Disasters

I wrote this post a while ago, but didn’t publish it because it seemed too negative. But then again it is facing the truth, they are coming thick and fast…

Disasters are in the nature of things. Life is evolution and change. Galaxies collide, solar systems merge, orbiting objects crash into each other, storms and subterranean events cause cataclysmic events on planets. So however stable things might seem, it is inevitable that disasters will occur.

california wildfire
Wildfire, Ventura, California, December 2017, NY Times

So is it any surprise that disasters are also caused by human beings. However, we do seem to be particularly good at creating the conditions for them, e.g. we:

  • invest in new sources of fossil fuels that we know are not sustainable, thereby exacerbating the global warming we know is happening – and continue to prevaricate on taking effective action to minimise and mitigate its effects.
  • degrade our soil and food with chemical-based farming, when biological and organic methods are the only sustainable way.
  • base our economic system solely on growth, regardless of the quality of that growth and its ecological non-sustainability.
  • propagate increasing inequalities that history tells us are not sustainable and result in conflict, yet refuse to contemplate alleviatory measures, such as taxes on financial transactions, wealth and land.
  • elect those who base their campaigns around separation and collective illusions, such as making countries ‘great again’, standing above others.
  • fill our seas with plastic, to the extent that our food coming from the oceans includes increasing residues of it.
  • cut down forests to create more land to feed animals for food or grow more oil, thereby removing the planet’s lungs (analogy).
  • globalise everything such that (with climate change) diversity of species is drastically reduced.
  • invest in escalation of arms including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that no sane person would wish to see ever used.

The entrenched status quo appears to be manipulated by the main beneficiaries (the rich and powerful) such that any rapid change of direction is not possible.Read More »

It’s going to be all right?

Climate Change

So we had the Paris climate accord and everything is going to be all right? Unlikely. Nothing is binding and business goes on as usual, with exceptionally low oil prices.

My_village
‘My Village’ in Bangladesh

Scientific voices are increasingly strident about the dangers. Have we actually already reached a tipping point? We do not know. In one recent piece of research, former top NASA scientist  James Hansen and 18 co-authors suggest that current climate models grossly underestimate the effects of climate change on ocean currents. It seems that ice sheets may melt much faster than current models have anticipated – leading to much faster rise in sea levels than currently predicted. And storms could become much more severe that we have experienced so far, resulting in unimaginable tsunamis.

In the recent ‘Network Review’ of the Scientific & Medical Network, David Lorimer reviews the book ‘Paris and the Survival of Civilisation’ by David Ray Griffin, retired American professor of philosophy of religion and theology. Griffin, a meticulous scholar, analyses the current situation. Lorimer’s review gives a good overview, which you can read if you join the network.

Here’s my 3 point summary:

  1. There is already clear evidence of disruption caused by climate change in the increasing incidence of extreme weather events and related political problems, such as Syria, which are leading to increasing refugees and terrorism. This can only accelerate with current emission trends.
  2. There has been a massive collective failure of media and politicians across the world to respond to the challenge, encouraged by fossil fuel interests funding climate denial and a mindset dominated by the need for short term economic growth in a system that is clearly failing us.
  3. 80% of known fossil fuel reserves would need to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophe, yet governments continue to subsidise fossil fuels when in fact the rapid transition to ‘mostly renewables’ is the only real viable option.

In the above, I’ve just picked out a couple of examples of the voices calling for sanity. There are many.

What is really needed is a clear vision of a sustainable future with renewable energies, such as that being pioneered by Elon Musk and Tesla, and a worldwide programme to manage the transition. And then a sense of urgency, that was not evident in the conclusions from Paris.

Minimal first steps would be removal of all carbon subsidies and their transfer to renewables, and immediate carbon taxes to establish the funds needed to fight the consequences. Then at least we’d know our leaders were taking it seriously.

The economic/banking system also needs some sort of overhaul, so that it will support the transition and not be a continuous obstacle.

Will it happen? Not today. A sea change in the cultural and economic climate is needed. Every mind changed will help. Every piece of research, personal interaction, tweet, post and book will help. Every vote for right thinking politicians will help, in the democracies. Every choice to reduce personal carbon emissions will help.

We have to believe that collectively we can act in time.

The danger is that we get bogged down in fighting the symptoms, such as flooding, wildfires, water shortages, refugees and terrorism – and forget about the real problem that will eventually overwhelm many or all of us, or our children and grandchildren.

Picture of ‘My village’ By Almunimsajib2014,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36054289