Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe'
By Jessica Corbett
Ahead of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week—which convenes the world's wealthiest and most powerful for a summit that's been called both the "money Oscars" and a "threat to democracy"—the group published a report declaring, "Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe."
While WEF has made a habit of recognizing the threat posed by the human-made climate crisis in its Global Risks reports—for which it has garnered some praise—author and activist Naomi Klein was quick to challenge the narrative presented in the latest edition, pointing out that many of the policies pushed by the very people invited to the exclusive event have driven the global crisis.
"Sleepwalking? Nah. The policies of global deregulation, privatization, unending consumption, and growth-worship that you advanced so aggressively in order to construct the Davos Class marched us here," she tweeted. "Pretty sure your eyes were wide open."
Sleepwalking? Nah. The policies of global deregulation, privatization, unending consumption and growth-worship that… https://t.co/Gc5tbwYinR— Naomi Klein (@Naomi Klein)1547659003.0
While Klein—who argued in her 2014 book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate that "our economic system and our planetary system are now at war"—brought a critical eye to the report's warnings about the dangers of failing to limit global warming, others welcomed the attention given to the crucial issue.
The climate crisis is once again ranked as the top global risk by @WEF — after yet another year in which Mother Nat… https://t.co/LrcIEGdh2w— Al Gore (@Al Gore)1547655845.0
This, at the same time as #environmental risks continue to dominate @wef Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) with… https://t.co/2jlGVLmbvL— Bo Norrman (@Bo Norrman)1547669016.0
WEF's Global Risks Perception Survey solicits input from nearly 1,000 "decision-makers" across government, big business, academia and civil society, and aims to identify both short- and long-term threats to the international community.
Environmental threats—including extreme weather, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, natural disasters, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and man-made environmental disasters—dominate the top 10 lists for both likelihood and impact.
"Extreme weather was the risk of greatest concern, but our survey respondents are increasingly worried about environmental policy failure," the report notes, acknowledging that "biodiversity loss is affecting health and socioeconomic development, with implications for well-being, productivity, and even regional security."
Responding in a statement, Marco Lambertini, director general of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International, said: "Recognition of the dangers posed by climate change and biodiversity loss is not enough. The science is clear: we need to see urgent and unprecedented action now."
"The consequences of not changing course are enormous not just for nature, but for humans. We depend on nature much more than nature depends on us," Lambertini added. "Global political and business leaders know that they have a major role to play in safeguarding the future of economies, businesses, and the natural resources we depend on."
Concerns about governmental failure to adequately address the climate crisis declined among "the Davos Class" after world leaders came together to sign the Paris agreement, according to Reuters. But that changed after President Donald Trump took office and announced plans to ditch the accord, which aims to limit warming within this century to 1.5°C—a goal that experts say would require immediately phasing out fossil fuels.
Additionally, as Aengus Collins, the WEF report's author, told Reuters, "People ... are beginning to understand increasingly the gravity of the situation and that the Paris agreement, even if fully implemented, cannot be seen as a panacea."
In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out a report detailing what the world could look like with that level of warming, and demanding "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented" systemic reforms. That report has been followed by various studies outlining how the U.S. is "drilling toward disaster" with fossil fuel expansion while the oceans are warming and ice is melting at alarming rates.
Along with rising sea levels, the crisis has also featured devastating hurricanes, heatwaves and wildfires. One analysis of last year's costliest climate-driven extreme weather events estimated that the top 10 storms, droughts, fires and floods of 2018 caused at least $84.8 billion in damage, almost certainly an underestimate. Experts warn that as the planet warms, such events will become more common and powerful.
Despite warnings from the global scientific community and mounting public demands for a Green New Deal, Trump and his backers continue to downplay the threat and attack climate and environmental regulations. Although the president no longer plans to attend the Davos meeting due to the government shutdown he has forced over border wall funding, five members of his administration are supposedly still set to attend.
Regardless of whether the government reopens by next week, CNBC reports that "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the five-strong delegation which also includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; and Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination, Chris Liddell."
5 Ways to Curb the Power of Corporations and Billionaires @karenhunter - @AfroStateOfMind #KarenRebels https://t.co/LRC72RPAu7— SiriusXM Urban View (@SiriusXM Urban View)1532031493.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.
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