Who is the real enemy to progress…?

CO2-Budget

Quite often Environmentalists and people who advocate Sustainability are accused for being against development and progress – Nothing could be more wrong!

It doesn’t take much arithmetic or high-level thinking to realise that with a maximum “emissions-budget” of 565 gigatons of CO2 until 2050 and the current emission-rate of 31.6 gigatons per year, increasing by approximately 3 % per year – the budget is exhausted already by 2025…

And then what…

With the current growth-rate of CO2-emissions, by 2025 the yearly emission will be 50% higher than today, by 2030 it will be 75% higher and by 2034 it will be 100% higher.
Continuing this trajectory “undisturbed” means that by 2050 we will have emitted more than FOUR TIMES THE BUDGET. A Budget considered by science (IPCC-report) to give us a reasonable chance  to stay below a 2 °C Global Warming…

2025 is Eleven (11) years away – a timeframe that is comprehensible for most people, a timeframe that is taken into consideration when borrowing money for a new home, planning your education, saving for your retirement, making business-plans etc…

The Fossile fuel industry don’t give a “Sh£$t” about the planet…

In my previous article I made a short reflection on how the Automotive industry and the Airline industry respond to this imminent challenge of Human survival – largely opting-out from any responsibility, in favour of short-term economic profits.

And the Fossil Fuel industry is not only supporting fossil fuel powered transportation, it is way, way worse than that. If you look to the bar chart at the beginning of the article, the biggest bar represents the amount of CO2-emissions, 2,795 Gton, that would occur if the currently known fossil fuel (oil, gas, coal) reserves, owned by the fossil fuel companies and countries, should be extracted and “burned” – that’s more than five times the “budget” to stay within the 2 °C goal.

Coalbubble-OnlyThese reserves are still buried in the ground, but the estimated value is already in the bookkeeping of the fossil fuel companies.
This means that the companies and their owners and shareholders are highly interested in getting the return on their investments.
And of course this “booked” value is used as security for loans and in other financial transactions.

In short, this means that it is in the Business Plans of the fossil fuel companies to extract their reserves and thereby “burn the planet” in their pursuit of profits…
(And they are still investing heavily in exploration for more fossil fuels… and using all means of lobbying, impingement and corruption to avoid any resistance to their ongoing destruction… )

… an example of their “dedication”…

In May, 2013, the CEO of ExxonMobile, Rex Tillerson told those assembled at a shareholders meeting in Dallas that an economy that runs on oil is here to stay, and cutting carbon emissions would do no good. He even asked, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?
…and with a yearly “compensation” in excess of $34,000,000 he should know all about suffering…
(Link to ClimateProgress article by Joe Romm)

What is “progress”…

Most finance people, business executives and politicians seem to be stuck with the idea that progress is equal to growth, and increased profits – and that’s about it – not even considering that we are living in a finite environment, One planet!

Before going further down that “dead end street” – it’s a good idea to take a look at this short lecture (10:32 min) by professor emeritus Albert A Bartlett, to better understand the consequences of steady growth and “doubling time”.

(The complete “Must see”, Al Bartlett  lecture, “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy”, 1:13:51 h,
in 10 minute segments, available here)

If it was only about money, without any connection to extraction of resources or CO2-emissions, infinite growth and the exponential function would be fantastic – But it isn’t!

Some people come up with the idea that by “de-coupling” money/profits from the actual use of finite resources or emissions of CO2, the “problem” can be solved…

In fact, when you think about it, isn’t that what Richard Nixon did in 1971 – The Nixon Shock – when he unilaterally removed the fixed link between the dollar and gold, creating FIAT-currencies “for all”…

One big question though – What are the money going to be used for, any risk that it eventually ends up Consuming “stuff”… made out of “resources”… generating CO2-emissions? What if the value of the total amount of money is larger than the finite resources of this planet – any risk of depletion…?

Scrooge McDuckUnless of course you are Scrooge McDuck and pile up the money to “swim in” or for “Skiing”…
Any parallel to the upcoming Winter-Olympics is purely coincidental…)

But then, if people would chose to “store” money instead of spending it on consumption, economic Nobel laureates like Paul Krugman would probably fly around the planet urging everyone to increase their Inflation-goals to 4% or more to avoid deflation…without even the slightest consideration of the consequences to our planet or next generations… [Sarcasm]

Progress is not equal to Growth…!

Infinite growth is not possible in a finite environment
– it is not Sustainable.

This is not a theory, it is not a belief – It is an undisputable fact!

The last century, and especially the last few decades has been characterized by an unprecedented flood of “debt-driven” economic resources (FIAT-money), cheap energy, globalization, growth-hysteria, greed, corruption, an exaggerated believe that free markets solve everything and at the same time rapidly increasing inequality, pollution, CO2-emissions and depletion of resources and species.

London BusJust the other week, in connection to the World economic forum in Davos, we could read in an article in the Guardian, that the World’s 85 wealthiest (the number of people that can fit into a London Bus) have the same net worth as 3.5 billion poorest (half of the population).

This concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions, we are already today experiencing Riots, Demonstrations and even Wars that without doubt, at least partly are result of economic disparity and “social resignation”…

The latest IPCC-report concluded, beyond any doubt, that Climate Change is here and if we fail to urgently take action it will bring havoc to our society – in fact it has already started, causing changes to the weather patterns resulting in extreme temperatures, flooding, hurricanes, droughts, melting glaciers…

Progress is not about pushing Business-as-Usual “one more round” to see if we can squeeze the last profits and resources out of an unequal Society and our tormented Planet before we all go over the cliff…!

Real Progress is about transforming our lifestyle into a lifestyle that eventually can be shared by ALL people on this planet including the 2 Billion more “arriving” in the next few decades, a lifestyle enabling ALL people to progress and to live a good and sustainable life in balance with our planet – for a long time forward…

If you are searching for the “Real Enemies” to progress, you are not likely to find them among Environmentalists or people advocating Sustainability – You’ll need to look elsewhere…