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First, we need to decide if we’re actually going to do something about rising CO2 levels, increased air pollution and rising sea-levels, or whether we’re on yet another PR junket to a UN Climate Change Conference.
See: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, October 31 through November 1, 2021.
Once we’ve decided that, we’re in a better position to decide if this conference is the one that will save humanity (from itself) or whether we must wait for a future COP summit to make concrete progress toward clean air in cities, lower pollution levels generally, and decreased sea-level rise.
At Present, We’re On Track to Lose
It’s being widely reported by major media outlets that even if every government on Earth kept it’s best CO2 reduction promises, we’d still be far below meeting our CO2 reduction targets… by such a large margin that instead of limiting global warming to +1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, we’d actually experience a global warming of +3ºC by 2050.
That is not acceptable.
Widespread crop failures due to agricultural drought (in some areas) massive flooding (in other areas) a huge uptick in wildlife die-offs, millions of square miles of low-lying land lost to the sea forever, and catastrophic consequences for human life in developing countries — and maybe even our own countries — would be the result of missing our global warming target by such a large margin.
And if we end up in such a situation, we’ll have no one to blame except the politicians of today… for it is their job to create legislation and regulations, pass them into law, and then enforce those regulations.
It isn’t the responsibility of hockey players, nor is it the responsibility of bus drivers, waitresses, fast food workers, airline pilots or English literature professors to do this — it’s the responsibility of policymakers to protect us from the poor environmental policies of previous generations of politicians.
Is Climate Change ‘Too Big’ an Item to Leave to the Politicians?
Well, don’t look now, but yes, it is ‘too big of a problem’ to leave to politicians… if past experience is to guide us.
Yet, there have been signs of excellence in some jurisdictions.
California, for one, which used to have the worst air pollution in the United States along with astronomical respiratory related healthcare costs, is now among the best in the world in advanced clean air policy. The beautiful country of Norway is another shining example that sources almost 100% of its electrical power from renewable energy and is a place where 40% of new cars sold are electric vehicles, and by 2025, petrol-engined cars won’t be available for sale. Existing petrol and diesel-engined cars will still be legal to own and drive in Norway, but you won’t be able to buy or import a new diesel or petrol-engined car in Norway.
There are other stellar examples in the world of farsighted environmental policy by governments, but not enough.
But California, Norway and others have proven that it is possible to reduce vehicle emissions and switch to a renewable energy grid at the same time — and both have extremely robust economies — so don’t even try that argument.
Switching to a green economy does cost money, but saves more money than it costs over the medium and long term.
Three Concrete Ways the UK Could Take Real Action Against Climate Change:
- END ALL ENERGY SUBSIDIES. People who receive subsidized energy… use more energy. Lowering energy wastage is the best way to lower consumption. Whether petrol or diesel motor fuel subsidies, primary energy subsidies from utility companies, or renewable energy subsidies — ALL SUBSIDIES = MORE ENERGY USAGE/WASTAGE/CONSUMPTION/DEMAND. Therefore, even renewable energy subsidies, yes, even renewable energy subsidies, must be discontinued in order to lessen total electrical demand and total motor fuel demand. When you lessen demand, you meet your clean air and CO2 targets.
- SWITCH ALL MOTOR AND AIRCRAFT FUELS TO BIOFUEL BY 2025. Biofuel burns 80 per cent cleaner than conventional petroleum fuel in cars, light trucks and semi-trailer transport trucks. Even moreso in jet aircraft engines, as Boeing, Etihad Airlines, Virgin Air, Alaska Air and the US Navy have proven beyond any doubt whatsoever. Those jets burn 94 per cent cleaner than conventional kerosene fuel and they have a lighter maintenance schedule because they don’t produce as much byproduct (soot) in the combustion process. When you burn ultra-clean biofuel, you meet your clean air and CO2 targets.
- LEGISLATE THAT ALL CARS, TRUCKS AND SEMI TRUCKS BE POWERED BY ELECTRICITY BY 2025, AS NORWAY HAS ALREADY DONE. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) are wildly popular with those who own them, they require far less maintenance, they’re more reliable, have far fewer moving parts to wear out, they don’t pollute and batteries will become about as recyclable as petrol engines are at the end of their lifecycle. And you can charge BEV’s at home from an ordinary wall socket. Plus, they have astounding acceleration from a standing start. And no noise. If you like peace and quiet, you’ll love electric vehicles. When you drive EV’s, you meet your clean air and CO2 targets.
It is important to state that by utilizing any one of those above three choices, the UK
(or any country) would easily meet its Paris CO2 emission reduction targets.
The Time for ‘Kicking the Can Down the Road’ is Long Past
Now is the time for real and concrete action designed to meet all of our clean air and CO2 targets.
There can be no excuse at this late date for inaction or tepid moves toward clean air/CO2 emission reduction, or people (voters) will become convinced that climate change/clean air targets/CO2 emission targets/sea-level prevention problems are ‘too big’ for mere politicians to solve, and at that point, politicians will increasingly find themselves disrespected and marginalized in every future decision-making process — and the corporate world will love that!
Academia wouldn’t have a chance to become the climate problem solver for citizens because they just don’t have the money that the corporate world has…
Save Our Planet or Leave!
So, by not solving the climate crisis now, today’s political leaders will have handed their remaining power to the corporate world and will become almost irrelevant — mere shills for the corporate elite.
In contrast, by solving the climate crisis now when it matters, it means that policymakers will save our democratic way of life, create a less toxic environment for people and wildlife, help to prevent floods, droughts, pestilence, a loss of biodiversity, and will help to lower healthcare costs and sea-level rise costs… and for politicians, it means saving their profession from utter contempt and eventual marginalization.
Bet You Didn’t Know that Half the World’s Oxygen is Produced by Microscopic Phytoplankton that Live in the Top 6-feet of the World’s Oceans…
It’s true. A simple Google search provides hundreds of reputable sources to prove that assertion.
Anyway, the phytoplankton eat tonnes of CO2 every day and release tonnes of oxygen into the atmosphere 24/7/365. More oxygen is produced during warm and sunny days when the plankton can better utilize the heat and light from the Sun to turn CO2 into life-giving oxygen.
But what’s that got to do with the UK environment you ask?
Not much really — other than half of the oxygen in the air you breathe is produced by trillions of tiny organisms living in the sea, and without them, life as we know it on planet Earth couldn’t exist.
We need oxygen; The plankton need CO2. See how it’s all woven together?
And somehow, even with humans definitely NOT HELPING the phytoplankton and the zooplankton by dumping billions of tonnes of liquid and solid pollution into the seas in recent decades, an almost perfect balance has continued on the planet for billions of years — although the total number of square miles of plankton in the world’s oceans has decreased correspondingly over the past century.
So, we might not be able to do much about the number of microscopic organisms in the world’s oceans that eat CO2 and thereby produce 50% of the world’s oxygen, but we can do something about the non-plankton oxygen producers (trees and grasses) in the UK.
Where Does the Other Half of the World’s Oxygen Come From?
The other half of the Earth’s oxygen is produced by trees and grasses, along with relatively small amounts of oxygen released during volcanic eruptions.
Think about it. If all the plankton in the world’s oceans were to suddenly die from excessive pollution — all the land-based oxygen producing plant life in the world plus all oxygen releasing volcanoes in the world — wouldn’t be enough to sustain life on Earth for very long.
A sobering thought.
However, that shouldn’t stop UK politicians from creating the necessary legislation to require planting 100-million trees per year in the UK to help cleanse CO2 from the air, nor should it stop them from creating legislation that requires ships heavier than 20-tonnes to run on battery or hydrogen power whenever they’re operating within the UK’s 12-mile maritime zone.
Indeed, some jurisdictions already have such legislation, while some require ships to shut off their engines and hook-up to (much cleaner) shore power while tied-up at dock.
It’s not that hard to write and pass sensible environmental legislation, and the proof is that some jurisdictions already have such legislation.
Planting 1-Billion Trees over 10-Years & Legislating Clean Propulsion Use Within UK Maritime Areas & Mandatory ‘Shore Power’ for Ships in Port is the Morally Right Thing to Do
Yes, it sounds a bit hard. But if the UK doesn’t do it, human health and the environment will suffer as compared to not doing those things.
Would it solve 100% of the UK’s air quality problems? Not even close.
But it would make a measurable difference in UK air quality and work to lower the personal cost of respiratory illness, reduce the cost of lost productivity to businesses due to employee respiratory illness, and allow lower NHS respiratory illness spending — especially in regions near the country’s ports. If done aggressively, it could even help the economy.
And even if, in the worst-case scenario, that 10-years-on under such a clean air act — that UK air quality improved by (only) 30% and respiratory-illness-related productivity losses fell by (only) 30% and NHS respiratory healthcare budgets fell by (only) 30%, we’re still talking major savings and a success story that any government would be pleased to brag about in future elections and at each significant milestone along the way.
Creating the necessary legislation to plant 1-billion trees over 10-years, to require all ships to use a method of clean propulsion while in UK waters, and to require ships to plug-in to (cleaner) shore power while in port, are the low-hanging fruit on the way to meeting the UK’s clean air targets, to helping citizens live healthier lives, and to lower NHS spending on respiratory illness.
It’s a complete no-brainer that UK politicians should pass such legislation in early 2020.
- UK needs to plant 1.5 billion trees to tackle climate change (The Independent)
- Tree-planting in England falls 71% short of government target (The Guardian)
- General election 2019: How many trees can you plant? (BBC)
- UK Tree planting: Your questions answered (BBC)
- Shore Power a Modest Step Toward Cleaner Air (BCSEA)
- Shore power lacks global investment, tax exemptions (JOC)
- Air pollution ‘kills 40,000 a year’ in the UK, says report (NHS)
- NHS announces air pollution ’emergency’ as study shows our dirty air is killing us (The Telegraph)