We are running out of time…

A friend sent me a link to a good article this morning (thank you!) about climate change and how if we don’t address it soon, it may end up becoming impossible to address. It is based on a leaked IPCC report, working group III – policies to limit damage, which is due for release in April this year.

The main points are: global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise; the Kyoto protocol has not been successful; we have about 15 years to limit carbon emissions after which time future generations will have to find the technology to suck greenhouse gases from the air and bury them; and governments are still *inexplicably* subsidising fossil fuels rather than spending the money on developing alternative energy sources. Why, oh why?

Although some wealthy countries have managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, this is only because many of the products consumed in those countries are manufactured elsewhere and imported. Thus they have simply exported their emissions.

The climate change problem is a race against the clock. The longer we delay tackling it, the harder it becomes to tackle because greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. Last month I wrote about a new paper, Dangerous Climate Change, which said that if we stopped emissions in 2015, CO2 would return to the safer level of 350ppm by 2100 as Earth’s natural sinks absorbed it. But if we wait 20 years before doing anything about it, and it’s looking more and more like this is what we’re going to do, then it will take until 2300 before CO2 returns to 350ppm. If we wait 40 years, then it won’t return to 350ppm until sometime after the year 3000.

And if this isn’t freaking you out enough, last month a researcher from the University of Oxford wrote a very sobering article called Children of the Jet Stream: Parenting in an age of climate change. Here is an excerpt:

My situation is perhaps unusual in so much as I earn my living researching climate change policy, so my kids know that this issue is important to me, and something I am engaged with both when working and in what little free time I have. But I have to present to them the positive disposition of someone who believes his efforts are worthwhile, and part of a larger project which will build a secure and fulfilling future for them. However, I know in my heart that were such a future a realistic vision, we would already be well on the path to it by now.

How do I carry on with encouraging them to do homework and plan their future careers, when my gut instinct is that I should be teaching them how to survive in a world of insecure food supplies, and cope with a failed neo-liberal economy no longer able to function in a world wrecked by climate change.

In my travels around the UK, I have been in awe of the achievements of our ancestors and I am thankful for all the things they have given to us. The Victorians in particular, with their innovation and engineering prowess, have left us a legacy of which to be proud. But what are we giving to our descendants? We are giving them a wrecked climate and all the bickering, inertia and selfishness that is contributing to our inaction. Where are the passionate Victorian innovators and investors in our own society today? I really think they have their heads buried in the sand.

8 responses to “We are running out of time…”

  1. You make good points. I would like to add; accumulated knowledge, its’s preservation and the skills of hand and eye. As long as the children know where to look, then life will abide. It’s just a bit tortous. Ring that bell 🙂

    • It is true that we will pass on knowledge to subsequent generations and so they will still be getting something from us. Whether this is justification for the problems we will give them, I don’t think so. They will not thank us for it.

  2. Unless we all recognise that AGW is but a gentle softening up for Agenda 21, we will lose the real battle and that is against Agenda 21 and its policies, which not only encompasses AGW, but threaten our rights as individuals and families, self determination and even our right to exist.
    I wrote a little about it at http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com
    But most of all read Ian Wishart’s book ‘Totalitaria’ whose research is far more in depth than mine.
    His book has made a significant impact at the UN causing the revamp of their website and the removal of references to the Lucis Trust, probably their most influential NGO.

    • Hi Roger,
      This just sounds a little bit too conspiracy theory for me. I really don’t think thousands of climate scientists from a multitude of countries around the world are in on some elaborate conspiracy. I’ve got to know a few of them on the web and they are just ordinary citizens like you and me.

      • Roger,

        I’m flattered that you think I could have taken an NCEA course at school but I didn’t. I’m 38 years old so way too old to have taken any NCEA courses and I also went to high school in Brisbane, Australia. I never took a course like the one you sent me.

        I am a little bit familiar with New Zealand’s national standards because I got my teaching diploma in this country (although I went to University in Queensland) and I was not all that impressed with them to be honest. Some of them were downright ridiculous, like demonstrating how to use a microwave, although it’s possible they might have ditched that one. I have never actually used my teaching diploma here for the simple reason that there is no computer science in New Zealand schools and this is what I would want to teach.

        As for the paper on sustainability, I think it is a bit simplistic. I certainly do not wish to live an indigenous lifestyle. I like my creature comforts too much. But my wish to tackle climate change is not inconsistent with my desire to live comfortably. I am simply an advocate of carbon-free sources of energy, like nuclear power, hydropower, wind power, geothermal and solar.

  3. Rachel,
    I’m surprised that you did not have more to say about the exemplar, but thanks for reading it.
    I agree that it is simplistic, especially as the examiner practically guides the candidate as to what to write.
    What is worrying, especially considering that these children will be of voting age now, is the assertion that capitalism should be abandoned in favour of some vague native ethnic tribal existence, presumably using stone tools etc.
    Well Agenda 21 advocates strongly for population control, catastrophic in my opinion, as some UN officials are talking about optimum world populations of less than a billion! – which is consistent with the examinee’s assertion as well, although I am sure that he or she was never actually told that.
    So be assured that your comfort (and mine) is indeed in danger even if we somehow reduce CO2 levels to 1998 levels without abandoning capitalism.

    Yes I do have a degree in Economics and am familiar with computer modeling as I have been in IT for most of my working life.

    There is no conspiracy because the UN seems quite happy to publish its intentions. Especially with Agenda 21

    Is the UN a dangerous and malignant bureaucracy? My research points to this.
    There is no conspiracy as everything is clearly described and published on official websites etc. All we need to do is read it!

    Here is an example on Agenda 21 policy on land.
    See my highlights in red on page 8

    Click to access unitednations-conference-on-human-settlements_habitat1.pdf

    No wonder property rights are being abused in my city under the guise of an earthquake recovery.

    Check out the warped thinking on page 12. Re: educating men or women!

    Click to access education-for-sustainable-development-toolkit.pdf

    UN websites etc. are full of this stuff.

    No doubt climate scientists are nice guys until one asks perfectly reasonable but critical questions about their paper or assertions and then all hell breaks loose in a most unscientific fashion.
    Am I a nice guy? I think so, I will always consider the other point of view, but I most certainly point to holes in it if there are any. I most certainly will not resort to name calling or derogatory labels such as are often resorted to by people who are presumably supposed to be scientific.



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