Quite some years ago, and as he described in a talk to the Club of Rome in 2011, David Wasdell had concluded along with John Schellnhuber, – and taking Hansen’s and other people’s work into account -, that 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is where we are at today, has irreversibly committed the biosphere to a four degree Celsius temperature rise.
Only 15% of that is due to the carbon dioxide emitted directly from fossil fuels. Charney, Hadley, Hansen amplifications in various feedback effects, and finally the amplification due to what he calls Earth System Sensitivity, make up the rest.
This is absolutely devastating of course, as some places would experience 10 or 15 degrees Celsius temperature rise – the average is only the average.
So when I am trying to suggest policies to reverse all this, though of course nothing and no one is stopping me make the suggestions, I am aware that coy formulations like “flipping the economy” and “saving the global commons” if they involve any form of private corporate action, will not hack it.
Public financing of the use value of a stable climate would require an Apollo Gaia kind of mission, in David Wasdell’s words, it would require 14 trillion U S divided up amongst 7 billion of us equally, annually, as wages, for a total dedication of work on land and coasts and oceans to encourage natural ecosystem restoration and feed ourselves.
So when the IPCC special report comes out in 2018 on how to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees C rise against pre-industrial levels – because even NASA and EU and other conservative people are clear that allowing it to go to 2 degrees warmer would be very very catastrophic – that that half degree extra would be devastating and could in places mean ten degrees temperature rise, – it is already a foregone conclusion that their proposal has to go way beyond anything that is being talked about at UNFCCC and CBD CoPs at the moment.
It has to be a total outlawing of the fossil fuels and the nuclear energy and the renewable energy, something that the middle class, the bourgeoisie, the MBAs, the capitalists, and the governments who have privatised their public services, are not willing to do.
And so it is this professional class, this global elite that thinks nothing of flying anywhere at the drop of a hat, finally, that has condemned the world to its death. Because one cannot see any preparations being made to implement what ever it is that the IPCC might suggest, – anywhere.
Having said this, what about India? We CAN just go it alone. It is a fact that a small patch of land in a desertified landscape that has been restored to be a relatively natural ecological system has a micro climate that is ten degree Celsius cooler than the surroundings.
I think surely it is worth giving the people of the subcontinent this opportunity to escape the worst impacts.
Is this Republic so weak that we cannot defeat capital and its professional apologists here? Surely they are not yet so irreversibly entrenched?
Anandi Sharan is an environmental historian and writer based at Bangalore. She is a Board member of the global environmental platform CBD Alliance and has been articulating the global South’s concerns on climate change. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written for ECO Magazine published by civil society organisations at Conference of the Parties 13 at Cancun, Mexico going on from 4 – 17 December 2016.