Friday, June 26, 2020

Are Climate Scientists Selling Us Down the River?

I always took it as a given that climate scientists always spoke truth to power. Now I'm not so sure.

Kevin Anderson is a professor of energy and climate change. He contends that British climate scientists are failing to give their government the hard facts.
“Academics have done an excellent job in understanding and communicating climate science, but the same cannot be said in relation to reducing emissions,” said Anderson. “Here we have collectively denied the necessary scale of mitigation, running scared of calling for fundamental changes to both our energy system and the lifestyles of high-energy users."

“Many senior academics, senior policymakers, basically the great and good of the climate world have decided that it is unhelpful to rock the status quo boat and therefore choose to work within that political paradigm – they’ll push it as hard as they think it can go, but they repeatedly step back from questioning the paradigm itself.” 
“On mitigation, the academic community and the CCC [the UK government's Committee on Climate Change] have collectively failed the political realm and civil society by tailoring our conclusions to fit with what we judge to be politically palatable – all at the expense of scientific integrity.”
When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, Anderson points the finger at the real villains, the rich.
“Globally the wealthiest 10% are responsible for half of all emissions, the wealthiest 20% for 70% of emissions. If regulations forced the top 10% to cut their emissions to the level of the average EU citizen, and the other 90% made no change in their lifestyles, that would still cut total emissions by a third
If we were serious about this crisis we could do this in a year – if we were really serious we could do it in a month, but we are not and our emissions just keep rising.”


zoombats said...

It's all smoke and mirrors when it comes right down to it. The idea that burning great swathes of trees instead of fossil fuels is so much better and considered renewable or green. A common sense revolution is really impossible to put together when the masses are constantly dumbed down by a few.

zoombats said...

sorry mound. Forgot to sign my comment

The Disaffected Lib said...

You don't have to burn trees to extract their energy, Zoombats. Pyrolysis is a form of combustion without oxygen. Wood mass processed this way gives off heat energy, biogas and bio-oil. The heat can be used to generate electricity. The biogas and bio-oil, when refined, can be used in lieu of fossil fuels. There's one other product - bio-char, which is mineralized carbon. One of the best uses for biochar is to rehabilitate degraded farmland.

A Quebec university study showed that, applied at a ratio of 10 tons per acre, it improved crop yields in good soil by some 30 per cent and in marginal soils by 50 to 70 per cent. I think we all know that black, rich soil is highly fertile. It's carbon that turns soil black. In the soil it does a number of things. It increases microbial growth that, in turn, increases the nutrients plants get from the soil, hence the increase in crop yields. Being a form of charcoal it can filter contaminants out of groundwater. Bio-char is also porous which enables it to retain groundwater in arid conditions.

It's important to remember that this is not fossil energy. It comes entirely from the surface carbon cycle. It is a form of sequestering carbon in mineral form instead of allowing trees to burn or rot, releasing their retrained carbon into the atmosphere.

Oh yeah, it lasts for centuries. Most of the land in the Amazon has been leeched out by heavy rains. When the rainforest is logged off it can be farmed for just a few years before it is infertile. Except for one area. Agronomists found one area that remains intensely productive. Digging into the soil they came to bio-char that some early civilization began tilling into their farm fields 2,500 years ago. Because of its lack of arable land, the Amazon today is populated by small tribes that are distanced. They're hunter-gatherers. Two millennia ago some earlier tribe figured out how to terraform the Amazon. Scientists named that soil "terra preta."

What worked for the Amazon will work up here to rehabilitate existing farmland and potentially make marginal lands viable for crop production. With the world approaching a crisis of food insecurity, Canada has a means to bolster our own resource.

Troy said...

It always comes down to class and power. Bend power towards the people, or the power is used to bend over the people.

There's a disconnect however. Power changes hands linearly, but climate change is exponential.

Power is being ripped from neo-liberalism's hands, bit by bit, but it's a slow process. And every little bit taken is often taken back, by hook or crook.

And when people gravitate toward power—even when they have the best of intentions, such as climate scientists—people tend to bend at the knees, and attempt to placate those in power. Those who don't placate power are driven away from it.

Right now, all there is to do to gain power is to protest. It's the only avenue available to gain any influence, and the process is excruciatingly slow. The inflection point of when power shifts is never visible. Like Lenin said, "There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen".

We just need to keep pushing. Sometime soon—gotta keep believing this—the powerful will topple, and all their money, guns, soldiers, and police can't stop this from happening.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Yes, Troy, we have to keep pushing. I'm not sure there'll be much left of our society when the scourge of neoliberalism is thrown off. The reality is that time is running out.

And, thanks for the Lenin quote. I think he had a point.

Trailblazer said...

Climate scientists are as human as the rest of us.
Some climate scientists came top of the class others barely made the grade.
Some scientists veer to the right of politics , others the left.
Whatever the scientist , he or she knows who signs their paycheque.
Keeping science and education free of outside influence is becoming a very difficult situation nowadays.


Northern PoV said...

laugh or cry?

The Disaffected Lib said...

Toby, here's a comment I left on another blog yesterday that, I think, speaks to your Twitter clip:

'There was a time extremists were called the "lunatic fringe." Well, they're not a fringe group any longer. They have become a significant political force, people who inform themselves via social media and readily succumb to every conspiracy theory that's floated past them. These are the people who support Donald Trump.

'Every issue today, scientific or medical or social, is promptly baked in a thick layer of partisanship and becomes mired in the never ending culture war where the knowledge-driven segment is caught in the grip of the belief-driven group including the conspiracy-addled. This will take a terrible toll on the United States and the rest of us will be dealing with the knock-on effects for many years.'