Our modern day human race is presently accused of burning too much Carbon - a practice prehistorically welcomed in order to support primal needs for food, clothing and protection from the elements. However, after millennias of abuse the modern human race now appears to be facing a breaking point whereby our previously "defeated" Mother Nature has turned and is now pummelling us with frequent weather based catastrophes the like of which the no one has ever seen before.
Our response to these disruptions presently seems to be blaming everything on a phenomenon we call "climate change". Proof of climate change (actually there is a whole list of new terminology now) is conveyed to us daily through this modern, efficient communication device we call "social media". Through social media we are bombard ourselves with daily examples of disaster inflicted on residents of some area of the earth just exposed to abnormally heavy rains, or winds, or waves, or drought, or sea levels, or pretty much anything else that annoys us. Today we were told that there is concern that ocean octopuses (octopi?) might go blind due to climate change oxygen deprivation.
We're not reacting well to these new threats to our existence. Although we have recognized many of the problems we are facing from the elements we have not yet taken any concrete steps to solving them. We have plenty of advice and instruction on how we need to behave in the future to stop our armageddon but we have absolutely zero trust that our political and moral leaders are acting outside of their own best interests as we helplessly watch them prepare new laws, institute new taxes, and sit on global panels discussing returning all of us to some form of low carbon utopian medieval life style.
But let's consider this problem in a different way. Suppose the climate isn't really at fault for all our troubles. It's just us. We are at fault in that we are exposing ourselves to weather variations in ways that put us in jeopardy. The same things we complain about today have happened throughout time itself without any outcry of anger or dismay. Winds have blown, waves have crashed, rains have deluged, volcanoes have polluted and all environments have been battered before. The difference is that now when these extremes occur we are literally in their pathway and we suffer because of it.
We're in huge denial. We want to blame some external force for our problems instead of facing the fact that we've overpopulated and overbuilt our space, over consumed our basic needs, spoiled ourselves with useless junk, blindly discarded our wastes and burned extracted hydrocarbons exclusively for energy. We now have a massive land space problem, a massive garbage problem, a massive plastics disposal problem, a massive hydrocarbon reliance problem and massive ignorance on how to approach any of these to bring things back to so called normal.
Here's some suggestions. Take them as you will, as they are just my opinions (it is my blog):
Politicians - let's change our terminology - let's eliminate the term "carbon footprint" and go back to using the term "Air Pollution" - and then let's concentrate on making our emissions as clean as possible by replacing dirty fuels with "clean burn" fuels (including alternative energy systems such as sun and wind). This may involve inventing technologies that burn out those fuels to completion - with only water vapour and carbon dioxide as the final product - no sulfurous and nitrous gases, no unburned complex hydrocarbons, no methane, no smoke, no particulates, etc. Let's stop obsessing about our "carbon footprints" and obsess more on not releasing the really destructive polluting gases into the airspace.
Consumers - Demand that the marketplace not politicians decide - Let the energy systems ("clean burn", solar, wind, etc.) compete for our business. If we as a people want to get over to a new alternate energy environment then so be it, let's do it. It's good for business. The "new" industries (yes, including "clean burn") will provide employment and revenue and give us something unique to focus on when we spend our dollars. Start resisting the preaching and the guilt tripping and the out and out media bullshitting that is trying to force us to shamefully adopt a new regime of non hydrocarbon based clean energy. Meet the demands of the clean energy marketplace and we will move over to the appropriate products all by ourselves.
Solid Wastes - Plastics and Recycling - we have a massive problem with plastics as they are a major part of our total societal infrastructure. Recycling so far has been a dud - not because we as people didn't accept it - but because we found it was cheaper to ship it to China than it was to deal with the returns ourselves. They cherry picked it and let the excess wash into the oceans. So, deal with it ourselves as we should have in the first place. I would suggest:
1.) Recycle whenever possible where it makes economic sense and it is safe (food packages have to be virgin plastics, not potentially containing toxic compounds).
2.) Use legislation to limit plastic formulations to the cleanest, simplest blends that you can manage. Reduce complexity. Don't incorporate compounds that "never go away" or that resist clean burning or ecosystem degradation.
3.) Dramatically expand our "Clean Burn" facilities using waste plastics in place of dirty coal, oil and complex gases using burners that are extremely efficient and that produce power that goes to the grid and powers our new electric cars.
4.) Reduce the hydrocarbons taken from the ground as waste plastics are incorporated in the "burn stream". Eventually we may see a society that is in balance as it takes out oil from the ground, uses it to make packaging or plastic products and then sends those products when they become waste to the energy cycle through dedicated industries and technologies.
5) Recover carbon dioxide - don't kill the ideas presented because they don't eliminate the production or release of C02. If you are feeling really guilty about releasing C02 then incorporate scrubbers to catch it in the stacks. There is a worldwide shortage of dry ice and other C02 supplies at the moment anyway so work it back into the product stream before finally losing it to the atmosphere.
Infrastructures - in Richmond, British Columbia there is a dyke that surrounds the entire island. They built it decades ago, and then have maintained and built it up ever since. Richmond doesn't flood anymore. We need to protect our infrastructures built on floodplains by using engineering solutions, not just sand bags and it needs to be permanent solutions. We need to use zoning laws to keep new construction out of harm's way and build in resistance to fires that may surround them in the future (perhaps outside fire suppression systems much like our present internal fire extinquisher systems).
Careless People - using forests need to stop setting fires (900 fires last summer in BC alone) or face severe consequences for doing so. Protect our towns in the bush with our best practices and technology, discourage building off grid houses and cottages that are buried in the wild (or let them burn when the fires come to them). Just stop pretending that our fires are the result of Climate Change and that the tired old argument of decreasing C02 will solve the problem. People are the problem! The same with wind. Don't build straw houses in the path of windstorms and perhaps put them on stilts if occasionally the water reaches their basements. Think it through. Don't just accept the expedient answer the developer presents you with - remember, he will be gone with the storms come and go. You will be left with the mess. So start correctly.
to be continued.
Please note: these images and the discussions surrounding them are easily found on Google. I'm not even going to attempt to make a bibliography because this isn't a scientific paper, it's an opinion piece. If you doubt me go search them out. The exercise is quite revealing.