It is good to see that at the recent COP21 meeting in Paris that representatives from very diverse countries and organisations were able to work together and reach an agreement concerning addressing global warming.
What is not so good to see is the way that these meetings are dominated by 'group think' concerning the situation we are in. There is too much 'finger pointing', too much discussion of who is to blame, and too much discussion concerning how those who are going to be affected by future global warming are to be compensated for the negative effects that they face due to this global warming. This is accompanied by a rosy assumption that if global carbon dioxide emissions are gradually reduced over the next half a century, and we do nothing else, that everything will work out relatively okay. Of course, we know that this assumption is completely wrong.
Here is an example of this 'group think'. It concerns the UK's approach to global warming, as expressed by the international development secretary, Justine Greening, who attended COP21:
- "Helping poor countries to go green and adapt to the effects of global warming is in Britain's "national interest" because climate change will render other countries unliveable, sending displaced people in search of new homes, she [Justine Greening] argues. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Ms Greening said Britain's commitment to spend almost £6 billion on overseas climate aid in the next five years was "the smart thing to do", because climate change could trigger refugee crises similar to that caused by the conflict in Syria." ('Greening: Our choice is climate aid or more refugees' by Emily Gosden, The Sunday Telegraph, 6 December 2015, p. 18)
This is a widespread view: significant global warming is going to occur, many countries are going to be severely effected in a negative way, so lets give them billions and billions of pounds to help them deal with these negative consequences!
What we really need to see is a different way of thinking about global warming. Let us just focus on the type of global warming that is human-induced global warming (which is what they have been doing at COP21). This type of global warming is caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere due to human activity. At COP21 thousands upon thousands of people attended and effectively said, well yes, global warming is going to occur, so let us try and limit it if possible so that the consequences are not too severe. Instead of this, wouldn't it be nice if they said; 'why don't we stop global warming completely and do it now, over the next 12 months'. This is possible, if the will was there, and it has nothing to do with cutting carbon dioxide emissions!
Rather than spending billions upon billions of pounds dealing with the negative consequences following from global warming, we could be spending this money stopping global warming. That is surely more sensible. To stop human-induced global warming we need to have an atmospheric carbon dioxide/greenhouse gas target, just like the Bank of England has an inflation target. The Bank of England has a range of measures it can deploy to reduce inflation in the economy if the inflation target is breached, or looks like it might be breached. Similarly, if inflation is way below the target, then the Bank of England can implement measures which result in the inflation rate slowly rising upwards towards the target.
We need the same range of measures to maintain the atmospheric carbon dioxide/greenhouse gas target, and thereby avert any global warming. We need measures to both increase, and decrease the level of carbon dioxide/greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This means we need to be actively intervening on the planet in order to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Compared to sending humans to the moon, this is surely a piece of cake. Why don't we do it? Why don't we focus all our resources and energy on stopping global warming in its tracks? Of course, we will do this in the future (we will be using technology to regulate the atmospheric temperature in the future). But, why don't we do this immediately? It would save a lot of human suffering if we did.
There are a plethora of ways in which we can pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in order to maintain our atmospheric carbon dioxide/greenhouse gas target. We can use human technology to directly pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere; maps have already been drawn up of the underground storage areas on the planet in which the carbon dioxide can be stored (as we saw in a previous blog post). We can cultivate massive seaweed farms to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. We can plant more trees. There are also a whole range of ways in which the way that we manufacture goods can be made carbon-negative rather than carbon-positive; for example, plastics and cement.
We need to be able to actively control the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through such measures. So, for example, if there are slightly too many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, then we can immediately set the seaweed farms into increased production. In contrast, if the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere gets too low, then we can temporarily stop production from the seaweed farms.
There is no need to talk of future global warming, and no need for spending billions upon billions of pounds to compensate those negatively effected by global warming.There is no need for massive movements of global warming refugees. We just need to have the motivation and the drive to stop global warming. This won't be achieved by anything that was discussed in Paris at COP21. We need a completely new way of thinking about things, a new agenda, an atmospheric carbon dioxide/greenhouse gas target which we can attain through a range of globally coordinated measures. These measures will initially involve pulling a lot of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. This will mean that there is no future global warming.
We can only hope that this will be on the agenda at COP22. If not, they will once again be spending a lot of their time 'finger pointing' as to who is to blame for global warming, and spending their time discussing transferring billions of pounds to those countries who have either been negatively affected by global warming or who are 'developing'. They could, instead, change the agenda and decide to stop global warming through collective coordination in order to achieve an atmospheric carbon dioxide/global warming target! This can be achieved through the mechanisms outlined above.
Stopping global warming in this way is not a problem. The problem is changing the 'group think' and attaining a widespread realisation that stopping global warming in this way is necessary, possible and desirable.