What about adding some reason in the most irrational of our values: love? In the thin layer of atmosphere populated since yesterday morning with 7 billion inhabitants, each aspiring to our western way of life, love for our neighbors should be more than a vague feeling. Disorder threatens us and our philosophy of Enlightenment should emancipate further than 250 years ago: In this new century, for each of us, a scientific self-criticism of our own way of life have to structure the love of neighbor: Just a small time remains for a citizen waking-up as the next 5 years are the last chance to respect the 2°C of the Paris Agreement.
My Facebook feed is saturated with ‘love messages’ posted regularly by friends… Not a single day without a psychologic article or a New Age quote, explaining how to truly connect to my environment, to the other humans, to my inner self… explaining that the planetary love must save us, or how to be in a loving harmony with the universe…
But to truly “love”, we must “understand”. And to “understand”, we need reason:
100% of the scientific community explains that we must stay below 2°C of global climate change if we want to have a chance to live in a peaceful world in the coming decades.
But in the last 50 years we thrown into an atmosphere, of the proportional thickness of the skin of an apple, half of the fossil carbon that accumulated in the subsoils for half a billion years.
To respect the Paris agreement, we need to divide the annual greenhouse gas emissions by 3 globally, in 30 years. So at least by 5 or 6 in the case of Europe. In 2015, it was essential that the Paris agreement was signed by governments – sometimes happily without really realising what they were agreeing to – but a year and a half after, we are not at all on the good path, nor showing the example to the world. There is a huge gap between policies needed in the next 32 years to decarbonize Europe, and the debate / political action of today (1). (See below the “Decarbonize Europe Manifesto” signed by prominent figures of the economic world (2)
It is hard for each of us to visualize the true origin of the problem: Isn’t it the large and medium-sized companies who pollute much more than me?? One thing is certain, the products and services produced by these companies are not produced for Martians nor sent to the Moon: The way of life of 99% of occidentals, not just the rich, produces far too much CO2.
If you want to love your neighbor: Make your carbon footprint. Bellow this article you will find online tool to calculate it precisely and quick. And you will fall off your chair seeing the results. When you thought you were green.
Or… A world of climate wars, sure option in the next decades if we continue business as usual, will mean few lucky rich ones, who will find their ways to hide from the chaos, and a big part of humans condemned to misery. (The effects of climate change will be much worse than those of other forms of pollution)
And we can hope then to be remain the lucky ones, but here is my postulate:
Be aware of this, and at the same time NOT dare to calculate in detail your annual greenhouse gas emissions, in order to understand them precisely and their proportions, and to wonder about collective solutions to reduce them, is probably the most egoistic and unloving act of all time.
The eventual lack of confidence in democracy is no longer an excuse. Economic and political solutions exist but they only start now to be discussed. This reflection is not yet stimulated by public opinion or university, and time turns very fast.
You cannot. You cannot finish to read this article and pass to the next one and think “hmm ok, I’ll calculate my carbon footprint ‘one day’ …”, and at the same time pretend that you’re a loving and caring person. You cannot do that. Or you’re faking to be an loving person. Because as we speak, every 90 seconds, a human in an emerging country is dying from climate change because of the carbon the machines of our way of life spit into the atmosphere. Every 10 seconds, an inhabitant must leave his house for the same reason. For every hour I spend on a plane, a human being dies from climate change one hour earlier, because of the emissions that my airplane seat causes individually during that hour (a quarter of a ton of CO2 equivalent per passenger per hour). …But these current small inconveniences are quite ridiculous compared to the chaos that will come, when around 2050 the average temperature of a European summer afternoon will be 43°C.
Personal Carbon Footprint:
If you are an average European with for example around 1800 or 2000 € of income per month, your lifestyle is responsible for 10 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (the double for a North American) and to have a chance to comply with the Paris agreements, you must divide your emissions at least by FIVE within 33 years, thus 1.5 to 2 tons maximum (the red line!) :
It is a total misbelief that our European emissions are already on the decline: curves showing that only account the metropolitan emissions, without taking into account the emissions of all our products/services imported from China and elsewhere. And the graph above is only a pale estimate if we also consider the emissions of the large-scale destruction of forests from which our consumption originated, for example in Amazonia (cereals for EU cattle) or in Indonesia (palm oil).
Chaos already in some parts of the world, Darfur war last decade, Syrian war and migration (the biggest since WW2) (3), more recently the famine of 2017 in Africa, (4) , and perhaps pakistan tomorrow, are all linked to extreme droughts due to climate change.
In the people around me, some think that it is difficult to reduce so much, but it is our only future. Some think that our economic condition is very average? In 250 years our life expectancy has passed from 23 years to 83 years ! (5) and still continue (until now) to increase. Others think that technology has to solve everything, but even with all the technique of the world, a four-year-old cannot force his parents to take him to the beach, when it’s winter and raining. Believing the big-power of progress resolve everything by clapping fingers, is precisely the belief that, in the past, made civilizations collapse.
Some wonder whether the climatic science of the coming decades is clear because we cannot predict the weather of next week: but no one criticizes the biologist who cannot predict when the next leaf of the tree will fall. Yet the tree will have lost all its leaves by the late autumn.
The Shift-Project, organization dedicated to save the planet, has just released a Decarbonize Europe Manifesto, whose humble purpose is simply to respect the Paris climate agreements. Supported by many actors of the economic world, they seek to influence French politics and European politics. Because it is France who must push Europe to decarbonise the economy, and Europe who must push the world. (Not really the america of Trump America. And according to the NASA researcher James Hansen: Obama before him did not do much )
And it’s now. In 5 or 10 years it will be too late to convince the world to respect the Paris agreement. Because to decarbonize the Western economy it is necessary to reduce emissions by 5% per year over 32 years… That is to say already, to give an idea, a rate equivalent to the energy decay during the crisis of 29.
What would have been the industrial revolution if somehow the earth’s subsoil had not stored for us the fossil carbon of half a billion seasons? The industrial revolution without hydrocarbons would have been much slower . This is thanks to the fossil carbon that we owe our sudden modernity of the last century. But it’s also a poisoned gift of nature. And thus a first big test for humankind as a species. The consequence will be the pursuit of our philosophy of enlightenment, or the return of obscurantism. From the top of our modernity, let’s contemplate our accumulated knowledge since the horizon of time. Have we grown up? Please sign the manifesto: http://decarbonizeurope.org/en
Alexandre Flet – April 2017
[Update 19th of april:] « It’s time to realise that retweeting greenpeace doesn’t lower your carbon footprint » explained Jonathan Pie in his 110 millions vues speech of the day of Trump election… The politics are not gonna do ‘the job’ until 51% of the population is convinced that ‘the job’ (decarbonising the economy by 5% per years, starting next year) is the number one priority, beyond purchasing power and cheap energy. This is maybe 3% of the population convinced today. Sure everyone totally agree with the vague ‘idea’ of fixing the climate, but they are not yet ready to want to see 60% of the political debate about this. They rather want to see 70% of the political debate talking about purchasing power and the related, and 3% time talking about climate. And this is the problem. Thus ‘your job’ is to find all the ways you can imagine to make this 51% happen. Engaging the people around you, in this civilisation, to make their online carbon footprint calculation and explanations about the global curve emissions are keys for this waking-up.
*** ONLINE CARBON FOOTPRINT CALCULATORS : ***
-> For residents in France: THE MICMAC . For France this is one of the best and most detailed tools. It counts all greenhouse gases, which is not the case for most calculators.
For other countries, here are some calculators quickly found on the web. But if you know of other interesting or better tools for the countries cited or for other territories, please let me know and I will modify this list (contact mail alexandrerlchp — gmail — com):
->In Germany: http://www.uba.co2-rechner.de/de_DE/living-hs#panel-calc
– For other countries, you can probably find calculators, searching the web in your language, and the more accurate the tool you find, the better it will be. (There are enormous disparities of relevance between sites.)
->> Caution: Some of these tools can be linked to ‘carbon offset businesses’ that offers you to pay for supposedly ‘cancelling’ your emissions: Do not do this! First there is absolutely no guarantee in the long term, which does not make sense, and then there are many worries of principle, methodology, western domination, and nonsense in this type of activity (Which should be organised publicly not with private businesses!): You can read this: Inconvenient truth of carbon offsets.
For example, a few vague proposals on the isolation of buildings from all the candidates in the French presidential elections of 2017, are very far away from the real policy of insulation of necessary housing which is described in the 9 proposals in the Decarbonize Europe Manifesto, and the same goes for the other areas of the needed decarbonation.The candidates do not really have a track to decarbonize by a factor of 5: No clear projection for the decarbonization of the economy in the next three decades. It is not a question of blaming the candidates, but simply, to understand that there is not yet a true citizen rational mobilization on the subject. Moreover, we must stop with vague political terminology such as “sustainable development”, or even “energy transition” (even if it is already much better). It is now necessary to call a cat a cat: the subject is not the sustainable development nor the energy transition (that can take many meanings according to the people who use these words) the subject is the ” decarbonization “ ! It is true that the majority of the candidates have responded to the Manifesto in an argumentative way but they do not really undertake, as requested “ to plead with determination in the European Council to adopt before 2020 a Strategy and a plan of action commensurate with the Paris Agreement, capable of enabling the European Union to achieve a level of net greenhouse gas emissions as close as possible to zero by 2050 ” ↩
Because of climate change, Scientists have foreseen, since 20 years already, a drying up of the Mediterranean perimeter: Interview with Jean-Marc Jancovici and Corinne Lepage on LCI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2W1Sa7FtEY&feature=youtu.be&t=1406 ↩
In food-insecure countries in Africa, climate change has become an almost permanent factor : http://www.africanews.com/2017/03/17/depth-of-the-worst-drought-since-1945-peaking-in-parts-of-africa/ ↩
(https://www.ined.fr/en/everything_about_population/graphs-maps/interpreted-graphs/life-expectancy-france/ ) And curves in other ocidental countries are about the same. ↩