Reply To: Climate, the science, politics, economics and anything else

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Michael, 12:37

* – “I doubt all ecological collapse is just because of burning fossil fuels.”

You’re right; far from it.

* – “Just concentrating on fossil fuels is doing us a disservice, it is missing the main target”

It’s not Extinction Rebellion concentrating on fossil fuels; XR have been clear from our outset; it’s a climate and ecological crisis. But I know that the corporate media represent XR as “climate change campaigners”. They would help everyone if they’d learn to listen better.

But climate change is the most urgent because greenhouse gases work like a blanket or a coat; you don’t immediately get warm when you put it on. You get warmer and warmer the longer you wear it, until your temperature reaches its new equilibrium. But unlike a coat you can’t just take the emissions out again if you get too hot. Like putting sugar in your tea emissions take moments to put in, but it takes nature decades to take them out.

The greenhouse gases that human activities are releasing right now will remain in the atmosphere for decades, and they’ll be trapping extra heat for all those years, so the temperature will climb and climb. That’s why we need to curtail emissions now; the longer we delay the higher the temperature will peak at, decades in the future.

Then there’s ocean acidification. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere gets dissolved in water slightly, becoming carbonic acid. In the oceans this neutralises some of the alkalis, decreasing the alkalinity. In places, this is damaging the base of the food chain. If it goes too far it will be catastrophic.

* – “If all reasonably well off people refused to fly to other countries. If they kept the same cooker for twenty years. If they kept the same cycle for twenty years. If the demanded that their food was not coated in plastic. If they stopped keeping cats and dogs. If they stopped buying stuff from Asia but instead made stuff at home, so the item only travelled a few miles from the manufacturer to the buyer. If people mended stuff we it broke, rather than just buy new from Asia.”

But michael, regulating things is what governments are supposed to do. You can’t just buy cruise missiles or uranium; such things are regulated by governments. Drivers can’t just park anywhere they want to, because it would cause too many problems. Even using sexist or racist language has laws against it, because of the hateful attitudes they normalise and spread.

Air miles could be rationed, for instance. Work out how many total air miles per year are sustainable, and evenly distribute tokens for them throughout the entire world population. Poorer people and people who don’t want to fly could sell them, bring in some money from the rich parts of the world. Emissions themselves could be rationed, tokenised and distributed in this way.

These are just my ideas, it isn’t up to me but my point is twofold: (1) It is not beyond the wit of man to find ways to regulate things, but (2) it must be governments that do so.

But governments and media have been putting a certain idea in our heads for decades, that “saving the planet” (dumb soundbite) is purely down to individual choices. Well, whether we may possess slaves or not is no longer a personal choice; governments made laws against that. How much noise we make, how our house discharges its sewage, and how we behave in public are all regulated. Things are discouraged through tax, eg. tobacco and fuel duty, and things are encouraged with subsidies or public supply, eg. medicines.

Governments depict environmental concerns as individual responsibilities to avoid making rules that people wouldn’t like and thus losing the next election. But the children and grandchildren looking back from our future will see it very differently – as a massive abdication of responsibility, criminally negligent.