Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals
The email in my inbox last week offered thirty suggestions to green my office space: use reusable pens, redecorate with light colours, stop using the elevator.
Back at home, done huffing stairs, I could get on with other options: change my lightbulbs, buy local veggies, purchase eco-appliances, put a solar panel on my roof.
And a study released on Thursday claimed it had figured out the single best way to fight climate change: I could swear off ever having a child.
These pervasive exhortations to individual action — in corporate ads, school textbooks, and the campaigns of mainstream environmental groups, especially in the west — seem as natural as the air we breath. But we could hardly be worse-served.
While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives, fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71 percent. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.
This is what in physics has come to be called a gedanken experiment. It is something you don’t expect to do for real because it is dangerous or impossible to set up the apparatus to do it. Christopher Shaw is a good person to do this experiment: see Christopher Shaw. I don’t see much hope with Donald Trump because he is surrounded by people with grim agenda. Maybe you could target his children.
How to talk with Trump about Climate Change – it’s about values and emotions, stupid
There will be people, more amenable than Trump, for whom this approach will work.
More generally the approach as I see it is well summarized by Joe Romm: ‘Numbers numb, stories sell’: The key messaging lesson from Trump’s win. We need more coherent and engaging stories.
I see the real change as the unstoppable development of solar power, and Donald Trump is only President in a society with many people, including capitalists, pushing for moving off fossil fuels.
Electric cars and cheap solar ‘could halt fossil fuel growth by 2020’
I found this a very apt metaphor.
On Black Friday, reflect on the Ponzi scheme that is our global economy
Joe Romm quotes from an interview he gave in 2009:
“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.
“You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”
An urban myth is that locally produced food is always lower carbon than that imported from father away by some large amount. It seems not so.
The tricky truth about food miles
here is research with detailed assessment for food transport in the USA.
Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States
Talking Topics is a list of issues that come up on the web or in books, the latest of which we will discuss at our meeting on the date given.
There must be some limit to the number of people who can live on the Earth. Here is a summary of some aspects of the debate:
Why we should have fewer children: to save the planet
I never quite liked the word renewables so I hope to start the change to a new word. I know nothing is eternal but solar is as near as it gets for us humans.
The Tories are trying to kill off our renewable energy boom
I find a lot of ill-thought comment on articles on solar & wind power and their costs. I often add comment to that. So to comments on this article by Ed Davey I had to add –
I note that people are complaining that renewables are the cause of high energy costs. One way to reduce personal energy costs for a while would be to get a wood-burning stove and start burning the doors and floorboards of one’s home. The effects of this are so clear that people will not do it, yet burning fossil fuels is an equivalent for our environment. Renewables are not being pushed by some fashion but because there is a huge looming problem to solve and they can solve it. Of course there is a cost in developing this. However, fossil fuels also get subsidies but they are not put on to the bill we get from the power companies, they go as grants and tax breaks to the producer companies from general taxation – so they are hidden. This could be seen as a subtle way to make people anti-renewables. With more use of renewables will come more R&D making more efficient and cheaper systems. Doing that R&D here means we can have technologies that we can export to pay our way in the world, and all those installations will provide local jobs in every locality, reducing the need for welfare payments, reducing what we have to pay in tax for benefit payments. Fossil fuels are a dead end in every sense. Renewables are the future technologies in which we should invest – yes, that’s the word “invest”.
1) Start immediate training for building insulation – all buildings.
2) Keep on installing solar PV and wind turbines (especially offshore).
3) Indeed let’s do some nuclear fission power, but not the absurd Hinkley C – there are better, proven designs to choose from, and we were once the world’s leaders in this and could invest in R&D again.
All these are jobs for people here, all good economic activity.
For entertainment and education (maybe):
What’s greener, beef or potatoes? Test your carbon footprint knowledge
As a side issue – debate the question, “Does a quiz like the above do anything useful?”
This article is not on what we are thing about as environmental issues, but it is pertinent.
Yuval Noah Harari: The age of the cyborg has begun
The author of the bestselling Sapiens says that the future of life on Earth is now, worryingly, in the hands of a very small group of entrepreneurs
I see entrepreneurs as essential for the speedy development of solutions we need. My view: Do you agree. But there are damaging entrepreneurs too, especially in fossil fuels.
Secrecy over fracking chemicals clouds environmental risks
A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month found that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas can lead, and has led, to the contamination of drinking water. It was the first time the federal government had admitted such a link. [USA]
Even if the EPA was able to compile a list of 1,076 chemicals used in the fracking process, the list is incomplete, with businesses involved in fracking able to cite some components as amounting to confidential business information, and therefore not subject to release to the public
We need to know. Health critical information cannot be secret.
Carbon tax repeal sparks jump in Australia’s electricity emissions
A carbon tax works so it has to be removed!
This is a sad message for sustainability and dealing with climate change.
Glastonbury’s rubbish: going against the green ethos ruins it for everyone
As the 800-strong litter-picking crew begin the mammoth task of clearing an estimated 1,650 tonnes of waste – including 5,000 abandoned tents, 6,500 sleeping bags, 400 gazebos, 54 tonnes of cans and plastic bottles, 41 tonnes of cardboard, 66 tonnes of scrap metal, 3,500 airbeds, 2,200 chairs and 950 rolled mats
The tonnage looks stunning, but as about 177,000 people attended that averages 9 Kg per person. About 3% of people abandon tents and sleeping bags. Will our attempts at sustainability forever be sabotaged by this 3% ?