in resource use to return to sustainable levels…” It went on to say: “It is unlikely that these reductions can be achieved while pursuing economic growth at the same time. The transition to sustainable levels of resource use will probably require transforming our economies. This includes abandoning GDP growth as a goal, reducing inequality and organizing the economy around human needs, while scaling down the production of unnecessary commodities.”

7 Nov 2022

COP27 Climate conference

Posted by Michael Keating. Comments Off on COP27 Climate conference

Once again world leaders or their delegates are struggling to agree on how to stop climate change from wrecking our health, economies and quality of life. This year the annual pilgrimage to save the planet is at the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. It comes at a time when rising global temperatures are causing increasingly dangerous and costly wildfires, drought, floods and giant storms. But the world is also grappling with the effects of the war in Ukraine, high prices for oil and food, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and a looming global recession.

This is the 27th Conference of the Parties [COPs] at which governments try to agree on how to limit the steady rise the global temperature. The two-week meeting started Sunday with a stark warning from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible,” he said. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.” He said, “Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish.”

The world has already warmed by more than 1C because of human actions and is rapidly heading toward 1.5C a point that climate scientists say will lead to drastic climate changes that will cause great harm to the world. Despite the threat to the future of human civilization many countries continue to develop even more fossil fuel sources and to cut down forests that now store carbon.

The main aims of COP27 are reducing emissions and helping the world adapt for the climate changes that are already happening and will inevitably worsen. This year there is a new demand, that of climate reparations, sometimes called loss and damage payments, from the rich to the poor nations. The claim is that many poor countries that released few greenhouse gases are facing worse hurricanes, floods and wildfires and rising sea levels as a result of climate change caused mainly by the industrial nations. It is a hugely controversial issue with rich nations fearing they could be on the hook for billions even trillions of dollars. Only a few, such as Denmark and Scotland have pledge funding for such reparations.