Dr. Judith Smith writes that climate change problems are being exacerbated as a result of increasing population and diminishing resources. David Shearman.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND LOSS OF BIOdiversity are the evil twins that threaten human existence. Unfortunately, their wicked problems are accompanied by two equally important drivers of calamity — population and economic growth. These Four Horsemen gallop together and should be considered in conjunction.
After decades of misinformation and then denials about the veracity climate change, governments are now accepting the facts. Climate scientists issue warningsTheir learning from rapidly increasing extreme weather events. But, their actions are still insufficient to ensure that civilisation will continue to exist in the future. We must indeed stop greenhouse gas emissions In the next two decades.
Positives include that science is reliable, we can measure success and failure using atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane and we have the option to spend hundreds of billions of money to remove these gases from the atmosphere if everything fails.
Many technological solutions to climate change mitigation are problematic, and some can actually cause environmental harm.
Biodiversity and its ecological benefits
Both biodiversity crises and climate change have an impact on each other. Climate change is a significant factor in biodiversity loss. However, even if climate change were contained today, the biodiversity crisis will still be a problem. It would still be possibleAlthough it happens more slowly, Its fundamental cause is the consumption of the natural environment for economic gain by a population too large for the world’s finite natural resources.
2019 ‘Alert for a climate emergency’, signed by over 11,000 scientists, identified continued increases in human population and the world’s gross domestic product as causes of ecological decline.
It is not clear what science can tell us about how the loss of biodiversity will affect civilisation. It is complex, diffuse and difficult to determine if there is success or failure. We don’t experience dramatic examples like flood, storm, fire, or heat domes.
All life on Earth depends on healthy ecosystems. These interdependent webs of millions living organisms and the environment they create are vital. They are our life support systems, providing clean air, fresh water, fertile ground for food and many other resources as well as medicines. We are part and parcel of this web of life, but now we have taken it all.
As acknowledged by Scientists from Australia and the U.S., the scale of the threats to all these forms of life – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp even by well-informed scientists. The lack of awareness by the public and industry about environmental protection and laws is a result.
Some outcomes will involve the failure to feed hunger, starvation, and conflict. The following are the outcomes. Dust BowlIn the 1930s, a prolonged drought caused the destruction of 1.2 billion tonnes of soil. Great PlainsAs depicted in, there were thousands upon thousands of refugees. John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel, Grapes of Wrath.
Stock grazing was replaced by wheat production, and soil stability was lost due to the low average rainfall. The deniers will claim such episodes have always happened and ignore the increase in similar disasters that are occurring all over the globe, just like climate change.
A few encouraging developments indicate that governments are becoming more aware of the problem.
Natural capital accounting is underway in 90 countries under the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) but both the U.S. and Australia have not yet made progress, as detailed in The Hill.
An international Taskforce on Nature-related financial disclosures (TNFD) launched last month will develop a framework for corporations and financial institutions to report on Nature-related transition and physical risk.
Philip CafaroColorado State University Professor of Philosophy, Jeremy. NotesMany studies have shown that limiting population growth is one of the most cost-effective and effective ways to limit climate change and help societies adapt. However, the current debate is not about population growth.
One of the main reasons lies with human rights concerns; this needs to be balanced by the right for humanity’s continued existence and indeed many other species some of which we depend upon.
Cafaro also notes that the IPCC’s 2014 reportIt is stated that:
‘Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.’
This was reiterated by one Working Group from the 2021 IPCC reports, but it was absent in the final 3,676-page report.
As detailed in The Hill, American couples are having fewer children than in the past but specific population policy is largely absent and population increases intermittently by immigration.
Australia, on the other hand, encourages population growth. When introducing the “Baby Bonus” scheme in 2002, Australian Treasurer Peter CostelloPromoted the scheme with EncouragementTo “have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”. Despite the rapidly changing environment and increasing effects of climate change, this philosophy is still held in our vast country.
However, Australia is advancing rational views based upon science, as evidenced by the discussion paper. ‘Climate Change and Population’.
The consumer economy
The fourth most frightening horseman is the obsession for economic growth, which fails to recognize that our planet and its biological resources have finite resources.
The UN climate summit leaders and representatives COP26Together with a large contingent of fossil fuel industry workers, they were set in their ideology to promote growth, progress, prosperity. They couldn’t imagine economic reform to curb consumerism, so it was not addressed by the IPCC report 2021.
Humanity urgently needs an integrated Intergovernmental Panel report — the IPCBPE report
Unfortunately, the Russian steppes have now received a fifth horseman from the apocalypse. But war must not distract from our urgent mission to stop Four’s advance.
Dr David Shearman AM is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Adelaide University and the co-founder of Doctors for the Environment Australia.
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