“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”- Henry Thoreau
This quote is extremely appropriate in the context of mitigating climate change. To stem the issues that are springing out of the burning of fossil fuels, the deforestation, desertification, water pollution, extinction of species, drought, floods, hurricanes; there is a root cause of these ‘evils’ and if the power comes from below while the top gets off its arse, both can meet in the middle and strike at the root together.
One of these ‘evils’ is the 2 degree Celsius threshold that a lot of scientists often go on about. But what is it? It’s predicted to be the difference between controllable change and unprecedented global environmental change that will affect all life on earth.
Those most at risk are the poorest populations whose contribution to the problem is smallest. Those who are more economically fortunate will be affected later on but will no doubt be affected.
Money cannot prevent natural disasters as we have witnessed from Hurricane Katrina, Sandy and the horrific wildfires that have swamped both the western parts of North America, Canada and Alaska along with Australian fires.
To prevent this, we need to stabilise our emissions to below 450 parts per million (ppm) CO2 equivalent. Our current level is 430 ppm and is rising at more than 2 ppm each year. To stabilise we need to be at least 25% below the current levels by 2050.
We are sure to see changes and their effects despite any actions we take now but if we do act, we can prevent the prolonging of any issues that arise for future generations. We can say we tried… we did something.
The energy sector is having a considerable influence on emissions and the energy efficiency of the world and the demand for fossil fuels needs to be haltered. A swap to clean energy solutions that have virtually no waste products is the way forward. Waste is the product of badly managed business. If electricity was the source of most power we have the opportunity to make something special happen to our transport sector, home and public energy sector. Renewables could power more if there was more financial assistance invested into cleaner, reliable sources rather than dirty unstable energy derivatives.
However, although the power sector around the world would need to be at least 60% decarbonised by 2050 to stabilise atmospheric concentrations, it has been published in the Stern Review that by 2050 even with renewable surges, there will still be a 50% inclusion of fossil fuels to support the energy supply globally.
Carbon capture and storage occurs naturally; trees sequester carbon all day long. For free. Why in the worlds name therefore would we want to carry out a Texan chainsaw massacre to our wonderful forests? The transport sector is overshadowed hugely by the deforestation. Not many are aware of this fact but forest loss contributes more to global emissions than the transport sector! 25% of GHGs originate from deforestation caused by logging, land clearance for crop production and cattle farming. This means that forests ability to offset up to 15% of carbon release emissions is unlikely to change anytime soon.
“Our present course … cannot be maintained.” – Jared Diamond.
Those who are under the age of 60 currently will see the way that our current problems are going to be resolved. I am one of those people and I want to spend my time contributing to the movement of our course to something more sustainable but I believe that the responsibility of the media to educate and their potential to rally support is critical.
The Kardashians received 270 times more television new coverage reports in a year than ocean acidification, demonstrates the vicious cycle that media involvement in publicising important stories has. People are not demanding the stories therefore the media rarely publish them.
But what if they did? What if the politicians started including environmental degradation in their conversations? That would turn the tables. If they talk, we listen. Simple as that. If there became a regular talk on the radio about climate change, those tuning in would likely find it interesting and shocking to discover the truth about what we are doing to our planet.
It would make it more real for them, reconnect them to the world they live in and gives them the choice to do what they can do to help. Voluntary action. That is what is most sustainable in the long run, no one likes to be told what to do and it most certainly won’t last long if they are coerced into changing their lifestyles.
Climate change needs to be incorporated into any development strategies of countries worldwide. This should be aided by those countries who are already financially considered ‘developed’ and have the means to aid those countries who would otherwise struggle to develop in a green way.
To do something and be ignorant to the fact that is detrimental to a person or the planet is one thing. But to continue to do something when you know that it’s bad, that’s when things are wrong.