What do I think, What can I do?

Archive for the ‘climate ethics’ Category

400 ppm to greet a new life

From honeybeesandhelium blog

My second son was born two weeks ago, so I have and will have less time to blog. But precisely because of my sons I am more and more convinced that we have to raise the consciousness of every people in the world about the dangers of climate change and the ways to fight it, because it is possible, not easy, but possible to reduce our emissions and avoid a more extreme form of change.

The recent news about passing the 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has been another expected step in this process. It was a question of time and 400 is not much more than 397 but we are used to be moved by symbolic numbers and this is one of them, in fact, the accepted “secure ” co2 concentration has moved from 350 to 450 untill 550 ppm now. So 400 is significant. 

It is not the magic number that changes everything as explained here, if there is a tipping point in climate change (difficult to know) most experts locate it higher, however it is important because it shows clearly that the show is going on in the wrong direction and it is useful to make everyone more conscious of that due to the media covering. So, the question is:

Will this child enjoy a reasonable climate and future because we acted while he was young or will he witness a mess caused by our inaction?


CO2, our salvation? Do not save us too much

Ice Age

Ice Age in the North Hemisphere, image from http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ClimateChanging/

In a recent study CO2 appears our particular hero against the next ice-age. The study is really about the peatlands capacity to sink carbon and its influence in last glacial periods, but it have been used to weaken climate change concept.  In fact, coming ice-age is a repeated subject in skeptic blogosphere, for example here .

I am not able to judge the scientific value of the study, or have not check where it has been published, this is not the question of this post, it can be really prominent scientific work, while explained this way it is like being in a flood and thanking the river for the water that quenches one’s thirst.  The study recognizes the role of CO2 in planet climate, the peatlands are carbon sinks and in absence of human actions a new ice age would come in some moment, so, conceptually, it is not skeptic at all, but it lacks a simple sentence explaining that we are currently far from a new ice age.  Actually, if we burnt all these fossil fuel for that purpose we are done and we can stop for now. And here comes an interesting question for me (not really related to the paper):

If we had known beforehand that sending to the atmosphere all those gigatons of CO2 we would stop next ice age, would this giant transformation be OK ethically?

I am not sure, my first simple and emotional answer is a yes with many doubts.

Unfortunately we didn’t know all this 50-100 years ago so the only possible question now is: Should we stop sending tons of CO2 before going to an barbecue-age?

This answer is much easier: Yes and without delay.

This way we can even allow a future question: Should we save some fossil fuels for allowing future generations to allow controlled emission patterns to avoid future ice ages?

Certainly, I do not know what will say the grandsons of my grandsons of my grandsons. It is easier to imagine the opinions of our grandchildren: Stop and leave at least two-thirds of fossil fuels in the ground and we will think the best way to use them in the future.