Coronavirus and Climate Change, can there be a lesson learned?

Keskiviikko 18.3.2020 klo 12:05 - Mikko Nikinmaa

A teenager came to his/her grandparents and was furious. “Things which were yesterday impossible to accomplish, because climate change mainly affects us young, are today done, because it is mainly you old who suffer from coronavirus.” While this is largely true, the pandemic may give wind to the sails of climate activists after the acute coronavirus crisis is over.

To start with World Meteorological Organization just published “WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019” (https://public.wmo.int/en). It clearly shows the unfortunate events that are currently taking place: temperature increase, ocean acidification, spreading of hypoxic zones in aquatic systems etc. These things are often accepted by climLampotilamuutos.jpgate sceptics, but they maintain that human influence has nothing to do with them. It is here that coronavirus lockdowns may give climate scientists a strong and unanimous data set. The measures which have been taken affect the world energy consumption for the first half of 2020. The decrease may be big enough to be seen in the global measures for 2020. If it is, it will show two things: (1) The climate change has a measurable (and significant) human component and (2) it is possible to carry out actions, which combat climate change effectively and which allow decent life.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: world meteorological organization, climate sceptics, energy consumption

Black Friday - An Overconsumption Feast Directly Opposite to What Should Be Done to Combat Climate Change

Perjantai 29.11.2019 klo 11:15 - Mikko Nikinmaa

It started in America as many workplaces have free day after Thanksgiving. The commerce realized that this could be the time to get people in department stores and other shops. In recent years Black Friday has invaded Europe. This happens at DSC_0022_NEW.jpgthe same time that media is showing pictures of the results of overconsumption: wildfires in Australia, melting glaciers in Greenland and drought in East Africa followed by massive flooding. If drought did not spoil the harvest the flooding definitely did. The media have been worried of overconsumption, yet the same media are supporting the overconsumption feast with interviews and advertising.

Let’s face it: Black Friday represents all the problems in the overconsuming Western world. Its purpose is not to get people to buy things that they need but to buy things because they are sold at rebate, regardless if they are needed or not. The only purpose is to increase sales – and this happens in the world where European countries and America have used their yearly quota of resources before midsummer. In view of this, Black Friday represents the most blatant action against the possibility to combat climate change, and against the possibility to give a habitable earth to our grandchildren.

Today I buy nothing.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: consumption, economic growth, sustainabilit

Ban Fireworks

Sunnuntai 30.12.2018 klo 9:21 - Mikko Nikinmaa

It is again time that billions of euros are burned. Thrown away in skies to have fine fireworks. There is probably no more unnecessary consumption than fireworks in new year's eve. One could compare it to lighting up and burning money - except that burning money as such would be much less harmful than fireworks. All the colours that the fireworks give out are the colours of burning metal ions - and many metal ions are quite poisonous. In fact, many people who complain about metal pollution from mines are ready to pollute their imIlotulitus.jpgmediate surroundings with poisonous metals.In adddition to the poisonous metals themselves, the empty firework trash fills the surroundings.

Then the noise. We had a dog, whom it was impossible to get out between the time that shooting fireworks starts and the time it finished. At home it always  tried to find a place, where there was least noise. It is quite common that dogs and other pets are really scared of the noide. In the media there are every year columns giving advice to people with fireworks-scared pets. Avoiding this problem would be simple. Ban fireworks. 

In addition to causing metal and noise pollution and trash, accidents with fireworks cause a high amount of medical cost with some peopple becoming permanently blind. Further, sustainability can only be reached, if unnecessary consumption is stopped. And if anything, shooting fireworks is unnecessary consumption. Since there are several negative points, and only one supporting one - fireworks look pretty, they should be banned. In Finland, people's petition at kanslaisaloite.fi has reached an adequate number of signatures so that the fireworks ban must be taken up in the parliament. I hope it is successful

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: metal pollution, noise, consumption

Climate change, biodiversity loss - reincarnations of population bomb

Perjantai 2.11.2018 klo 12:46 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Very recently several important contributions on environmental questions have been published. First, the IPCC report on Climate Change, and, second, the WWF Living Planet 2018 report  (WWF. 2018. Living Planet Report 2018. Aiming Higher. Grooten, M. and Almond, R.E.A.(Eds). WWF, Gland, Switzerland.). In addition, an article in Nature (Resplandy et al. 2018   Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition, Nature 563, 105-108) indicates that more heat has been absorbed by the oceans than conservative estimates suggest, i.e. that climate change may be worse than previously thought

Surprisingly, the reports do not give virtually any attention to the size of human population, although looking at the above two pivtures, a striking similarity in the population increase and athospheric carbon dioxide level graphs can be seen. In the future, it can unfortunately be estimated that if climate actions are not effective, carbon dioxide production increases much more than population growth, since population growth occurs in areas, where carbon dioxide production per person has increased markedly during recent past. Also, the major reasons for the huge (60 %) biodiversity loss are habitat loss and exploitation, both the result of the need of increasing population to get food and other commodities.

It is shocking that economic circles and politicians throughout the world forget that all economic activity ultimately depends on healthy environment. As a result, growth is not possible indefinitely, and economic theories should center not around growth but around sustainability. And one of the major aims of future global planning should be to limit world population. However, as long as the growth-based ideology predominates, population growth is needed. Naturally, actions to corb population growth should be such that nobody is offended. I have toyed with the idea that foreign aid would be given to individuals, not the (mostly corrupt) governments. The direct funding would depend on the size of the family, increasing with a decrease in the number of children. Another significant action would be the schooling of women: this would significantly decrease the population growth, and would also foster equality - certainly opposed by many in male-dominated societies.

Many innovative solutions to decrease the exploitation of wild animals and habitat distruction have been already advanced. Also, there are a plenty of possibilities to decrease the energy needed for transporting goods and new ways of energy production. However, in my opinion, a success in combatting both climate change and biodiversity loss requires that we are succesful in limiting population growth. If we cannot do that, there is bound to be a collapse resembling one that is always seen with animal populations, which have become too dense.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: land use, extinctions, energy consumption, carbon dioxide

Population explotion and climate change - close connection

Tiistai 9.10.2018 klo 20:26 - Mikko Nikinmaa

In the late 1960s, when I became an environmentlaists (and still am 50 years later), the major worry was population growth. Then it was estimated that food production would soon become a problem. However, as a result of advances in agricultural methods, the absolute hunger in the world has decreased, although the population has increased threefold. However, one can say that virtually all of the present mejor global problems are due to population growth. I was shocked to see two charts superimposed: the population growth and the energy consumption in the world. The graphs were more or less identical. So, the climate change is very much to do with population growth. If the population could decrease to the level that it was in 1960s, there would be no climate change, nor would there be the global plastic problem etc.

Naturally we cannot forcefully decrease world population, but one of the ways to migitate  climate change should be to decrease population growth in Asia and Africa. And there could be quite a simple way to do this with everyone being happy. Much of the developmental aid could be tied to birth control: if a family had maximally two children, they would be given a certain yerly sum of money. This would probably be more effective way of combatting climate change in developing counties than anything else.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: population growth, energy consumption, carbon dioxide

Meat-containing diet - not as bad as usually thought

Sunnuntai 19.8.2018 klo 12:37 - Mikko Nikinmaa

When thinking of the most sustainable diet, it is normally considered that one should turn to fully vegetarian one to feed world's population. If animal products were used at all, they should be from ectotherms like insects and fish. Against this background it came as a surprise that having a small amount of traditional farm animal products in the diet actually reduces the land use needed for obtaining a given amount of energy even as compared to vegetarian diets. This surprising result is caused by the fact that farm animals can utilize feed that is human refuse - something that cannot be included in vegetarian diets. Pigs and cows happily eat the leaves of sugarbeets and turnips, which would just be left to rot and to release the carbon dioxide taken up back to the environment, if strictly vegetarian diet were utilized. This surprising conclusion was reviewd by van Zanten et al. recently (Glob Change Biol. 2018;24:4185–4194). So, the most sustainable diet includes some animal products.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: land use, climate change, food consumption, population growth