The Green War – Luis Poveda De la Pena
The analysis of the services provided by the ecosystems in which we live is the basis for our understanding of what is our role in the future of the planet, in terms of conservation and sustainability.
It also plays a critical role in how we measure the impact that human’ societies have on these habitats and their resources. What could be called the green war…
The green war against, the loss of biodiversity, the constant burning and indiscriminate felling of primary and secondary forests, the change in the use of soils for agricultural exploitation and open-pit mining, predation of large-scale fishing, air, and freshwater pollution, as well as the infamous climate change.
A study published by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in 2018 entitled “Global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius” reveals, in detail, the catastrophe suffered by different ecosystems around the orb. The report states that negative changes are taking place in the environment in a dizzying manner and at an unprecedented rate. Due in large part to our enormous need for more resources and more energy, which are the main causes of the deterioration of these ecosystems.
“Governments have focused on climate change much more than the loss of biodiversity or land degradation,” IPBES president Professor Bob Watson”
The great paradox that exists between the use and abuse of these resources by the capitalist development model that we follow, is that the scientific community (or at least a large part of it) is urging us to solve the great majority of issues, in a period of no longer than 10 to 12 years. And the truth is that the latter is very unlikely to happen because of the extreme complexity of the problems we face.
According to the IPCC, this includes changes on a global scale such as: that renewable energies will provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050 and that 7 million square kilometers of land (roughly the size of Australia) be dedicated to energy crops, also decrease in 12 years or less 45% of greenhouse gas emissions and 100% of these by 2050, especially CO2 concentrations. If we solve the energy problem, we solve only 25% of the greenhouse gas problem. We would still have to deal with the problem of extensive agriculture (24%), as Bill Gates explains on his Gatesnotes.com, if all the world’s cattle were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of CO2 after China and the US, and a bigger emitter than India. We also have the problem of transportation (14%) and the construction of highways and cities based on iron and cement (6%).
In addition, according to the report (which has been called “the last call”), it would be necessary to invest up to 2.5% of world GDP.
Other recommendations made by the panel of experts, about the changes that we can execute at the individual level, are also unlikely to occur, for example:
Buy less meat, milk, cheese, and butter and more locally produced seasonal foods (besides wasting less food).
Driving electric cars and walking or using the bicycle for short trips. Take trains and buses instead of airplanes. Use videoconferences instead of traveling for work reasons.
Dry clothes in the sun instead of using dryers. Better insulate houses to reduce dependence on heating and/or air conditioners. Require a low carbon footprint in all consumer products.
The real problem is that most of the solutions proposed at the macro and micro scales are very difficult (if not implausible) to establish worldwide and in the required time.
In addition, these measures would impede the much-needed development for emerging economies of the so-called third world, thus avoiding the most necessary change of all, and of which people tend to speak less about extreme poverty.
There is an enormous need to eradicate millions of human beings from extreme poverty, which should be the number one objective of humankind if we are serious about mitigating climate change.
Statistics reveal that, once people solve their basic health and education needs, then they start to be interested in their environment, and as a result of that the environment starts to clean.
But how can we get millions out of poverty, if at the same time we must stop the pace of development of the capitalist model, as the most radical voices of the left demand?
Not only that, but we must also consider the fact that we do not have the necessary technologies to achieve all these objectives. A good example is the renewable energy technologies that are still expensive and unreliable, such as what happened in Germany with its 100% renewable energy project and which proved a failure. To make matters worse, wind technologies kill thousands of migratory birds every year that take advantage of air currents to fly and solar panels invade the habitat of dozens of specimens of flora and fauna typical of deserts.
Personally, I think we are too optimistic. If we think that we can make all necessary adjustments in the time that is supposedly required.
And worst of all, at a stratospheric cost and based on projections that are unreliable and that as time goes by, it becomes more difficult to predict the effects of the changes we make today. How can we plan on those bases?
It would be better — and more human — to use these resources to feed millions of children who starve to death every day. It is impossible to pretend that low-income populations can be interested in the environment, when all they do, day after day, is trying to survive.
Let’s face it, the chances that these changes will occur in twelve years are almost nil, without the arrival of the necessary innovations in technology needed to solve the biggest problems and win this war… Unfortunately, it looks like this will not be resolved before 2050.
Moreover, it is unlikely that we can win this green war if we cannot separate science from politics, especially when, on both sides of the coin (alarmists and deniers) there are powerful economic interests. The green war is very profitable for many actors in the great scheme of things. But that, conveniently, this is never a subject people want to talk about. Money has always been an elusive issue when talking about war, even if it’s a green one.