This is The ChangeUnderground for the 22nd of May 2023.
I’m your host, Jon Moore
Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has warned that a warming climatic event in the coming months, combined with human-induced climate change, will have far reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment.
The WMO said people need to be prepared and that rising temperatures are moving us further and further away from the climate we are used to.
The strength and frequency of La Niña and El Niño were once determined entirely by natural forces, but now the climate patterns are showing the fingerprints of humans.
A new study led by researchers at CSIRO set out to determine the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the major climate driver, known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
Up until now there had been limited understanding about the role climate change has already played on ENSO, with research primarily looking at future projections.
Lead researcher Wenju Cai said their research yielded significant results, with evidence that El Niño and La Niña events had become more frequent and intense due to increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.
So that’s all good then. The situation has reached, probably ten years ago in reality, but the time has come for something to actually be done. For too long Climate measures have been subjected to political game playing. We did, to all appearances, deal with CFCs and the whacking great hole in the ozone layer above the antarctic. I say to all appearances initially because it seems those wonderful folks between Mongolia and Vietnam have, in fact, been using chlorofluorocarbons as they are cheaper than the non ozone destructive chemicals used in foam manufacture but we had a win for a few years, yay humanity! Link in the show notes. And the first quote of the episode was from an RTE article entitled: One of next five years set to be warmest on record – WMO and the second quote is from the ABC entitled: El Niño and La Niña have become more extreme and frequent because of climate change, study finds.
Non-Action has Consequences
The point is, chickens are coming home to roost. We know what to do, we have more than sufficient technology to do it and yet we haven’t done as much as we know we need to. It’s a bit like staring at blank page knowing a 2000 word essay is due in the morning after you’ve done all the reading, annotated a bibliography, written out each paragraph heading, have the first and last paragraphs so you know where to start and where you’re going but that first keystroke is terrifying. What if I’ve missed something, what if I’m wrong?
So here we are. We have the wind farms ready to go, the solar PV panels are spreading like wildfire (bad choice of word but bare with me), the software to balance the grid, the hardware to build batteries, either chemical, lithium ion or water, pumped hydro, we have more than enough evidence to start building soil carbon and still we sit on our hands wondering: What if we get it wrong?
Well let’s look at that. Worst case, maybe, clean air, quiet cities, clean water, healthier food, a fall in deaths from air pollution and dispersed energy generation of the sort a warmongering autocrat would have difficulty bombing into next week. Better case scenario, we start sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and sequestering it soil, trees, aquatic vegetation.
If in doubt, ask a robot:
From Bard, the Google AI after the prompt:
Give me five policy actions for governments to reduce greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere:
- Set ambitious emissions reduction targets. Governments need to set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These targets should be based on the latest scientific evidence and should be consistent with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Invest in clean energy. Governments need to invest in clean energy technologies, such as solar and wind power. This will help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- Support energy efficiency measures. Governments can also support energy efficiency measures, such as weatherizing homes and businesses. This will help to reduce energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- Protect forests. Forests play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Governments can help to protect forests by reducing deforestation and planting new trees.
- Create a price on carbon. A price on carbon is a market-based mechanism that puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions. This can help to reduce emissions by making it more expensive to pollute.
And from the somewhat old and tired Chat GPT:
- Carbon Pricing.
- Renewable Energy Incentives.
- Energy Efficiency Standards.
- Sustainable Transportation Initiatives.
- Reforestation and Land Conservation.
Not a lot of difference there. The thing with the current AI models is this: they were fed on all the internet. Garbage in, garbage out? They seem to have hit upon fairly obvious policy actions. The wisdom of the crowd in a different formulation, perhaps.
We know what to do, we now know the consequences of not doing. El Nino/La Nina patterns, droughts, mega droughts, floods, Pakistan last year, many parts of the mainland here in the past three years of La Nina, forest fires in Siberia, melting permafrost, potatoes growing in Greenland, record droughts in Europe, parts of Northern Italy received six months worth of rainfall in 36 hours and as of me typing this, more rain is on the way, the North Island of New Zealand has been in and out of flood all year with more on its way this week. The evidence is before us.
Agitate, speak, be relentless. This matters.
I had a memory pop up on Facebook, as ya do, from four years ago. It’s a quote from Robert Swan:
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief someone else will save it.
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.
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One of next five years set to be warmest on record – WMO
El Niño and La Niña have become more extreme and frequent because of climate change, study finds
Study suggests China’s crackdown on illegal CFC gases is working