Environmental crisis is not over even if climate change is successfully combatted

Tiistai 5.9.2023 klo 19:06 - Mikko Nikinmaa

News have recently given several technological solutions for catching and storing carbon dioxide. Further, several uses for caught carbon dioxide have been demonstrated. This has generated quite a lot of optimism that technological advancements can solve the climate change problem. So, many people in rich industrialized countries think that once the climate change problem is solved, life can go on as before, and economic growth can continue to be the goal.

Unfortunately, environmental crisis does not disappear anywhere. I have also earlier pointed out that climate change is just one symptom of environmental crisis. Thinking that successfully combatting climate change would solve the underlying environmental crisis is more or less the same as thinking that a drug that alleviates head aches caused by brain tumour would also cure the tumour. Environmental crisis is caused by our overuse of the planet’s resources. There are two components to the overuse: the rich countries are still thinking that economic growth is something to strive for, and human population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth. As the result of the two, land use is excessive – deforestation is needed to achieve adequate food production, water use exceeds all the limits, the mineral resources are overused, and biodiversity is decreasing.

Inequality is an important component of the environmental crisis. Actually Africa should be rich, because a lot of the resources that have made us in the Industrialized North rich were stolen during the colonial period (and continues to be stolen now). Much of the agriculture in the poor countries is not their needed food, but water-consuming cotton, coffee and cocoa, which is then sold to us. The majority of people in rich countries are against immigration from poor countries, and are willing to use a lot of resources to preventing that. The populist parties also say that money should be spent in the countries of origin of the poor immigrants, and by these means reduce the need to leave their birthplace. I actually agree with this notion. However, the right wing populists want to decrease foreign aid, whereas we should increase it to 10-100-fold to pay back some of the stolen resources of the colonial time.

It is good that technological solutions for combatting climate change are forthcoming. It shows that remedies can be found to environmental crisis. However, environmental crisis goes nowhere, and if climate change is successfully combatted, we must start fighting against other aspects of environmental crisis. The fight can be successful only after all of us agree that we are all citizens of One World.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: biodiversity loss, water cycle, overpopulation, land use, foreign aid, resource overuse

Amazonas may have reached the tipping point already - if not, urgent action is necessary

Maanantai 12.9.2022 klo 18:51 - Mikko Nikinmaa

If 20-25 % of a rainforest area is lost (deforested, burned), the forest turns to savannah. This is because the water cycle maintaining the forest is interrupted. The tree area of the forest needs to be adequate in order to guarantee that the evaporative water loss from the trees turns to rain that keeps the forest alive. With decreasing evaporation, the moisture generated is not enough to turn to rain, and the moisture-requiring forests disappear and are replaced by savannah. This generates an extensive loss of the carbon-dioxide absorbing capacity of the area. Since Amazonas has for good reason been called Earth’s lungs, the deforestation and burning can be called Earth’s lung cancer.

It is estimated that the area of Amazonas that has already been changed to agricultural land is a little less than 20 %. In addition, another 6 % is under quite heavy human influence, but could be returned to proper rain forest. Thus, we are clearly at the tipping point; if forest loss is allowed to continue, we lose the major carbon dioxide sink, if we take the countermeasures, restoring the heavily impacted area, Earth’s lungs may survive.

When the international agreements on combatting climate change were done, one point that was agreed upon was that the industrialized North would give lots of funds for third world countries to enable them to establish, e.g., protected forest areas. Hitherto only less than ten % of the promised funds have been allocated. It would, however, be easy to fulfil the monetary promises, e.g., by placing a small climate tax on the superrich. Then their riches would be more beneficial to mankind than the short space explorations.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, carbon dioxide sink, water cycle