INERTIA– a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.
The force of inertia is quite possibly the greatest force on earth.
It certainly seems that way when it comes to tackling climate change.
The recent election showed for the first time that there are LNP supporters out there who feel action on climate is more important than re-electing the LNP.
This is significant. It has taken 30 years, but it is a milestone non-the-less.
If we continue in this vein, one fine day we may well elect a party that will do what is required to stave off catastrophe.
“But 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.”
– John Kerry , United States special presidential envoy for climate
Mr. Kerry is way ahead of the pack, he gets it, but despite all the power of the most powerful government on earth, he is having a lot of trouble convincing the rest of us that the Paris Climate Accord is already past its use-by-date. We are playing catch-up and we are losing – big time!
John and I totally agree that Zero Net Emissions by 2050 is woefully inadequate.
For a start, drop the ‘net.’ We must achieve zero emissions, period! (as our American friends like to say) Net emissions means the big polluters can fudge their figures by planting a few trees, or not cutting down a few trees they said they were just about to cut down. We must plant trees like mad AND stop cutting them down AND do everything else we possibly can AND stop burning any fossil fuels what-so-ever, not one more gram, starting yesterday, if we want to have any chance of avoiding our ruination!
So let’s not waste our breath squabbling about 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees of warming. That argument is the greatest delusion in the history of the human race.
Here is the truth. It is not complicated. It is simple arithmetic.
But be wary, it is scary! Very, very scare.
Let’s start with the melting ice caps. The Arctic has lost 75% of its ice.
Soon it will all be gone.
So the polar bears will starve to death. So what! Who gives a shit?
Well actually, as all that bright white ice becomes dark blue water, the sun’s rays are no longer reflected, but absorbed. The sea begins to warm. The world’s weather becomes erratic and unpredictable. It is more and more difficult to grow food. This will not happen in the distant future. It is already happening, as we speak. In 2018 food production plummeted by 20% right across the Northern Hemisphere, from Vancouver to Siberia. If that happens 3 years in a row, the world runs out of food, as simple as that!
Then there is the carbon lag. If we ever stop burning fossil fuels, as our leaders have vaguely promised to do by 2050, it will still take from 10 to 30 years for the co2 that is already up there in the sky to become heat down here on the ground.
The carbon lag. I bet you hadn’t thought of that little doozy. No, me neither.
But luckily we have scientists who have spent their entire lives studying these things.
It’s confidently predicted this phenomena will lead to a rise in global temperatures of 0.7o
Now, we are all well aware that global temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees since pre-industrial times.
1.1+ 0.7 = 1.8 o That is locked in already, no matter what we do from now on.
Then we have the phenomena of global dimming. Again, if we ever stopped burning fossil fuels, the sky would soon become clear again and the air would be breathable.
Now, wouldn’t that be wonderful? But alas, every silver lining has a cloud. All that filthy soot in the air is actually blocking out the sun and keeping as a bit cooler. When all the pollution is removed, it is confidently predicted the world will heat up rather fast.
We didn’t see that one coming did we? Another 0.7o. Oh my God, here we go again!
1.8 + 0.7= 2.5 o – locked in!
Are we starting to feel a little uncomfortable yet?
Sorry, it gets worse.
As the earth heats up, all the co2 trapped in the soil gets released. Up, up, up it goes into the sky. It is confidently predicted that this phenomena will lead to a global temperature rise of 1 whole degree. From 14 – 15 …? or 7%?
2.5 + 1 = 3.5o – locked in.
Sorry, it gets even worser.
3.5o is a global average. In the middle of continents it will be around 4 degrees hotter. Unfortunately for the human race, it will no longer be possible to grow grain, even if the climate were stable, which it is not.
…and that is if we stopped burning all fossil fuels tomorrow, but we have blithely put off that day for at least another generation, when most of the smug folks who signed that Mass Suicide Pact will be dead and rotting in their graves.
Possibly the greatest delusion of our times is to think we can continue to strive for economic growth at the same time as drastically reducing our effect on planet earth. The boffins have estimated that for every dollar we spend, we generate about 700grams of emissions. The average salary in Australia is $90,000p.a. Wow, we are rich! So when we spend that money we generate about 63tons of emissions each. When we include all the non-earners that goes down to about 20 tons p. p. a.,
but we are still up there with Saudi Arabia on the top of the Mt. Everest of emissions. (and bear in mind that Saudi Arabia waste a shit-load of energy making indoor ski slopes)
The Pundits have noted that our economy is unsustainable unless it is always growing. Ideally around 4% per year, but that means our emissions are also growing at the same rate, when they shouldn’t be growing at all. In fact they must be Zero! So it becomes self-evident that we cannot maintain this particular quaint, antiquated economic system. You just cannot produce zero emissions using a system that has to grow at 4% every single year. That is patently absurd!
The time has come to try something else. I sincerely believe we must ditch our economy altogether. It is way past its use-by-date. The time has come to put our society on a war footing. Drop whatever you happen to be doing to keep yourselves amused for the time being, you can go back to that later, after we have put the planet back on an even keel. All our efforts must be focused on the task at hand. Everyone must be involved in healing the earth or supporting those that are.
All hands on deck!
Have you ever considered that God sent us climate change to bring us all together to fight a common enemy?
So what can we do here in the shire? Well, there are many wonderful things we could do. We could ride our bicycles, we could plant trees, we could eat less meat and grow more vegies. But we won’t do any of those things will we?
The force of inertia is gluing our feet to the ground. It is confidently predicted that we will sit on our bums and wait until the very moment the shit hits the fan. (and it is very hard to get the shit back in the cow once it has hit the fan) Then we will panic. But as you well know, panic is not an effective course of action. What we can do, is try to imagine what our shire will look like in the future. It is confidently predicted that social collapse is likely, if not inevitable: no food in the supermarket, we suck on the teat but no milk comes out. No petrol at the pump, no money in the ATM. There are dark days ahead, tempers will fray, our humanity will be sorely tested, but we must hold on to it for dear life. It is our greatest asset. Bushfires bring out the best in us. We humans risk our own lives for the old couple stuck up in hills, we gather the sick, the lame and the befuddled and take them to safety. We look after the animals as best we can. No one is left behind to fend for themselves. That is the spirit that will get as through. If we all stick together we can go way beyond surviving this calamity, we can grow stronger. We can flourish.
Further Reading…..‘Blockade Australia V The State of N.S.W.’
I understand and appreciate your frustration about the climate emergency. Imagine my frustration in a life dedicated to permaculture in response to the larger and more fundamental Limits to Growth so accurately modelled 5o yrs (https://holmgren.com.au/news/heinberg-holmgren-the-limits-to-growth-report-50-years-on/) of which the climate emergency is just one part. While I appreciate the emergency framing of the issue I see many problems with this framing that counter the obvious good reasons that people like Sutton reasoned when they called it back in 2007. The greatest problem I see is that we are progressively herding/being herded into accepting a top down command economy from the masters of money and tech magic as “the only solution”. Your reference to agreeing with John Kerry spooks me a bit. Its understandable that in a emergency/war its all hands on deck and co-operation around common cause is more important than difference, but forming common cause with war criminals of the empire that we live under (and benefit from) at least should give us reason to pause about what future vision John Kerry will be representing.
I appreciate your list of things we can do. I would add sharing our houses because larger households are more efficient (mitigation) and resilient (adaptation). Home base primarily non monetary economies multiply this effect but its hard to get much traction in mainstream sustainablity circles on my RetroSuburbia strategy (https://retrosuburbia.com/reading/retrosuburbia-the-manifesto/ ). Another point I would make about your suggestions, while eating less meat might make sense for most affluent people people in rich countries (for their own health and that of the planet) the situation is a little more complex in Australia, where the land is somewhat reluctant to sustainably produce vegetables, grains, pulses, fruits and nuts but its hard to stop the country (despite some efforts) producing growing populations of animals of various descriptions. In our own area kangaroos would be no1 but we also have abundances of rabbits, wood ducks, cockatoos, and rising populations of deer and wallabies amongst others. Also its the methane emissions that is the number one reason for the “eat less meat” meme, so the non ruminant animals mentioned are part of the solution. For the more holistic vision of a diet tuned to local ecological realities see my Feeding RetroSuburbia from the backyard to the bioregion (https://retrosuburbia.com/reading/feeding-retrosuburbia/). Happy to engage anytime.