This whole we are only 1% of the problem, however ill defined is missing another point… and that point is …
We are far more than 1% of internationally traded coal.
If we so choose, we have leverage.
But do we choose the thirty pieces of silver or do we choose salvation… a habitable planet?
This was sent to me on 2 April.
Global warming, carbon trading and greenhouse gas emissions are something most people are too busy to stop and think about. When there is no fuel left for their four wheeled drives it will be too late!
Individual attempts to be carbon conscious, cut backs in energy and recycling are not enough to reduce emissions. Governments, industry and business sectors must make a concerted effort to find an effective solution to reduce their emissions since they are the largest perpetrators of CO2 emissions. Investment in clean coal is a fallacy (a leap in the dark). Clean coal is a mere excuse to keep the wheels of trade and profit for another decade. Carbon trading schemes are a means to allow this to happen. The greatest challenge facing government is to investment in new technology not, as present, in subsidies to the coal and oil industries.
The impact of an Emission Trading System for Individual Enterprises in the EU has far too many inconsistencies The EU over allocated trade off emissions to industry. Their scheme is a lesson to Australia. Poor commitment and a reluctant to engage in rules and guidelines or a lack of interest in the environment are just a few of the EU problems. Can we learn from the EEC experience? The EEC first phase of a carbon trading scheme did not include transport emissions but transport will be included in their second phase. Will Australia include transport in their first trading scheme? If not why not?
Carbon trading appears to be a very Catholic idea– the big corporations are encouraged to sell off indulgences for the right to continue polluting. This does not address the real increases in emissions or future consequences.
Australia’s emissions have increased over the last decade Australia is one of the highest per capita emissions of greenhouse pollution in the world today. It has been on the back foot since it refused to sign Kyoto Protocol ten years ago. The result is industrial emissions increased during that time and present policy will hardly bring us to the 1996 emission rate. Both government and industry’s priority to economic policies have failed to control emissions. The result is pollution escalates to crisis point while boom profits become immoral for the few and a disaster for the rest of the community.
Kyoto clearly identifies the reality of a need for a worldwide shift in thinking. Melting ice caps rising sea levels, drought, floods, and depletion of habitat, species, deforestation and wild weather patterns have increased insurances worldwide. The CEO of the RAC Insurance Mike McCarthy said “There is a doubt that the insurance industry will survive the increasing demands! Australia has no flood maps for natural disasters and recent flooding illustrated the huge problem for the insurance industry. Everyone must learn to adapt and innovate otherwise they may find they will not be covered by insurance in future,” he said. Planners need to make sure houses are sustainable build in safe places, not on the coastal edge, near rivers or wetlands that are likely to flood. It is time developers, local councils and State governments are forced to change their attitude towards coastal development.
The greedy have become greedier. Contracts are signed to dig up and ship out WA’s minerals as fast as possible. No one takes responsibility for increasing emissions or pressure on the natural environment. Meanwhile Australian governments and the corporations make huge profits and water and energy supplies are rapidly depleting.
We all have a moral obligation and responsibility to care for the earth. To move forward in the way we think, use energy and take advantage of new opportunities and technology, embrace new methods and skills. Solar has been a government policy failure in this land of sunshine. Failure is not an option we must move forward together as part of a global community.
Spearwood Western Australian, ph 08 94182117
Rising Tide Newcastle is calling for an immediate response from the Federal Government after one of the world's foremost climate scientists wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calling on him to halt plans for more coal mining and exporting, and put a ban on new coal fired power stations.
The letter's author, Dr. James Hansen, is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute, and member of the US National Academy of Sciences. His letter states that:
“ ... there are plans for continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and construction of new coal-fired power plants around the world, including in Australia, plants that would have a lifetime of half a century or more. Your leadership in halting these plans could seed a transition that is needed to solve the global warming problem.
“Choices among alternative energy sources - renewable energies, energy efficiency, nuclear power, fossil fuels with carbon capture - these are local matters. But decision to phase out coal use unless the CO2 is captured is a global imperative, if we are to preserve the wonders of nature, our coastlines, and our social and economic well being. If we continue to build coal-fired power plants without carbon capture, we will lock in future climate disasters associated with passing climate tipping points. We must solve the coal problem now.”
Climate action group Rising Tide Newcastle have been calling for a ban on new coal projects in the Hunter Region, and said today that the Federal Government is under international scrutiny for our massive coal industry expansion. Group spokesperson Steve Phillips said: “This letter, from one of the most respected climatologists in the world, makes it clear that a ban on new coal projects is a common sense and necessary response to the global climate crisis.”
“There is increasing international pressure on Australia to get serious about climate change, as this letter shows. Our single biggest contribution to the problem is coal exports, and our national response to the problem must confront that reality.
“Kevin Rudd has so far ignored community demands for a ban on new coal projects. He surely cannot ignore the same demands from the world's leading climate scientists.”
James Hansen will be sending a similar letter to the Premier's of Australia's states. The letter can als be viewed as a pdf file here.
The following letter was posted to the Courier Mail Newspaper in response to its beat-up story (see "Luxury cruise passengers forced to wade through water", editorial: "Unroyal Welcome") about the lack of terminal facilities for luxury cruise ships on the occasion of the docking of the Queen Victoria near the grain terminals. The letter was not published. Amongst the four short letter published, none raised environmental objections to the luxury cruise industry.
Brisbane no more needs a new luxury passenger ship terminal ("Tourists sure to harbour a bit of resentment", 27 Feb) than it needs the North South Bypass Tunnel, the Hale Street Bridge, a second airport runway or any of Lord Mayor Newman's other extravagant white elephant projects.
Sustainable Population Australia Media Release
State Premiers must recognise that continued economic growth is not sustainable and give precedence to the environment recognising that the size of the economy is bounded by Nature's ability to sustain it, say conservationists in the wake of the Garnaut Report on Climate Change economic impacts.
'One can only hope that the ignorance shown by Anna Bligh, the Premier of Queensland, is not shared by our Prime Minister', remarked Sustainable Population of Australia President Dr John Coulter when he saw the Premier's comments on the Garnaut Report.
In response to the Report, Premier Bligh has said that there must be a balance between the environment and the economy. 'The Queensland Premier seems not to realise that if we don't have an environment we don't have an economy and we don't have a future for our children', commented Dr Coulter.
'It is this naive nibbling away at the environment through misguided bleats about balance that has brought humanity to the edge of a cataclysmic collapse. Fifty percent of fifty percent of fifty percent leaves only twelve and a half percent for the environment yet Premier Bligh wants to halve that again. It is well past the time when the environment must take precedence.
'Continual economic and population growth are not consistent with an environmentally sustainable future. Anna Bligh, like every other Australian Premier wants more growth. She has just seen in devastated Mackay one small result of climate change yet she would pack another half million into the Gold Coast Region with its multitude of canal estates. These may well be under the sea within the lifetime of our children.
'At present rates of economic growth the black coal deposits of Queensland will all be gone before 2040, the carbon will be CO2 in the atmosphere making Queensland's climate even more inimical to future generations.
Wake up Premiers! Sustainable economic growth is an oxymoron. You can have one but not both! For the sake of the future of our children and the world, recognise that the only economic model which is consistent with a sustainable future is one that is dynamic but steady-state, in which the size of the economy is bounded by Nature's ability to sustain it, concluded the president of Sustainable Population Australia.
For further information:
Dr John R. Coulter
National President, Sustainable Population Australia
|By Valerie Yule - Monday, 17 December 2007|
|This article was originally published on Online Opinion. It is reproduced here under the terms of the Creative Commons License.|
Not openly discussed at the Bali Climate Summit 2007 is the one factor that will make it hardest to stop increasing greenhouse gas emissions - population growth.
Ironically, population growth was the main issue at an earlier Bali international conference 15 years ago. The issue has not gone away. Rather, it has become more pressing in the world, including in the Asia -Pacific region, and it is illustrated by the island of Bali itself.
The 1992 conference was organised under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Its outcome was the Bali Declaration on Population and Sustainable Development, 1992. (See here and here.)
Thirty-six of ESCAP's 52 member countries participated, and they reached consensus at a ministerial level on the controversial issue of setting population targets in line with sustainable development goals.
The Declaration stated that the goals of population policy were to "achieve a population that allows a better quality of life without jeopardising the environmental and resource base of future generations ... taking cognisance of basic human rights as well as responsibilities".
This was the first international meeting at this political level that set an objective of attaining by the year 2010 replacement level fertility, which is equivalent to about 2.2 children per woman. In 1992 the countries in the Asia-Pacific region had a total population of about 3.2 billion. Although the annual growth rate has been steadily declining, an increase of 920 million people is still expected by 2010. This increase would be mostly in the less developed countries which have the most acute problems of poverty.
These enormous numbers contrast with Australia?s population growth, from 8 million in 1950 to 21 million now, and 24 million expected by 2050.
The location of the Climate Summit, Bali itself, illustrates the problem of growth. When I travelled around the island in 1969, the population of about two million had no tourist industry to speak of and needed none, although there were social stresses indicated by the violence of the massacres of up to 100,000 suspected communists in 1965.
By 2000, the Balinese population had increased by 50 per cent to over three million, and it continues to grow. The tourist industry and emigration are now essential to economic survival. Other countries in the region with high population growth have severe economic and social problems. They include Papua Niugini, grown from 1.4 million in 1950 to 5 million now and 10 million expected by 2050, other regions of Indonesia (growth 82 million to 224 million and predicted 336 million), and Pacific islands such as the Solomons, (106,000 to 466,000 and predicted 1.1 million) - all stressed by youth unemployment and resources destruction. How can they be expected to stop deforestation? Countries now carrying out family planning policies to restrain population growth include China, India, Thailand and even Pakistan.
Growth in population inevitably means increase in human contributions to greenhouse gases and resource shortages, even if most people still live far below the affluent level of the West that they aspire to. In developing countries, families seek to have sufficient children to ensure that some will survive, and provide for old-age. As security improves, family size can drop, unless pushed by religious or political influences.
However, for Bali Climate Summit 2007, population is not a front page issue, despite our world growth trajectory from 6 billion now to 9 billion by 2050 - almost paralleling how the proverbial lily doubles its size in the lily-pond.
The sticking points are the nations of the developed West, which also provide sticking points for other aspects of capping carbon emissions. Countries like Australia or France can hardly promote family planning in poor countries when they offer baby bonuses to persuade their own women to have more children.
Western countries have still not worked out how to maintain their prosperity with a stable population. They still fear lowered fertility, and have made a bogey of ageing populations, which need not be. Indeed, our increasingly healthy aged need less support than children. Almost every Western country in fact has a greater population than in 1950, and most are still growing. (US Census Bureau International Data Base population tables.)
Meanwhile European countrysides are filling up with housing. Water, oil and fish face future shortages. And millions of economic refugees in the world ensure that no country's population need shrink. Behind the beat-ups of fearing declining fertility rates and suppressing the real issue of world population growth is a different economic bogey. The paradoxical problems that are shaking the United States and hence the world are insufficient consumer spending and building construction in the world's richest country. Yet it is this type of economic activity that most boosts greenhouse gas emissions.
It is possible for our capitalist system, which has always continuously evolved, to develop and be able to sustain prosperity without constant increase in material production, which requires increasing numbers of people to consume it.
As things are, we can only observe. There may be no Bali declaration in 2007 about stabilising populations and thereby cutting the production of waste. Yet this, even more than carbon trading, would be a major strategy in cutting the human contribution to devastating our planet.
18,000 years ago Canada was covered with a three-kilometre thick ice-sheet. That's a mere blink in geological time. Millions of years ago the Arctic was a tropical swamp with crocodiles and 200-foot high redwoods. Has anyone thought about that? Come what may, there is climate change ahead. Some of us actually believe that this global warming may trigger the next Ice Age. Wouldn't that be cool. (And ironic?)
Regardless of our best efforts, the pendulum is going to swing away from the comfortable range that we now enjoy. I'd get used to that idea and not sweat it so much. We might just adapt. But we won't adapt to biodiversity loss. That's the one that will finish us, but it's not sexy enough to talk about.
And speaking of sweating, if you really would like to cut CO2 emissions then wear a condom. It's the ever-increasing population of humans on the planet that threatens our future. Them's the facts. You can't have it both ways. More people means more consumption of both energy and material. Pollution follows right behind.
Tackling climate change is now a worldwide crusade - so what's stopping campaigners driving its simplest solution?
Wednesday July 11, 2007
The simplest truths are sometimes the hardest to recognise. This month, according to the UN, world population will reach 6.7 billion, en route to a newly revised global total of 9.2 billion by 2050. The latest housing forecasts for England predict that we will need about 5m more homes in the next two decades. The economist Jeffrey Sachs devoted this spring's Reith lectures to a planet "bursting at the seams". And the most recent Social Trends analysis from the Office for National Statistics painted a picture of a Britain driven mad by overcrowding. Meanwhile, Gaia scientist James Lovelock has been warning about ecological collapse and world resources able to support only 500 million people, with many extra millions driven to take refuge in the UK.
In the midst of all these alarms is a very quiet place where the green lobby should be talking about human population growth. Today has been designated World Population Day by the UN, but you will not see any of the big environment and development groups mounting a campaign on population. Indeed, you will be lucky if they even mention the P-word. Earlier this year, Nafis Sadik, former director of the UN's population fund, berated such non-governmental organisations for being more concerned with fundraising than advocacy. Their silence on population, she observed, was "deafening".
So why isn't the green movement talking about population any more? In its early days, back in the 60s and 70s, population growth was a mainstream concern. Groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (FoE), WWF and Oxfam took well-publicised positions on population issues - endorsing the Stop at Two (children) slogan, supporting zero population growth and publishing reports with titles such as Already Too Many (Oxfam). These days, Greenpeace declares that population is "not an issue for us" and describes it as "a factor [in] but not one of the drivers of" environmental problems.
FOE last year tried to answer some "common questions" on the subject, including: "Why isn't Friends of the Earth tackling population growth?" Oxfam, which as recently as 1994 published a report entitled World Population: The Biggest Problem of All, now does not list it among the dozen or so "issues we work on", and nor does it figure in the "What you can do" section of WWF's One Planet Living campaign.
The green lobby's main argument is that numbers do not matter so much - it is how we live and consume that counts. FoE even remarks that "it is unhelpful to enter into a debate about numbers. The key issue is the need for the government to implement policies that respect environmental limits, whatever the population of the UK". It is a statement that seems to treat population and environmental limits as entirely separate subjects.
There are two powerful counter-arguments to this. One is common sense: that consumption and numbers matter and that if a consumer is absent - that is, unborn - then so is his or her consumption. The second is the weight of evidence. Sir David King, the government's chief scientist, told a parliamentary inquiry last year: "It is self-evident that the massive growth in the human population through the 20th century has had more impact on biodiversity than any other single factor."
The increase in global population over the next 40 years, for example, is roughly what the entire world population was in 1950. The UK, currently around 61 million people, is on course for 71 million by 2074, by which time England's densities will have outstripped those of South Korea, which, by some measures, is currently the world's second most crowded country - second only to Bangladesh.
The Optimum Population Trust today publishes a new report, Youthquake, that warns - echoing Lovelock - that environmental degradation caused by the number of humans may force more governments to follow China's lead and introduce compulsory limits on family size.
Many suspect other motives for the green lobby's neglect of the population issue. It is a sensitive subject, bound up with issues on which the progressive left, which most environmental groups identify with, has developed a defensive intellectual reflex. These include race and immigration - the latter accounts for more than 80% of forecast UK population growth, for example - reproductive choice, human rights and gender equality. Calls for population restraint can easily be portrayed as "anti-people" - surely people are part of "the solution"? It is far easier to ignore the whole subject; let somebody else - or nobody - deal with it.
This often involves intriguing verbal contortions. The 70s organisation Population Countdown, having morphed into Population Concern, in 2003 rechristened itself as Interact Worldwide - under its former name, consultants told it, its funders, and future, would dry up.
Faced with escalating forecasts of housing need - one recent government projection says we will need 11m more households in the UK by 2050, an increase of over 40% - the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) proclaims itself in favour of "development that protects the countryside and the environment" and ignores the fact that the main cause of forecast housing growth, responsible for 59% of the total, is population increase.
So why does the CPRE not campaign on the issue that poses the greatest threat to rural England? "If we did," says Shaun Spiers, CPRE's chief executive, "it appears unlikely that our actions would have any effect on population growth, and that would lay us open to the charge of misusing our charitable funds."
How to categorise such reactions? Pragmatism? Cowardice? Sensible tactics? Or an overdose of organisational self-preservation? Whatever the reason, it is infectious - the media (and politicians) take many of their awareness cues from NGOs so the silence on population becomes society-wide. As a result, family size is seen as an exercise in individual lifestyle choice: few people consider the consequences for the planet of their fertility decisions. That means fertility rates in the UK rise, and the population keeps on growing.
· David Nicholson-Lord is an environmental writer and research associate for the Optimum Population Trust. The Youthquake report is available at optimumpopulation.org
· David Nicholson-Lord is an environmental writer and research associate for the Optimum Population Trust. The Youthquake report is available at optimumpopulation.org
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