The Highway to Climate Hell
November 7, 2022 - The Nett Report
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With the United Nations climate change conference underway this week in Egypt, focusing on climate change in this issue is a priority.
“And I wonder, in my last moments, if the planet does not mind that we wound her surface or pillage her bounty, because she knows we silly warm things are not even a breath in her cosmic life. We have grown and spread and will rage and die. And when all that remains of us is our steel monuments and plastic idols, her winds will whisper, her sands will shift, and she will spin on and on, forgetting about the bold, hairless apes who thought they deserved immortality.”— from Morning Star, by Pierce Brown
UN Secretary-General – “we are on the highway to climate hell”
In his opening remarks at the UN Climate Conference today, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “we are on the highway to climate hell,” but also offered hope. Here are some highlights.
In just days, our planet’s population will cross a new threshold. The 8 billionth member of our human family will be born.
Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.
Climate change is the defining issue of our age … the central challenge of our century.
Human activity is the cause of the climate problem. So human action must be the solution.
I am calling for a historic Pact between developed and emerging economies – a Climate Solidarity Pact.
This is our only hope of meeting our climate goals. Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish.
It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact – or a Collective Suicide Pact.
The good news is that we know what to do, and we have the financial and technological tools to get the job done.
We need all hands on deck for faster, bolder climate action.
You can see the complete speech here.
Nations fail to meet climate commitments; now businesses are failing, too
Since the 2015 Paris climate agreement, “only a few dozen governments have translated their general commitments to limit global warming into so-called nationally determined contributions,” according to Fortune’s Impact Report on November 7, 2022. Now businesses are falling behind, too. In 2021, hundreds of finance companies signed the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), ”committing to zero emissions by 2050, interim targets by 2030, and strict rules on buying carbon offsets.” A year later, the commitments are unraveling.
The new Swedish government eliminates powerfully ministry of the environment
During an international webinar I attended a week or so ago, a Swedish scientist was distraught because the new government had eliminated its standalone Environment Ministry. According to an October 19, 0222, article in EuroNews, a new Ministry of Climate and Environment will now be a component of the Ministry for Energy, Business, and Industry.
Climate worst-case scenario seems less likely
New York Times journalist David Wallace-Wells in the past explored a worst-case scenario for climate change “causing widespread extreme weather, economic collapse, famine, and war,” Now in the New York Times, October 27, 2022, issue of The Morning newsletter, Wallace-Wells says he thinks the apocalyptic outcome is less likely. “I’ve grown more optimistic than I used to be. The endgame looks calmer and more stable than it did a few years ago,” he says.
The Political Divide
According to Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, in his October 27, 2022, newsletter, there are two enemies of democracy in the upcoming midterms:
Election deniers, undermining Americans' faith that our system is unbiased.
And big money from corporations and the ultra-wealthy, undermining Americans' faith that our system is fair.
A quote with relevance to today’s political divide
“Perhaps it is the echoes of lawyer Joseph Nye Welch, who in 1954 on television confronted Joseph McCarthy as the Wisconsin senator shredded people’s lives by accusing them of being communists: ‘Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” - Historian Heather Cox Richardson in the November 2, 2022, issue of her newsletter Letters from an American.
Future of Work / The Economy
“That’s the conundrum. We are in pretty good shape. Recession predicted. Those things will collide.” - Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America
World Economic Forum projects a shift in working patterns
A November 1, 2022, story published by the World Economic Forum says “the balance of power is starting to shift back to employers as economic storm clouds gather and hiring slows. We’re already seeing companies freeze hiring and request employees to return to the office.” The story reports on a survey of 2,900 C-level executives by LinkedIn that found “the balance of power is starting to shift back to employers as economic storm clouds gather and hiring slows. We’re already seeing companies freeze hiring and request employees to return to the office.”
Demand for shipping containers to decline, pointing to an economic slowdown
CNBC reported on November 3, 2022, that shipping container giant Maersk projects a 2% to 4% decline in shipping container demand. Maersk projections are an acknowledged barometer for global trade. Although CEO Soren Skou reported earnings were up 60% over last year, he said, “with the war in Ukraine, an energy crisis in Europe, high inflation, and a looming global recession, there are plenty of dark clouds on the horizon.”
Oil industry won’t restart shuttered U.S. refineries
An article in OilPrice.com on October 25, 2022, reported that oil industry executives have told U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm that they won’t restart refineries that had been shut down. The last oil refinery in the U.S. was built in the 1970s, and Chevron’s CEO was quoted in the article as saying, “there never be another new refinery built in the United States.” The amount of refinery capacity has an impact on oil prices, and 89.5% of refineries are currently in operation.
Twitter layoffs are only the tip of the iceberg
Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and laying off half of the company’s workforce have been big news in recent days. However, Twitter isn’t the only company cutting back. A November 3, 2022, article in the Wall Street Journal reports that Lyft and Stripe have announced major layoffs, and Amazon will freeze corporate hiring for months. This news has been followed by stories in multiple outlets that Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is also expected to lay off thousands of employees.
Goldman Sachs sees only a 35% chance of recession
In the middle of the bad news above, Goldman Sachs is more bullish on the economy. In an interview with CEO David Solomon in the October 245, 2022, issue of CEO Daily, he reported his firm “only sees a 35% chance of a recession and says we have a ‘unique’ rebalancing of the labor market to thank for it.” Goldman Sachs is optimistic because there is “a never-before-seen dynamic in the labor market right now: Rather than shedding actual jobs, companies have so far been shedding job openings in response to the Fed’s rate hikes. Until now, at least, this has allowed the job market to cool off without doing much harm to the broader economy.” Written prior to news of the layoffs reported above, we will see how Goldman Sachs responds.
Covid boomerang: recurrence more likely if patient took drugs to ease illness
On October 31. 2022, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a growing number of people are experiencing what is being called “Covid rebound” after being free from symptoms for two days. “U.C. San Diego researchers found that those who took the antiviral drug Paxlovid to alleviate their initial symptoms are more likely to see a recurrence.”
Brain synapses damaged by Covid virus are a cause of long Covid
Another group of U.C. San Diego researchers found that the virus that causes Covid-19 can damage brain cell synapses, according to a November 4, 2022, story on NBC7 San Diego. “The phenomenon of Long COVID, characterized by persisting symptoms that include neurological impairment, remains poorly understood and without any specific remedy.”
The Nett Light-Side
“When you give joy to other people, you get more joy in return. You should give a good thought to happiness that you can give out.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The library of Congress historical baseball collection is cool
The World Series is over, part of history, which makes it a great time to take a look at some real history in the Library of Congress's “Off the Bench” collection of early baseball cards.
One owl does Halloween and another goes on the attack
What’s with owls these days? My Modern Met, on October 25, 2022, reported that “an owl in Eureka, Illinois, “was captured on camera flying through the sky carrying a child’s toy broomstick—not unlike the witches in Halloween tales.” And NPR published a story on November 2, 2022, about an owl in Washington state that attacked a woman twice on different days.
Sea lion and dog play fetch together in Santa Cruz
Flipboard shared a video on November 2, 2022, of a dog and a sea lion chasing a ball down the beach together. It’s a good way to end this newsletter – two critters with different points of view finding a way to play together. Note: the story calls it a seal, but it is really a sea lion.
About Carl Nettleton
Carl Nettleton is an award-winning writer, speaker, thought partner, facilitator, and subject-matter expert regarding water, climate, sustainability, the ocean, and binational U.S. Mexico border affairs. Nettleton Strategies, the consultancy he founded in 2007, is a trusted source of analysis and advice on issues at the forefront of public policy, business, and the environment. He helps people to think strategically about their options for change. He is also the founder of OpenOceans Global, a nonprofit addressing ocean plastic in a new way.
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