On moral action for the sake of humanness and humanity

By Tim O’Riordan

I do not believe what I am about to suggest will happen. Nevertheless I feel it is timely to express it. I am a Gaianist, in that I subscribe to the provable evidence of an almost miraculous self-organising and self-perpetuating planet. We appear to be in stage two of the Gaian journey. The beginning was the microbial age of single celled biota which still colonise the microbiomes of our internal life giving functions. The second age of the more sophisticated many celled biota led eventually to the emergence of humanity. We seem to be heading towards the end of this age. What looms is a third Gaian age of a planet which is essentially post human. This could emerge within the coming thousand years. By post human I posit a species which has essentially lost any moral concern for the viability of its offspring, nor has the capability of being able to create the conditions for meaningful survival of the remaining human race. In essence that third Gaian age heralds the emergence of a species that can only live for its own existence. The humanness of caring, sharing and reciprocating will have atrophied. The essence of sustainability, namely providing both the conditions and the capabilities for future generations to live sustainably, will have been lost.

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A participação do GI ATS / OBSERVA no Verão na ULISBOA

Entre 2 e 6 de julho o ICS participou mais uma vez na iniciativa da Reitoria Verão na ULisboa, acolhendo 18 alunos do ensino secundário para uma semana de atividades diversas a que foi dado o rótulo “Aventuras com as Ciências Sociais”.

Duas das atividades foram coordenadas por investigadores do GI ATS / Observa: “O Jogo das Negociações sobre Alterações Climáticas” e “Marvila ROCKS! – Descobrindo os processos de transformação de um bairro”. No final da semana os alunos foram convidados a escrever um post para blogue sobre a sua experiência, que abaixo publicamos. Os investigadores responsáveis acrescentaram uns parágrafos de enquadramento a cada post. Continuar a ler

Urban Food Gardens and the Sustainable Development Goals: blooming opportunities for local governance?

By Tainan Messina

One of the first things that called my attention in Lisbon, when I first arrived from Brazil, was the amount of used and unused green areas available within city limits. As I disembarked straight from Rio de Janeiro, a city that struggles with land scarcity, real estate development and gentrification, Lisbon’s land availability confused and amused me at the same time. On my everyday commute, I would think about all the possibilities these areas had to offer to local communities` improvement, for food production enhancement and for the overall promotion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Worldwide, cities have the challenging task of how to pursue multiple SDGs, and Urban Food Gardens (UFGs) may present an interesting window of opportunity, with numerous options. These gardens, where ‘open spaces are managed and operated by members of the local community in which food or flowers are cultivated’ within urban or peri-urban limits, have the potential to address both municipal specific issues or wider regional goals if properly integrated in local/regional policy frameworks, boosting Lisbon’s food security, food systems’ design and overall social well-being.

When we look at urban planning strategies and policies, food systems are less visible and seem to be less of a priority than other systems, like housing, transportation and employment generation, and Lisbon is, in this sense, no different. However, as urban populations grow and climate change impacts become more frequent, food systems need to be looked at more comprehensively, and different institutional arrangements must be considered in order to tackle key food security and urban challenges.

Figure 1.Soil improvement and planting activities (Source: Circular Schools Project)

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El Cambio Climático en los hombros de las Ciencias Sociales

Por Mercedes Pardo-Buendía

Las evidencias del Cambio Climático no dan lugar a duda: 1) el aumento de la temperatura media de la superficie del planeta desde la industrialización en alrededor de 0,85ºC; 2) la disminución del hielo en el Ártico (3,5-4,1% por década en el periodo 1979 a 2012 e importantes cambios en la Antártida): 3) la subida del nivel del mar (0,11°C por década hasta los 70 metros de profundidad, en el periodo 1971-2010).

Las consecuencias de esas evidencias abarcan asuntos tan graves como el aumento de fenómenos climáticos extremos, como son las olas de calor que, con muy alta probabilidad, serán más frecuentes y durarán más tiempo, tormentas y huracanes, entre otros. Dentro de estos fenómenos no lineales – lo cual añade mayor riesgo – tenemos la reaparición del fenómeno de El Niño.

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Navigating climate change communication between advocacy and denialism

By Jieling Liu

When I came back from Asia after a 4-month trip to Lisbon at the beginning of March this year, a friend came to pick me up. Driving into the city, I noticed how green every corner had turned and the sun was gently shining golden light into the car – “How nice! I came back to the peaceful, green and sunny Lisbon!” As I spoke out loud my happiness, my friend kindly informed me that it had been raining for three weeks in a row, and that the sun “only came out to greet my return”. I was surprised, as much of my memories of Lisbon have been associated with sunny summer on the beach. “Yes, my mother said it was not at all common fifty years ago to have so much rain at this time of the year,” with a look in my eyes, my friend added: “it’s climate change, yeah?”

If I was to respond instinctively based on my scientific knowledge of climate change, I would say: “it probably is a result of climate change”, which was what I responded. We know that climate change is not merely about the excessive amount of CO2 in the atmosphere resulting in warmer temperature and “the warmest year on record…in a row”, nor just about penguins and polar bears, it is also about warmer oceans, more vibrant storms and more destructive wind speed – Harvey, Irma, Patricia… record damaging storms and superstorms on earth, sea level rise, increasing heatwave mortality, and a range of uncertainty related to extreme events, causing great costs of life and the economy. But it was obvious that the word “probably” did the opposite of facilitating the communication and clarifying the issue of climate change, on the contrary, it turned off the conversation which had an excellent context “three weeks of unusual rain”, in delicate awkwardness. The next thing we knew was that the rainy season continued for another few weeks.

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Novos dados do Eurostat sobre Alterações Climáticas

Por Ana Rita Matias

Um dos mais recentes blocos de indicadores que compõem o módulo “cross cutting topics” (temas transversais) desenvolvido pelo Eurostat, autoridade europeia de estatística, diz respeito às Alterações Climáticas. Esta compilação faz parte do esforço levado a cabo pelo Eurostat de monitorizar os progressos feitos pelos países europeus quanto aos Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (ODS) das Agenda 2030 das Nações Unidas. O módulo dedicado às Alterações Climáticas encontra-se subdividido em cinco seções temáticas, abarcando indicadores vários: 1. Emissão de gases com efeito de estufa; 2. Causas; 3. Mitigação; 4. Impactos e adaptação e, por fim, 5. Iniciativas de ação climática.

Parque eólico offshore na Suécia. Foto de Tomasz Sienicki, licença Creative Commons 3.0 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Turbiny_wiatrowe_w_Szwecji,_2011_ubt.JPG)

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Políticas Públicas Climáticas, Petróleo e Gás: Portugal, Espanha e Marrocos e a insanidade institucional

Por João Camargo

Nas políticas públicas regionais, nacionais, autonómicas e municipais de Portugal, Espanha e Marrocos há um reconhecimento inequívoco da existência de aquecimento global e das alterações climáticas, da origem humana dos mesmos e da fonte principal do dióxido de carbono: a combustão do petróleo, do gás e do carvão. Esse reconhecimento deu origem a leis, estratégias, planos, programas e agências nos três países: por exemplo, a Estratégia Nacional Energética de Marrocos, que define que até 2020 42% de toda a energia elétrica do país venha de fontes renováveis, o Programa Nacional para as Alterações Climáticas de Portugal, que visa assegurar a redução das emissões de gases com efeito de estufa em 18 a 23% até 2020 e 30 a 40% até 2030 em relação a 2005 ou a Oficina Espanhola para as Alterações Climáticas e o Conselho Nacional do Clima em Espanha. A nível autonómico é possível ver, por exemplo, a Lei Catalã para as Alterações Climáticas e a nível local as estratégias municipais de adaptação às alterações climáticas em Portugal.

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