A mass psychosis is an epidemic of madness and it occurs when a large portion of a society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions. Such a phenomenon is not a thing of fiction. Two examples of mass psychoses are the American and European witch hunts 16th and 17th centuries and the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century.
What is it? How does is start? Are we experiencing one right now?
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Countries that are slow to decarbonise will suffer but early movers will profit; the study finds that renewables and freed-up investment will more than make up for the losses to the global economy.
It highlights the risk of producing far more oil and gas than required for future demand, which is estimated to leave $11tn-$14tn (£8.1tn-£10.3tn) in so-called stranded assets – infrastructure, property and investments where the value has fallen so steeply they must be written off.
The lead author, Jean-Francois Mercure of the University of Exeter, said the shift to clean energy would benefit the world economy overall, but it would need to be handled carefully to prevent regional pockets of misery and possible global instability.
“In a worst-case scenario, people will keep investing in fossil fuels until suddenly the demand they expected does not materialise and they realise that what they own is worthless. Then we could see a financial crisis on the scale of 2008,” he said, warning oil capitals such as Houston could suffer the same fate as Detroit after the decline of the US car industry unless the transition is carefully managed.
But China, India and the USA did not sign the agreement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
One nation alone, China, accounts for more than 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal. China is not joining the world in this commitment and instead promises to increase building coal fired power plants to meet soaring power demand.
To boost coal output, China has “revived old mines, hurried through permits for expansions and loosened some safety regulations. They’ve also stepped in on prices to ensure electricity generators are incentivized to fully use power plant capacity.” (Bloomberg)
China is also seeking to increase imports of foreign coal. China’s demand for the fossil fuel in the power and industrial sectors could break the country’s 2013 record for emissions from coal.
As such, the Bloomberg Philanthropies campaign has set a target to work to close a quarter of the world’s 2,445 remaining coal plants and all 519 proposed new coal plants by 2025, in a move that will dramatically expand its current efforts to support coal phase outs in seven countries and the EU. Specifically, the campaign will be extended to an additional 25 developing countries where coal power is projected to rapidly grow.
Six years after nations adopted the landmark Paris climate agreement, countries haven’t committed to, much less enacted, the necessary policies to reduce emissions anywhere near as much as required to achieve the accord’s stated goal: preventing 2 ˚C of global warming this century while striving to limit the increase to 1.5 ˚C. And rich countries are still tens of billions of dollars short of the $100 billion in annual funds they agreed to provide to help developing nations address climate change.
If countries do no more than fulfill the loose pledges they’ve made for 2030 under the agreement, the planet is likely to heat up by around 2.7 ˚C this century, according to the UN Environment Programme’s “emissions gap report,” released earlier this week. If all they do is abide by domestic climate policies already in place, temperature increases could exceed 3 ˚C.
In a 3 ˚C warmer world, coral reefs likely disappear, the ice sheets begin to collapse, hundred-year droughts will occur every few years across vast stretches of the globe, and sea-level rise could force hundreds of millions of people to relocate, according to various studies.
“If the goal is to maintain a safe, livable climate for the majority of the world’s population, the grade is an F-,” says Jessica Green, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto who focuses on climate governance. “We’re not there; we’re not even close.”
The Department of Environmental Conservation denied permits for two proposed natural gas power plants, saying they were incompatible with the state’s climate law, which calls for an end to fossil fuel-generated electricity by 2040.
Though the proposed plants would be more efficient than those currently in operation, the state agency said the plants would generate “significant” amounts of pollution and that their construction now, less than 20 years from the targeted net-zero emissions date, would be “inconsistent” with what is required by the climate law.
New York’s climate law requires polluters to account for two sources of emissions: from the plants themselves and from the natural gas supply chain. Once the latter was included—figures which in the past were nearly always ignored when determining a power plant’s pollution—the emissions quickly exceeded the DEC’s thresholds, the decisions say.
They uncovered research published in the Total journal in 1971 which explained that burning fossil fuels resulted in “the release of enormous quantities of carbon dioxide”. It warned that continued consumption would increase carbon dioxide levels to “worrying” levels – potentially leading to the melting of ice caps and significant sea level rises.
Despite awareness of harmful global warming impacts, the article published in Global Environmental Change says that Total or its predecessors engaged in “overt denial of climate science” until the early 1990s. It also reveals that it took part in lobbying to prevent the regulation of its activities.
In a statement sent to AFP before the release of the paper, TotalEnergies said that its leaders “recognised the existence of climate change and the link with activities of the oil industry”.
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