The commercial, which was created with assistance from the Alzheimer’s Association, focuses on an elderly woman suffering from the disease. In it, her granddaughter takes her on a jaunt in a 1972 Chevy Suburban, revisiting places from her youth as they listen to John Denver on an 8-track tape. As a result, the grandmother is able to recall some aspects of her life that initially had seemed lost.
It’s not just a sweet holiday story, though. As the company worked on the ad with the Alzheimer’s Association, they “talked a lot about reminiscence therapy,” Steve Majoros, Chevrolet’s head of marketing, told Ad Age.
So, what exactly is reminiscence therapy, and how does it work?
Whether or not the granddaughter in the ad is aware of it, she and her grandmother are engaging in reminiscence therapy — a kind of psychotherapy that involves helping people recall older memories using both conversation and sensory engagement, according to VeryWell Mind.
Reminiscence therapy is credited to the work of Dr. Robert Butler, a psychiatrist in the field of geriatric medicine in the 1960s, and is sometimes called life review therapy. It can be a helpful tool for people living with Alzheimer’s, though it is not used only for people with that condition.
As there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, the goal of reminiscence therapy is not necessarily to help people recall memories, but instead to improve their quality of life. Those patients typically struggle with short-term memory, which can cause considerable distress, but revisiting long-term memories, which are often intact in individuals with Alzheimer’s, can help improve self-esteem and reduce anxiety. It also can help improve the individual’s relationship with the person leading this kind of therapy, often their caregiver.
In that way, the Chevy commercial offers an accurate depiction of how reminiscence therapy can work. (It’s worth noting, though, that people with Alzheimer’s may not recall short-term memories, as the ad’s grandmother does when she realizes she’s due back for Christmas dinner.)
As Majoros told Ad Age, reminiscence therapy is not intended as a “cure or a solve” for Alzheimer’s and other memory-loss conditions, but it can “enable the person going through it to feel more comfortable — and the people that are the caregivers that are surrounding them to also feel more comfortable.”
This number will shape Earth’s future as the climate changes. You’ll be hearing about it.
Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY – November 30, 2023
Consider that 3 degrees Fahrenheit is the difference between a raging fever and a healthy toddler. Between a hockey rink and a swimming pool. Between food going bad or staying at a safe temperature.
Now consider that Earth is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter on average than it was in the 1800s. It’s little wonder that has already led to measurable shifts in the climate: The last eight years have been the hottest in recorded history and 2023 is expected to be the hottest yet.
But there’s a looming threshold that will dictate the future of planet Earth. It could have cascading effects on how hot the planet gets, how much seas rise and how significantly normal daily life as we now know it will change.
The number is 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
World leaders at an annual gathering beginning Thursday will be spending considerable energy pondering that number, although they will use the Celsius version: 1.5 degrees.
“We can still make a big difference and every single tenth of a degree is enormously important,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Representatives and negotiators from 197 nations are gathering at an event called COP (Conference of the Parties) in the United Arab Emirates, a 13-day meeting that comes at what scientists say is a critical moment in the fight to keep the already dangerous effects of climate change from tipping over into the catastrophic.
Research published last month estimated humanity has only six or so more years before so much carbon dioxide has been pumped into the atmosphere that there’s only a 50% chance of staying below the threshold.
Why 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit is so important
In 2016, the United States and 195 other parties signed the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change aimed at lowering the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to keep global warming at bay.
All the nations that signed the Agreement pledged to try as hard as possible to keep the global average temperature increase below 2.7 degrees, and to definitely keep it below a 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit rise. (Only the Agreement said it in Celsius, which comes out to the smoother-sounding 2.0 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius.)
The numbers sound pretty small – but they aren’t.
A few degrees is a big deal
The difference between 65 degrees and 67.7 degrees (that critical 2.7-degree difference) isn’t even worth carrying a sweater. So why does it worry climate scientists?
It’s because they’re thinking about global temperature averages, and when the global average goes up, the extremes go way up.
Why is it important to not let the Earth warm an extra degree?
The difference between an aspiration of no more than 2.7 degrees warming and a serious commitment to no more than 3.6 degrees might not seem large.
But multiply the extremes and their effects, and each results in a vastly different world. One is difficult, resulting in a less reliable and more chaotic climate than the one we live with today. The other verges on a movie cataclysm.
At their heart, the 13 days of COP28 negotiations are the place global governments sit down to hammer out just how much each will lower its carbon emissions, though many other climate change topics are on the table as well.
The Earth crossed a key warming threshold in 2023, with one-third of the days so far having an average temperature at least 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than preindustrial levels. On Nov. 17, it reached 2.07 degrees above. This year is expected to be the warmest in recorded history, warmer than any other in 125,000 years.
What is COP28?
COP28 is the annual United Nations meeting of the 197 parties that have agreed to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, originally adopted in 1992. The meeting is the decision-making body of the countries that signed onto the U.N. framework. It is held to assess how well nations are dealing with climate change and set agendas and goals.
How important is this COP?
In a major report, the UN’s climate change body said earlier this month that global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 45% by the end of this decade compared to 2010 levels to meet the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Things are not going in the right direction. Instead, emissions are set to rise by 9%.
COP28 is where changes can be made.
Scientists say humanity has about a decade to dramatically reduce heat-trapping gas emissions before thresholds are passed that may make recovery from climate collapse impossible.
To do so will require cutting nearly two-thirds of carbon pollution by 2035, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said. That means ending new fossil fuel exploration and weaning wealthy nations away from coal, oil and gas by 2040.
“Humanity is on thin ice – and that ice is melting fast,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the spring. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts – everything, everywhere, all at once.”
Hundreds of new oil and gas projects approved despite climate crisis
Valentin Rakovsky – November 30, 2023
More than 400 oil and gas projects were approved globally in the last two years despite calls to abandon all new hydrocarbon development, new figures showed as the UN COP28 climate talks opened Thursday.
With greenhouse gas emissions threatening to heat the planet to catastrophic levels, countries at the talks in Dubai are under pressure to agree to phase out oil, gas and coal in order to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
Nearly 200 private and public corporations across 58 countries were involved in the 437 new fossil fuel projects, according to figures from the nonprofit Reclaim Finance, based on data from Rystad Energy consultants.
The data demonstrates the mismatch between the continuing exploitation of fossil fuels — responsible for most of humanity’s greenhouse gases — and the target of limiting warming.
“We are in denial about the environmental emergency and the conclusions drawn by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scientists,” Lucie Pinson of Reclaim Finance told AFP.
The UN’s IPCC climate expert panel has said emissions need to be slashed by over 40 percent this decade to keep the 1.5C threshold in sight.
And in May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued an explosive warning saying “no new oil and gas fields” could be approved for its pathway to net zero emissions to be met, as well as no new coal mines.
Countries agreed at Glasgow’s COP26 in late 2021 to “phasedown” coal power that does not involve emissions being captured before they go into the atmosphere.
But attempts to widen ambition to include targets on reducing oil and gas have so far met stiff opposition, despite a surge in renewable energy.
– ‘Desperate’ need –
And fossil fuel expansion shows no sign of stopping.
All of the 437 new projects since 2022 have received their “final investment decision” — a key commitment where investors sanction the development and production of a new hydrocarbon field.
Once in production, they will produce oil and gas in vast quantities for years to come.
State-backed oil companies were behind 57 percent of the projects.
Some 22 percent were linked to just seven oil giants: BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni and TotalEnergies.
Qatar alone is due to host 17 percent of the total expected future production of these planned gas and oil projects, when measured in volume.
Saudi Arabia would host 13 percent, Brazil 10 percent, the United States eight percent and this year’s COP28 host, the United Arab Emirates would have six percent.
The IEA estimates that global demand for oil and gas will peak by 2030, but oil giants argue the transition to renewables is not happening fast enough to replace fossil fuels.
There is a “desperate need” for oil and gas still, said Shell CEO Wael Sawan in July.
And several European oil giants — including Shell, BP and Enel — have recently rolled back on some of their energy transition targets.
In February, BP backtracked on plans to cut its oil and gas output by 40 percent from 2019 levels by 2030, targeting a 25 percent reduction instead.
DUBAI (Reuters) – With a month to run, 2023 will reach global warming of about 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.5 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, adding to “a deafening cacophony” of broken climate records, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday.
The WMO’s provisional State of the Global Climate report confirms that 2023 will be the warmest year on record by a large margin, replacing the previous record-holder 2016, when the world was around 1.2C warmer than the preindustrial average.
It adds to the urgency world leaders face as they wrestle with phasing out fossil fuels at the United Nations annual climate summit COP28, which begins on Thursday in Dubai.
“Greenhouse gas levels are record high. Global temperatures are record high. Sea level rise is record high. Antarctic sea ice record low,” WMO Secretary General Peterri Taalas said.
The report’s finding, however, does not mean the world is about to cross the long-term warming threshold of 1.5C that scientists say is the ceiling for avoiding catastrophic climate change under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
For that, the level of warming would need to be sustained for longer.
Already, a year of 1.4C has provided a frightening preview of what permanently crossing 1.5C might mean.
This year, Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest winter maximum extent on record, some 1 million square kilometres (386,000 sq miles) less than the previous record. Swiss glaciers lost about 10% of their remaining volume over the last two years, the report said. And wildfires burned a record area in Canada, amounting to about 5% of the country’s woodlands.
Climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, combined with the emergence of the natural El Nino climate pattern in the Eastern Pacific pushed the world into record territory this year.
Next year could be worse, the scientists said, as El Nino’s impacts are likely to peak this winter and drive higher temperatures in 2024.
(Reporting by Gloria Dickie; editing by Barbara Lewis)
This year is set to be the hottest ever recorded, the UN said Thursday, demanding urgent action to rein in global warming and stem the havoc following in its wake.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organization warned that 2023 had shattered a whole host of climate records, with extreme weather leaving “a trail of devastation and despair”.
“It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.
“Greenhouse gas levels are record high. Global temperatures are record high. Sea level rise is record high. Antarctic sea ice is record low.”
The WMO published its provisional 2023 State of the Global Climate report as world leaders gathered in Dubai for the UN COP28 climate conference, amid mounting pressure to curb planet-heating greenhouse gas pollution.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said the record heat findings “should send shivers down the spines of world leaders”.
The stakes have never been higher, with scientists warning that the ability to limit warming to a manageable level is slipping through humanity’s fingers.
The 2015 Paris climate accords aimed to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — and 1.5C if possible.
But in its report, the WMO said 2023 data to the end of October showed that this year was already around 1.4C above the pre-industrial baseline.
– ‘Not just statistics’ –
The agency is due to publish its final State of the Global Climate 2023 report in the first half of 2024.
But it said the difference between the first 10 months of this year and 2016 and 2020 — which previously topped the charts as the warmest years on record — “is such that the final two months are very unlikely to affect the ranking”.
The report also showed that the past nine years were the hottest years since modern records began.
“These are more than just statistics,” Taalas said, warning that “we risk losing the race to save our glaciers and to rein in sea level rise”.
“We cannot return to the climate of the 20th century, but we must act now to limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries.”
The WMO warned that the warming El Nino weather phenomenon, which emerged mid-year, was “likely to further fuel the heat in 2024”.
That is because the naturally-occurring climate pattern, typically associated with increased heat worldwide, usually increases global temperatures in the year after it develops.
The preliminary report also found that concentrations of the three main heat-trapping greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — reached record high levels in 2022, with preliminary data indicating that the levels continued to grow this year.
Carbon dioxide levels were 50 percent higher than the pre-industrial era, the agency said, meaning that “temperatures will continue to rise for many years to come”, even if emissions are drastically cut.
– ‘Climate chaos’ –
The rate of sea level rise over the past decade was more than twice the rate of the first decade of satellite records (1993-2002), it said.
And the maximum level of Antarctic sea ice this year was the lowest on record.
In fact, it was a million square kilometres less than the previous record low at the end of the southern hemisphere winter, the WMO said — an area larger than France and Germany combined.
Meanwhile, glaciers in North America and Europe again suffered an extreme melt season, with Swiss glaciers losing 10 percent of their ice volume in the past two years alone, the report showed.
Dramatic socio-economic impacts accompany such climate records, experts say, including dwindling food security and mass displacement.
“This year we have seen communities around the world pounded by fires, floods and searing temperatures,” UN chief Guterres said in a video message.
He called on the leaders gathered in Dubai to commit to dramatic measures to rein in climate change, including phasing out fossil fuels and tripling renewable energy capacity.
“We have the roadmap to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5C and avoid the worst of climate chaos,” he said.
“But we need leaders to fire the starting gun at COP28 on a race to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive.”
Some Republicans sound alarm after Trump revives focus on Obamacare
Kristen Holmes, Alayna Treene and Kate Sullivan – November 30, 2023
Former President Donald Trump’s renewed focus on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, has alarmed some Republicans scarred by the GOP’s failure to deliver on promises to dismantle the law and who view the issue as a political loser with the American people.
Many on Trump’s team said they were surprised by the former president’s recent declaration on his social media website Truth Social that replacing Obamacare would be a priority of his administration, as Obamacare had not been a focal issue in ongoing policy conversations and the campaign has not yet drafted any kind of health care policy alternative. One Trump adviser told CNN the post came “completely came out of nowhere,” and said the team “has not been talking to him about health care.”
Some Trump advisers who spoke with CNN also conceded that calling for the termination of a health care law that provides millions of Americans coverage and is largely viewed favorably by the public is a political loser going into 2024. Republicans have tried and failed for years to implement substantial changes to Obamacare and the party has largely abandoned efforts to campaign on the issue.
The resurrection of the health care battle has given Democrats fresh political ammo, and the Biden campaign quickly seized on Trump’s threats. The campaign held a press call with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, whose state will become the 40th to expand Medicaid on Friday, to respond to Trump’s comments. The campaign also on Thursday released an ad focused on health care and prescription drug costs, attempting to draw a sharp contrast with Trump. The ad – which features a pediatric nurse who calls Trump’s health care policies “troubling” – will run in media markets in seven states that will be key to Biden’s 2024 electoral map.
“There are very few issues where Republicans are at a greater disadvantage then health care. The Biden campaign desperately wants the election to be about health care and abortion. If the election is about those two issues in 2024, then Democrats will have a great night in November,” Ken Spain, a GOP consultant and former communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told CNN.
“The concern that Republicans have always had about Trump is his lack of discipline. The question is, is this really an issue he intends to campaign and formulate a strategy around, or is this just another lapse in discipline?” Spain added.
Health care “was a loser in 2018 and it’s a loser now,” one Trump-aligned Republican operative told CNN, referencing the 2018 midterm elections that ushered in a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
Trump’s health care legacy while in office is viewed by many Republicans as lackluster at best. His failure to fulfill his core campaign promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare – even with a GOP monopoly on power in Washington – was an early blow to Trump, who had painted himself as the ultimate dealmaker.
“Talk about the border,” the operative said. “Talk about the economy. Talk about no more foreign wars. Don’t talk about health care.”
Advisers to Trump said the catalyst for the former president’s posts was a recent article written by the Wall Street Journal editorial board that raised concerns that patients are seeing higher costs because insurers are using work arounds to an Affordable Care Act rule. Trump included a portion of the op-ed in his initial post on the issue.
The topic had also recently been brought up to Trump during a Mar-a-Lago meeting with Jeff Colyer, the former governor of Kansas. The two discussed health care policy over lunch, a Trump adviser told CNN.
Trump’s online pronouncements about replacing the law with his own belied the fact that his campaign has not settled on health care plan.
The campaign’s in-house policy team, led by advisers Vince Haley and Ross Worthington, has been drafting aggressive proposals for a potential second Trump term, but the campaign has not been actively working on a health care proposal, the Trump adviser told CNN. The team first started floating ideas for an alternative to Obamacare in recent days — but only after Trump started posting about it online.
One person familiar with the campaign’s process said it was likely that Trump’s team would also review health care proposals put forward by outside advocacy groups, including Project 2025, a partnership of groups organized by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. But this person stressed the proposals by the outside groups are merely suggestions and that the campaign would look at a range of ideas before putting forward its own unique proposal.
“The campaign is not going to adopt a position that’s suicidal,” this person said, acknowledging how politically fraught the issue can be. “But it is equally suicidal not to recognize the American people’s profound cry for health care reform.”
Like many of the policy proposals Trump’s current team is drafting for a potential second term, there are also serious concerns about how the former president could successfully enact them if reelected, acknowledging the necessary obstacles Congress and the courts could pose to a new health care agenda.
Trump bringing health care back to the forefront has also reignited talk of his failure to repeal and replace Obamacare in 2017.
Members of Trump’s orbit have long blamed that failure on the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who famously voted that year against repealing the ACA with a dramatic “thumbs down” on the Senate floor, tanking the Trump administration’s efforts.
And despite Trump’s promises to release a health care plan that could replace Obamacare, Trump left office in 2020 without having produced one. Just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, Trump issued an executive order pledging to protect Americans with preexisting conditions, but the plan fell far short of a comprehensive proposal.
CNN’s Betsy Klein and Tami Luhby contributed to this story.
This year, even the location of the conference has sparked some controversy.
The UAE has invested heavily in solar and wind energies, but it also remains one of the world’s top oil-producing nations.
“It is the equivalent of appointing the CEO of a cigarette company to oversee a conference on cancer cures,” said campaign group 350.org.
As in previous years, the central issues are cutting fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases driving climate change by ramping up the shift to clean energy.
COP28 aims to prioritise securing funding for climate action in less affluent countries, fostering inclusivity, and addressing diverse issues like nature, people, health, finance and food and work towards a new agreement benefiting developing nations.
Although the hope is to continue to limit global temperature rises to 1.5֯C – the world is currently on track for 2.4-2.6C of warming – and the efforts being pursued to tackle this have been described by the UN as “nowhere near ambitious enough”.
The focus will also be on how people can best use nature and land use, moving to clean energy sources and making COP28 the “most inclusive” ever.
King Charles III, prime minister Rishi Sunak, and foreign secretary David Cameron will be the most high-profile UK representatives.
However, their popularity among some allies remains uncertain due to Sunak’s support for North Sea oil and recent retreat on domestic net zero targets. His decision to advise against Charles attending COP27 also raised eyebrows.
The conference itself is being hosted by Sultan al Jaber – the boss of one of the world’s largest oil companies, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) – and whose appointment was greeted with scepticism. He insists he wants to guide major oil and gas producers toward emission reduction goals, focusing on eliminating methane emissions by 2030.
However, the UAE this week had to fend off uncomfortable allegations from leaked documents that it planned to use meetings to promote deals for its national oil and gas companies to other countries. A COP28 spokesperson described the documents as “inaccurate”.
The absence of US president Joe Biden means climate envoy John Kerry will attempt to navigate disagreements on climate finance and broader US-China tensions.
His relationships with Al Jaber and Beijing’s Xie Zhenhua, the vice-chairman of China’s top economic development body, could shape the summit’s outcomes. While viewed positively, Xie’s stance on a fossil fuel “phase-out” remains a point of contention.
Russia, a major carbon polluter with a recent climate pledge aiming for net zero by 2060, will be represented by Vladimir Putin’s climate adviser, Ruslan Edelgeriyev.
Saudi Arabia’s stance on oil, gas, and coal will also likely pose challenges. Chief negotiator Khalid al-Mehaid will defend fossil fuels with a focus on reducing pollution, transitioning to renewables.
At the other end of the spectrum, the UN climate chief Simon Stiell, from Grenada, balances the interests of nearly 200 nations, seeking difficult answers and clear targets for climate action.
Representing the least-developed countries, Madeleine Diouf Sarr, head of the climate change division in Senegal’s Ministry of Environment will prioritise clear targets for adaptation and financial support amid growing concerns of the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable nations.
And Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley,willchampion climate equity, pushing for financial mechanisms benefiting vulnerable nations. Her outspoken calls for a just global financial system and debt-pause clauses have often resonated on the international stage.
Two other familiar faces include Pope Francis, who will make history as the first pope to attend the climate summit, and Bill Gates.
Gates will wear two hats at COP28: advocating for climate action through philanthropy and investing in green technologies. His presence underscores the intersection of environmental responsibility and business.
Watch: Barbados – Prime Minister Addresses United Nations General Debate, 78th Session
COP28: The sticky points
Differing views on the future of “unabated” fossil fuels, like coal, oil, and gas without emissions capture, are anticipated at COP28. While the UAE’s Al Jaber calls for a gradual “phase down”, the European Union is likely to advocate for a complete “phase out”.
Financial issues loom, with the unclear implementation of a “loss and damage” fund from richer to poorer countries, and the US rejecting climate reparations for historical emissions.
The EU aims to lead with a groundbreaking deal to phase out “unabated” coal, oil, and gas globally, but resistance is expected from major fossil fuel producers like Saudi Arabia and developing nations reliant on fossil fuels for economic growth.
China, the US, India and Russia are the top four polluters, according to data from Statista, China was the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2021, accounting for nearly 31% of the global emissions. The world’s top five largest polluters were responsible for roughly 60% of global CO2 emissions in 2021.
COP28’s key challenge is staying below a 1.5C temperature rise. To achieve this, there’s a push for a binding energy package—tripling renewable energy by 2030 and deploying 1.5 terawatts yearly.
Financial clarity is crucial, demanding a $200bn annual increase for the Global South, according to 350.org, an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels.
“As civil society campaigners, demonstrations and protests are expected to be limited to the UN-designated zones only but we are determined to make our voices heard and that this COP28 should be one that leads to decisive action to tackle the climate crisis,” Kim Bryan, 350’s associate director told Yahoo!.
Watch COP28 climate change summit begins: Here’s what you need to know
Are the annual climate summits working? These countries are going to the courts, instead
Ella Nilsen, CNN – November 29, 2023
Few leaders paint a picture of the climate crisis as vividly as United Nations chief António Guterres. He has accused world leaders of opening “the gates of hell” and said the planet is “heading into uncharted territories of destruction” after deadly heat waves and floods.
“The current fossil fuel free-for-all must end now,” Guterres said last year. “It is a recipe for permanent climate chaos and suffering.”
Yet the UN climate summit, known as COP, is tedious. It is full of jargon, snail-paced developments and painful consensus-building that can be broken by a single country’s veto.
Now some are asking: Is the process even working? Some small island nations — countries that are facing irrevocable change from rising seas — say no.
Over the decades, these painstaking negotiations have worked to prevent several catastrophic degrees of global warming. COP’s biggest win was the Paris Agreement, widely seen as one of the most effective environment treaties, which set a goal to limit global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably to 1.5 — a target that climate scientists, advocates and most countries have since rallied around.
Before those talks, the world was on track for roughly 4 degrees of warming. Countries’ pledges after Paris pushed that to 2.5 to 2.9 degrees, according to recent UN figures.
But the Paris Agreement was voluntary by design, in large part due to the influence of the US, and it relies on a system of collective shaming and competitive ambition in lieu of legal consequences. It contained “very few obligations” for major polluters, said Payam Akhavan, an attorney for the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law.
Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Antigua and Barbuda are now asking international courts to issue “advisory opinions” that could fundamentally change future COPs by compelling countries to set legally binding targets to cut climate pollution, rather than voluntary ones.
“The turn toward international litigation is an attempt to put some teeth in the toothless Paris regime, by declaring the 1.5-degree target is a binding target and not discretionary,” Akhavan told CNN.
As world leaders head to Dubai for COP28 this week, this courtroom strategy is raising eyebrows among the United States’ current and former climate negotiators, who say that while diplomacy can be stubborn and slow, it yields progress.
Even fierce climate advocates who agree COP should be more ambitious still believe the summit is a powerful and worthwhile endeavor.
“There is a lot of questioning whether this process will deliver or not,” Ani Dasgupta, president and CEO of international climate nonprofit World Resources Institute, told CNN. “However, I believe COP, or some version of COP, will remain and absolutely is needed. This is the only forum that I know where poor countries actually have a place at the table that is equal, to negotiate with rich countries across a vastly important topic.”
‘Countries move farther when they move together’
COP’s detractors and advocates alike agree it is a crucial annual meeting, but also one that is plodding and technical. An errant word or piece of punctuation can derail negotiations, and it can — and often does — take years for incremental progress to happen.
“I would say it’s necessary, but maybe not sufficient,” said Sue Biniaz, the deputy for US climate envoy and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
Biniaz has a lot of experience at COPs; she was the United States’ lead climate lawyer for more than two decades and was one of the key authors of the Paris Agreement.
Both Biniaz and other former top US climate negotiators told CNN that although each climate summit is often judged as a singular event, it is more important to look at the year leading up to it.
“It’s necessary because the fact that it meets annually and puts pressure on countries is a good thing, and we’re in a lot better position with the annual COPs and the Paris Agreement than we would have been without it,” Biniaz told CNN. “At the same time, it is really difficult and challenging to get agreement among everyone in the world, particularly when you have geopolitical issues, and some countries may be more motivated to reach agreement than others.”
Still, former and current US negotiators say climate diplomacy has helped keep the world’s temperature from reaching truly alarming highs.
“If you look at those first assessments coming out of the scientific community back then, we were looking at an incremental temperature gain of about 7 degrees,” said Jonathan Pershing, a former Kerry deputy who now directs the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s environment program. “Seven degrees, today, is unimaginable.”
Pershing added that the fact the world’s governments are now racing to keep to below 2 degrees of warming is an “extraordinary transition.”
“The collective endeavor has fundamentally altered the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions,” Pershing said. “I think countries move farther when they move together.”
The annual summit has also become the most visible rallying point for global climate action, former US climate envoy Todd Stern told CNN. The summits used to largely be a gathering of only government climate negotiators, but each year COP becomes much larger — drawing advocates, businesses (including fossil fuel companies) and think tanks from all corners of the globe.
Stern thinks the growing spectacle of COP is a positive force, impossible to ignore even for groups that used to deny climate change’s existence. Even US House Republicans have sent a delegation for the past two years.
“It’s a two-week moment in the course of the year when people around the world — or at least some meaningful subset of people around the world — are paying attention to it,” Stern said. “That needs to keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger because that puts pressure on governments.”
Too little, too slow
Attorneys for the small island nations who are rocking the boat at COP say the proof it isn’t working is in the extreme heat felt around the world this year, and the global records smashed.
The world’s governments are working to hold global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius — above which scientists say a hotter world with more severe droughts and intense storms will become difficult to adapt to.
But 1.5 degrees is no longer an abstract concept; the world briefly crossed that temperature threshold this summer, though scientists caution it will take several years above that limit to say with confidence it’s been officially exceeded. This summer was a taste of life at this threshold: Wildfires raged across Europe, mighty rivers like the Mississippi and the Amazon fell to new lows, and hot-tub-like ocean water killed coral reefs and rapidly intensified hurricanes and cyclones.
“It’s not as if 1.5 is safe in any way, but we are very much on track to cross it,” said Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh, an international lawyer representing the island nation Vanuatu in climate litigation at the International Court of Justice. “Clearly we need more mitigation ambition to make sure we don’t end up with an unlivable world.”
The potential for an unlivable world weighs heavily on young COP negotiators, who are urging swift action to cut climate pollution.
Hailey Campbell, a 25-year-old, Hawaii-based climate adaptation specialist who successfully lobbied for more official youth representation at COP, told CNN it is sometimes disconcerting to spend long hours and days at international summits debating the precise words on climate finance and ramping down fossil fuel use, then return to her Honolulu home and see climate impacts first-hand.
“You go back home and you’re like, ‘sea level rise is still here, [we] still need to do something about it,’” said Campbell, the co-executive director of advocacy group Care About Climate. “If I had to pick just one thing to come out of this year’s COP, it would be language to commit to an equitable phase-out of all fossil fuels.”
Two of the world’s highest courts are expected to weigh in on the small island nations’ cases as soon as next year. While the advisory opinions alone can’t force faster action from countries, it can “inject some urgency, some political will, some vision” into the annual climate talks and protect the “inalienable rights” — the very survival — of these disappearing nations, Wewerinke-Singh said.
“I think that the COP process has failed,” Akhavan said. “But we must make it work because we have no other choice.”
“Previous studies have indicated that frequent walking was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the general population, in a way that those with more time spent walking per day were at a lower risk,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Ahmad Jayedi, a research assistant at the Social Determinants of Health Research Center at the Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Iran.
But prior findings haven’t offered much guidance on the optimal habitual walking speed needed to lower diabetes risk, and comprehensive reviews of the evidence are lacking, the authors said.
The study authors reviewed 10 previous studies conducted between 1999 and 2022, which assessed links between walking speed — measured by objective timed tests or subjective reports from participants — and the development of type 2 diabetes among adults from the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.
After a follow-up period of eight years on average, compared with easy or casual walking those who walked an average or normal pace had a 15% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers found. Walking at a “fairly brisk” pace meant a 24% lower risk than those who easily or casually walked. And “brisk/striding walking had the biggest benefit: a 39% reduction in risk.
Easy or casual walking was defined as less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) per hour. Average or normal pace was defined as 2 to 3 miles (3.2 to 4.8 kilometers) per hour. A “fairly brisk” pace was 3 to 4 miles (4.8 to 6.4 kilometers) per hour. And “brisk/striding walking” was more than 4 (6.4 kilometers) per hour. Each kilometer increase in walking speed above brisk was associated with a 9% lower risk of developing the disease.
That faster walking may be more beneficial isn’t surprising, but the researchers’ “ability to quantify the speed of walking and incorporate that into their analysis is interesting,” said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association, via email. Gabbay wasn’t involved in the study.
The study also affirms the idea that “intensity is important for diabetes prevention,” said Dr. Carmen Cuthbertson, an assistant professor of health education and promotion at East Carolina University who wasn’t involved in the study, via email. “Engaging in any amount of physical activity can have health benefits, but it does appear that for diabetes prevention, it is important to engage in some higher intensity activities, such as a brisk walk, to gain the greatest benefit.”
Understanding the benefits of brisk walking
The study doesn’t prove cause-and-effect, Gabbay said, but “one can imagine that more vigorous exercise could result in being more physically fit, reducing body weight and therefore insulin resistance and lowering the risk of diabetes.”
Dr. Michio Shimabukuro, a professor and chairman of the department of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism at the Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine, agreed — adding that “increased exercise intensity due to faster walking speeds can result in a greater stimulus for physiological functions and better health status.” Shimabukuro wasn’t involved in the study.
Walking speed may also simply reflect health status, meaning healthier people are likely to walk faster, said Dr. Borja del Pozo Cruz, principal investigator of health at the University of Cadiz in Spain, who wasn’t involved in the research.
“There is a high risk of reverse causality, (wherein) health deficits are more likely to explain the observed results,” del Pozo Cruz added. “We need randomized controlled trials to confirm — or otherwise — the observed results.”
Lowering your diabetes risk
The overall message “is that walking is an important way to improve your health,” Gabbay said. “It may be true that walking faster is even better. But given the fact that most Americans do not get sufficient walking in the first place, it is most important to encourage people to walk more as they’re able to.”
If you want to challenge yourself, however, using a fitness tracker — via a watch, pedometer or smartphone app — can help you objectively measure and maintain your walking pace, experts said.
If you can’t get a fitness tracker, an easy alternative for tracking exercise intensity is the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “talk test,” which relies on understanding how physical activity affects heart rate and breathing. If, while walking, you’re able to talk with a labored voice but not sing, your pace is probably brisk.
To commemorate Munger’s monumental legacy, we’ve compiled some of our favorite Charlie quotes:
“I think life is a whole series of opportunity costs. You know, you got to marry the best person who is convenient to find who will have you. Investment is much the same sort of a process.” — 1997 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
“Another thing, of course, is life will have terrible blows, horrible blows, unfair blows. Doesn’t matter. And some people recover and others don’t. And there I think the attitude of Epictetus is the best. He thought that every mischance in life was an opportunity to behave well. Every mischance in life was an opportunity to learn something and your duty was not to be submerged in self-pity, but to utilize the terrible blow in a constructive fashion. That is a very good idea.” — 2007 USC Law School Commencement Address
“You don’t have a lot of envy, you don’t have a lot of resentment, you don’t overspend your income, you stay cheerful in spite of your troubles, you deal with reliable people and you do what you’re supposed to do. All these simple rules work so well to make your life better.” — 2019 CNBC interview
“With everything boomed up so high and interest rates so low, what’s going to happen is the millennial generation is going to have a hell of a time getting rich compared to our generation. The difference between the rich and the poor in the generation that’s rising is going to be a lot less. So Bernie has won. He did it by accident, but he won.” — 2021 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads — and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” — Poor Charlie’s Almanack
“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy does that help — particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.” — 2007 USC Law School Commencement Address
“I think value investors are going to have a harder time now that there’s so many of them competing for a diminished bunch of opportunities. So my advice to value investors is to get used to making less.” — 2023 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
“There is so much money now in the hands of so many smart people all trying to outsmart one another. It’s a radically different world from the world we started in.” — 2023 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
“What everybody has learned is that everybody needs some significant participation in the 12 companies that do better than everybody else. You need two or three of them, at least.” — Acquired podcast in 2023
On meme stocks: “What we’re getting is wretched excess and danger for the country. A lot of people like a drunken brawl, and so far those are the people that are winning, and a lot of people are making money out of our brawl.” 2021 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“One of the inane things [that gets] taught in modern university education is that a vast diversification is absolutely mandatory in investing in common stocks. That is an insane idea. It’s not that easy to have a vast plethora of good opportunities that are easily identified. And if you’ve only got three, I’d rather it be my best ideas instead of my worst. And now, some people can’t tell their best ideas from their worst, and in the act of deciding an investment already is good, they get to think it’s better than it is. I think we make fewer mistakes like that than other people. And that is a blessing to us.” — 2023 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
“I find it much easier to find four or five investments where I have a pretty reasonable chance of being right that they’re way above average. I think it’s much easier to find five than it is to find 100. I think the people who argue for all this diversification — by the way, I call it ‘deworsification’ — which I copied from somebody — and I’m way more comfortable owning two or three stocks which I think I know something about and where I think I have an advantage.” — 2021 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“If you’re going to invest in stocks for the long term or real estate, of course there are going to be periods when there’s a lot of agony and other periods when there’s a boom. And I think you just have to learn to live through them. As Kipling said, treat those two imposters just the same. You have to deal with daylight and night. Does that bother you very much? No. Sometimes it’s night and sometimes it’s daylight. Sometimes it’s a boom. Sometimes it’s a bust. I believe in doing as well as you can and keep going as long as they let you.” — 2021 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“I think that the modern investor, to get ahead, almost has to get in a few stocks that are way above average. They try and have a few Apples and Googles or so on, just to keep up, because they know that a significant percentage of all the gains that come to all the common stockholders combined is going to come from a few of these supercompetitors.” — 2023 Wall Street Journal interview
“There are huge advantages for an individual to get into a position where you make a few great investments and just sit on your ass: You are paying less to brokers. You are listening to less nonsense. And if it works, the governmental tax system gives you an extra 1, 2 or 3 percentage points per annum compounded.” —Worldly Wisdom by Charlie Munger 1995-1998
“I have a friend who’s a fisherman. He says, ‘I have a simple rule for success in fishing. Fish where the fish are.’ You want to fish where the bargains are. That simple. If the fishing is really lousy where you are you should probably look for another place to fish.”— 2020 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“It takes character to sit with all that cash and to do nothing. I didn’t get to be where I am by going after mediocre opportunities.” — Poor Charlie’s Almanack
“Understanding both the power of compound interest and the difficulty of getting it is the heart and soul of understanding a lot of things.” — Poor Charlie’s Almanack
On new technologies
“The electric vehicle is coming big time, and that’s a very interesting development. At the moment, it’s imposing huge capital costs and huge risks, and I don’t like huge capital costs and huge risks.” — 2023 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
On Big Tech regulation: “I would not break them up. They’ve got their little niches. Microsoft maybe has a nice niche, but it doesn’t own the Earth. I like these high-tech companies. I think capitalism should expect to get a few big winners by accident.” — 2023 “Acquired” podcast
“We now have computer algorithms trading with other computers. And people buying stocks who know nothing, being advised by people who know even less. It’s an incredibly crazy situation … All this activity makes it easier for us.” — 2022 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting
“We are going to miss these newspapers terribly. Each newspaper… was an independent bastion of power. The economic position was so impregnable … and the ethos of a journalist was to try to tell it like it is. And they really were a branch of the government — they called them the Fourth Estate, meaning the fourth branch of the government. It arose by accident. Now about 95% of [newspapers are] going to disappear and go away forever. And what do we get in substitute? We get a bunch of people who attract an audience because they’re crazy ….
I have my favorite crazies, and you have your favorite crazies, and we get together and all become crazier as we hire people to tell us what we want to hear. This is no substitute for Walter Cronkite and all those great newspapers of yesteryear. We have suffered a huge loss here. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s the creative destruction of capitalism, but it’s a terrible thing that’s happened to our country.” — 2022 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“A cryptocurrency is not a currency, not a commodity, and not a security. Instead, it’s a gambling contract with a nearly 100% edge for the house, entered into in a country where gambling contracts are traditionally regulated only by states that compete in laxity.” — 2023 Wall Street Journal op-ed
“I am not proud of my country for allowing this crap — well, I call it crypto shit. It’s worthless, it’s crazy, it’s not good, it’ll do nothing but harm, it’s antisocial to allow it.” — 2023 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“When you’re dealing with something as awful as crypto shit, it’s just unspeakable. I’m ashamed of my country that so many people believe in this kind of crap and the government allows it to exist.” — 2023 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“I’m proud of the fact that I avoided it. It’s like some venereal disease. I just regard it as beneath contempt. Some people think it’s modernity, and they welcome a currency that’s so useful in extortions and kidnappings [and] tax evasion.” —2022 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
“I hate the bitcoin success and I don’t welcome a currency that’s useful to kidnappers and extortionists, and so forth. Nor do I like just shuffling out a few extra billions and billions and billions of dollars to somebody who just invented a new financial product out of thin air. So, I think I should say modestly that I think the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization.” — 2021 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting
On the US economy and business:
“What makes capitalism work is the fact that if you’re an able-bodied young person, if you refuse to work, you suffer a fair amount of agony, and because of that agony, the whole economic system works … You take away that hardship and say, ‘You can stay home and get more than if you come in to work,’ that’s quite disruptive to an economic system like ours. The next time we do this, I don’t think we ought to be so liberal.” — 2022 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
“We’ve had enough good sense when something is working very well to keep doing it. I’d say we’re demonstrating what might be called the fundamental algorithm of life — repeat what works.” — 2010 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
“I spent a lifetime trying to avoid my own mental biases. A.) I rub my own nose into my own mistakes. B.) I try and keep it simple and fundamental as much as I can. And, I like the engineering concept of a margin of safety. I’m a very blocking and tackling kind of thinker. I just try to avoid being stupid. I have a way of handling a lot of problems — I put them in what I call my ‘too hard pile,’ and just leave them there. I’m not trying to succeed in my ‘too hard pile.’” — 2020 CalTech Distinguished Alumni Award interview
“Charlie and I think pretty much alike. But what it takes me a page to explain, he sums up in a sentence. His version, moreover, is always more clearly reasoned and also more artfully — some might add bluntly — stated.
Here are a few of his thoughts, many lifted from a very recent podcast:
• The world is full of foolish gamblers, and they will not do as well as the patient investor.
• If you don’t see the world the way it is, it’s like judging something through a distorted lens.
• All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there. And a related thought: Early on, write your desired obituary — and then behave accordingly.
• If you don’t care whether you are rational or not, you won’t work on it. Then you will stay irrational and get lousy results.
• Patience can be learned. Having a long attention span and the ability to concentrate on one thing for a long time is a huge advantage.
• You can learn a lot from dead people. Read of the deceased you admire and detest.
• Don’t bail away in a sinking boat if you can swim to one that is seaworthy.
• A great company keeps working after you are not; a mediocre company won’t do that.
• Warren and I don’t focus on the froth of the market. We seek out good long-term investments and stubbornly hold them for a long time.
• Ben Graham said, ‘Day to day, the stock market is a voting machine; in the long term it’s a weighing machine.’ If you keep making something more valuable, then some wise person is going to notice it and start buying.
• There is no such thing as a 100% sure thing when investing. Thus, the use of leverage is dangerous. A string of wonderful numbers times zero will always equal zero. Don’t count on getting rich twice.
• You don’t, however, need to own a lot of things in order to get rich.
• You have to keep learning if you want to become a great investor. When the world changes, you must change.
• Warren and I hated railroad stocks for decades, but the world changed and finally the country had four huge railroads of vital importance to the American economy. We were slow to recognize the change, but better late than never.
• Finally, I will add two short sentences by Charlie that have been his decision-clinchers for decades: ‘Warren, think more about it. You’re smart and I’m right.’
And so it goes. I never have a phone call with Charlie without learning something. And, while he makes me think, he also makes me laugh.”