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Up the spout, round the bend and down the tubes.

Written By: - Date published: 11:43 am, November 28th, 2017 - 34 comments
Categories: capitalism, Environment, global warming, Globalisation, International, Politics, science, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, useless - Tags: , , , , ,

Maybe you jump in the car to pop down to the dairy, or round to the supermarket, or whatever. It’s inconsequential and yes, you care about global warming.

So, let’s assume the total trip there and back amounts to 5 km of driving. No big deal, right?

‘Every’ car driver habitually uses the car for very short and’ inconsequential’ trips. But. There are over 1 billion private vehicles in the world. So every ‘trip down the dairy’ that’s just a couple of km, is one of over 1 billion such trips being taken repeatedly every day – contributing to well over one million tonnes of CO2 emissions… each and every time the kids are dropped at school; a loaf of bread is grabbed from the dairy; the dog is driven to it’s walk….

That rough and ready (some will say “unfair”) calculation* assumes every car has emission standards in line with EU regs (which of course they haven’t), and that every car is instantly driving at optimum speed with no ‘surge’ in emissions at the point of ignition etc. That’s cars.

But then there are those of us, like the politicians and negotiators flying to COP(out)23 Bonn recently, who use planes in a similarly cavalier fashion. A fairly incidental return flight from Auckland to Wellington, flying economy class, is getting up to around fifty ‘trips down the dairy’**in terms of emissions….and maybe one hundred and fifty ‘trips down the dairy’ if travelling business class.

There were over 5 000 000 (5 million) domestic passengers using Wellington airport last year – a “milestone” apparently. The full report, titled “Stellar” (I kid you not) can be found here.

So anyway. What with average land surface temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere during October clocking in at 1.1 degrees C above the 20th Century average – not the pre-industrial benchmark that’s used for 2 degrees– and with September having had the highest land surface temperatures on record for the Southern Hemisphere, those people at Bonn no doubt “got a shimmy on” and began enacting some good stuff. Right?

Yeah. Nothing came out of Bonn.

The talk shop fest of Paris still doesn’t have to translate into any action until 2020. And at Bonn it was agreed to have ten summits, reports, dialogues and meetings that politicians, policy makers, diplomats, bureaucrats, negotiators and their logistical support teams can fly around the world to attend before congregating for COP 24 in Poland next December for…. well, something or other – because the worlds oceans may never have been this warm, and higher atmospheric CO2 levels are causing malnourishment across species, so it’s imperative that “important people”  keep talking.

*1 billion (private cars) x 130 (grammes – EU emission standard) x 5 (km) x 3 (to approximate weight of CO2 resulting from given amount of expelled carbon)

** 90kg of CO2 per person for an economy seat return flight between Auckland and Wellington.

34 comments on “Up the spout, round the bend and down the tubes.”

  1. Pat 1

    Hoping against hope…..Kevin Anderson while returning from COP23…

    “Disturbingly, and with the exception of utopian technophiles, few of those deeply engaged in climate change are convinced we “can have our cake and eat it”. Sadly, senior policy, scientific, academic and NGO figures are seldom prepared to voice publically what they admit privately. This repressive influence of the status quo both demonstrates its stifling power and hints at its potential weakness.

    Imagine a space where climate academics and others could be truly honest about their analysis and judgements and where disagreements were discussed openly and constructively. Add to this, informed dialogue on the ‘confluence of circumstances’ outlined above. And finally reframe climate change not as a threat to some arbitrary economic indicator, but as a secure, local and high-quality jobs agenda. Under such conditions, and with vociferous engagement by the ‘next’ generation, I can envisage an alternative progressive paradigm being ushered in – and soon.

    Do I think this is likely – far from it? But I certainly judge such a decarbonised and prosperous future to be both plausible and desirable.”

    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/personal-reflections-on-the-23rd-cop-in-bonn-fiji-nov-2017/

    • Bill 1.1

      Thanks for that Pat. Worth the read.

      Though, y’know, AGW posts…I get the suspicion many people swear and punch their keyboards furiously to get away from them if they happen to have stumbled in because of some ‘careless’ clicking 😉

      • Pat 1.1.1

        Frustrating in the extreme and the tenacity of someone like Kevin Anderson can only be admired.
        I have great hopes (though fully expected to be dashed) that with james Shaw and the Greens holding the climate change portfolio we (NZ) may be able to demonstrate a working example of a sustainable transition to apply pressure to the rest of the developed world but my fear is the elites have determined (erroneously) they will try and wait out the disaster and claim what remains…everything else is window dressing.
        Meanwhile what can we do but keep plugging the message and hope a critical mass will be achieved that takes those decisions away from those vested interests….theres always hope (until there isnt)

      • cleangreen 1.1.2

        Good article thanks bill for keeping the climate debate up there.

        It is our “neuclear moment” today as the PM said correctly.

        It is what we do that is what will define us in history, so I livve 77 kms from the nearestr town now and go to town once a week for ‘provisions’ and dont drive for the other six days.

        I have spring water and a compacter sewerege system, and compact our own rubbish or re-use the items as long as possible repairing them many times.

        This was what our forefathers did so I am very comfortable knowing I am following in their footsteps too.

        Far to many today are just to lasy to see that a small effort and throught will go a long way.

        I even use my tryes on the car as long as i can before replecing them mostly with other ‘used tyres’ so if you drive slower your tyres last far longer, also and dont shed as many tyre dust particulates that would otherwise just end up in our waterways from ‘road runnoff’ and the wider environment.

        The global threat is very real today and we need to change now.

  2. Tony Veitch (not etc) 2

    I heard on the news a few days ago NZ baseball (I think) crowing about the possibility of entering a franchise in the North America baseball (or whatever) league.

    We just don’t get it, do we! Countless flights between here and North America – yes, I know there may not be ‘extra’ flights – but the thinking says this can all go on forever!

    That’s why, sooner or later, Guy McPherson will be proved right!

  3. Molly 3

    There was an article in the Herald about Air New Zealand “taking the lead” in offsetting its 3,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide annual emissions.

    Looking up to see what that meant in terms of emissions, I found the EPA equivalency converter. Not sure how accurate it is, given that it is the US EPA, but good to have the comparison data on hand.

    Air NZ’s 3,000,000 tons:
    337,571,734 gallons of gasoline
    3,282,275,711 pounds of coal burned
    323,939 homes energy use for one year

    Equivalent to carbon sequestered by:
    77,748,433 tree seedlings grown for ten years
    3,533,569 acres US forests for one year
    24,478 acres of U.S. forests preserved from conversion to cropland in one year

    “If it goes ahead, Air New Zealand will spearhead the scheme, and is likely to provide grants to private landowners to plant trees on their land in exchange for the carbon units generated. It could be up to 15,000ha of new native and exotic trees and the airline says it would be aimed at helping It is hoped to benefit regional economies.”

    If this is per year (unlikely) the 37,000 acres (15,000 ha) is at least a move to be carbon neutral by 2020, but the piecemeal nature of the scheme means that it will be hard to monitor, and the lack of oversight might have those trees being removed at any time.

    • Bill 3.1

      Off-setting is absolute bullshit that allows for the continued burning of fossil at the expense of having the full effect from what needs to be done with regards land use.

      We need zero carbon emissions from energy (that includes not having bio-fuel) and massive changes in land use to have a snowball’s chance in hell of avoiding the creation of a climate that’s inimical to human survival.

      • Molly 3.1.1

        I’m more likely to agree with you than not on off-setting Bill, so there’s not point in arguing the fact.

        I was just struck by how even with that stated intent within a three-year timeframe it doesn’t even come close to being carbon-neutral using that method.

        The issue of carbon use for flights is one that seems to be deliberately ignored by many NZers. Someone posted an interesting link recently about carbon use by NZ airports compared to overseas, showing how our geographical location adds so much more to the trips. It adds to the issue of relying on overseas tourists being beneficial economically for the country, while adding to the overload of the planet.
        If we can’t accept that fact and adapt when we live in a land of plenty, then how are we going to expect change from those who are much more empoverished and vulnerable.

        How much is enough, before we make changes?

  4. Ad 4

    Why don’t more people care about climate change?

    https://www.live-conscious.org/blog/live/why-dont-more-people-care-about-climate-change

    Common themes:

    – It’s not going to affect me
    – It involves sacrifices I’m not prepared to take
    – It’s too scary/overwhelming/depressing
    – I don’t understand it
    – I live in a city, so nature is not real

    • Bill 4.1

      Hubris, idiocy and desperately clinging to the familiar against inevitable collapse.

      It ends well.

      Oh. And I guess (when it’s done, and only for a short while) there’ll be the bullshit refrain of “I was a good person only doing those things we were told that good people do”.

      Lamp-posts are so mis-purposed 👿

      • marty mars 4.1.1

        Wow bill. Blaming people for not getting it and then stringing them up on lamposts – yeah that’ll work.

        People don’t get it for all sorts of reasons – simplistic blaming ones are a waste imo.

        • Bill 4.1.1.1

          What’s me chaining my bike got to do with stringing people up marty? 😉

          But yeah. Look. If someone “doesn’t get” algebra or whatever, it doesn’t really matter. But when people ‘carry on their merry way’ because they choose (driven by fear or whatever else ) to be willfully ignorant of shit that’s going to affect everyone – well, that’s a different matter altogether.

          • marty mars 4.1.1.1.1

            It’s the same actually.

            The inability to see is a human trait.

            Threats won’t work, sadly only megadeath imminent death may.

            • Bill 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Nah marty, it’s not the same.

              A pile of clowns lobbing water balloons to one another in the presence of your kids is not the same as a pile of clowns lobbing a loaded gun to one another in the presence of your kids.

              But hey, if the clowns in the second scenario “don’t get it” (the danger), then that’s okay in your book? They’re excused? You won’t act against them because their blind idiocy is “a human trait”?

              • It’s not a clown with a gun though is it – and even if it was, the inability to act when needed is common in that scenario.

                People dont get it, they probably won’t get it in our lifetime. That is the way it is. Sure, sound the alarm, ring the bell and call out loudly – and then accept and make today the best it can be.

      • Ad 4.1.2

        That struggle to sustain movements is pretty real.

        Anyone remember Occupy?
        Black Lives Matter?
        The current sex crime wave is running the same risk.

        Green parties the world over are not breaking through.

        The article I linked to had a few pointers, but climate change at best is a disaggragated and uneven set of movements.

  5. Ad 5

    A big test will be whether the batteries work at scale.

    This Friday, the South Australian Tesla electricity storage solution goes live. T hat’s 100 days since they signed the contract.

    The Tesla battery pack network is a 100-megawatt storage facility near a wind farm in Adelaide.

    This summer is the test, as it will need to compensate for the loss of the Engie SA 1600 megawatt Hazelwood coal-fired plant that was closed in March.

  6. greywarshark 6

    I felt a little hopeful when i read this:

    24 months to save our living planet
    Alice Jay – Avaaz
    Wed 22/11, 7:22 p.m.denkinraid@clear.net.nz
    Dear friends,

    We have 24 months to save our living planet. That’s not an exaggeration.

    90% of the Great Barrier Reef is dead or dying. Pristine oceans are becoming plastic graveyards. We’re driving extinction to 1000 times the natural rate. And it’s suicidal — by causing our delicate biodiversity to totally collapse, we’re making the planet uninhabitable for humans!

    But scientists have discovered something astounding — if we free 50% of our planet from human exploitation, our ecosystem will stabilise and regenerate. Life on earth will recover!

    No other global movement is championing this planet-saving proposal. If 50,000 of us chip in now we can make the proposal famous, face down the polluters and poachers, and get leaders to drive through a deal to save the planet at the Global Summit on Biodiversity in 2020.

    Chip in now — we did it with climate in Paris. We’ve got 24 months to do it again:

    I’LL DONATE $3
    I’LL DONATE $6
    I’LL DONATE $12
    I’LL DONATE $24
    I’LL DONATE $48
    OTHER AMOUNT

    50% may sound pie in the sky, but it’s not. Our governments already committed to protecting around a quarter of our land and seas. Many conservation experts agree that this is what the planet needs now. And the 2020 summit could adopt it as a global goal.

    But it won’t happen without us. Avaaz has the national depth, global breadth, and the ambition to drive forward a huge idea like this, and if enough of us chip in now we know exactly what to do:

    Make Biodiversity Famous: get the story of this crisis all over media, embolden scientists, business leaders and celebrities to speak out, and spread the word until the whole world knows about the crisis and the solution.
    Build the global 50% movement: weave together our campaigns and partners working on climate, forests, oceans, the extinction of majestic creatures, plastics, pesticides etc into a mass global movement demanding 50% protection.
    Inspire political leadership: We did it before on climate — with Avaaz’s global people power we can make this a Head of State issue, and back the champions to build a North/South high ambition coalition to not give up until we’ve got a deal.
    Confront the polluters: our movement has already taken on Monsanto, the poaching industry, and the plastic polluting countries and won. Now we’ll go head to head with them so they can’t spoil the plan.
    Define the Deal: get to work now with scientists and political experts to develop top notch strategies so there are smart, viable policy options on the table.

    To win we have to get started now. When we first launched our 100% clean energy campaign in 2013, many said it was unrealistic. But in 24 months, every government in the world agreed with us.

    Protecting 50% of the planet will unleash the magic of nature and stop us hurtling towards tipping points that’ll collapse the delicate balance of life on earth. But we’re running out of time and right now, almost no one knows about the crisis, the crucial summit coming up, or this inspiring proposal.

    Our movement doesn’t have enormous amounts of money, but time and again we’re able to turn the common sense of scientists into a public movement that makes political leaders listen. Let’s drive this inspiring 50% idea into the mainstream, to save our living planet.

    With hope and determination,

    Alice, Allison, Marigona, Ricken, Iain, and the rest of the Avaaz team

    More information:

    Could we set aside half the Earth for nature? (The Guardian)
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2016/jun/15/could-we-set-aside-half-the-earth-for-nature

    Sixth Wildlife Mass Extinction May Happen in 2020, Experts Say (Nature World News)
    http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/30805/20161027/year-2020-era-wildlife-mass-extinction.htm

    How many species are we losing? (WWF)
    http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/biodiversity/biodiversity/

    Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

  7. Ad 7

    Looks like Welilngton will be infected with some intense electric autonomous vehicles boosterism for a few weeks:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/99074823/Petrol-cars-could-vanish-as-quickly-as-the-horse-and-carriage

    I always love it when tech futurist evangelists come into town and front to Ministers with stuff like:

    When consultant McKinsey advised telecommunications giant AT&T in 1980 that there would be fewer than a million cellphones in the US by 2000, whereas the actual number was 109 million, he said.

    “In 13 years, New York City went from all horses to all cars.” Implying exponential change in transport is really possible.

    On Yer Bike.

  8. Tony Veitch (not etc) 8

    The trouble with climate change is that it comes in the guise of small events that affect someone else, somewhere else.

    Like 40 mm rain in 3 hours in Roxbrugh. No big deal, unless you live there. But these event are going to become/are becoming more frequent and destructive.

    But that’s why people tend not to take it seriously – and won’t, until it’s too late!

  9. Andrea 10

    Stop ’emissions trading’.

    It can’t work.

    It happens too far from the shopping public. It removes personal responsibility. It allows the unacceptable to continue – eg platic beadlets, packaging and baggies, parking lots with acres of heat-reflecting tar seal, dark roofs. It leaves small buyers helpless to influence the makers and promoters who are PROFITING from this inevitable mayhem. The system is weighted against the introduction of beneficial change and politicians are seldom of the kind who rock the comfy status quo.

    And nearly worst of all – the rubbish myths about economic consumption and have-to-have breeding to ‘pay for our pensions and provide carer services’.

    We invented those mindsets. We’ve curbed smoking and encouraged seat belt use. Surely we can provide people with actions they can take and affordable options to harmful things? Surely our politicians can be moved off pap and onto solids – work for the all and the future. (Even when the populations cease to grow.)

    It definitely is possible – and practical. Keep thinking and engaging.

  10. timeforacupoftea 11

    This would seem a sensible idea.
    We should start today and make a stand and make it illegal to drive a fossil burning vehicle if you are born after 1998.
    That would automatically increase electric vehicles on our roads as employers employing these workers would also be necessary for them to own or lease electric cars for business sales etc.

    • greywarshark 11.1

      Sounds like an autocratic RW solution. Solve all our problems by banning, controls.

    • solkta 11.2

      Sounds like it would just increase youth unemployment, as well as breaching the Bill of Rights Act.

  11. Whispering Kate 12

    The advent of flight has made the planet a whole lot smaller. The price we pay for this is our families spread far and wide around the universe so that families are fragmented and to stay in touch we have to skype and email. When we, as family want to see our loved ones physically we have to resort to flying. Sea travel is now a luxury. All the shipping lines offer today are cruise ships, not shipping for transporting passengers from A to B. There are very few merchant shipping lines which will offer you a berth on their working vessels and take you to your destination and you will pay dearly for this luxury of not being jammed into steerage with all the other sardines in the tin.

    Many people would love to travel by sea and be kinder to the planet but it isn’t possible. Responsible families try to limit their air travel but its the price they pay for seeing family very seldom. Life is too short to have your loved ones being away 20 years and only seeing them so infrequently. Progress and technology brings its pleasures and pains it would seem.

  12. One Two 13

    If all the contributing variables were ‘on the table’..

    I imagine the commentary might be significantly different..

  13. One Anonymous Bloke 14

    I’ve long been of the pessimistic opinion that the weather is going to render the problem moot and we’ll pick up the pieces.

    I’m starting to wonder if it’s more hope than pessimism.

    “Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.”

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