Environment

Revelations About Carbon Emissions

Co2 Emissions by World Population – pendantry.wordpress.com/

Back in the 80s, when I was studying the environment, the question of how to effect climate action in a globally just way was hard to figure out. Why shouldn’t Third World countries develop and exploit natural resources and enjoy the pleasures that a higher standard of living can bring? Just because it is “bad for the environment?” When the first world is largely responsible and enjoyed the benefits!

Equitable Climate Change

Who wouldn’t want a car, air-conditioning/heating, a comfortable home and life? Here’s a good reason:

Burning of fossil fuels and deforestation> polluting emissions and habitat and biodiversity loss> increased global temperatures> melting polar ice>disturbances of oceanic and global weather systems> increased mega-fires, drought and extreme weather events> agricultural and economic disruption>breakdown of food and supply chains> environmental catastrophe?

Carbon Emission Reduction

For those living outside the developed world, there’s some comfort from Professor Rockström, a Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research. He represents both Future Earth and Earth League and states the latest statistics show:

..the richest 1% must reduce emissions by a factor of 30, while the poorest 50% in the world can actually increase emissions by a factor of three for the world to stay within the global carbon budget in a fair way.

Johan Rockstrom –
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Climate Action by Behavioural Change

We need to have a transition not only into decarbonisation of the energy systems in terms of technologies, but we also need 1.5°C lifestyles.

Johan Rockstrom

Seven Simple Ways to Help the Planet and Live a 1.5°C Lifestyle

  • Eat Less
  • Fly less
  • Avoid plastic
  • Buy from local suppliers
  • Upcycle and re-use
  • Turn off power sources when not needed
  • Live sustainably – buy only what you need, not what you might want.

Lead by example and pressure your policymakers and parliamentary representatives to do the same.

We Can All Do This!

Are you decreasing consumption levels?

What are the barriers to lower carbon consumption in your region?

Read more about these sobering facts were sourced from pendantry.wordpress.com/

Read also a wonderful post from Jill on Greta Thunberg – the Covid crisis has replaced the environment in the headlines but one still feels in awe of Greta’s words which inspire us all to do more.

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55 thoughts on “Revelations About Carbon Emissions”

  1. I think what is missing is a sense of the scale of reduction that the 1% need to achieve. Recycling and turning off lights is not going to cut it. The simplest in one sense would be personal carbon budgets. Only then would people realise the scale of difference between what they are consuming and what the planet needs them to achieve for current human lifestyles to remain viable (the planet will survive till the sun ends, but not the people). Also, something you missed out from your list is having fewer children…the biggest impact people have on the planet is in creating more people.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Excellent point about reproducing, Jane but a can or worms. In third world countries, there is cultural and religious opposition to contraception, as well as access issues. Adding to that, is the benefit of having larger families to work the farm, gather the firewood and water etc. To be rich in some areas, is to have large families. That is a whole ‘nother can of worms. In the first world though, that point is highly relevant.
      My list is not exhaustive – just some easily integrated measures we can all do. I agree it is not the whole solution and I like your idea of a personal carbon budget! Is there something like that being promoted?

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I agree completely with the idea of personal carbon budgets… but not so much with the overpopulation problem. Yes, it is a problem, and one that needs to be addressed, but the biggest problem is the inequity in usage by the most wealthy, as shown in the graphic at the top of Amanda’s post here.

      The richest 1% – which is a population smaller than Germany – are on track to be releasing 70 tonnes of CO2 per person a year if current consumption continues, according to the study. In total they will account for 16% of total emissions by 2030, up from 13% of emissions in 1990. Meanwhile, the poorest 50% will be releasing an average of one tonne of CO2 annually. — The Guardian, 05Nov2021

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  2. Yes, we are decreasing consumption. We are mostly vegan and repair and reuse to the best of our abilities. We very much limit how much we drive, and we don’t fly. Heating and transportation are big issues in Maine, and even with limiting driving, I doubt we have a 1.5 carbon lifestyle.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks for sharing this – so many people need to read this! Reducing our consumption is the easiest way to reduce our carbon footprint. I also feel like Millennials and Gen Z need to stop going crazy over fast fashion.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fast fashion has been created at the expense of women and children working for appalling wages in third world. Clothing is so inexpensive that it has become a disposable item. I still have clothes that I wear that I have had for over ten years. Not a lot but as I really like them and they don’t date, I will continue to wear them until they fall apart. It can be done. Buying timeless pieces when you do purchase clothes and durable fabrics is good practice.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m writing this wearing my 30+ years old sweater! I pledged last year not to buy anything new in clothing apart from underwear and shoes. It’s been easy to do, and I have some fabulous charity shop finds. We also pledged not to fly again. That’s proving more taxing. We have a trip planned for May which involves travel through several European countries. With present rules demanding quarantine etc. would this even be feasible, or would we have several confinements en route? We don’t know. Nobody knows. Obviously, we don’t HAVE to go, but it’s been long planned. I’d add to your excellent list ‘eat seasonally’. Strawberries, to take one example, are so much nicer when a special summer treat, not anaemic hothouse versions flown in from who knows where. Seasonality is not only better for the planet, it tastes better!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Most of my clothes are old, too; but still perfectly usable. The only items of clothing I buy are ones that I actually need, and I always look for items that can support organisations I deem worthy – I treated myself to a festive jumper recently 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Amanda, I love the seven ideas. I would add “walk more” on short trips to the store. This has the added values of health and avoiding car accidents, most of which occur within one mile of your home. But, so much more is needed to put less carbon in the air and take what is there down to better levels. Great post. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Keith. Walking is the very best form of exercise. Gentle, pleasant and mental and physical health benefits. We have eagerly been awaiting the construction of a new shopping village near us, small but containing most essential items which will mean we can walk there and not have to get in the car to drive to get necessities.

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      1. Amanda, do take advantage of that. We have three different shopping centers within a couple of miles. Plus, when a walk with one cloth bag, it limits how much I can buy. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed, small steps can accumulate to make a difference, Dorothy, even though industry must take the biggest chunk of change for things to dent the predicted temperature increase.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry to be the stick in the mud here, but…

    You know that this idea of a ‘carbon footprint’ is straight out of the Petroleum industry’s media strategy, right? In other words, if they can convince a majority of the population that ‘we’ as individuals can make a meaningful impact by doing this and doing that, they can continue business as usual no matter how many solar panels we use. The problem is using an industrial carbon based energy system. It’s not a moral problem. It’s not an ethical problem. It’s most DEFINATELY not an ‘equity’ problem. It is a carbon based energy problem no matter who uses it or to what extent.

    So the only meaningful solution is to change that system… entirely. We can still use all kinds of petroleum products that are not part of the energy system (pollution, however, is a different problem and also very serious). We can still drive cars and heat our homes and eat a variety of foods in news clothes. In other words, you and a billion of your closest friends can shed every vestige of modern society, go live in the woods and eat berries, and the world will continue to hurtle to 3.5 C warming by 2100 because global energy production is STILL 98% carbon based whether you’re a subsistence farmer or airline CEO. Participating with individual action might feel good, may assuage the guilt that is aimed at ‘us’ by intention as if ENERGY use is the problem when it’s not, but collectively amounts to almost no effect whatsoever when it comes to addressing climate change caused by a carbon based energy system.

    We are also being sold a bill of goods that ‘we’ can achieve 1.5 C by 2150 through ‘net zero’ carbon emissions. Politicians LOVE this idea because it is a bookkeeping trick, where as long as ‘we’ can offset carbon emissions by other carbon absorbing means, we can carry on carrying on. Guess whose interests this approach serves? The same is true for ‘carbon capture’ idiocy that is usually promoted by petroleum reliant governments.

    We have real solutions that will eventually lead the industrial world in producing clean energy as well as produce massive efficiency, employment, and reduction in energy costs right now (but ALWAYS vilify Tesla and Musk whenever and wherever possible… you know, another rich white guy who should be cancelled). What we lack is the political will and public investment necessary to implement it in a timely way. And that political will is dependent on and driven by popularity. That’s what’s lacking. As long as people can be convinced to do their own thing by reducing, reusing, and recycling, eating more broccoli and sprouts, and making significantly expensive retrofitting of individual homes and buildings with an element of clean energy, the petroleum industry will be very pleased you’ve taken on their burden. Their strategy is working and this year we will produce more greenhouse gases from carbon based energy use around the world – including the poorest 50% – than ever before. Equity concerns is being USED by the petroleum industry and that’s why they spend a lot of money every year partly funding all these environmental organizations: to control the messaging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tildeb, for your informative comment. It is much appreciated.
      I absolutely do think the petroleum industry and other carbon based industries should and must take the lion’s share of the load, for you are right, without them, we are stuffed. I have no doubt that the fossil fuel industries fund these messages to distract from what they are doing, yet continually resist changes to their own area on the basis that jobs are lost. You said it so well here: “What we lack is the political will and public investment necessary to implement it in a timely way. And that political will is dependent on and driven by popularity. That’s what’s lacking.” They are consummate marketers of our death knell.
      I feel a glimmer of hope is that if this culture of sustainability persists and grows, the public will become aware of what these industries are doing. Reducing one’s own carbon footprint will become a mainstream way of life, and I see definite signs of that in the younger generation already. The language they speak and their altered work ethic is applaudable. Many actively look for ways to be more sustainable, as they have been educated this way. In time, this attitude may permeate the community and translate to political preferences and a subsequent re-prioritizing by Government. I do think it may not happen in time to save our planet from warming dangerously, and I assume you meant by 2050? (Not 2150?)
      As you alluded, Greenhouse gases continue to escalate and I note that not even the Covid pandemic has been able to put a permanent dent in that. Do you have any information to clarify that? As it is extremely concerning.

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      1. Yes, I meant 2050 for the 1.5C and 2100 for 3.5C. Again, though, and I know no one wants to hear this, reducing our carbon footprint is like reducing the tap flow into a finite bucket; no solution that adds more water is in fact a solution no matter how nicely phrased and applauded such rate reductions may seem to help. That’s not help. The problem is adding water in the same way the problem for global warming is adding ANY carbon based emissions. The only solution is to substitute the very real need for energy away from carbon and into renewables. Just try to add hydro or nuclear and see how strong is the civic pushback. So that leaves wind and solar (Toyota is, of course, championing hydrogen because burning fuel is its business model. It will fail.).

        I mentioned Tesla specifically because this is what a climate change business solution looks like in action: the cars are a small part of the Tesla business. It’s their batteries that is the huge business element (contracts in 2022 alone is nearing 10 billion) and they power them through solar. Look at the battery advances by Tesla in just the past 3 years alone. This is the energy future, getting away from materials that are rare or use questionable mining practices while increasing energy capabilities that reduce costs using common minerals. So Tesla isn’t really a car company but an energy technology company ahead of its time, one that designs cars to be both battery storage units that can also give back to the grid as well as (relatively) luxurious and ‘smart’ transportation devices. It’s all connected – literally and figuratively. This is why Musk bet his financial future on this… because no one else would. That’s the kind of real world solution that alters the energy landscape and move us directly away from burning carbon in some form and causing greenhouse gas emissions by its operation. With a 1/3 battery weight reduction in just the past 5 months, while producing the same amount of power from 6 months ago, the technology means it can be applied where weight has been an issue, specifically efficient air transportation. This is a process and it’s always getting better and cheaper.

        My point here is that real solutions require an understanding from the voting public that stopping the addition of water into the finite bucket has to be the priority and so successful business models that do just this require public infrastructure support in the same way transportation and electrical grids received them in the past. This – and not the moral strokes and accolades for individuals reducing and reusing and going without or going with less – is what makes lasting SYSTEMIC changes and so this support has to be the primary responsibility of each individual: to empower real change. If everyone would spend the same amount of effort they do on feeling like they are helping by making what amounts to insignificant reductions in their drip rate and redirect it towards contacting every level of government and every government agency and demanding such renewable changes to be central of our infrastructure projects and planning, perhaps we can shut off the tap before the tipping point (there are many in our environments) for 3.5C is reached.

        If you think 1.5C is bad in extreme weather, pandemics, drought, flood, fire, and all the political instability that these disasters produce is bad today, understand what this means and why these days – as hard as they are – are actually ‘The Good Old Days’ (for example, when you hear something like a 100 year flood, immediately divide it by 5 per 1900 average temperature to find out how likely and often that will NOW occur. That same event with a 1 degree rise is now a 20 year event on average. (We’ve even had a pair of 1000 year floods two years in a row.) That’s where we are right now. Add another degree – which is what the 2030 time limit really is – and you can immediately see how our infrastructure is completely inadequate to address these real world rapid changes that are happening right now and accelerating.)

        We face a climate catastrophe right now whether we recognize this truth or not but are dealing with it very badly. We can deal with it much, Much, MUCH better if we go after altering the root cause: our dirty energy system. And part of that dealing rests with us right now by going along with amounts to a lie that we can do our own little bit to help by this, that, and the other thing. I wish, because I know almost everyone wants to help, and most are willing to help, but telling people that these actions that continue to add water to the finite bucket really isn’t helping in fact. In fact, even if you and I and almost everyone on the planet simply stopped using this energy system in our private lives, we would AT BEST reduce the flow of water into that bucket by no more than 30%. Just the Australian bush fire alone from last year (?) added three times that amount. These fires aren’t going away because the conditions for them have not been altered by our human global activity.

        So sure, it may slow the rate, but more of us have to force this systemic change to energy renewables right here right now as fast as we can and not allow us to be diverted from imposing this on the energy sector by going along with false narratives that make us feel good, something that’s morally shiny enough to get us quibbling amongst ourselves about who is best doing their individual part with this, that, or the other thing, but fail to see that our real job is to support the public infrastructure for shutting off that tap altogether. That’s the solution. That’s the only solution.

        What does this action look like? Using a rake rather than a blower, for example? No.

        It’s huge. It’s the war effort to put previous war efforts to shame. No more internal combustion engines of any kind after 2030. No more electrical production by the burning of fossil fuels after 2035. No more public insuring or protected mortgages of homes or business located in climate vulnerable danger zones. Cities and municipalities must reach 100% recycled water efficiency. And so on. From the ground up, in all our infrastructure we need to start adapting to the necessary structural changes that only begin with altering our energy system to mitigate the disasters dirty energy has yielded and whose effects we have barely begun to experience. This is what the next generation is going to inherit from us.

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  7. A HUGE subject with no quick or easy answers. Germany was quite the study in responsible use of energy while on the other side, several areas had horrid air quality. We drove a flex fuel car which used negligible gasoline and used public transport most of the time. My husband & I decided in 1966 to only have 2 children. Zero population was a big thing then. My son has already changed all the light bulbs in my new apartment to LED’S so we can save energy there. I’ve learned so much on this trip and still want to do more. Most of us are trying. The one %, I don’t think they care. Read the article on Greta. Not sure I could do that trip in a boat this time of year. Scary. She is certainly sounding the alarm and only a few are listening. Makes you want to box ears.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Box ears indeed. Mostly political ears, Marlene.
      Glad you found things to learn in Germany as travel when we can do it, broadens our perspectives, usually for the better. What is a flex fuel car?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The car uses gasoline but each time it comes to a stop, the engine shuts off and when you press the gas, it restarts the engine with electric start. I think it’s some kind of alternative but I may be using the wrong term. It made me nervous whatever it is. Did save a bunch of gasoline though.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with some of the arguments put forth in this post. Major stumbling blocks to reducing carbon emissions have been identified. The numbers in support of the post’s positions are alluring. Unfortunately, the logic behind arguing “rich and poor nations” represents only a sentimental call to action. Requesting substantial political and economic change based upon moral righteousness and notions of fairness only leads to developing nations demanding much more than permission to increase their carbon footprint. There seems to be no agreement over definitions and classifications in the climate change debate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate your comment and perspective, Paul. I wonder if you could expand more on the following point in terms of views in developing nations with examples, if any?
      “Requesting substantial political and economic change based upon moral righteousness and notions of fairness only leads to developing nations demanding much more than permission to increase their carbon footprint.”
      Thank you.

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  9. I tell people I know global warming is real because of old photos I have. Even though Texas here in the U.S. isn’t known for snow and ice, pictures from the 1970s and 80s show plenty of snow during the winter months. Aside from the catastrophic ice storm that descended upon Texas in February of 2021, I’ve noticed heavy snowfalls are rare. We seem to have more ice storms. That’s in line with what climate change analysts predicted decades ago: when snow and ice did fall, the storms would come with more ferocity.

    The same is happening with tropical storm systems. Here in the northern hemisphere these tempests are occurring more frequently and lingering longer. The 2020 Atlantic/Caribbean hurricane season produced a total of 30 storm systems; the most on record for the region. But meteorologists have noted the Atlantic/Caribbean basin experiences regular fluctuations of storm frequency; roughly 20-25 cycles where it’s intensely busy, followed by a similar period of modest activity.

    Of course, all of this simply may be the result of some previously undocumented metamorphosis in global climate. But abrupt climate changes have destroyed – or at least seriously hampered – civilizations in the past. Regardless these changes may be ominous signs for the planet’s climate health.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I believe some older folks have become set in their ways to the point they often don’t see any viable change is necessary for things happening around them. Many younger people, however, know they will inherit whatever is left behind and may see the effects – good or bad.

    But I think a conservative mindset prevents many from looking deeper into the future. They feel things have worked just fine for x amount of time, so why change it? On the industrial front, many people see the argument over climate change as anti-business or anti-growth; that any attention to the matter will result in decimation of jobs and economic success. It’s why the oil industry, for example, doesn’t want any positive action taken on behalf of climate change. It could hurt their profits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You summed up the difficulties getting the message across, well. It is not easy to overcome these mindsets. An attitudinal change and long term thinking and planning for the greater good, even if it hurts the hip pocket is essential. Many are ambitious and hungry for money. That drive in people is so detrimental and hard-wired!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. We here at Chez Bean are very aware of our energy consumption. The less flying part is easy enough considering the pandemic, but avoiding plastic is trickier. As for upcycle and re-use, I grew up with my mother saying and demonstrating: waste not, want not. ‘Twas her mantra.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Waste not, want not, is something that was frequently said here Ally. Especially by those who lived through the Depression. I don’t hear it from the younger people. The change in attitude is worrying but I am comforted by their renewed interest in sustainability.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. hi Amanda, very important post here and thanks for the reminders.
    I have not heard of the term ” 1.5°C Lifestyle” but I like the premise and idea.
    I think I have been living midful of being environmentally friendly but find little ways to do more. For example, I did not realize that the dryer can be such an energy sucker – and while using a dryer is still gift (whew) one thing I have done is if a load ends before the towels are fully dry – I will hang them up rather than restart the dryer.

    Liked by 1 person

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