December 4, 2008

Another ‘bank’ in trouble

Filed under: Environment, Politics/News, Uncategorized — 4fooey @ 11:06 am

There is one bank which is not mentioned at all in the context of the current financial crisis, yet it has everything to do with the economy and how we conduct our lives. The bank is ‘The Earth Bank’ which contains all the natural resources that we use and rely on, and all the species in existence – this bank is the earth itself, and while it functions to a large extent on its own, we as custodians or ‘bank managers’ of it have an enormous influence over its future. In the context of climate change, and the extent to which we humans add significantly to it, the Earth Bank is very much in trouble and in need of a dramatic and urgent rescue package, the mother of all ‘bail outs’.

Much has been said in the past few years about climate change, and there have been numerous committees set up and reports published (in 2006 the UK government published the Stern Review, and in 2007 there was a major report from the UN’s IPCC). It seems at last governments are starting to take steps to curb climate change in the form of greater recycling, more energy conservation, alternative fuels (especially for cars & other transport), non-carbon based or renewable energy generation, carbon capture, and so on — but there is long, long way to go. Another report was published this week by the UK Committee on Climate Change chaired by Adair Turner. The report suggests that Britain cuts greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth of current levels by 2020, which it describes as a ‘tough’ target and greater than has been attempted before. The report also recommends that the government does not use off-setting to achieve this target – apparently, the government has been planning to offset half of our emissions by buying carbon credits, which means someone else will have to implement the cuts in emissions. The full report by the HMCCC is here: Building a low-carbon economy – the UK’s contribution to tackling climate change.

Significant quotes from the Executive summary are useful:

“Climate change resulting from CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions poses a huge threat to human welfare [Ed: and the Earth, many species & the environment]. To contain that threat, the world needs to cut emissions by about 50% by 2050, and to start cutting emissions now. A global agreement to take action is vital. But a global agreement will not be possible unless the countries of the rich, developed world provide leadership.”

“A fair global deal will require the UK to cut emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The good news is that reductions of that size are possible without sacrificing the benefits of economic growth and rising prosperity. Technologies are available or with appropriate support could be developed which deliver low-carbon energy; opportunities to increase the efficiency with which we use energy are huge; lifestyle changes which will not undermine welfare can produce significant cuts in energy consumption. And many of the actions required to tackle climate change we should want to do anyway because these have economic, wider environmental and security of supply benefits.”

“The challenge is not the technical feasibility of a low-carbon economy but making it happen. Ensuring action will require strong leadership from government and a concerted response from individuals and businesses… the path is attainable at manageable cost, and following it is essential if the UK is to play its fair part in avoiding the far higher costs of harmful climate change.”

It’s going to take a huge shift of consciousness to get the majority of people onto a more sustainable lifestyle. This kind of major shift tends only to happen after severe shocks in the world system, like wars, economic depressions, massive natural disasters — one such shock could be the current financial crisis. We need a “soft/peaceful” revolution to happen and soon. The ‘green movement’ has been advocating such a revolution for decades, and although we’ve made small steps (green thinking is now mainstream and no longer considered ‘loony’), we still have a huge mountain to climb.

My question to governments in general and to the green movement in particular is, how is this change or revolution going to come about? What will it take to get us onto a more sustainable path? We need lots of small steps by individuals at a local level, and very large & fundamental changes at the international level — the latter is really needed now to have the most dramatic and lasting effect. The costs of rescuing the earth are said to be manageable (a few percent of GDP of each major country), but the costs if we don’t, in both economic terms and for the future of the planet and humankind, is unimaginable.

November 9, 2006

Water adds life

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4fooey @ 1:33 pm

Water is often overlooked in the west when it comes to helping developing countries but is one of the most important issues for these countries. Having clean drinking water and proper sanitation can make a huge difference to developing countries. The extent of the problem is highlighted today in a new UNDP report, which is summarised in this BBC report: UN urges end to ‘water apartheid’. The report says that over one third of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water, and that water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea kill far more people than HIV/Aids and malaria combined. Having safe water and sanitation should be a human right, along with the right to freedom, justice and dignity, as enshrined in the declaration of human rights. One charity doing a lot to combat this problem is WaterAid: according to their website they “use practical solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people.” Their programs should be scaled up and the international community should spend more on providing safe water for everyone in the world.

April 1, 2006

It was the best of times…

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4fooey @ 12:32 am

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” … to quote Dickens seems to sum up how I feel about stuff going on in the world today, but then maybe it’s always been this way. On the one hand amazing advances in technology and communications, while on the other wars, poverty, disease.

This blog is my way of exploring these things and trying to make sense of it. And rather than me just thinking-out-loud to myself, I hope I get plenty of feedback from you (yeah, YOU), otherwise there aint much point.

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