Paris Architect Christiana Figueres, "They Knew" & Climate Scientists win Nobel Prize

The newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.

(source: Global Times)

Issue No. 93

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, we will honor the trailblazers who helped shape the climate movement.

Christiana Figueres, Paris Climate Agreement Architect

As Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Conventional on Climate Change from 2010-2016, Christiana Figueres was instrumental to the rebuilding and approval of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the landmark accord uniting 195 countries to alleviate climate change.

Over the years Figueres has dedicated her career to mitigating climate change, sustainable development, energy, land use, and technical and financial cooperation. In 2016, she was Costa Rican candidate for the United Nations Secretary General. She has also served on the board of the Spanish infrastructure and energy corporation Acciona since 2017. She is a founder of the Global Optimism group and the author of The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis (2020), co-authored with Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Born in Costa Rica, and the daughter of former Costa Rican President, Jose Figueres Ferrer, Figueres leads a life dedicated to improving the world we live in. Though no longer in her role at the U.N., Figueres remains steadfast on eliminating the climate crisis.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest carbon policy and market insights as they happen.

If you have an opinion on any topic covered in this newsletter, please feel free to send me an email at 

Thank you for your viewpoint and the value of your time.

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Climate quotes and sayings that will inspire you

(source: Toronto Star)

“We have to fight climate change like we actually want to win.”-
Jagmeet Singh (Lawyer/Member Canadian Parliament)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”- African Proverb

“The Great Spirit is in all things. He is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us. That which we put into the ground she returns to us.”- Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki, Algonquin


(source: MIT Press)

They Knew

By James Gustave Speth

Few people have followed the climate issue longer or more closely than James Gustave Speth. From his time in Jimmy Carter’s White House — where he issued reports on the imminent dangers of global warming — through his five-decade career as an environmental leader, Speth has consistently sounded the alarm and sought to spur action on climate change.

Speth’s new book, They Knew: The US Federal Government’s Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis, details how seven successive U.S. administrations failed to take effective action on halting greenhouse gas emissions and encouraged the extraction and use of fossil fuels. The book is based on a legal brief that Speth, a former dean of the Yale School of the Environment, wrote in support of Juliana v. United States, the climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs.

In 2015, the group of “twenty-one”youth sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights by promoting climate catastrophe and thereby depriving them of life, liberty, and property without due process and equal protection of law. They Knew offers evidence supporting the children's claims, presenting a devastating and compelling account of the federal government's role in bringing about today's climate crisis. Speth, tapped by the plaintiffs as one of twenty-one preeminent experts in their climate case, analyzes how administrations from Carter to Trump—despite having information about the impending climate crisis and the connection to fossil fuels—continued aggressive support of a fossil fuel based energy system.

What did the federal government know and when did it know it? Speth asks, echoing another famous cover-up. What did the federal government actively do and what did it fail to do? They Knew presents the most definitive indictment yet of the US government's role in the climate crisis.

Since Juliana v. United States was filed, the federal government has repeatedly taken unprecedented steps to delay the case and force it to the appellate courts' shadow dockets. Yet as the case progresses slowly but certainly, it is inspiring a generation of youthful climate activists.


2021 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to climate scientists

Climate science has consistently shown that humanity is powerful enough to transform the planet. It is reshaping the world's most powerful and critical industries, including energy, transportation and agriculture. It accurately predicted stronger storms, higher seas and galloping fires. 

But until Tuesday, climate science never won a Nobel Prize in physics. Three Laureates share this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for their studies of complex phenomena. Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it. Giorgio Parisi is rewarded for his revolutionary contributions to the theory of disordered and random phenomena.

All complex systems consist of many different inter-acting parts. They have been studied by physicists for a couple of centuries, and can be difficult to describe mathematically – they may have an enormous number of components or be governed by chance. They could also be chaotic, like the weather, where small deviations in initial values result in huge differences at a later stage. This year’s Laureates have all contributed to us gaining greater knowledge of such systems and their long-term development.

The Earth’s climate is one of many examples of complex systems. Manabe and Hasselmann are awarded the Nobel Prize for their pioneering work on developing climate models. Parisi is rewarded for his theoretical solutions to a vast array of problems in the theory of complex systems.

  • Princeton University's Syukuro Manabe demonstrated how increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures at the surface of the Earth. In the 1960s, he led the development of physical models of the Earth’s climate and was the first person to explore the interaction between radiation balance and the vertical transport of air masses. His work laid the foundation for the development of climate models.

  • About ten years later, Klaus Hasselmann of Hamburg's Max Planck Institute for Meteorology created a model that links together weather and climate, thus answering the question of why climate models can be reliable despite weather being changeable and chaotic. He also developed methods for identifying specific signals, fingerprints, that both natural phenomena and human activities imprint in the climate. His methods have been used to prove that the increased temperature in the atmosphere is due to human emissions of carbon dioxide.

  • Around 1980, Giorgio Parisi of Sapienza University of Rome discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. His discoveries are among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems. They make it possible to understand and describe many different and apparently entirely random complex materials and phenomena, not only in physics but also in other, very different areas, such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning.

Climate science is a decades-long enterprise, which means an award to three people leaves out many other pioneers. Indeed, if it were possible to win a Nobel prize posthumously, a little-known giant of science might have won a second one this year. The scientific background material published with this year's prize mentions Svante Arrhenius 14 times, just four fewer than Manabe, who actually won.

Arrhenius, a Swede who lived from 1859 to 1927, won the 1903 prize in chemistry. In recent decades, his legacy has turned less on advances in electrochemistry than on an 1896 paper in which "he built the scientific framework central to the atmospheric column models used in successively more complex treatments that have developed since then," the Nobel committee wrote this year.

Translation: He invented climate modeling. 

So people assessing climate change anew today rely and expand on findings first demonstrated quietly 12 decades ago. And the research of Tuesday’s winners — some accomplished decades ago itself — informs the climate debate today.

This year isn’t the first time a Nobel committee has awarded atmospheric researchers the world's most famous prize. Three scientists who discovered that certain industrial chemicals destroy the Earth's protective ozone layer won in 1995. The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize went to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The 2018 economics prize went to Yale University’s William Nordhaus, who explored the costs and consequences of global warming.

But 2021’s prizes come amid unprecedented global attention, thanks to a cavalcade of disasters, said Susan Solomon, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric scientist who shared in the 2007 prize. And people are asking the questions the winners answered years ago.

[This post was adapted from the original written by Eric Roston for Bloomberg Green]

Creed Comments: Congratulations to this year’s Nobel Prize Laureates for their critical work on climate change.




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