Over in Bioscience we’ve the latest insistence that we’ve all got to return to our wattle and daub huts and live, happily ever after, as medieval peasants.
More than 11,000 scientists around the world have declared a climate emergency, warning of “untold suffering” without urgent action.
The declaration is based on analysis of more than 40 years of publicly available data covering a range of measures from energy use to deforestation and carbon emissions.
Scientists from the University of Sydney, Australia, Oregon State University and Tufts University in the US and the University of Cape Town in South Africa are joined in the warning by 11,000 signatories from 153 countries including the UK.
In a paper published in the journal Bioscience, the researchers set out indicators showing the impacts of humans on the climate.
In which we find interesting claims like this:
These indicators are linked at least in part to climate change. In panel (f), annual tree cover loss may be for any reason (e.g., wildfire, harvest within tree plantations, or conversion of forests to agricultural land). Forest gain is not involved in the calculation of tree cover loss.
Isn’t that fun? We’ll measure forests that are shrinking but not forests that are expanding? Cutting down that piece of scrub on the edge of the Amazon is included but reforesting all of New England over the past century is not. Ain’t that the way to do science?
The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle.
No it isn’t. It’s linked to emissions. And emissions can be higher from a lower consumption lifestyle. It depends, obviously enough, on the technology being used. Those peasants burning forests in order to be able to grow a season or two of runty corn aren’t exactly living high on those hogs they can’t afford. It’s emissions that count, not the level of lifestyle.
Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual
Bollocks. We’ve gone out and made solar less than cripplingly expensive, the IEA now says that offshore wind is economically viable for the entire energy production system. We’ve certainly done enough to ensure that RCP 8.5 simply isn’t going to happen at all. A reasonable guess is that we’re somewhere between RCP 2.6 and 4.0 at present.
Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion
No they’re not. The UK has grown both population and the economy since the 1990s and has reduced emissions over that period of time. Not just emissions per unit of population or economy, but overall emissions.
therefore, we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies.
If we’re already achieving it, why?
We should leave remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground (see the timelines in IPCC 2018) and should carefully pursue effective negative emissions using technology such as carbon extraction from the source and capture from the air and especially by enhancing natural systems (see “Nature” section).
I have me a little test for this. We have a negative emissions technology which we know works and which we know is cheap. It’s also illegal to even test it further. Iron fertilisation of the oceans. My insistence is that no one is being serious if they don’t advocate at least further testing of this process. Other than a few other weirdos like me no one does so advocate – therefore they’re not being serious.
We must swiftly eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels
Fair point, yes, agreed. So, off you go and tell the Russians, Indonesians, Saudis and Iranians – the four by far the largest subsidisers – to stop doing so.
Cropping practices such as minimum tillage that increase soil carbon are vitally important.
Equally fair point. No till cropping usually requiring herbicides and GM crops. So, we’re in favour of those then are we?
We need to drastically reduce the enormous amount of food waste around the world.
Equally true. So, some 50% of the food in poor countries rots between farm and fork. The solution to this is supermarkets – they are really the logistics chains which prevent food rottage. So, we’re going to tell the Indians to allow foreigners into the retail system in order to reduce food wastage, are we?
We’re not? So, are we being serious here or not?
Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere.
How doe material extraction – say, of minerals – harm the biosphere? Don’t we need to dig up some sand, pump some oil or gas, to make the fibreglass for the windmill blades? Some bauxite to make the solar panel frames from?
Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.
The obvious manner of reducing inequality is to make the poor as rich as us. We do know how to do this after all, they should have an industrial revolution just as we did. This isn’t quite what they mean though, is it?
And that GDP growth. They are aware that the IPCC models in which we beat climate change have more GDP than the ones where we don’t, are they?
Still increasing by roughly 80 million people per year, or more than 200,000 per day (figure 1a–b), the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity. There are proven and effective policies that strengthen human rights while lowering fertility rates and lessening the impacts of population growth on GHG emissions and biodiversity loss. These policies make family-planning services available to all people, remove barriers to their access and achieve full gender equity, including primary and secondary education as a global norm for all, especially girls and young women (Bongaarts and O’Neill 2018).
Bollocks. Economic growth is the thing which reduces fertility levels. Everywhere that has got rich – not a high standard either, call it around $5,000 GDP per capita, summat like that – has a less than replacement fertility level. We really do know this, it’s an obvious and observable fact. Growth reduces population size.
And here’s the real problem:
As the Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future.
You lot are specialists in drawing graphs about methane emissions. What in buggery do you know about equity or how to achieve it?