Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A day that shows the Enriched World needs to “swallow its pride” and make no petty quarrels

Although I had known the weather was going to be be hot, I did not realise for quite a long time yesterday just how bad it would be. Melbourne surpassed by two weeks its earliest first 35˚C – and despite when I looked outside yesterday promise of some rain for the first time in a while none is forecast for a long time. In fact, it looks likely Melbourne will have a rainless October and at the least likely season beat its record forty day dry spell with little hope held out by the (not always accurate) 28-day forecasts.

Although when I checked rainfall in Central Chile was not as bad as I feared this June, this is due entirely to one big fall in the first week of August – in a year when rainfalls closer to or even above the virgin mean were forecast. Moreover, in Perth the situation is as bad as ever, with rainfall barely above the virgin record low.

News of records like this, unfortunately, is not absorbed permanently by the Enriched World – which often takes a “blame yourself” route re global warming that modern ecologists show demonstrably counterproductive. Enriched World ecology is so high-energy as to permit much greater energy consumption and more lenient greenhouse standards than required of Australia (especially given greater genuine local energy need in cold weather). Yet, based upon directly and indirectly created greenhouse emissions Enriched World per capita emissions average a mere two percent those of Australia – and even based upon only directly created emissions they average less than a quarter Australia’s per capita emissions.

For genuine environmental justice that reflects relative ecological energy availability – direct and indirect Australian emissions must be cut by several orders of magnitude before Enriched World reductions are so much as assessed. One “zooty2shoes” said last February that:
“But I question your figures – everything I have accessed points to the Gulf states and Brunei as being the worst offenders with Australia a distance behind at 5th per capita. And with 1.3% of the worlds total, it would take 15 years of Australia’s greenhouse emissions to tie with China.”
Whilst the oil states and Southern Africa are after Australia the worst polluters in the world – Australia has ecologically and politically much more in common with them than with Europe, East Asia or the Western Hemisphere – if we take into account indirect emissions Australia, with 16 percent of the total, would more than tie with China (who would “lose” emissions contributed by Australian minerals). Moreover, each Australian emits in four days as much greenhouse gases as each Chinese does in a whole year! As I noted in my previous post, the political power of the mineral industry and mortgage belt has been able to blockade well-intentioned efforts from the 1980s to make minimal reductions in Australian greenhouse emissions. The fact is though, that if zero-emissions laws be widely enforced in the Enriched and Tropical Worlds, polluting industries could simply relocate to Australia, where they have advantages of cheaper land, cheaper energy (one-sixth the price paid in Europe) and potentially less politically active workers.

The Enriched and Tropical Worlds have a clear need to do the following:
  1. momentarily forget about their own greenhouse emissions – which per capita direct and indirect are exceedingly small compared to those of the mineral-rich desert states of the Indian Rim, especially when ecological differences that require much lower energy use in the latter region are factored in
  2. recognise that they are not the superpowers they were before aluminum and titanium metallurgy transformed the global power base to deserts too infertile to be civilised
  3. eliminate quarrels – related to differing dates of industrial development rather than different trajectories – that have occurred between Europe the US and China over reducing their own emissions
  4. unite solidly with each other to demand reductions of two to three orders of magnitude in Australian greenhouse emissions
    • similarly if possible those of Southern Africa and the Arab Gulf States, though cultural and political differences are much greater than even with Australia, and may make this far less practical than an attempt with Australia
    • it’s possible that direct payment for the right to pollute could be more effective with these nations and even with Australia
    • the trouble is how to make these payments large enough to have a real effect on the main polluters
  5. demand without compromise that costs resulting from climatic changes due to man-made greenhouse emissions be paid for by the actual polluters noted in (4)
This is the most difficult of plans. The powerlessness of the Enriched World – let alone the poorer Tropical World – against the big polluting nations of the Indian Rim has been seen consistently ever since apartheid and the energy crisis of the 1970s. US efforts to police the Middle East have had few impacts on global emissions produced there, nor on the political effects of naturally religious and conservative nations funding radical Islam.

European beliefs their nations’ own technologies can reduce global emissions are similarly flawed: their lack of lithophile metal reserves (destroyed by the Alpine Orogeny and glaciation) acts as an extreme natural limit to their potential emissions lacking in today’s main greenhouse polluters. In fact, by moving towards a carbon-free economy the EU and related nations may actually be making themselves into an exclusive club whose taxes and living costs only the most skilled workers can afford. Having no opportunities no doubt contributes to lowest-low fertility in so much of Eurasia – a severe political problem because making families valuable would require huge reductions in their lavish “Daddy States” which would produce genuinely violent political revolution.

Another trouble is that it is not the richest nations of the Enriched World who would benefit most from a rigid “polluter pays” approach to global warming. Rather, it is the Tropical World and lower latitudes of the Enriched, along with the farm and tourism sectors in the Unenriched World who would so benefit.

Nonetheless, all the Enriched World has reason to support groups like southwestern Australian farmers and urban dwellers and Chilean cities who have lost their rain to a rapid expansion of the Hadley Circulation or mountain people who lose water from glaciers. If greenhouse emissions from the key polluters like Australia and South Africa grow unchecked, the higher latitudes of the Enriched World could be faced with the same problems its equatorward edges and the Tropical World are. Northern Europe, East Asia and North America also have – as Tom McMahon showed in his seminal 1991 Global Runoff – much more in common with potentially badly-hit low-income tropical and Mediterranean nations that with Australia, who constitutes a cuckoo in the OECD’s nest. Petty quarrels over differences in living standards must be replaced by unity based on similarity in ecology.

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