Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Climate Crises - The Dangers Escalates

Patricia Espinosa, head of the U.N. climate change secretariat, said climate change is an "existential issue" for humankind, and stepping up efforts to keep warming to globally agreed limits is urgent.

Harjeet Singh, who leads on climate change for charity ActionAid, said "it's all about life and death" for impoverished communities facing wilder weather with very little protection.

Simon Stiell, Grenada's minister for climate resilience, told media that small island developing states were experiencing everything from flooding, sea surges and droughts to coastal erosion and loss of coral reefs."All of these phenomena are a direct and real threat to life and the livelihoods of our people," he said, urging more European states to follow Britain in setting a target for net-zero emissions by mid-century.
Existing country pledges to cut planet-warming emissions would heat the planet by 3 degrees Celsius (5.4F) from pre-industrial times.

"That is just not possible," Espinosa said, adding it would leave people sicker and result in battles over resources such as water and land, with coastal residents losing homes to rising seas. We are literally in a climate emergency, and... we are increasingly hearing that this is the fight of our lives," she said. 

"It's time that all people open their eyes to just how urgent things are," Espinosa told journalists on the first day of the talks. "We need to get to the 1.5 degree goal." 
Doing so would provide benefits in the form of less air pollution - much of which is caused by burning fossil fuels for transport, power and industry - better health for children, cleaner water and green jobs, she stressed. Espinosa said the different streams of financing for climate action around the world were "all over the place" and needed to be brought together in a unified system. In Bonn, at the June 17-27 talks, government officials should concentrate on devising a "solid" mechanism for carbon markets, which business is waiting for, she added.
This is a key area that was postponed when the "rulebook" for the Paris Agreement was hammered out last December. The Paris pact allows countries to transfer emissions reductions among themselves using carbon credits, but they have yet to agree on how to do that to ensure the reductions are not counted twice where they are produced and purchased.
Espinosa said protests and school strikes by young people over government inaction on climate change - a movement that has gathered steam since last year - should serve as a reminder to U.N. negotiators why their work mattered.
"They  have credible and solid demands that are mobilising political leadership," she said. 
If we seek to explain the environmental crisis we must understand the society that leads to environmental destruction. Socialism provides a comprehensive understanding, and allowing the environmental activists to be more effective. Many environmentalists are convinced that the amount of land and resources used by humans have outstripped the carrying capacity of the planet, that humanity's carbon footprint is too large. They blame birth rates and population density as responsible. Yet people with the highest birth rates in the often sparsely inhabited developing/undeveloped counties tend to use a fraction of the world's resources, while a minority with low birth rates in the "developed" countries use most of those resources. As long as women have little control over their economic, social and reproductive lives, it will not be possible for society to rationally discuss how to control its population. Natural limits do not account for scarcity and hunger. There is more than enough food produced to sustain the current level of world population. Yet food somehow manages to escape the bellies of those who can't afford to pay the price, being fed instead to livestock meant to feed the affluent to increase profitability and the poor get the blame. In spite of these facts about social reality, the "population bomb" theory still prevails, offering the excuse for authoritarian population control measures against non-white, poor, mostly women, suffering from a severe lack of food, health care, education, and political power, ignoring the obvious social inequality. 

The problem isn't population growth or density but the question of how wealth and power are distributed. The desirable alternative is a society controlled from the bottom up, without a profit-oriented economy that necessitates exploitation of nature and people. In other words, a democratic form of socialism, with a democratic economy that produces what people need, not what an elite can buy; and that produces it within institutions that people participate in and control. Such a society would, for the first time since the rise of industry, allow genuine possibilities for ecological sustainability. With democratic control of economic activity we could realize the potential to recognize and stay within the limits of the ecological carrying capacity of the earth. Without profit-seeking corporations or bureaucracies ruling in their own interest, we will have eliminated the major social forces opposing environmental safeguards. Protecting the environment thus moves from an economic impracticality, a cost to be minimised, to a political decision in which sustainable values may now play a role. Furthermore, the environmental movement won't have to fight defensive battles time and again, here and there. It will take an independent and ever vigilant environmental movement to press for more sustainable forms of production and consumption in order to bring this about. A different economic basis is a prerequisite for an ecologically sustainable society. In modern society, even with appropriate forms of technology, such as wind and solar for energy, the need for industry cannot be simply wished away. Furthermore, certain industries require centralization for efficiency, and economy of scale actually may reduce environmental impact in many of these cases. Each town cannot have its own factory to produce trains, yet the demand for transportation will not simply disappear. The key is to meet this demand at an ecologically appropriate scale with a system that places a high priority on protecting the environment. Under the current system, new technologies will always be implemented to create new products to sell, and to increase productivity for firms attempting to be more competitive. Yet the introduction of a new technology does not automatically spell greater exploitation. Democratic discussion could enable us to come up with the best possible applications.

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