Viewpoint by John Scales Avery *
COPENHAGEN (IDN) – I would like to announce the publication of a book, which deals with the world’s failure to adequately address the existential danger of catastrophic climate change. The book consists mainly of book chapters and articles that I have previously published, although a considerable amount of new material has been added. It can be freely downloaded and circulated from the following link: http://eacpe.org/app/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Climate-Change-Means-Lifestyle-Change-John-Scales-Avery.pdf
> John Scales Avery
“Our house is on fire!”, says Greta Thunberg, and she is right. The year 2019 saw a rise in wildfires across the globe. Bush fires in Australia are threatening Sydney and have caused the Australian government to declare a state of emergency. But Australia’s politicians continue the policies that have made their nation a climate change criminal, exporting vast quantities of coal and beef. The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said, of the fire victims: “They don’t need the ravings of some pure enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they are trying to save their homes.” In other words, let’s not talk about climate change.
In the Arctic, wildfires raged, producing plumes of smoke the size of the European continent. In the Amazon, fires were deliberately set by greedy mining interests and beef farmers, illegally, but condoned by the government of Jair Bolsinaro, the “Trump of the Tropics”. In Indonesia, plumes of smoke from burning forests darkened the skies over many nearby countries. Again, the deliberately set fires were illegal, but they were condoned by corrupt politicians, receiving money from the hugely profitable palm oil business.
Extraction of fossil fuels must stop!
A United Nations repfort – The Production Gap – released on November 20, 2019, warned that worldwide projections for fossil fuel production over the next decade indicate that the international community is on track to fail to rein in planet-heating emissions and prevent climate catastrophe.
The Production Gap is an 80-page report produced by collaboration between the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and a number of academic institutions. It examines the discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production and global production levels consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C and concludes that the necessary policy changes are currently not being made.
The famous economist, Lord Nicholas Stern, has stated: “This important report shows that governments’ projected and planned levels of coal, oil, and gas production are dangerously out of step with the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change. It illustrates the many ways in which governments subsidize and otherwise support the expansion of such production. Instead, governments should implement policies that ensure existing production peaks soon and then falls very rapidly.”
At the COP25 in Madrid, delegations from the United States, Australia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia worked actively to prevent meaningful progress, and they prevented it. Alden Meyer, director of strategy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “I’ve been attending these climate negotiations since they first started in 1991, but never have I seen the almost total disconnect we’ve seen here at COP25 in Madrid between what the science requires and the people of the world demand, and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action”.
We need a new economic system
Economists are not used to thinking of the long-term future. We can see this in their attitude to economic growth, a concept which mainstream economists support with almost-religious fervour. But the unlimited growth of anything physical on a physically finite planet is a logical impossibility. To avoid this logic, mainstream economists, with self-imposed short-sightedness, wilfully limit their view of the future to a few decades. However, the climate crisis is a long-term multi-generational issue. Young people throughout the world are rightly protesting that their long-term future is being blighted by today’s greed.
A few far-sighted economists outside the mainstream, for example Herman Daly, have made extensive studies of Steady-State Economics. Logic tells us that this must become the economics of the future, replacing the growth-worshiping and greed-sanctioning economics of today.
* John Scales Avery (born in 1933 in Lebanon to American parents) is a theoretical chemist noted for his research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. Since the early 1990s, Avery has been an active World peace activist. During these years, he was part of a group associated with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. [IDN-InDepthNews – 06 February 2020]
Photo: People’s Climate March 2017 in Washington DC. CC BY-SA 4.0
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
facebook.com/IDN.GoingDeeper – twitter.com/InDepthNews