A civilization shrink is required, so let us start with some serious psychiatric therapy.
Talking about ambitious goals of reducing carbon emissions by another industrial revolution, might help our bad case of multiple double-thinks.
From the recent IEA report overview, the current state of the global art of global emissions reduction is "promises, promises", while global energy demand and carbon emissions continue to grow. CO2 emissions are in rebound to catchup to normal growth rates after the global COVID impact. Adding more renewable energy just results in more growth by Jevon's Effect. Renewable energy brings down the total energy bill. Renewable energy makes it easier to increase total energy consumption, with more coal and gas. The IEA has a separate report, no doubt incompatible with the regular general progress report. "Net zero by 2050" It asks for dramatic overall changes, the opposite of what is actually happening.
Global civilization shows no inclination to change its inherent cancerous nature. What will it take to have nations start to make a serious effort to slow growth in emissions? Technology change is promoted as the path forwards, while behavior change has been given the least scope. "Keeping the lights of civilization on" is the fossil fuel industry catch-cry. They prefer to have lights on when not absolutely required, as this gives a reason to burn fossil fuels day and night, to boost rates of profit. Most people switch unnecessary lights off at night, for the electricity and climate bill. The wicked demand no rest for everything.
The Australia political response is to continue our Federal government business double-think and climate no-think. New gas projects are the new swarmers over our landscape. They are replacing the large numbers of insects that are vanishing. Australian Government is by a cartel of gas and coal export corporations. The plan is to have a gas-led boost to domestic and global carbon emissions by 2030, which is to paid for by environment and climate catastrophe. It is safe to declare that Australian government has absolutely no notion of global carbon emissions reduction. The Australian Climate Council
advises a science-based reduction in emissions of 75% for Australia by
2030. Emissions reduction asks get bigger as global climate predicament
worsens. 2030 is effectively tomorrow in terms of government plan execution. Before that "tomorrow time is here", so very soon, I expect climate science advisers to be making a desperate call for 100% emissions reduction.
Our foreign corporate masters
Trade minister Keith Pitt has again declares his total allegiance to foreign corporations by his verbal attacks on "green activists" for trying to kill the fossil fuel industry. Hi is obviously not representing interests of Australia people, or its biological life systems, he is just another corporate stooge in the parliament. The attitude of the government is that "Global Demand" for our exported fossil fuels is said to be insatiable, and Australia must sacrifice everything it has to feed it. Such amazing double-think requires compliant media well trained in the arts of Newspeak, and Australia has a world champion in News Limited. Minister Pitt should be attacked for still trying to cripple the world with increased rates of fossil fuel burning, and crippling Australia with environmental devastation.
Running off with the money
In the mean time our conventional notions of the life-time continuation of civilization exists in Australia in the form of a "Superannuation" system. A percentage of wages is compulsorily docked and invested on behalf of the person, to be accessed only by retirement age, or special need. This serves the financial industries with moneys to invest and fees to change. For today's young generation of workers, such a future does not exist anymore. Collapsing biodiversity and biological life systems will make our accumulated digital money values worthless. This is already happening, as prices for basics of life provisioning continue to rise. The government recognizes this by legislating measures in the superannuation system that only apply to benefit the very rich. One such beneficiary in proposed legislation as a Senator put in her own amendment to benefit her own retirement tax concessions. A notional reward for passing legislation to benefit the rich I suppose. I hope that Senator Pauline Hanson gets to retire as soon as possible. That is how the Australian government works today. The richest members of parliament, having shares and strong palsy mateships with fossil fuel lobbyists, work out with their accountants, the best technocratic changes to legislation to benefit themselves, and then ram it through parliament with as little debate as possible, at short notice in the middle of the night.
In our economic growth systems for the wealthy, a growth-stopping behavior change only happens with a temporary accident. Only the 2020 COVID lock-downs and other kinds of economic recessions, has have ever had impacts on greenhouse gas emissions growth. On this logic we will have to wait for the unrecoverable, total global systems collapse for our green house gas emissions to fall.
It is the standard behavior which is the real problem. The inconceivable cures for addictive growth behavior, are to put a high money cost on that behavior. Instead we like to keep it as cheap as possible. Nations are most reluctant to forsake growth, which requires cheap energy, even while bringing on global warming which brings to an end all growth. Greed of nations is taken as given, and nations are collectively incapable of deciding to penalize their own competitive growth. Inconceivable, so let us continue try and swallow the whole world into our collective waste making machines.
Net zero pledges to date over around 70% of global GDP and CO2 emissions. However, fewer than a quarter of announced net zero pledges are fixed in domestic legislation and few are yet underpinned by specific measures or policies to deliver them in full and on time. - Net zero by 2050?
There are strong criticisms of wind and solar technologies for renewable energy, which are that they are industrial products, they require dirty mining operations, they require depleting mineral resources, and the finished products are not recyclable at the end of their operational lifetimes. They take up large areas. Windmills kill and maim birds and bats. Hydo-power dams up rivers, with green house gas emissions from drowned vegetation upstream. Natural flows and dependent living systems are destroyed. Biomass burning is a horrendous waste of life, and costs more carbon emissions.
From the IEA reports, where emissions reduction policies exist, and can be modeled, up to 2050, global CO2 emissions are still going to creep upwards. On current trends and promises, they will rise from 34 Gt in 2020 to 36 Gt in 2030, and don't go down until 2050. Talking about electricity generation alone, Renewables provide 29% of electrical energy in 2020. That is an unbelievable figure which needs to qualified a lot. The biggest share of this is still hydro power. Increasing the rates of new solar and wind power has many problems. We lack the scaled up manufacture capacity, and the bio-systems cost is high. All manufacture requires specialized rare earth minerals. The mining and processing steps required are very dirty.
The technology of making terrible killing machines is a big part of the drawdown on nature by nations. Rare earth metals play a big role in all the latest kits, for civilian and military equipment. Chinese mines and processing are a majority of global supply. Mainly from the Baotou region of China. An agricultural paradise has been turned into huge lakes of toxic radioactive tailings ponds from the mining and processing. China took over the global supply of rare earths, because such toxic industrial sites in other nations were refused by the strong opposition of local people. ABC's Big Ideas presented the pollution and monopoly issues in a recent podcast: "The Rare Metals War" - https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/the-rare-metals-war/13364050
By suffering the toxic costs, affecting the health of large numbers people, poisoning large areas of agricultural production capacity, China must feel that it has more than earned the right to manufacture everything down the value technology chain. Foreign corporations made deals to jointly manufacture and share technology in China. So other nations have no choice but to buy from China, the parts and machines that require rare earths for their efficiency and miniaturization. Magnets in mobile phones, and wind turbine generators, are an order of ten times stronger, with rare metals, than alternatives. This allows the components to be much smaller. These make our pocket mobile phones work. In terms of energy cost per kilo of pure substance produced, already very high, it makes sense to process ore close to a mine, as this reduces the bulk of product needed to be transported far away. Having paid very high environmental costs, and to pay for the best mitigation, it makes sense to manufacture to far down the value chain, and ship the highest-value near-finished products.
Australian government still plans to have its own massive environmental eyesore and carbon catastrophe horror still threatening the world today with the Adani Coal Mine.
After allowing China to become the productive beast of environmental burden, it then seems very churlish of western nations to find reasons to disdain the purchase of Chinas technology products, such as Huwei. After having passed to China all of the means, we suddenly don't like the ends. Our western empires made a cooperative big huffle over "security", and hyped fears of China spying on us and turning off critical IT infrastructure. Huawei's finished products, as "Trojan Horses" are the squeals of capitalist protest from IT companies upon discovering that China worked for decades on a better deal, and is no longer prepared to be the just the toxics fall guy and supplier of cheap disposable labor. Overall China has managed to poison about 80% of its water table. Most of its population then have a choice between hunger and subtle life poisoning. Its industrial processes still keep growing. Of course this means war. Any-self respecting civilization thinks it has the whole world for its disposal already, and respects no imitators.
Even the great flying lemon-pig trillion dollar stuff-up that the USA calls its last generation fighter plane, the F-35, uses many components made with Chinese rare earth metals. At last the empire of western exploitation has found someone that has bettered them at their own game, and their only option left was to play the game of outrage with sanctions and refusal. Sanctions are the weapon of choice before outright war.
These sorts of sums for military hardware should quickly lead to the idea that the quickest solution to carbon emissions from over-consumption of the rich nations, is for the rich nations to stop over consuming. That means cutting down the production of the top energy producing and top manufacturing corporations. It would mean slashing the huge murderously wasteful global military budgets of all the belligerent global military powers. That could achieve a decent start towards some climate sanity for the human race. But no, the idiot nations of earth want to reserve the right to destroy each other. After all, we are in a race to consume the earth first.
Nation states always operate under the other categorical imperative. That is to do to others what you most imagine others might do to you first, or might benefit from before you do. Preemptive killing. Falsified reasons for war. National honor. Taking offense and becoming the most offensive the fastest. Stealing the resources of others first, before your rivals do. That is what civilizations most excel at. The same applies to destroying all of natures life systems. The climate and atmosphere are just on of the many casualties of civilization growth.
The Australia Government agreed to buy 58 of these already obsolete flying tanks in 2014 for then US$11.5 billion, adding to a previous order of 14. Buyers beware, this purchase may cripple your national defense budgets. And of course the Australian Government thinks its defense needs such a big money stuffing, so as to take up more delightful invitations to participate the US empires ongoing orgies of bloody-bombing-slaughter-hunger games, such as being done by proxy in Yemen, and continuing in Afghanistan.
In case you were wondering, the Australia public have consistently protested anything to do with dumping of radioactive wastes. No surprise then, that Australian rare earth miner Lynas Corporation, ships all of its rocks for processing to Malaysia. Malaysia has decided rare earth metal processing is way too awful-dirty, and has given Lynas until 2023 to find a new processing location. Some people in Kalgoorlie, a former premium gold mining town in Western Australia, have put up their hands for the money. It is most likely that these latest mining pundits will live in luxury a long distance away from yet another toxic desolation of man.
The recent book "Bright Green Lies" by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert, is written as a industrial civilization values myth-buster. A remainder that most technology of industrial civilisation comes at life-systems cost, including renewable energy. If you call your self an environmentalist or promote the industrial renewable energy revolution, you may be in need of wake-up therapy. If you are a fossil fuel die-hard, reading this will be good for you too. We all belong to the life-disorder of civilization as it has been destructively constituted from the very beginning. I don't think there are any preindustrial, pre-civilization human beings that still enjoy a garden of Eden innocence anywhere. None that will survive cultural extermination by our killing civilization this century. Environmental costs of mining and minerals processing get to be pushed out of mind, to far-away peoples (suckers). Industrial poisons blow-back still happens everywhere.
Mining, toxic processing, and even fossil fuels, are still fully required for building all of the global renewable energy infrastructure that is supposed to save us from going back to the horse and buggy days. Biodiversity is collapsing from all of the roads, traffic, deforestation, exploitation, pollution and and carving up of earth's treasure of bio-diversity. You know they are all disappearing. All the living plant and animal species that used to make our planet a wonderful place to live in. Bright green lies goes into considerable detail into burrowing under your skin to attack any remaining values you probably still have about today's industrial systems. Renewable energy is tooted in the IEA net zero report, and many other places as the only way to save our "way of life". It is our "way of live" that is the problem.
Add Global warming, which is even changing even the spin rate of our planet, and sending life migrating very fast towards polar regions, which will become very crowded. A renewable energy "revolution", can maybe mitigate global warming for a time, and preserve our way of life. The IEA report doesn't give me any great confidence that governments, and our industrial systems, can manage this. The living part of the biosphere, would just like industrial civilization to collapse as soon as possible, please. No more scouring the seas with giant fish factories, manned by slave labor. No more scouring the ocean floors for the last chance to harvest mineral chunks to replace the stuff we have already sent to our waste streams. Actually more like waste rivers and oceans. Every time it rains heavy, run-off from roads dissolves toxics worn off tires, brake shoe dust, and accumulated heavier air-waste pollutants, and deposits them into our water catchments. This is how rain makes things "clean". Chemicals are dispersed into to insects, sea-food, and goes up every food chain. Go easy on those fish market specials.
Add in the concentrated regular wastes, and "accident" spillages from mining and manufacture. Coal burning is a biggie, releasing 8100 tonnes of highly poisonous mercury into the Earth system every year. Industrial workers bear the brunt of high concentration toxics exposure. Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death today. We have added a new circulation to the biosphere, the Anthopogenic Chemical Circulation (ACC). These get to be everywhere, in the cells of every living thing. They interact and mix, travel, take new forms, and some of them persist for millennia affecting the health and well being of humans and all life. Long lived compounds from pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, paints, leached from plastics, oils, refrigerants, resins and metals. The earth's hydrosphere and atmosphere are giant chemical mixing vats. Number one rule of sustainability should be not make a mess that you cannot clean up.
All this is to what end? Just to keep growing? Human civilization is designed to fail, by eating its life support systems. The fragility of earth is the ultimate safety barrier, to protect the universe from civilizations that are bent on infinite growth. We burn our live bridges and life support systems as we go. Industrial civilization, isn't going to last long enough to figure out the best ways to expand and flourish past the gravity well of earth. We are held in by harsh radiation environment of space, zero gravity, and the extreme distances to any other habitable planet that we might try to ruin. As we head towards global extinction, the rest of the Universe seems very safe from our depredations. Our exponential growth, exploitation, and propensity to violence towards all life, and rapid accelerated global warming should finish us off most of our populations this century.
Civilization means that people live in cities. Cities are permanence, large structural investment, population density, and division of labor. This requires the importation of substantial resources. Food, water and energy are constantly supplied from elsewhere. Waste needs to go somewhere. Large rivers have traditionally provided water, transport and access to the best bio-resources, and a ready disposal stream.
Twelve thousand years ago, the war against the earth began. In nine places,people started to destroy the world by taking up agriculture. ...
From that point forward, it doesn’t matter what lovely, peaceful values people hold in their hearts. The society is dependent on imperialism and genocide because no one willingly gives up their land, their water, their trees. But since the city has used up its own, it has to go out and get those from somewhere else. That’s the last 10,000 years in a few sentences. Over and over and over, the pattern is the same. There’s a bloated power center surrounded by conquered colonies, from which the center extracts what it wants, until eventually it collapses.
Fossil fuel has been a vast accelerant to both the extirpation and the monocrop—the human population has quadrupled under the swell of surplus created by the Green Revolution—but it can only be temporary. Finite quantities have a nasty habit of running out.
- Bright Green Lies - The Problem.
We civilized humans of course hope that once fossil fuels stop being transformed or burned for agriculture, that we will adopt better "organic", "zero-till", and "restorative agriculture", and "reduced meat - eating" practices. I suspect even the best combination of these is difficult for our life support systems to sustain.The lands where civilizations once flourished are very often deserts of depleted ecosystems, awaiting the next great extinctions reset.
Somehow we expect to feed every nation, while climate changes, weather extremes rage, and unbalanced pests attack our crops. Meanwhile until forced into that unwilling corner of no other choice, market profits and city idleness are the chief cultural concerns of city populations that are unwilling to contemplate going back to the slave labor lifestyle in agricultural fields to supply the energy inputs necessary to grow food, which began this whole mess.
The high incremental costs of technology and its complexity will evolve, rather than fix, all the problems created by our industrial civilization. All industrial technology has terrible impacts on the biosphere. It can't be eaten and converted into biological life. Our finite world fills up with technology, accumulated waste and chemicals, we are everywhere replacing the living. Only if we plan an end to the continuation and growth of fossil fuel civilization, shrink our consumption, and abandon harmful industrial technology, do we have a hope of being in change of our fate. As we don't seem to want to do this, if we are "realists" and like the domination afforded by the rich and powerful, we just have to go on killing everything, until our systems collapse makes us incapable.