Archive for January, 2010

11
Jan

Global Warming – The Heat is Rising

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Is all the fan fare surrounding the global warming/climate change debate really just a way for more politicking? For politicians to engage in vigorous circular discussions so that they can appear to be doing something about the issue? There seems to be endless to-ing and fro-ing from both sides of the political divide, which merely amounts to the fact that absolutely no action is being taken; to either offer a solution and by doing so, admit that human beings are responsible for climatic change or take the opposite stance and deny humanity of any wrong doing. Each and every day we pay lip service to the environment we add another X amount of carbon into the air and whilst it may serve us well in the short term to negate any effect this may contribute to Earths Eco System we still have the possibility that we are indeed having a catastrophic affect even if we choose to ignore it.

So either we throw caution to the wind and do as we please and let the next generation(s) to clean up the mess we’ve made, to leave them with the consequences of our denial or we just go about the business of fixing things, believing whole heartedly as if the world depended on it. After all, why do things in half measures? It’s really a simple yes or no answer to the question. What precisely do we have to lose by exerting our creative prowess towards the endeavour of finding a more eco friendly world in which we live?

Right now we are essentially just trying to find a system of generating revenue in the form of taxes from this new green paradigm and using it as some sort of leverage in reducing carbon emissions, which is all fine and dandy, but lets not fool ourselves here. It is going to take more than a bribe to dissuade the environment from turning the heat up on us.

With such high stakes on the table, all we seem to be hearing are arguments about the validity of global warming science and how the economy is going to be impacted by cap and trade agreements, but isn’t this all just smoke and mirrors when the real issue is not the economy but ecology? I think we’d all be a little more persuaded and a little more eager to accept the carbon trading scheme if we had 100 percent assurance that the tax dollars reaped from carbon taxes will be put into resourcing the complete moving away from our dependence on fossil fuels. If we are going down the road towards acceptance of climate change science and that dire consequences await humanity if we don’t do our damnedest  to end our infatuation with oil, gas and coal, then weening ourselves off of fossilised sunlight, is without a doubt, our first and foremost priority. Forget trying to suck every last penny out of fossilised sunlight – we had our day and it’s time to move on. We don’t have to extract every last ounce of that ancient sunlight out of the ground. Or do we?

It’s one thing to expostulate fossil fuel consumption but it is something else when it comes to letting go of such use and formulating a plan B. Our whole industrialised world seems to depend upon cheap and readily available energy and there is nothing comparable to that sweet black gold that our fair old Mother Earth has so generously provided in the form of crude oil. However, millions of years have been invested in generating this nectar of energy, that we then expend profusely, with not one iota of thought to how it has come into our hands. It is a tragic tale and one that seems to be unique to the human condition, or rather, to the modern human condition.

The trouble is I thought we’d live forever
The truth is we were dead before we were born

Mourning Beloveth  – A Murderous Circus – ….Yet Everything

We were onto a good thing and being the optimistic animal that we are, we thought it would last forever. But alas, all good things come to an end and so it is with our addiction to fossil fuels. It is now coming to an end and the tragedy or perhaps irony is that we are all so hopelessly addicted to the stuff that we are in complete denial to the truth, that we have hit the peak and from now on in it is all about chasing that first high. As with all addictive behaviour it is not without consequence and this time it is not just ourselves and immediate family that will face the direct spoils of our addiction but the whole planet.

Each and every one of us will face the consequences of what now can be described as comfortable denial and although in the past we may even have been forgiven for our neglect of the environment, it is not so now. It beggars belief that a large and vocal portion of the population seems to believe that our actions have no untoward impact upon the environment. Although nothing is certain and no guarantees can be made, it is prudent to at least make some effort in curbing the possible and probable negative impact we are having on the environment. Perhaps unleashing the carbon in the form of carbon dioxide buried safely within the earth will have no undesirable outcomes for life on this place we call home but really, can anyone say without doubt, that pumping such large quantities of the stuff into the air will have zero chance of causing climate change? If we are to do nothing, are we prepared to offload our responsibilities to those who haven’t even been born yet and who will surely suffer the most for the denial we wish to cling to?

Why cling to the idea that we do no harm to our environment by burning fossil fuels? What conceivable benefit is there? For what? For growth! For our insatiable appetite to expand our colony. But are we morally reprehensible for this appetite or is it just what we have been programmed for? Surely nature is to blame for our hunger, for our greed and ambition? Can we stop ourselves even if we know for certain that what we are doing will inevitably destroy us? Perhaps that is why we still persist with denial and create opposing stories to what on the face of it makes a lot of sense, because if we truly accept that we are contributing to the devastating affects that a rise in temperature will have, we surely must also see that to actually curb further development of greenhouse emissions means that we must halt our growth.

Isn’t growth the obsession we all share? We can’t stop progression any more than we could stop the Earth spinning and as we expand and grow we also consume. To service all this growth we need energy. Energy, the thing that drives momentum and progression and vice versa, momentum and progression drives the demand for energy. The energy which humanity demands is first and foremost that which comes from food. We need to feed the population and as the population grows exponentially  so does the need for energy or food. Industrialised and mechanised living has made it possible for such massive growth and this in turn needs energy because momentum by definition needs energy. To fuel the machine we were incredibly fortunate to have this untapped energy that was conveniently buried not too far beneath the earth – OIL. Coupled with the internal combustion engine we were ready to take on the world – shape it as we saw fit and that is exactly what we’ve done. That blessed carbon atom bundled within the hydro-carbon molecule has produced the world we see today.

Humanity has blossomed and the population has quadrupled since 1900 and one can’t help but imagine that the introduction of oil as the staple energy source hasn’t been instrumental in achieving  this accelerated growth.  We’ve become saturated in the stuff. There is nothing in western culture and perhaps the greater part of the world that isn’t shrouded in a film of oil. It is estimated that for every calorie of food we ingest there has been 10 calories of fossil fuel energy used to create it. Clearly such figures are unsustainable. But on the same note it appears that we have little choice if we maintain our position as consumers. It really is a hard bullet to bite – either we reduce our consumption drastically or replace the energy that fuels our appetite with something sustainable. Hence the green paradigm of renewable energy but do we have resources at hand to stamp out our fossil fuel addiction, once and for all? That is the question that needs answering and it is a pivotal point that either hinges or unhinges a commitment to go green.

Realistically without an alternative way to meet our energy demands there is no way that we as a species is going to let go of the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to and programmed to accept as our inherent right. The consumerist ideal that has been sold to us as the epitome of life and happiness needs some readjusting before we can even attempt a reversal of our gluttonous and wasteful ways. But is it too late? It’s been a long time since the beast was let out of its cage and a whole psychological phenotype has been set in motion with what the beast has so seductively lured us into believing. The proposition that unending growth is in the first instance possible and in the second, our purpose is absurd, yet we believe it. Plainly, it is illogical and irrational to believe that we can continue to grow infinitely on a finite set of resources but that is what economics tells us is possible. Yet economics cannot defeat reality even when it promises a world of what dreams are made of. So can we put a stop to this beast of unending dreams and face reality square in its face and say we are done?

Perhaps Copenhagen answers that question -  that dreams are still the only thing we care for; because reality is still far too bleak a proposition to face. We’d rather pine for that next consumer upgrade than admit that what we really want is community and a bit of love that no amount of money will ever be able to  buy. In the meantime we’ll procrastinate about what we’re doing to our home and regress into denial where dreams bling with a sense of our importance.

Category : Rants | Blog