Thursday, June 16, 2011

Climate Change: these things can be done!

Climate Change surfaced in my consciousness once again this morning. Perhaps it's because the NBA and NHL playoffs are over and the Tour de France and Wimbledon have yet to begin. Heh.

I read an article by Professor Lovejoy of Geo. Mason U. in my e-mail. He suggests geo-engineering solutions in addition to emphasizing that we are approaching tipping-point deadlines.
He points out the danger of delay and that people, and therefore their governments, are not likely to act until calamity occurs and probably only when it happens to them. Island peoples in the Indian Ocean losing their homes to ocean levels rising is not likely to move residents of Winnipeg who have just dealt with their own seasonal flooding from the Red River. Coral reefs dying don't concern folks in Edmonton, and so on.

In an earlier blog, I have pointed out the potential loss of white sand beaches everywhere as a consequence of ignoring climate change because everybody has a dream of vacationing on a tropical beach someday. I hoped that they might act because it hurt them in their dreams, but not so far. Perhaps they are still in denial and listen to false opinions of climate change by naysayers.
But perhaps the apathy is because the threat seems in need of a solution to focus on? Here, Professor Lovejoy has something to offer. He points to such familiar solutions as massive reforestation projects, restoration of grasslands and practicing agriculture that restores carbon to the soil, and then he points to more esoteric methods,

"For example, Vinod Khosla¹s Calera experiment has demonstrated
how to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by mixing it with
seawater to produce cement."


Obstacles to implementing these solutions include:

- Doubt in the minds of ordinary people put there by industry lobbyists attempting to prevent any remedies that would cut into their profits, as well as the costs ofimplementing change. This could be changed by education but governments are listening to industry not educators. Lobbyists have bigger budgets and educators are too dependent on government grants to risk speaking out vehemently.
- Urbanization: the shift of people from rural to city living, a movement that in the last hundred years has changed the per centage of labour working in agricukture from 97 per cent to 3 per cent, means thatAgri-business and therefore our food supply is highly dependent on fossil fuels for energy and fertilizer and isn't going to change back easily or quickly.
- Costs in the form of lost profits. In the case of oil sands, reducing, or closing development there would decimate Canadian economy and have intolerable fallout politically with our biggest customer, the USA. therefore the cessation of oilsands production won't occur.
The political consciousness of the Canadian adult is still focused on the needs of family, home, job and could be moved to action in the form of endorsing action, if that action made obvious sense, that is to say, without to much technical explanation. So what is needed is a selection of projects that are conceivable, believable and achievable.

I propose the following:

- end gas flaring in BC and around the world. As of 2008, enough natural gas is wastefully burned every year, at the wellhead to heat 300,000 homes. That's a BILLION cubic metres of gas annually, which puts 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

- end interference in a woman's choice to control her fertility by providing education about fertility, conception, access to medication, including abortion. Provide education to women everywhere, because it has been shown that educated women have fewer children. 7 billion people, no matter what they do, produce more greenhouse gases just by living than, say, 5 billion people do. Either we reduce our population intentionally or nature will do it for us by disasters - flood, famine, disease, starvation, violent weather events, etc.

- reduce dependence on, and desire for gas-powered transport by all means: end NASCAR, and motor racing of all kinds, includng F1, Indycar, monster trucks, motorcycles, skidoos, hydroplanes, ocean racing, aeroplane racing, car shows, and end tax breaks for anything related to automobiles that does not reduce greenhouse gases. In June 2007, the Canadian Federal Conservatives sponsored a CASCAR racecar, the #29 car in the Canadian Tire Racing series. Can any government be taken seriously on environmental policy while they sponsor a gas-powered racecar?

- co-ordinate trucking industry by developing a computer run clearing and dispatch system like taxis use. At the moment trucks run all over North America, back and forth hauling everything from logs to food, and the inefficiencies result in millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases being produced unnecessarily.

- reduce regulation that works to prevent people from eating locally produced food, including meat. fruit, vegetables, grains. For instance, recent regulation required locally grown meat to be trucked away for slaughter and packing, doubling the cost in greenhouse gases, instead of permitting local packing by producers. It was a solution lacking a problem, and which only served to eliminate local producers and put profit in the pockets of corporate meat packing interests. Healthy food, eg. fruit cannot be produced locally at a profit because of useless regulation.

Political values lie at the heart of these issues. The solutions require change but the cost of not changing is greater, economically, morally, and idealogically.