Tag Archives: Carbon dioxide

State capitalism and climate emergency

A continued look at {Why capitalism massively intensified the climate crisis, and why only collective action can solve it}

Continuation of

Capitalism and relevance to climate change

Capitalism and The environmental record of the communist world

In his article “Why capitalism massively intensified the climate crisis, and why only collective action can solve it” Gezwin Stanley confirms that the climate emergency couldn’t have happened without fossil fuel driven industrialisation. But there is more:

human technology plus the very human inclination towards short termism tends to result in environmental degradation. It isn’t just capitalism that caused the climate crisis. But it is clear that capitalism, or rather the different varieties of capitalism, meaning any system where the few both control and benefit from the engines of wealth creation, the very same productive forces that can damage the environment, while also being best able to use their position to shield themselves against any environmental side effects, did and will dramatically exacerbate environmental damage. And, comparing state capitalism with private capitalism, it isn’t markets or consumerism that appeared to make the difference: the West had those in abundance, but the Communist world did not, and the outcomes were similar: critical environmental crises. The implication is that mass-scale industrial technology, combined with the control of that economy by a few who are compelled to strive for growth at all costs and to disregard, even deliberately hide, all externalities, is sufficient to cause environmental collapse, even if consumerism and insufficiently democratically regulated markets really don’t help. {Why capitalism massively intensified the climate crisis, and why only collective action can solve it}

We must remember that important pressures contributing to current and future ecological collapse include habitat loss, habitat degradation, and habitat fragmentation, monocultures, overgrazing, overexploitation of ecosystems by humans, human industrial growth and overpopulation. The Soviet Union sinned against the respectful use of the earth by the practice of growing the same crop each year on a given acreage. The Soviet government found out, to its shame, that their large-scale plan of mass production or to produce huge quantities of cereals, vegetables and fruit, impoverished the country and did not produce good harvests. This because nonlegume crops usually exhaust the nitrogen in the soil, with a resulting reduction in yields. When they wanted to make the fertility level of the soil higher, they introduced fertilisers that poisoned the soil. The idea of greater flexibility in planning the system to meet year to year changes in the need for various crops, failed dramatically with food shortages and starvation as a result.

That environmental damage will be even more extreme if the masters of the economy, under private or state capitalism, are actively competing with each other whether for profit or to hit targets mandated by some dictator’s latest five year plan. {Why capitalism massively intensified the climate crisis, and why only collective action can solve it}

writes Gezwin Stanley, admitting that

 the vital experiment, of a technologically advanced society that combines political and economic democracy, hasn’t as yet really been tried, perhaps because it is so offensive to the powerful and power-hungry.

Would such a society be able to better balance environmental and economic concerns? It certainly seems likely in theory, but in practice all we have to go on are smaller scale examples, often embattled and created despite huge challenges, such as the Zapatistas in Mexico or Rojava in Kurdistan. While environmentalism is a core thread of the ideology of both these movements (see for example: “What the Zapatistas can teach us about the climate crisis” or “Rojava is trying to build a green society”), how that would play out in the long term, in more stable conditions and at scale, has still to be determined. Though social democracy may be precarious, because the super-rich often buy politicians, parties and media influence, the historically more thorough-going social democracies may offer a clue as to what would be possible environmentally if economic control was more democratic, with (again according to the World Bank figures here: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC) per capita carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 for Denmark being 5.8 tonnes, for Norway 7.0 tonnes and for Sweden 3.5 tonnes, compared to the USA at 15.2 tonnes, though the Nordic countries are at a similar level of technological advancement and average prosperity and overall have a colder climate. The same figure for the Russian Federation is 11.2 tonnes per capita and for considerably poorer China 7.4 tonnes. It may also be worth contrasting how Scandinavia confronted the problem of acid rain from the 1970s with how the former Soviet Union attempted to “bury” its multiple environmental crises. {Why capitalism massively intensified the climate crisis, and why only collective action can solve it}

For him, it is no wonder that the state-capitalist communist countries of the past or the present were the cause of environmental calamities.

There have been more human generated greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 than in the rest of history (see this excerpt from “The Uninhabitable Earth”, published in 2019). Nor should we ever forget the whole corporate funded global disinformation campaign of climate change denial , and now “greenwashing”. For example, Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, but it funded climate change denial for 27 more years. None of this is surprising as the richest have an incentive to care least about climate change, because they can most easily escape its effects, from basing themselves in less affected countries, through being able to afford air conditioning, coastal defences and other protections to participating in the growing market for elite bunkers and safe havens (see “‘Billionaire bunkers’ that could shelter the superrich during an apocalypse”).

COP15 Logo.svgIf the economies of at least the most technologically advanced and richest nations had been run along lines of distributed economic power, of economic democracy as described here: https://gezwinstanley.wordpress.com/what-is-economic-justice-and-how-can-we-create-it/ , then there would most likely still have been a climate crisis. We are not angels. But without hugely powerful billionaires willing to conspire to deny climate change, and able to rig the political debate in many countries such as the USA, we would have acted a decade or two, possibly three, sooner. For example, the climate change deniers’ “Climategate” conspiracy in 2009 sabotaged the Copenhagen COP15 Conference and alone may have set back progress a decade, while none of the conspirators or those enlisted to help with the subsequent public relations have ever been brought to book. All that lost time could prove to have been crucial.

To resolve this conflict of interest we need to place everyone in control of the things they need to live and make a living. Then no one can disproportionately reap the economic benefits while disproportionately avoiding the environmental costs. That ensures everyone has an incentive to co-operate to create environmental regulations, pricing, taxes and subsidies, that avoid collective catastrophe, because no one can rig the deadly serious economic “game” of balancing economic output against environmental costs by largely reaping the economic benefits while passing most of the environmental impact onto someone else. {Why capitalism massively intensified the climate crisis, and why only collective action can solve it}

 

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Streams caused by temperature differences

Andreas Kluth in The Day, a daily newspaper covering a 20-town region in eastern Connecticut, in his guest opinion piece writes about weather disasters spanning the globe this summer, looking at the many infernal fires in California and Greece, deadly floods from Germany to China, heat waves from Canada to Siberia that according to him

are really just nature’s shots across our bow.

That becomes clear if we absorb the recently published report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of the United Nations that assesses the state of science on global warming. He writes:

No matter what policies we adopt − and obviously we should aim for good ones – the weather will keep getting more catastrophic more often.

A lot of people would agree with the fact that even when we are so progressed in science, there is still what we do not know.

Part of what makes the overall problem of climate change so psychologically daunting is that there’s so much we know, but so much more that we know only partially, and even more that we have yet to understand at all.

We know perfectly well, for example, how coal-fired power plants pump carbon dioxide into the air – bad. We only partially understand how the thawing permafrost could release enough methane on top of the greenhouse gases we’ve emitted to cause additional, sudden and terrifying spikes in warming – really bad. And we have yet to figure out exactly how all this would affect the earth system as a whole, and in particular the massive currents of air and water that have made the world a familiar habitat to us.

One current of particular concern is the polar jet stream, a group of winds that whips at enormous speeds around the Arctic from west to east (owing to the earth’s rotation) at a height of six-to-10 miles up in the atmosphere. Another is the Gulf Stream, a vast oceanic conveyor belt that makes warm water from the tropics flow northward on the surface until it cools and, around Iceland, sinks down and heads back south.

One thing these streams have in common, with each other and the many other currents all around the world, is that they’re caused by temperature differences between the hot tropics and the cold poles. Another thing they share is that, in their own ways, they protect or nurture us humans.

The complex swirls of the jet streams tend to blow away pressure systems that could otherwise kill us on the ground with storms and floods and heat. If these streams blow less hard, or more weirdly, or not at all, those meteorological danger domes just hover in place without moving, until they discharge their payloads on us. Although the details aren’t clear yet, scientists believe this partially explains why the floods in Germany, the heat waves in North America and forest fires in Greece and Turkey turned into such doozies.

Changes in the Gulf Stream work more slowly but are just as consequential. It’s already known that the current is at its weakest in a millennium. There are many reasons, including torrents of freshwater pouring in from melting ice and bloated rivers (freshwater is lighter than saltwater and prevents cooling water from sinking) and shrinking temperature differentials between south and north as the Artic heats up. A new study in Nature suggests that the whole Atlantic circulation and convection system may “collapse” altogether.

Read more about it: If jet or gulf streams collapse, we’re in for it

A woman throws away flood damaged rubbish July 19 in the center of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany. (Bram Janssen/AP Photo)

A woman throws away flood damaged rubbish July 19 in the center of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany. (Bram Janssen/AP Photo)

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Four ways to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises simultaneously

A landmark report by the world’s most senior climate and biodiversity scientists argues that the world will have to tackle the climate crisis and the species extinction crisis simultaneously, or not at all.

That’s because Earth’s land and ocean already absorbs about half of the greenhouse gases that people emit. Wild animals, plants, fungi and microbes help maintain this carbon sink by keeping soils, forests and other ecosystems healthy.

Failing to tackle climate change meanwhile will accelerate biodiversity loss, as higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns make survival for many species more difficult. Both problems are intertwined, and so solutions to one which exacerbate the other are doomed to fail.

Luckily, there are options for addressing climate change and biodiversity loss together, called nature-based solutions. If implemented properly, these measures can enhance the richness and diversity of life on Earth, help habitats store more carbon and even reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, making ecosystems more resilient while slowing the rate at which the planet warms.

1. Protect and restore ecosystems

Everyone is familiar with the need to preserve tropical rainforests, but there are other pristine habitats, on land and in the ocean, which are in dire need of protection.

Mangrove swamps occupy less than 1% of Earth’s surface, but store the equivalent of 22 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s around two-thirds of total emissions from burning fossil fuels each year. These coastal habitats act as a home, nursery, and feeding ground for numerous species. More than 40 bird, ten reptile and six mammal species are only found in mangroves.

Under the canopy in a tropical mangrove forest.
Mangroves are particularly good at storing carbon. Velavan K/Shutterstock

Peatlands – those soggy ecosystems which include bogs, marshes and fens – store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests. The top 15cm stores more carbon below ground than tropical rainforests do above ground. In the UK, peatlands store the equivalent of ten billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and host precious plant and animals such as red grouse, mountain hares and marsh earwort.

Unfortunately, more than 80% of the UK’s peatlands are degraded in some way. A single hectare of damaged peatland can emit more than 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – equivalent to the yearly emissions of seven family cars.

Protecting these ecosystems can prevent carbon being released into the atmosphere. Restoring them where they’ve been damaged can suck carbon dioxide from the air and guarantee shelter for rare wildlife. Diverse natural systems also bounce back better from climate extremes than do species-poor, highly degraded systems, and will keep helping biodiversity and people even as Earth continues to warm.

2. Manage farmland and fisheries sustainably

Not all of the world’s land and ocean can be left to nature, but the land and ocean people use to produce food and other resources can be managed better.

People currently use about 25% of the planet’s land surface for growing food, extracting resources and living. The global food system contributes one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Methods of farming – such as agroecology, which involves incorporating trees and habitats within farm fields – and sustainable fishing practices can protect and regenerate topsoil and seabed habitats, boosting biodiversity and improving how resilient these ecosystems are to climate change.

Rows of vegetable beds with lines of young trees.
Reforestation in tandem with food growing: lettuce, cauliflowers and tomatoes grow among saplings in Brazil. Luisaazara/Shutterstock

3. Create new forests – with care

People have already cut down three trillion trees – half of all the trees which once grew on Earth.

Creating new woodlands and forests can draw down atmospheric carbon and provide diverse habitats for a range of species, but great care must be taken to plant the right mix of trees in the right place. Vast plantations of non-native trees, particularly when they’re a single species, offer less useful habitat for wildlife, but a mix of native trees can benefit biodiversity and store more carbon in the long run.

A study in south-east China showed that forests containing several tree species stored twice as much carbon as the average single-species plantation.

We can do the same thing in the ocean by restoring seagrass meadows.

4. Shift to more plant-based diets

Globally, animal agriculture is a major contributor to biodiversity loss. Millions of hectares of Amazon rainforest, African Savanna and Central Asian grassland have been ploughed up to create pasture and plant feed crops for the cows, pigs and chickens that we eat. Nearly 60% of all planet-warming emissions from food production originate in livestock rearing.

Reducing demand for meat and dairy, through diet changes and cutting waste, would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions – which itself benefits biodiversity by limiting climate change – it would also lower pressure for farmland and so reduce deforestation and habitat destruction, freeing more land for the wider use of nature-based solutions.

A vegan burger with a side of sweet potato fries.
A vegan diet is better for wildlife and the climate than a high-meat one. Rolande PG/Unsplash, CC BY-SA

Meat, especially highly processed meat, has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and bowel and stomach cancer. Plant-based diets are healthier, reduce healthcare costs and reduce carbon emissions.

A note of caution

It’s important to remember that nature-based solutions aren’t a substitute for the rapid phase out of fossil fuels. They should involve a wide range of ecosystems on land and in the sea, not just forests. Wherever they’re implemented, nature-based solutions must proceed with the full engagement and consent of Indigenous peoples and local communities, respecting their cultural and ecological rights. And nature-based solutions should be explicitly designed to provide measurable benefits for biodiversity – not just carbon sequestration.

With all this in mind, the world can design robust and resilient solutions for the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, sustaining nature and people together, now and into the future.

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About the authors:

Pete Smith currently receives research funding from UKRI, EU, Wellcome Trust and Scottish Government. He is on the science advisory team for Carbon Direct (https://carbon-direct.com/).

Mark Maslin is a Founding Director of Rezatec Ltd, Co-Director of The London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, a member of Cheltenham Science Festival Advisory Committee and a member of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. He is an unpaid member of the Sopra-Steria CSR Board and Sheep Included Ltd Advisory Board. He has received grant funding in the past from the NERC, EPSRC, ESRC, DFG, Royal Society, DIFD, BEIS, DECC, FCO, Innovate UK, Carbon Trust, UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Research England, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation Sprint2020, and British Council. He has received research funding in the past from The Lancet, Laithwaites, Seventh Generation, Channel 4, JLT Re, WWF, Hermes, CAFOD, HP, and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Camille Parmesan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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A dangerous turning point – Earth facing the collapse of everything

Despite so much evidence to the contrary, “experts” deny there is any threat to the world’s ecology.
Study Disputes That Earth is in a ‘Climate Emergency’

Brietbart 07-Feb-21 by Delingpole

“There is no “climate emergency”, according to a study for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by independent scientist Dr Indur Goklany.
Dr Goklany concludes:

“While climate may have changed for the warmer:  Most extreme weather phenomena have not become extreme, more deadly, or more destructive.  Empirical evidence directly contradicts claims that increased carbon dioxide has reduced human wellbeing. In fact, human wellbeing has never been higher.

Whatever detrimental effects warming and higher carbon dioxide may have had on terrestrial species and ecosystems, they have been swamped by the contribution of fossil fuels to increased biological activity. This has halted, and turned around, reductions in habitat loss”.

The report would make hugely depressing reading for all environmental activists — even the Pope – if it was
infallibly accurate – which it is not!
Dr Goklany says there is little to scare us:

Yes, there will be more hot days, but fewer cold days. Oh? Where?

In the Arctic and the Antarctic of course – silly!

*There will be less tornados – #in Great Britain?
* There will be less floods, less frequent and smaller!
# Perhaps Goklany slept through last year, but there were half a dozen cyclones causing death by floods, drowning, landslides and inundation from January to December 2020 throughout the Southern Hemisphere!
*There will be less droughts and less wildfires.

# When does this begin? So far so bad in California and many parts of Australia. In October 1917 intense, deadly fires killed 41 people in Spain and Portugal, and in 2020 fires affected Sweden and Northern France as well as Italy and Spain where wildfires are not indigenous!

In 2020 for months, Siberia has been experiencing extreme heat due to a combination of persistent sunny weather and human-caused climate change. In addition to producing Arctic temperatures that cracked 100 degrees in June, the heat has fueled an enormous outbreak of wildfires, including fires on Siberia’s tundra……

Breitbart News Desk February 16, 2021:

The deep freeze that knocked out power in Texas spread across the country this week. The agency that manages power in fourteen states from Texas through Oklahoma and all the way up to North Dakota declared a state of emergency and ordered utilities to initiate rolling blackouts to cut electrical demand and stabilize the grid.
Meanwhile, a lot of fracking for oil has been brought to a halt by the freeze. Twenty percent of the U.S. oil production has gone offline, and some of the biggest refineries have been shuttered. The big problem is that the Texas oil kits are not set up for arctic weather. Up in North Dakota the extraction process is winterized, but that’s not the case farther south. Even something as simple as picking up oil in a truck to move to a refinery can become impossible when your roads are iced over, there are no snow ploughs or road salt, and no one has snow tires.
Crude oil production is down by more than four million barrels a day, twice what was reported a day earlier. Prior to the cold crisis, the U.S. was producing around 11 million barrels a day.
The Permian Basin, America’s largest oil field, has been hard hit. Production in the area that straddles western Texas and
New Mexico is down between 65 percent and 80 percent.

The melting Arctic has been watched closely by countries like China and Russia who are looking to take advantage of the increasingly available shipping lanes. But scientists have lamented the latest milestone, and are sounding the alarm about further environmental degradation due to increased shipping activity.

It is a very dangerous turning point

says Associate Professor Nengye Liu, an expert in international polar law at Macquarie University.

In Revelation 6:8-9 we can see that “Global Warming” is the result of the 4th Vial of God’s Wrath

   8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 9  And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

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‘Too late’:

David Attenborough warns Earth faces ‘total collapse’

Nick Whigham ·Assistant News Editor | Yahoo News| 24.2.20-21

The world’s most famous naturalist has issued a dire proclamation about the state of the planet, warning Earth is facing “the collapse of everything” if we continue on our current path.

94-year-old Sir David Attenborough warned overnight that climate change is the biggest security threat modern humans have ever faced while addressing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session on climate, saying it was “already too late” to stem the diabolical impacts of global warming.

   “There is no going back, no matter what we do now, it’s too late to avoid climate change and the poorest, the most vulnerable, those with the least security, are now certain to suffer,”

he said.

“And if the natural world can no longer support the most basic of our needs, then much of the rest of civilisation will quickly break down.”

Arthur Wright, Kallangur, Brisbane

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