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Today’s Neros fiddle while our planet burns

Climate change. What causes it? Is it happening? Do we need to “do” anything? Carbon taxes, prices, emissions…. the questions are endless.

The climate on this planet has changed in the past. There was an ice-age, you will recall. Not many humans around then, so we know some climate change is natural. Then there are the questions around the demise of the Mayan civilisation. Climate is currently considered a major factor, presumably not man-made. There were a LOT less humans back then, doing a lot less damage. Farmers know all about overgrazing and I suggest humans are “over grazing” this planet.

Human action can change natural phenomena, we do it all the time. Too much of our intervention can either speed up a natural process or initiate a natural process to occur when it otherwise may not have occurred as fast or occurred at all. My point is, I don’t care too much about the root cause at this stage because we need to stop arguing. Why is root cause analysis done? Because there is an acknowledged problem. At the moment we don’t even have the acknowledgement from our leaders that we have a problem. The scientific community have the knowledge, but not the power¹. So I worry more about how we deal with the deniers to even get acknowledgement of a problem. Then we can move forward. We may never know a single root cause or there may be many. We still must deal with our changing environment.

“Never in the history of humanity in the last 10 million years have all human beings got together to face one danger that threatens us – never.

“It’s a big ask, but the penalty of not taking any notice is huge,” he said.

Sir David’s comments come two days after a separate warning – on the dangers posed by the booming human population.

Source: The Independent.

As I write, southern states in Australia are burning. Bush fires are a natural phenomena in Australia, but as the world gets hotter, the fires get worse.

Firefighters in South Australia and Victoria are battling out-of-control bushfires, with warnings today’s conditions in the Adelaide Hills are the worst since Ash Wednesday more than 30 years ago.

Source: ABC Live

Climate change is implicated in the dramatic weather patterns which may have contributed to the recent Air Asia disaster.

I’ve got children. I’d like my grandchildren to have air to breathe and water to drink. Food to eat would be good too.

Deforestation also drives climate change. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

Removing trees deprives the forest of portions of its canopy, which blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. This disruption leads to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants and animals.

Trees also play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere—and increased speed and severity of global warming.

Source: National Geographic

Not to mention trees pump oxygen into the air. In case anyone has forgotten, oxygen is the gas we need to survive.

Trees are necessary for our survival. Through photosynthesis trees produce the gas that we cannot live without: oxygen (O2). As we breathe in, our bodies take in oxygen and when we breathe out, we release carbon dioxide (CO2). Trees do the opposite. They take in CO2 and release O2. This cleans the air by removing harmful CO2 so that people and animals can breathe.

Source: EcoKids

Humans are a voracious creature. We like our little luxuries, so we take whatever we feel we need. Coal, land, water: we just consume with little thought for sustainability.

Data from the University of Maryland and Google shows that the world lost 2.3 million square kilometers of tree cover between 2000 and 2012—the equivalent of losing 50 soccer fields’ worth of forests every minute of every day for the past 13 years. By contrast, only 0.8 million square kilometers have regrown, been planted, or restored during the same period.

Source: Ecowatch.com

Yes, we have the technology to replace the trees. We can artificially reproduce the process of photosynthesis, but at what cost? What sort of world would this be? How much would your monthly breathing bill be?

We love our fossil fuels for energy: we have our leaders criticising wind generated electricity. Yet innovation continues, thankfully.

Is a world of artificial trees really what we want? No photosynthesis from these, though.

Solar power is something we really must adopt if we want to keep our central heating and cooling running and the lights, TV, microwaves, dishwashers and clothes dryers running.

Frieburg

Too many of us, wanting too much “stuff”. Look how the population has gown/is growing. I haven’t noticed the planet getting any bigger to house us all. All we do is pillage.

Yet the use of resources is predominately by the industrialised world. The fewer take the most, if you like. How can we justify destroying our habitat with no thought for the future generations?

Between 1996-97 and 2006-07, the volume of waste produced per person in Australia grew at an average annual rate of 5.4%. In 1996-97, Australians generated approximately 1,200kg of waste per person. By 2006-07, this had increased to 2,100kg per person.

International evidence suggests that economic growth contributes to growth in waste generated per person (Productivity Commission 2006). Australia’s economic prosperity over the past couple of decades has contributed to the growing generation of waste. Australians are among the highest users of new technology, and waste from obsolete electronic goods (e-waste) is one of the fastest growing types of waste (ABS 2006).

Source: ABS via @Shear_Gold

The predictions are dire, to say the least. Refugees from land disappearing under rising oceans and widespread famine are just two of the problems we face as a global population. War, of course. Humans will fight to possess, rather than share. Possess that last high ground, that last fertile valley to grow food, the last clean water source. Death and destruction follow us far too often in history and now into the future.

Those we elect to govern us, those in power in less democratic countries, all the leaders MUST start planning NOW. It really doesn’t matter WHY climate change is happening, we need to accept it is and plan. Make changes as required. I know, the leader who limits our selfish use of energy will fear losing the next election. The dictator will fear a revolution. One country does not a planet make: this has to be a coming together of all nations. With our history of global conflicts, how can we achieve this?

You know what I fear? My grandchildren living on on a mountain top struggling to pay their breathing bill each month.

Science got us to this point. Our inventions, our longer life, reduce infant mortality, disease eradication. Now let science help us ensure we have a future. Yes, we might have to limit our breeding, our electricity use, our rampant consumerism and waste. Or do you think our ultimate extinction is a better option? We’ve managed to help other species down that path (continuing to do so with mere passing “concern”), it may seem logical we wipe ourselves out as well. Logical or karma.

Think of children. If they have access to seemingly endless ice-cream and no regulation around consumption, they’ll eat it until they fall ill. Seems to me the adults are doing something very similar. For even with or without climate change many of our natural resources are finite or take many, many years to regenerate.

Heed Sir Richard, leaders of the world. Don’t be the Neros of our generation. Your money and fleeting power will be of no value if you can’t breathe. The planet needs leaders of vision now, brave and fearless. Leaders who care for the planet and the future of all species. Not leaders who are only worried about the next election or the bigger house they want to buy or their retirement fund.

They (the famous “they”) say we get the leaders we deserve. If that is true, we need to change too.

For comprehensive information and updates in Australia you can visit the Climate Council website and on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

¹ “Power determines what counts as knowledge … while it ignores or suppresses that knowledge which does not serve it.” – Bent Flyvbjerg

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11 comments on “Today’s Neros fiddle while our planet burns

  1. […] environmental challenges we face must be considered with the population explosion. These are not separate, discrete problems […]

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  2. […] really worry about the future for our children. We have all the environment issues, then we have a government that rabbits on endlessly about individual freedoms actually taking away […]

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  3. […] I used the graph below earlier this month in “Today’s Neros fiddle while our planet burns“. […]

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  4. […] I also care about our environment, so while you are here, may I tempt you to kindly click on Today’s Neros fiddle while our planet burns. We might need our health system even […]

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  5. Robyn! I haven’t seen you for ages. How are you? Happy 2015 to you and yours my dear. I’ve unfollowed and refollowed as you’re never in my reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is what happens when ‘progress’ is defined as digging stuff out of the ground in ever increasing amounts and (inevitably, eventually) turning it all into waste.

    But few leaders seem to think in terms of meeting human needs. (And lack a robust framework in identifying when and where needs are not being met – including those of suppressed voices. Our ‘democratic’ systems are barely democratic.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_human_needs

    Nor do they actively consider any ideologies that consider that natural ecological systems have an inherent right to exist, regardless of what value humans may try to give to it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_ecology

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Andrew and welcome.

      Very good points. We need the population to demand better leadership. But can we reach that state?

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      • The leadership we need is well beyond the (mostly) 19th century political systems that were constructed (and sadly, constructed in such a way to resist fundamental reform).

        Right now, the political system that our politicians are trying to control is well beyond their actual capacity. Politicians today, play a balancing act of image. Politicians generally seek only to appease the loudest voices, which are generally those of the most powerful.

        The populace by large, is often apathetic towards politics because we (rightly) see our politicians lack the ability to control the system to actually understand or meet our needs. If the populace doesn’t believe that the government is capable of implementing positive change on a more fundamental level, then they are going to remain change-phobic.

        If we want to shift the system back towards meeting the fundamental needs of people (rather than distantly abstracted measures of success), I’d say we need to formulate a more robust system, that doesn’t depend so heavily on the skill of individual leaders for success.

        It seems to be a catch-22, the populace is unlikely to become well engaged until the system is more robust and responsive, but to implement a more engaging system would require a strong push from the populace.

        In the mean time, that robust framework still needs to be developed. A modern system based on 21st century information systems principles. One that takes into account notions of computational capacity, plurality, can make predictions in terms of the optimum scale and region for a particular policy. A system that can deduce from multiple indicators where policy is lacking, where voices have been suppressed and need to be heard. This doesn’t have to be a technocratic system to replace a representative democracy, but simply a framework to make the system more robust.

        Sadly, those who are most interested in listening to us, are the ones who simply want to sell us more stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “It seems to be a catch-22, the populace is unlikely to become well engaged until the system is more robust and responsive, but to implement a more engaging system would require a strong push from the populace.”

        Yes indeed. Have you by any chance checked out Australian Progressives? https://www.australianprogressives.org.au/

        Image has become much too important. Our politicians are on the TV all the time at work in the house, it seems, so become actors rather than servants of the people. Not really an ingredient for good government.

        In this particular case, of climate, the issue is global co-operation and I can’t see our myriad of leaders, an ever-changing group, managing to get agreement and then stick to it.

        Options? Well, a revolution or two, but unless that is global it isn’t likely to change the overall lack of a cohesive approach.

        Frankly, I am not optimistic.

        Like

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