Climate Change Means Lifestyle Change
By John Scales Avery
08 September, 2014
Scientists are unanimous in warning us that unless we very rapidly reduce CO2 emissions, we risk passing a tipping point beyond which we will be powerless to prevent uncontrollable global warming. We risk a human-produced extinction event comparable to the Permian-Triasic thermal maximum, during which 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial vertebrates became extinct.
The excellent videos of Thom Hartmann and his co-workers tell us very clearly a fact of which the scientific community is very conscious, but which the mass media refuse to discuss. The fact is this:
Arctic seas are warming very rapidly, and they will soon be free of ice in the summers. The warming of Arctic seas and tundra threatens to release vast quantities of methane into the atmosphere by melting methane hydrates. This in turn threatens to warm the remainder of the world so much that methane hydrates in all offshore deposits will be destabilized. If this happens, the result will be a major extinction event, which will threaten not only human civilization, but also much of the biosphere.
The worrying thing about the threat of an out-of-control methane hydrate feedback loop is that the quantity of methane hydrates is so vast. There are roughly 10,000 gigatons. of these ice-like crystals on ocean floors, an amount of carbon greater than all of the world's deposits of fossil fuels. Methane hydrates or clathrates are stable at ordinary temperatures, but if oceans warm, they will melt, releasing the potent greenhouse gas methane.
It is not so surprising that our mass media do not give us a correct picture of these grave dangers to the future of our earth. The mainstream media are owned by oligarchic financial interests, including large coal and oil companies, which are desperately anxious cash in on their huge holdings of fossil fuels.
Despite silence and misinformation in the mass media, the general public is becoming, to some extent, aware of the grave dangers posed by out-of-control climate change. However, this does not seem to affect people's behavior. Professor Michael Klare discussed this strange split between awareness and behavior in a recent article:
“Considering all the talk about global warming, peak oil, carbon divestment, and renewable energy”, Prof. Klare writes, “you'd think that oil consumption in the United States would be on a downward path. By now, we should certainly be witnessing real progress toward a post-petroleum economy. As it happens, the opposite is occurring. U.S. oil consumption is on an upward trajectory, climbing by 400,000 barrels per day in 2013 alone, and, if current trends persist, it should rise again both this year and next.”
“In other words, oil is back. Big time. Signs of its resurgence abound. Despite what you may think, Americans, on average, are driving more miles every day, not fewer, filling ever more fuel tanks with ever more gasoline, and evidently feeling ever less bad about it. The stigma of buying new gas-guzzling
SUVs, for instance, seems to have vanished; according to CNN Money, nearly one out of three vehicles sold today is an SUV. As a result of all this, America's demand for oil grew more than China's in 2013, the first time that's happened since 1999.”
There is a second reason why the mainstream media conspire to reassure their readers and viewers that it is fine to continue their usual lifestyles: This second reason is the fear of precipitating an economic recession. Such a recession is due to occur soon in the United States because of US overspending on war, using money borrowed from China, and because the petrodollar is threatened by BRICS agreements. However, the short-term profit motive ensures that the slave-like media continue to make us believe that all is well, and that economic growth can continue forever.
Undeniably, an economic recession will be extremely painful, but sooner or later it will certainly occur. On a finite planet, endlessly continued economic growth is a logical impossibility. Furthermore, it is exactly that growth which threatens to produce a 6th mass extinction event.
If we wish to save the long-term future of our beautiful earth for future generations of humans, and for the animals and plants with which we share the earth today, we must not only urgently develop all forms of renewable energy, but also we must quickly change our lifestyles. Renewables, such as wind power and solar cells are producing a rapidly increasing fraction of our energy needs, but this fraction is still very small, only 19 percent in 2014.
What then must we do? We must develop a new economic system which will aim at long-run sustainability. Within such a system, the problem of unemployment can be addressed by shifting jobs to the task of building renewable energy infrastructure. Secondly, we must recognize that our usual lifestyles cannot be continued. We must limit our consumption to necessities; and we must travel only when absolutely necessary. If we do not make these changes, we will have lost the struggle for the future.
John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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