What a fantastic year it was for every species on earth, with one notable exception, and oh boy have they been letting us know about it! Apart from them everyone else got a bit of a holiday from the human race and its rapacious consumption
(consumption can be a serious problem if you are the one being consumed)
Yes, the fires and the floods and the cyclones continued apace, but the freight train hurtling towards the abyss at breakneck speed has slowed just a tad. Covid forced us to stay home and do less stuff! World emissions plummeted more than any time in modern history. Without a billion slaves to turn the great wheels, the juggernaut slowed just enough for some of us to hop off and wander into the countryside and lie down under a tree and feel the flow as the world breathed an enormous sigh of relief.
2020 was a turning point for action on climate change, sure it maybe 20 years too late, but better late than never. People said the US election was THE most important ever! But they do love their hyperbole over there don’t they? Forgetting that just 20 years ago they had an election that did turn out to be the most important election ever, but they didn’t know it.
Al Gore, a passionate climate activist*, who pledged to lead the world on climate change, had his victory stolen from him by George W. Bush,** who stubbornly ignored climate change, and devoted his energies to reeking havoc and misery throughout the Middle East. A sliding door moment that allowed the Fossil Fuel Plutocracy (or Pollutocracy) to delay any meaningful action on climate change until it was (almost) too late. So here we find ourselves twenty wasted years later still wallowing in our own tears and crying woe is me. But the penny has finally dropped, and the sound of falling money can make things very real. After a generation of utter futility banging our heads against brick walls, between the dried blood and the matted hair we start to see some cracks appearing in the edifice.
Where there was inertia we see momentum building. Our incessant scream of despair has finally woken the despots from their slumber. We have set the bankers and the brokers, the executives and the apparatchiks chattering and mumbling and cursing, and what are they talking about? Money. There is money to be made and, money to be lost, vast amounts of it. An exciting time for those who thrive on adrenalin, a time for the quick and the dead.
There is something in the air. For at least 100 years the world economy has been fueled by fossils: Oil, coal, gas. But in hindsight we see that was a terrible mistake. Now we must set about eliminating our favorite foods from our diet. Coal, gas and oil are out. Wind, solar and hydrogen are in. A paradigm shift.
“He who was first shall later be last, for the times they are a changing” -Paul McCartney.
The banks are deserting their best friends, the insurance companies are giving them the bum’s rush, the super funds are turning their backs. The writing is on the wall. When money talks it does not mince words, and it takes no prisoners. The changing of the guard will be swift and brutal. Will we drown in a flood of metaphors, or shall we wake up one fine morning to a whole new cabal of plutocrats ruling our lives?
While we are on the topic of energy and its various forms, it behooves me to exemplify all the wonderful things that happened to the rest of life on earth as we huddled in miserable isolation:
99 Good Things that Happened Last Year
-The abridged version
Massive sanctuaries were proclaimed in all the major oceans, and some of the minor oceans.
Acres & acres of sea grass was planted for the sea cows & sea sheep
China’s vast fishing fleet that vacuums up most of the fish in the ocean has been told by Chairman Mao himself, that they can no longer sidle up to some unsuspecting marine reserve and ‘go dark’ – hide their location while they raid the place. Just like ye olde pirates!
In the Pacific Northwest, the Yurok tribe are removing all the dams on the Klamath River, freeing up 600ks for the salmon.
Closer to home Ozzy entrepreneurs have invented fish funnels that gently suck up the fish and dump them over the damn wall. Dam good idea eh?
Landfills are shrinking, due largely to TVs not being made so largely, but flat.
There is now as much forest in England as there was in the Anti-deluvian Era (before The Great Flood) King Henry the Infamous (Number 8) cut down the last forest in England to build ships to fight the Spanish armada, but he needn’t have bothered, they were wrecked in a storm. But he did capture the infamous Robin Hood and his band of merry men, whom he dealt with in a similar manner to his wives.
All over the world we are planting trees as fast as we can.
Before our voracious species arrived from Planet Zog with our axes and our saws, this world had 3 trillion trees. To put that in perspective, 3 trillion seconds is 100,000 years. So if it takes 5 minutes to cut down a tree then it would take…..
We humans have managed to reduce that number, by the sweats of our brows, to less than 1.5 billion trees. It has taken us a while, but don’t forget we started with stone tools, and the women didn’t help much.
But all is not lost, the United Nations, God bless them, has/have? pledged to plant 1 Billion trees by the end of Very Soon.*
Admittedly the number of endangered species is up, which is bad. But the number of endangered animals that constitute those endangered species is also up, which is good: Kenyan elefants have doubled their population, The rarely spotted Spanish Lynx are procreating in Biblical proportions, while the very spotted Myanmar Snub Nosed Turtles are breeding like Catholics, though Rohingya l am afraid, are in decline.
Blue wales – the largest animals in the whole world since we ate all the dinosaurs are breeding like rabbits and may soon be reclassified as vermin. Iceland refrained from hunting a single whale last year. No doubt because virtually the entire population has gone vegan!
There are more National Parks in the world than ever before.
( a National Park is an area for which no possible economic use can be foreseen in the foreseeable future.) As the late great Nelson Rockafella once said, and l quote: “The meek shall inherit the earth, but they won’t inherit the mineral rights)
We are all eating less meat, weather we like it or not. World meat consumption is down 1% . Don’t scoff, we eat 60 billion animals every year (55 billion are chooks) so that’s 600,000 let off the hook. The poor of course, would love to eat more meat, some of them haven’t seen a piece of meat since Pangolins were declared a protected species, but we told them it’s too fucking late. Meat is off the menu!
The optimists proclaim we have hit ‘peak pasture’, ‘peak pork’, ‘peak beef’ and ‘peak Peking Duck!’
McDonald’s is introducing hamburgers that contain no meat at all.
(Hah, Four & Twenty invented the meatless meat pie 50 years ago!)
China and Vietnam are eating less Pangolins and less dogs, in fact dogs are no longer classed as livestock. (there you go, and we thought all Asians were barbarians)
Fur Farming Phased out in Finland!
Scientists have genetically engineered a ‘Bald Mink’ to make them less attractive to fur hunters, and everyone else for that matter. The reintroduction of the Bald Mink into the arctic circle has been somewhat disappointing, but it seems to be thriving in New Guinea. Not that any coats were made from actual Mink. Turns out they were rabbit all along. But your Animal Liberationists can feel pretty smug about all those endangered rabbits they have saved.
The Germans are in the process of converting their military bases into nature reserves.
I always suspected they were a bunch of Pacifists
Jacindaland – Aotearoa (The Land of the Wrong White Crowd) has introduced free sanitary/ menstrual products in schools.
Scotland went one better and made them free for everyone – men, women and everyone in between.
U.A.E has made honour killings illegal. You will no longer get a pat on the back for strangling your own daughter for kissing some bloke at a party. Still a bit more work to be done there l think, but they are on the right track.
Sudan bans female genital mutilation. Good
Gabon – homosexuality no longer illegal. Good
More countries are allowing gay marriage – even Butan. Good.
This is great for population control. While gay people can avail themselves of the most up-to-date methods of artificial insemination, the incidence of gay couples becoming pregnant by accident is practically unheard of.
Trachoma has been eliminated in Myanmar. Trachoma is a debilitating disease that renders sufferers totally blind. (Apparently the afflicted were led over the border into Bangladesh and told they were going to see the doctor)
Where is Fred Hollows when you need him.
Togo is the first Africa country to eliminate Sleeping Sickness.
Due to the introduction of a free coffee ration.
Senegal has managed to cut the incidence of Stunting Disease by half.
Which means half the people who were half their size have now doubled their size. Well done team!
The Pigmies of course, are not amused, claiming it is not actually a disability to be small, but an asset.
Bill & Melinda are actually working on a secret project as we speak, to inseminate us all with pygmy genes. This would cut world consumption and emissions by half. Just imagine all those bungalows that could be made double story. The mind boggles
Elefantitis is down by 3/4.
ln a world first, those afflicted with stunting disease were given a shot of Elefantitis,
and sufferers of Elefantitis were given Stunting Disease. Voilà, problem solved!
(if only it were that easy)
Polio has been eliminated from the entire continent of Africa.
(despite ISIS claiming the jab was designed to make Muslims sterile)
Malaria, Bill and Melinda’s other pet project, is the lowest on record. 7 million deaths have been averted, plus an extra special bonus: Every vacination comes with a Free microchip that tracks our movements and can be remotely activated to cause instant death. Thanks Bill & Mel
(Warning: Only to be activated under extreme circumstances)
T.B. – 60 million deaths averted. (reclassified as Covid, no doubt)
Child pneumonia -50% reduction. (see above)
More people gave up smoking than ever before in England
(and took up drinking)
Dementia is actually down, despite perceptions.
Due apparently to less smoking and more exercise.
Exhaustive research has finally found the root cause of Altziemers –
Too many Birthdays!
Armies all over the world are getting smaller.
(hopefully not because they are all being killed)
Military spending is down. Good!
Military exports are down. Good!
(Nothing like a Covid lock-down to keep miscreants out of mischief)
Even Terrorism is down. (see above)
US prison rates are down 34% since 2006 (cheaper to shoot them, eh?)
Poverty is down all around the globe, but inequality is up.
Gender equality is on track to reach parity by the end of the century, if not sooner!
Yay, hang in there girls, especially those who aren’t born yet.
Decriminalization of desirable drugs is on the drawing board!
Argentina leads the way with their ‘Free Pot for the Poor’ program.
Catch: You have to pretend you are sick.
While here in Oz we are still locking kids up for smoking a joint.
l heard of one sting operation where the government called for tenders to grow medicinal marijuana. Some foolish applicants foolishly listed their years of experience in the industry and were summarily charged with trafficking a yet to be legalized product.
Literacy is up in the 3rd world for the third time in three years,
while it has fallen for fourth time in five years in the first world.
That’s what happens when kids are ‘left to their own devices.’
100 million less people went without electricity last year, due of course to the selfless generosity of the coal industry, whose mission in life is to light up the darkness for all mankind.
50 million less people in poverty in China. Due no doubt to the booming Pangolin trade, or maybe because there are 50 million less members of Falon Gung. Hmm, l wonder where they went?
Pollution is way down: No air-planes – No air pollution, fancy that! According to the U.N. more than 4 million people usually die from air pollution every single year. 800,000 of them from the burning of coal!
But last year they died of Covid instead.
…and here is some great news!
The world’s population is set to plummet, but not just yet. China recorded its lowest birthrate since 1949. It now has a lower birth rate than England. (To be fair, the English birthrate has been artificially inflated by Chinese immigrants fleeing the one child policy) The world average number of children per woman has fallen from 4.7 in 1950 to 2.4 in 2017, and will drop below 1.7 by 2100. That’s negative territory! On the other hand, the number of children per man has remained steady, indicating either a drop in the number of men, or a rise in the number of children not being produced by women. Laboratories perhaps? This warrants further investigation. But all the same, global population is now on track to peak in the middle of this century. Yay!
This could be due to the pandemic of Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia( munted sperm Yuk! ) that is sweeping the world, or Oligospermia (low sperm count) or even worse, Oligozoospermia (extremely low sperm count) or diabolical: azoospermia: No sperm at all!
Disturbingly, the number of sperm being produced by the world’s men has more than halved since 1970! But don’t worry, the human race is not about to die out just yet. When we state dramatically that the sperm count has halved, we mean it is down from 24 million per square centimetre, to 12 million, still more than enough to go round, if going around was what they were meant to do. The poor little buggers are forgetting how to swim, and those that can swim are swimming around and around in circles, so they never leave the testicle. Sad! While this is a boon for population control, the phenomena is occurring across all species on earth. The Greenies are blaming the chemical industry, but then they would wouldn’t they.**
Personally, l feel an enormous sense of relief to think that the population will eventually stabilize, even though l won’t be around to enjoy it, unless some idiot invents immortality.
Saving the best till last…..
Emissions were down 7% last year, that’s a whopping 2.4b tons, largest drop ever recorded! At least all those people that died of Covid didn’t die for nothing.
Wind, solar and hydro accounted for nearly 90% of new electricity infrastructure installed in 2020 and net installed renewable capacity grew by 4% overall, reaching almost 200 GW.
Clean energy is now the cheapest form of new energy
Countries representing around 42% of global carbon emissions now have ‘somewhat credible’ net-zero targets.
Global electric vehicle sales grew by 28% last year
One in 10 new cars sold were electric or hybrid, triple last year’s sales, and forecasts suggest market share will hit 15% in 2021
California became the first US state to say it would ban the sale of new internal combustion engines by 2035
(California consumes about 1% of global oil production.) NP
Notorious latte-sipping, radical greenies, BP said that as a result of the pandemic the world has reached peak oil. The company now estimates demand will fall by at 10% this decade and by as much as 50% over the next 20 years.
In 2012, Exxon was the most valuable company in the world, an unassailable colossus at the height of its power. This year, it got booted off the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and wrote off $17bn-$20bn worth of its natural gas assets, the biggest write-down in the company’s history.
The world’s most valuable company is now Jim’s Mowing.
India said it would stop importing thermal coal in the next four years.(l don’t believe them. What about Adani?)
For the first time ever, more coal fired power plants are shutting down than opening up, but there are still plenty of brand new ones starting up.
Last year saw black-listings of coal by Black Rock, Standard Chartered, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Citi, BNP Paribas, and Japan’s three mega banks, the largest private financiers of coal in the world.
138 globally significant banks, insurers, and asset managers have now announced their exit from coal, 46 of them coming in 2020 alone.
The rate accelerated by 50% this year.
In Canada and the United States, climate activists and indigenous groups won a number of major battles.
In February, Canadian company Teck Resources pulled out of planned operations in the oil sands, in June the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Keystone XL pipeline were shut down,
But here in Oz, Adani won’t budge!
The UK’s biggest pension fund, with over nine million members, divested from fossil fuels, and after an eight year fight, New York announced it would be getting rid of all oil and gas stocks from its $226 billion financial portfolio. It’s the first US state to do so, and the largest pension fund to dump fossil fuel investments ― ever, in the entire world. NYT
Look out. Shareholder activism is on the march!
Proposed green hydrogen projects went from 3.5 GW to 15 GW in 2020
The world’s largest cement producer, LafargeHolcim, became the the first global building materials company to commit to reducing its emissions, and committed to 100% carbon neutrality by 2050 (reminder: the cement industry causes 8% of global carbon emissions)
Two of the world’s largest steel producers, Nippon Steel and POSCO, announced carbon neutral goals by 2050, and Swedish iron-ore giant, LKAB, announced it would be investing €39bn to decarbonize, the largest industrial investment ever made in Sweden. It’s one of the most consequential energy investments of all time – because it moves us a lot closer to decarbonizing the steel industry, which is also responsible for 8% of carbon emissions.
What’s more, the insurance industry is getting out of coal en masse.
The superannuation industry is dumping fossil fuels like a hot potato!
The end of the world is not so nigh after all!
But this is not the time to rest on our Laurels. John Kerry has been anointed by President elect, Sleepy Joe Biden-his-time, the one and only Climate Czar of the World. His Holy mission: To fix the God-damn climate, or die in the attempt, but make no mistake, the man himself has no illusions about the enormity of his allotted task. In his own simple words:
“Here’s the problem. Despite Paris, despite all the best intent, it’s just not happening. If you did everything that we laid out that we needed to do in Paris, we would still be rising 3.7 degrees centigrade. That’s catastrophic. But we’re not doing everything we laid out in Paris, so we’re going way beyond 3.7 degrees right now. We’re heading to 4.1 or 4.5 degrees. That is just such a catastrophic impact on our bio-system and on our planet that it’s hard to even describe to people.”
So please wish him all the best in his endeavor.
If you have a God, ditch him and get a better one.
If you worship Mother Nature, please tell her we’re sorry!
An extra Special thank you has to go to Orange Man of course, who else?
To his eternal shame, he did sit back and watch 400,000 people die of Covid ‘on his watch’. But to his credit he did keep us all glued to that “hopeless little screen” throughout a year of endless lock-downs. Who can say how many people around the world would have died of sheer ennui if not for the vent of Donald. Sometimes it felt like the only thing keeping the languid liquid flowing through our veins was ranting and fuming at the the ‘shock and awe’ of Donald’s relentless tweets, the laughter generated by his absurdist take on reality, the sweet schadenfreude of ridicule prompted by his medicinal fantasies. How the world scoffed, and with every scoff we felt a little more alive.
I would also like to thank him for fearlessly leading the once great Republican party into oblivion, followed by most of the world’s greatest arseholes, where they may ruminate on their collective failings until they die of old age. Pricesless!
I do worry about poor little Baron though.
With his entire family languishing in prison or mental hospital, who will look after him?
Angalina Jolly has offered to adopt him, but all her other children are black.
But l think we can all agree, at present there is no precedent for that president.
l would say Trump has been the most unprecedentedly un-presidential president ever presented.
Stats courtesy of Future Crunch
*In June 1988 then Senator Al Gore invited George Jensen, from NASA to address the U.S. Congress. He told the congress that he was 99% sure that the unprecedented heat-wave afflicting the entire continent was partly caused by human activity. The speech went viral.
From that moment, some thirty years ago, the whole world knew about climate change, but chose to ignore it.
**2000 US election. Bush V Gore – Florida recount
***Tree counts courtesy of Treehugger Magazine
****Sperm counts courtesy of Atlantic Magazine
I love information like you put here!
Reblogged this on Stine Writing and commented:
This is a great post with good things that actually happened in 2020! I love it. Thank you Ben
Excellent summary of the state of the planet Ben. And most entertaining- let’s talk about it on Thursday x
I think you’ll find The Times They Are A’Changing is attributed to Bob Dylan, rather than Paul McCartney, but thanks for the laughs. Very good!
What’s not to love about Binsblog. Fantastic!
Wow Ben- very comprehensive and hopeful. Well done x