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A Drop in a Boiling Ocean
Our Climate efforts are mediocre at best and deadly at worst.
This week un secretary General Antonio Guterres made a bold statement that the era of global warming is over the era of global boiling has begun. Also, the recently appointed head of the IPCC Jim Skea warned not to overstate the 1.5°C but also not to fall into doom and gloom. Will this finally be the change that we need to stop the climate crisis? Unlikely and not (only) for the reasons you believe. We are currently on a dark pathway and we need radical and great ideas and efforts to be able to reduce and even revert some of the harshest effects of humanity’s pathway to progress on the planet.(also because as a non-sociopathic human I don’t want millions to suffer and die because of the climate crisis)
The Stark Reality
I will not have to elaborate or justify the ravaging effects of the climate crisis or even feed the narrative that this problem is NOT a problem, so let’s get down to business and see how screwed we are at the moment and how much we will be if we don’t do anything radical about it. Because I believe a large-enough percentage of the world population is aware and cares about this topic but we’ve been spoon-fed weak-sauce solutions for a problem that requires World War-like efforts to solve.
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Just as a few examples of LITERALLY the last couple of days in south america right now (August 2023) in the middle of winter they have experienced temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (nope not gonna convert to that weird system) 35 degrees IN WINTER!!!! Another “fun” fact in some regions in China have received the heaviest downpour of rain in over 140 years. So yeah news of extreme weather events is more and more common. And what do we have to prove for ourselves? What big changes have we shown that we are on the right path to solving the climate crisis?
Are we doing a good job?
Let us be honest, so far ALL efforts to cut emissions have Failed, we have improved regulation in some key areas, sure, and that has. We need to continue pushing forward better regulation regarding emissions, waste management, and SO many other environmental concerns. But, regarding the elephant in the room of greenhouse gasses, we are nowhere near showing any indication of reversing.
Remember when COVID hit and we all got stuck at home and people were posting on social media “Nature is healing” and stuff like that… yeah that’s completely irrelevant now. CO2 emissions are taking an uptake and it shows no sign of stopping. So what can we do besides checking our social media and feeling guilty?
Who’s to blame?
This is possibly one of the most complex issues we have in our modern world to solve because the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases is energy production. But also energy is the lifeblood of human civilization, so we need to radically and aggressively decarbonize energy production. Ok, that sounds pretty on paper but how do you do this? In a timely manner, and in a cost-effective way, because wealthy nations could and are trying in a 30-year plan to decarbonize their energy production (kinda) but what about the rest of humanity, that lives in developing nations that measures such as this VS using cheap fossil fuels is the difference between elevating part of their population out of misery and into a better quality of life.
No one will deny themselves or their children a better life today vs the potential repercussions of the future actions of humanity as a whole and not themselves as individuals. This divide is one of the key pillars that make working on environmental issues so complicated. But also the economics behind it.
The energy sector employs over 65 million people with 21 working on fuel supply and the other 10 million working in fossil fuels, so decarbonization would mean over 30 million people without a job then should we do it? Even with job relocation no way all of those people will do so how could they sustain their families?
And that is also part of the problem of framing and mindset we are seeing currently with the climate crisis, developed nations trying to decarbonize while they represent, individually, negligible amounts of emissions globally but have the highest chances of developing technology and funding the development of newer technology and processes that will help to reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions and even revert our impact on the world. And that is the focus and the MAIN objective most developed and developing nations should work towards the development of technological solutions, while also improving regulation and enforcing it, remember what we talked about their influence and power of the European Union.
Even though it looks good on paper most climate activism has just mobilized people in developed nations in marketing a political scheme more than mobilized capital and human capital towards the development of more solutions like the development of better and more efficient green energy companies. So much so that certain environmental or “green” political parties have been at the spearhead of regressive measures like Germany shutting off it’s nuclear power plants due to their dependency on cheap Russian gas and oil(again a “great” move by Germany) after the invasion of Ukraine they were forced to start once again increasing their coal consumption and production with a clean green energy at hand the country decided to go with the dirtiest coal available for their energy needs.
The Need for Planetary Geoengineering
Faced with the current situation and the difficulties of shifting the inertia of the global emissions issue we need to figure out ways to develop innovative solutions to this global problem. I think we might need to start experimenting with different technologies. Last year we saw a great breakthrough in the field of nuclear fusion which if possible to scale up is the holy grail of the energy problem a cleaner nuclear energy source without the risk and the stigma of nuclear fission.
Another possible option might be Ocean Seeding where releasing a specific iron compound n the ocean stimulates the growth of the phytoplankton population which in turn increases the number of algae that captures HUGe amounts of CO2 which have the potential of being the largest CO2 sink of the planet and help revitalize parts f the ocean that have struggled to increase their populations due to the overextension of the fishing industry.
Also, we need to find ways of reverting the impact we’ve done, and carbon capture seems like an interesting alternative we grab the carbon from the atmosphere and we lock it down to never return, which in theory sounds cool and there are many companies trying stuff like that. But the problem is if the energy source required for the carbon capture technology needs more carbon than the amount it captures then it is worthless. And if we manage to have a net positive capturing using green energy like nuclear wouldn’t that nuclear plant be better served if it's plugged into the grid than into a carbon capture plant? Hopefully, something good and efficient enough will come in the near future.
An interesting strategy is being done by the X Prize Foundation with a 100 million dollar price that has mobilized hundreds of teams of researchers all over the world to develop carbon capture solutions. And it is a very clever way to mobilize the movement of capital toward a single goal. Because for example, you got 15 teams wanting to get the 100 million prize so each time will invest an amount that will be covered (and then some more) by the 100 million so if you assume all the teams spend 50 million on their solution with a cost of only 100 you were able to mobilize more than 7 times the total capital into different solutions that some if not most will spin off into their own companies or their technology will be the basis from where something better will be built upon.
And yes some of the geoengineering projects might have unexpected consequences, but they might solve the problems facing humanity. Doing things slowly and steadily at this point of the crisis is even more irresponsible than experimenting all over the world with small-scale experiments to try and solve our current global catastrophic risk. We need to be testing out wild ideas and get them out there, the time for caution is long gone.
The Green Marshall Plan
But even with that capacity and leverage it is not enough, we need more support and capital flowing into the development of new and better solutions for the climate crisis. We need governments and private companies with capital and funding research and development ( and also the later steps of implementation and logistics) for most of these solutions. Because we are staring at a future where if this stuff keeps on as it is we will see large swaths of the planet where currently billions of people live become slowly but surely uninhabitable.
Faced with the problem of billions of humans being left without a palace to live iti s imperative that humanity as a whole must join forces to prevent this from happening not only out of a shared destiny as a species but also as a way of self-preservation and protecting their very own countries, cultures or whatever sense of “uniqueness” anyone wants to feel because no country is ready for the coming wave of climate refugees that this will bring in the coming decades. And the possible solutions for this are either to prevent this from happening or arming your borders and slaughtering millions of innocents that just want to survive. ( I think the choice is pretty goddamned easy to make so let’s get this ball rolling)
I recommend we should declare World War Green (or some other catchy name) on the climate crisis, reorganize industrial matrices towards better production and organize resources for clean energy, and subsidize or pay for nuclear and other green energy with government loans or the IMF and others supporting this. A Marshall Plan for humanity’s environmental evolution and survival.
So, Are We Screwed?
As you can see the scenario is not a very pretty one I think and well that’s life, it ain’t pretty. The climate is an incredibly complex thing and this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the nuances behind many of these issues. There is vas and a lot of literature for each one of the things I’ve mentioned and I left out so much of this debate as well. But the conclusion is the same, what we are doing is not enough and it is focused on the wrong topics. We are trying to solve climate as if it is a political problem and while noble and very nice it has been mostly a pat on the back of an entire generation that feels good about doing something instead of being in the development of the solutions. The crisis will be solved by human hands developing new and better things and not only by pressuring politicians to do something( I mean we SHOULD still pressure them to mobilize capital towards solutions)
The debate is being watered and muddled by politics and we need a clear level-headed approach to this and tackle it in a way that starts bringing in tangible solutions and not beautiful political speeches. So far our politicians and activists have given us propaganda and mediocre solutions. Also not counting the insurmountable resistance from companies and other players in positions of power that are trying to keep things in a perpetual state of “Oh we’re totally improving you guys just wait 50 more years while we have to live with the consequences of “business as usual” If we continue like this not only will we suffer more and more with every summer that rolls around but billions of people will be living their last few years and we will be still debating unnecessary semantics once again.