Are you hopeful that the world will soon turn the corner on climate change? The scientific evidence is clear — we have to stop filling our atmosphere with polluting gases that are heating our planet. And yet, the emissions from fossil fuels continue to rise unabated. At this very moment, there are industry lobbyists, politicians and media organizations fighting to prevent any government policies or global agreements that threaten growth in oil, gas and coal production.
A recent BBC mini-series entitled Big Oil v The World provides some of the most detailed evidence to date on how Exxon and others have concealed their knowledge that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will harm the planet. While scientists warned us that global warming is a serious threat to humanity, the Exxons of the world launched a campaign to spread doubt and prevent people from demanding immediate action. This campaign has been a success for at least 40 years.
The BBC series details how a mountain of capital was deployed to spread disinformation and capture political power in an effort to quash climate action. Organizations created by fossil fuel corporations wilfully misled the public and government leaders, despite their own scientists raising the alarm that planet-warming gases were a byproduct of their industry. Corporate leadership chose to protect their business with full knowledge there would be dire consequences for future generations.
As we all go about our business seeking happiness in many different ways, a war is raging between those in love with the past and those in love with the future. Those resisting change have an end game, where everyone accepts that we will somehow survive on a planet that is rapidly heating, while nature is vanishing at an unprecedented rate. The future is defended by millions of scientists, activists and business leaders who have been working hard to avoid environmental catastrophe.
It’s hard not to lose hope when money, political power and greed have us in a stranglehold. But perhaps the first light of dawn is finally signalling the end of this ugly war, where dark forces steal our best assets and impoverish future societies. People are waking up to the fact that we are redistributing wealth to the few, driving an extinction event, obliterating natural habitat and destabilizing our planet’s life support systems.
With this new awareness, many changes are underway. A growing number of people are motivated to buy electric vehicles, install solar panels and improve the energy efficiency of their home or business. People of all ages, without any past experience in activism, are joining protest marches and volunteering for political movements calling for a green and just transition. New leadership is emerging.
Clean technologies are rapidly being developed to replace a global energy system that requires burning and polluting. Renewable energy is now cost-competitive and a great investment opportunity.
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New markets are being created, including value-added solutions like industrial facilities that can recycle 95 per cent of the materials in solar panels or energy storage solutions that eliminate the need for fossil fuel-based electricity generation. However, the most important aspect of this energy transition is that renewables will free us all from dependency on petrostates and their cartels
The transition to electric transportation is on an exponential growth curve, with an inflection point to rapid growth only years away. There is already aggressive competition to mine minerals, build battery plants and retool assembly lines. All major automobile manufacturers have a plan to transition to zero-emission vehicles and that momentum is spreading to buses, delivery vehicles and even farm machinery.
Solar panel and heat pump installations for homes and businesses are accelerating in Europe thanks to Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine and futile attempt to weaken Europe by restricting its gas supplies. Around the world, building codes are being changed to encourage or mandate passive home and zero-energy technology. These homes of the future are well-insulated, heated by extremely efficient heat pumps and generate enough of their own electricity to reduce annual energy costs to zero.
Companies are racing to establish a beachhead for hydrogen production. The oil and gas industry is smitten by blue hydrogen, produced from natural gas with carbon capture technology that promises to significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Regions with an abundance of renewable energy are betting on green hydrogen, which uses electrolysis powered by electricity from renewables to produce hydrogen from water.
Turquoise hydrogen uses a process called pyrolysis that separates natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon and can be used in products like tires. There is also growing interest in pink hydrogen, where nuclear energy is used to produce hydrogen.
Train engines, heavy transport trucks, experimental jet engines and electricity-generating turbines are already using hydrogen as fuel. Ballard Power Systems has developed a marine fuel cell for use in ships and is working on a drive system that runs on ammonia. There is a staggering amount of innovation happening in this fledgling industry.
We are also making progress on slowing the destruction of nature. An agreement was reached at COP15 in Montreal to protect 30 per cent of land and water habitats by 2030. Hitting that target will require massive restoration efforts because many countries don’t have enough natural habitats to meet their commitment.
The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) aims to reverse biodiversity loss, sets funding targets to ensure money and resources get where they are needed most, protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and creates goals to preserve the benefits and ecosystems services provided by nature.
The regenerative agriculture movement is working to restore the health of our agricultural soils and ensure food systems aren’t dependent on the use of chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. In a pattern we’re all familiar with, “Big Chem” claims the world can only be fed by continued use of their products. The scientific and anecdotal evidence does not support this narrative.
We are witnessing an incredible renaissance, which may one day be recognized as the greatest revolution of our time. There is reason to hope for a better future, but the forces working against that future must not be underestimated. The movement to protect nature, transition away from fossil fuels and create an equitable society won’t achieve critical mass without supporters, adopters, innovators and foot soldiers. Every one of us has a part to play in transforming our world into something better.
Rob Miller is a retired systems engineer, formerly with General Dynamics Canada, who now volunteers with the Calgary Climate Hub and writes on behalf of Eco-Elders for Climate Action.
Miller: "With this new
Miller: "With this new awareness, many changes are underway. A growing number of people are motivated to buy electric vehicles..."
Why are EVs first on the list? More cars rank last, if at all.
We can't shop our way to a greener world. In a world of rising population and living standards, ramping up consumption of "green" products and goods boosts resource extraction to increasingly unsustainable levels.
With their massive footprint, EVs would not be green even if they ran on fairy dust. Mining for metals, steel, plastic, manufacturing, end-of-life recycling and disposal. Not to mention the resources required for the buildout of power generation, transmission, and storage to power hundreds of millions of EVs around the world.
Even if EVs halve our greenhouse gas emissions, if at the same time we double the number of cars (in developing world), that gets us nowhere.
EVs merely shift extraction from petroleum to metals. An ecological nightmare.
EVs enable sprawl, which makes efficient public transit impossible. Not a climate solution, much less an equitable one. EVs leave non-drivers marginalized.
"The most important aspect of this energy transition is that renewables will free us all from dependency on petrostates and their cartels."
But it will make us dependent on metal and mining states, which include plenty of bad actors, including Russia and China.
At least, Rob Miller did not make raise hopes for carbon capture, which perpetuates fossil fuels. More emissions for longer.
No, I'm wrong.
Miller: "carbon capture technology that promises to significantly reduce CO2 emissions"
CCS is a fraudulent climate solution, promoted by the fossil fuel industry, and paid for by taxpayers.
Switching out fuel sources to power the same lifestyle is not nearly enough. Merely rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
"To Save Ourselves, We'll Need This Very Different Economy" (The Tyee)
Miller: "We are also making
Miller: "We are also making progress on slowing the destruction of nature."
Evidence? Tally the mortality of all species and loss of biodiversity, habitat, and ecosystem services.
Wildlife faces countless threats beyond fossil fuels (oil spills, acid rain, ocean acidification, tailings ponds, and myriad climate change impacts):
• Industrial pollution.
• Algal blooms killing fish and wildlife in lakes.
• Litter everywhere.
• Fish feminizing in Canadian rivers.
• (Over)fishing, (over)hunting, and trapping.
• Govt culls using poison with no end of collateral damage.
• Rampant use of pesticides and herbicides.
• Marine species face noise and stress from increasing tanker traffic, and increased risk of collisions (whales).
• Countless roadkill victims.
• Urban sprawl with no end in sight, consuming farmland, wetlands, and forest.
• OHVs tearing up the wilderness.
• Lakes and landscapes contaminated by mining.
• Sewage dumped into waterways.
Sadly, our national parks are no refuge, as wildlife come under severe pressure even there. Visitors to Banff National Park outnumber caribou 4 million to zero.
Rob Miller's exercise in wishful thinking inspires little hope. His embrace of false, consumption-driven solutions inspires little confidence that he truly understands the depth of the problem.
"CCS is a fraudulent climate
"CCS is a fraudulent climate solution, promoted by the fossil fuel industry, and paid for by taxpayers." AMEN. CCS is a red herring created to extend the life of the industry that is ruining the climate. Unfortunately, our governments, Alberta and Canada, support the CCS myth. We need to rise up and tell them to cease and desist. We need to pledge not to vote for politicians that support CCS. And while we're at it, let's demand tha any and all large scale hydrogen projects be green.
Sounds too good to be true,
Sounds too good to be true, for someone who has had solar since 2009....but your facile comment on the Ukrainian war....'leading to Europe's rapid transition after Putin's 'futile' attempt....blah blah blah....leads me
to suspect you don't factor in the real consequences of endless war....never mind the economic system that drives it.
And you should notice....it has been endless war since the end of the Second world war....little wars, proxy wars, civil wars.....and a cursory exploration on Wikipedia will tell you who has fomented most of those conflicts.........and why.
I've recently come to suspect that the Amerikan empire can't survive without there being a war going on somewhere..........Amerika runs not just on fossil fuels but on the weapons of mass distruction and distraction that keep the world burning........and her bank accounts blossoming.
We aren't going to win against petrostates until we stop fighting each other....stop demonizing....playing us against them games..........and start seriously doubling down on green technologies and a real degrowth economy.
There are no silver bullets. But there's a plethora of the bullets made for large scale warfare. Pretending this war was all Putin's idea, and that there were no CIA operatives involved in the Ukrainian regime change of 2014............is what faux greenies do. They still believe we can have it all.....neoliberalism, globalism, regime changes for democracy (Afghanistan is the poster child for how well that works)....and a green economy
PS. Blue hydrogen depends on fracked gas...fracked gas isn't natural. Carbon Capture and Storage is an oil and gas boondoggle....like nuclear, its too expensive (has to have public tax dollar investment), with a capture rate so poor it only serves as window dressing for the oily folks who intend to keep fracking and in situ mining. Never mind that in the states it is already being used for EOR...that's enhanced oil recovery. The captured CO2 is piped to unclosed oil wells, then put down those shafts to recover a bit more of the oily substance your article seems to think we're going to leave in the ground. Check out Bold Nebraska if you want details on those pipes, and what they do to breathing creatures if they rupture.
Write a story on how much water we lose when we frack or in situ mine for bitumen....tell the whole truth about western Canada's 'energy economy'.....and then get back to us on how quickly the market is actually transitioning.........
All we have so far is a "eat your cake and have it too" fantasy of transition.........keep on extracting from the bleeding earth AND drive an EV. It's Environmentalism Lite and it isn't going to be enough to preserve our current way of life. And while I'm on it..........how about those airport Christmas vacations???
We do all realize I hope that you have to go vegan for a full year to pay back one half of your two way plane vacate on??? But that fossil fuel driven get away isn't going away any time soon.......inspite of all the incompetence and weather foul ups.
So yes....some intelligent people have been working very hard to get us off the devil's excrement....but NATO's vows of endless war spends more on weapons in a month than we do on green technologies in a year. And any moves they've made to negotiate are phony...demanding Russia agree to be charged with war crimes for a war much less costly than Amerika's bombing of Iraq (twice) and world wide sanctions that starve people........while Amerika just thumbs her nose at the International Criminal Court, isn't a plea for negotiation. \
It's more window dressing from an empire so militaristic it has billions for weapons....0 for a decent health care system. Never mind fancy heat pumps or rooftop solar.
Geoffrey et al. - It's fine
Geoffrey et al. - It's fine to correct errors and to argue for public transit rather than EVs, but attacking the people on our side working for change is counterproductive. Let's save the vitriol for the other team.
What is counterproductive is,
What is counterproductive is, to quote Mary Nokleby, "Environmentalism Lite". Shallow analysis and false solutions that lead us down the wrong path and make difficult problems intractable.
Promoting EVs, including generous subsidies to affluent car-buyers, diverts funds, resources, and attention from sustainable and equitable transportation options and make real solutions impossible. EV proponents ARE the other team.
Environmentalism Lite appeals to affluent techno-optimists for its ease and convenience. All we have to do is switch out the gas engine for an electric motor, and we can continue on our merry way. All we have to do is capture CO2, and we can continue to burn fossil fuels. All we have to do is use paper straws and cloth bags, and we can stop worrying about microplastics in our oceans and bloodstreams. All we have to do is spray sulfate particles into the atmosphere (geoengineering) — and, hey presto, no more warming.
Environmentalism Lite deliberately avoids examining the economic and political systems that give rise to our environmental problems in the first place. Let's not rock the boat.
Environmentalism Lite takes no thought for social and economic equity. It leaves the disabled, the poor, the young and the old marginalized.
Environmentalism Lite fails to explore unintended consequences — other ecological problems that may arise as a result of false solutions.
Environmentalism Lite obscures understanding and breeds complacency. Environmentalism Lite treats symptoms, not problems. Environmentalism Lite offers remedies, not solutions.
Environmentalism Lite is greenwashing.
Naomi Klein: "There are no non-radical options left before us"
"Naomi Klein: Radical Solutions Only Proper Response to 'Unyielding Science-Based Deadline'"
"We’re out of non-radical solutions - Naomi Klein on tackling climate change"
Pundits and politicians spooning out pablum on The Observer or anywhere else lay themselves open to public criticism of their ideas. That is the contract.