Even the most optimistic experts and analysts are not impressed.
In November of 2013, I concluded that we probably had about 1,000 days left to start making a serious dent in slowing our speed as we race past a number of environmental tipping points, not the least of which is climate change. Well, about 700 of those days are gone and I don’t see anything major happening. Take a look at this video and tell me if you see any progress since the early 90’s when the climate change talks began. As you watch the video, remember that the target is to keep CO2 in the atmosphere below 350 ppm.
This just in: The CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa for the week-beginning Dec. 6, 2015 was 401.31 ppm, compared to 398.93 ppm one year ago and 379.67 ten years ago. Reported by Earth System Research Laboratory.
After the Paris talks, what do you think about our chances of us ever getting below 350 again? I think the path they have chosen gives us no chance. Yet, the folks at 350.org say that they “believe that a global grassroots movement can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice.”
I don’t buy it. It’s a case of too little, too late—and they’re not even focusing on food. As I have been saying since 2013, I believe that it will take an URGENT game plan, backed by a combination of powerful, totally-committed, global leadership and a whole lot of money—in order to get the kind of traction needed to make a real difference. But I seem to be the only one talking about such a plan. As for the talks in Paris, here’s a sampling of comments from around the world: See links below to recent articles by each of them. Click here for my earlier blog that included the above graph.
Bjorn Lomborg, author and environmentalist, Copenhagen Business School
After two weeks, huge amounts of political rhetoric, and much activity behind closed doors, we have a treaty. While there will be celebrations among activists, the Paris Treaty will do very little to rein in temperature reductions.
The Paris Treaty promises to keep temperature rises below 2°C. However, the actual promises made here will do almost nothing to achieve that.
James Hansen, arguably the father of climate change awareness
“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”
Paul Krugman, The New York Times
Did the Paris climate accord save civilization? Maybe. That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it’s actually the best climate news we’ve had in a very long time. This agreement could still follow the path of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which seemed like a big deal but ended up being completely ineffectual. But there have been important changes in the world since then, which may finally have created the preconditions for action on global warming before it’s too late.
It is widely recognized that replacing animal-based foods with plant-based ones can have a large positive effect on climate change. Indeed, plant-based foods offer two major benefits: They not only reduce greenhouse gasemissions, but they also free up land on which we can grow more trees, which can draw down excess carbonfrom our atmosphere.
So far, governments’ strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have mainly involved replacing fossil fuel infrastructure with renewable energy infrastructure. In fact, governments worldwide have collectively spent billions of dollars on such strategies; yet emissions have risen ever higher since 1990.
The Bottom Line. I agree with Jeff Anhang and his colleague, the late Robert Goodland of the World Bank, that there is only one pragmatic way to stop global warming. We must begin moving as quickly as possible to get the animal out of the equation when it comes to what we eat. And, guess what? None of the experts and dignitaries in Paris even mentioned it.
They only talk about carbon emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks. They are totally ignoring the elephant in the room. And without that elephant’s cooperation, there will be no living in harmony with nature. And where does that leave us? A planet that is no longer hospitable to human occupation. We simply must figure out a way to prevent that from happening.
Dr. Goodland got it right as illustrated in my February 2014 article honoring his memory. Food Choices. The primary cause of global warming?
Links to articles mentioned in this post:
- We have a climate treaty, but at what costs? Bjorn Lomborg, Forbes blogger
- James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’ The Guardian
- Hope From Paris, Paul Krugman, The New York Times
- “FOURFIVEYEARS” (OR “HOW A HIT SONG CAN HELP INSPIRE PEOPLE TO REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE”), Jeff Anhang, World Bank
- Can eating less meat help reduce climate change? Article in BBC by Laura Wellesley, Research Associate, Chatham House.
- November 2009 Worldwatch Article (pdf) by Goodland and Anhang. Livestock and Climate Change. What if the key actors in climate change are cows, pigs and chickens?
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- Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unaware, by Richard Oppenlander.
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
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