November 22, 2009

Sustainability is the only issue.

‘Fear not those who argue but those who dodge’

Sustainability is the only issue. It’s up to governments and it’s up to the people to sort it out.

When the House of Commons was debating whether or not to sign up to the 10:10 agreement – i.e. to decrease their organisational carbon footprint by 10% - the debate descended into a party political point scoring exercise which led nowhere and certainly did not lead to a commitment to decrease consumption by 10%. This is arrogance we do not have time for.

Conventional political and economic policies are destroying the very foundations of the well-being of humans and other animals. Our culture is in the grip of a value system which is fundamentally flawed. Humanity has been lording it over the natural environment, blind to the fact that humanity is just another dependent upon it. Soon humanity will be at the mercy of it.

Government policies should see to it that all human activities are indefinitely sustainable and protect the interests of the powerless against the powerful.
The current alarming situation regarding biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels is merely a symptom of the rot. The clearing of virgin forest for monoculture palm oil production is lunacy. Rain forest is being cleared, ancient wetlands drained and indigenous peoples are being dispossessed of their lands.

Biofuels contribute substantially more to greenhouse gas emissions than is saved by burning slightly less fossil fuels, yet the European demand for biofuels (the EU target is 10% by 2020), coupled with sizable financial incentives to developers, is pushing up commodity prices and encouraging multi-billion dollar investment in infrastructure and refineries linked to large scale deforestation. The impact of this behaviour could be irreversible.

A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February shows that the climate change we cause today “is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop”. Around 40% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans this century will remain in the atmosphere until at least the year 3000. Moreover, thanks to the peculiar ways in which the oceans absorb heat from the atmosphere, global average temperatures are likely to “remain approximately constant … until the end of the millennium despite zero further emissions”.

The Copenhagen summit is squaring up to be yet another talking shop. Government has failed us.

We do not have to add to the problem. Sign up at and reduce your own carbon emissions. Where were you when we reached the tipping point? Will you tell your children that you did everything in your power to stop climate change?

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