Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Climate Change is Irrelevant ! What do you think?
We recently submitted an art ice to the Wellington based In Business magazine.
They have published the article in the print edition of the November 2008 magazine.
To follow is the article:
The latest gloom merchant to visit our shores, Gwynne Dyer the internationally syndicated journalist, tells us that global warming keeps him awake at night. He has visited the Pentagon, the Think Tanks and the Climate Centers. They all tell him that climate change is upon us and we are committed to at least 1-2oC warming by 2100 and may exceed the ‘tipping point’ of more than 2oC if we keep on with our sinful ways. The impact will be water wars in the Indian sub-continent, Chinese food refugees spilling over into sparsely populated Siberia and overwhelming the Russians, desertification of Italy and North America, the inability of bio-fuels to cope with the end of oil, NZ overwhelmed by Australian climate refugees etc. These impacts can be summed up as shortages of water and affordable energy and food [and too many Aussies].
Dismissing individual actions, like changing to diesel vehicles or using compact fluorescents, as token and ineffectual, Dyer suggests that the only solution is wholesale reductions in green house gas [GHG] emissions lead by government and supra-government action. These actions will include sweeping reductions in coal fired electricity generation, increased use of nuclear power for base load electricity, increased wind power, etc.
The problem with this approach is that reducing GHG is a very inefficient way to get quick traction on solving the problems of water, energy, and food. While reducing GHGs may, eventually, reduce global warming that may, eventually, see a return to stable water supplies, affordable energy and food, the process is too slow and indirect. A focus on GHG reductions could lead to a loss of focus on things each of us can do now to help fix the water, food and energy problems.
Dyer also largely dismisses technology as a solution and basically considers we are stuffed unless governments get their act together. Now while Government and multi national initiatives are required, “We’re from the Government and we’re here to help” is on a par with other Tui billboards like “The cheque’s in the mail”. Engaging government in fast moving, forward looking and effective intervention in GHG reductions is about as likely as Osama Bin Laden joining the Destiny Church.
So what to do?
Individual and business actions can make a difference. Do a resource use inventory NOT just a GHG inventory. Figure out how much electricity, coal and gas you use and put in place reduction programmes. Being carbon neutral for the sake of it is a flawed concept – don’t get suckered in. Carbon offsets have the potential to be a scam, let the buyer beware! Reduce waste. Review your supply chain and partner with suppliers and customers to reduce transport costs, packaging costs etc. Engage your design staff or consultancy to design waste out of your products – if you don’t create waste in the first place you don’t need to get rid of it. Put in CFLs at home. Buy a diesel, not a hybrid. Recycle.
There are lots of things you can do to make a difference NOW.