Climate change

Climate change is an hot topic. It is so real that we even convinced Trump, so is time to find real solutions. Are the effort that we are doing helping the environment? Are they even going to the right direction? In this small article i will try to report few numbers about the climate change that you will probably not like it.

So, Earth has limited resources. In this context, resources are not only consumables such as minerals, water etc, but also the “quotas” of bad things that people can do without causing permanent consequences to environment. So for example, if the earth would have only 1% of the current population, then everyone would be free to do or consume whatever they like, never reaching the maximum quota. Even if some of them burned plastic every day, it would not really matter, because earth will be able to sustain and recover from it. However, nowadays, because we are too many and consume too much, we constantly exceeding our maximum quotas.

The population grow rate is becoming unsustainable. In the year 0 we were 200 Millions, and in the 1800s we reached 1 Billion.. From there we reached 2 billions in 1928 and 7.8 billion in 2019 (just google the graph)!  Basically we quadrupled the people leaving on this planet in less than 1 lifetime! So independently of what we do, the current grow rate is not sustainable. Even if each of us cuts his/her resource usage by half (eg  eat half of the food, drink half of water, travel half of the time,  etc), there will be only space to accommodate another 8 billion people before we would be in the exact same current situation. At current grow rate this will take less than 100 years to reach it.

Anyway the main problem today, is not (yet) with general resources shortage, but with greenhouse effect. The quota that we are exceeding is the CO2 emissions… So for now, the task is to cut that number.  But how to compare CO2 pollution coming from different things? Luckily we come up with a number called “Carbon footprint” that not only consider the emission in a given moment (e.g. when a car is on), but also all the CO2 emitted for producing that car, from the material extraction, to gasoline production, etc. In addition it will estimate also how much carbon dioxide will also be used for maintain and dispose the car over all its lifetime. So because of that, we can easily compare lifestyles, for example eating Brazilian strawberries  in Australia, has a pretty high carbon footprint, while eating apple from a wild tree, is more environmental friendly.  So, now we have a number that helps us to make comparison.. So what are our actions that have high impact in CO2 emission? Here there is the part that is not so nice. A recent study from “Lund University” tried to find the most polluting actions of people, and reported that having a child is really bad for the environment . Each western child has an equivalent emission of 58.2 CO2 tons per year (the reason is that the child will became adult and consume resources)! At the second place there is owning a car that “cost” 2.8 CO2 tons per year, third is 1 transatlantic flight per year (average 1.6 tons/year). While becoming vegan only save us 0.8 tons/year and recycling even less with 0.21 tons of CO2/year. Below there is a similar graph got from another article.

 

So this means that if you are vegan, recycle everything, never take a plane or car, and you have a couple of child, you are responsible for wayyy more CO2 emission than your child-free, carnivorous neighbor, that travels London-NY every month and use a car for moving around (and he still does not recycle! ). If you do not like these numbers, well you can complain directly with the authors of the studies for example Seth Wynes (but read his paper fist!).

So what about electric cars, renewable energies, wind power, etc?  Again, some of them are just scam. An example is given by the electric scooters that are present in every major city. They looks so cool and energy friendly! What could be wrong with it? Well it turns out, that those little things can have CO2 footprint per mile comparable with cars!!!. The reason is that the life expectancy of the scooter is quite short, and they use a lot of polluting materials, such as aluminum and lithium. Also they do not magically recharge, but someone has to drive a truck around and pick them up, recharge them and then place them back!  What about electric cars? Again, it depends! Producing electric car is in general more polluting than producing normal car.  However, after some km, the saving of “not burning gasoline” will compensate the initial extra pollution cost. This is true in countries such as Norway, Sweden, French, etc where electricity is produced with clean energies (eg hydro-power). However, In countries like India or China, electric energy is mainly produced using coal or other hydrocarbons, so  your electric car pollute more than using a high efficient gasoline car!.

Ok but at least we are reducing CO2 by using wind power and solar energy?  Sorry for breaking all your dream, but not really. As you can see from this graph,  we are not really reducing the % of fossil fuel energy generation (a part from 1-2 percents around the peak). The reason is that the increase of wind and solar produced energy, are mostly replacing nuclear power plants which (believe or not) is also a clean energy (does not produce CO2)… and for every nuclear power plant shut down, you need to put a shitload of wind mils and solar panels around… So  the new clean energies are used to replace another clean energy… So not very effective..

So what is the solution to all of this? Just protesting and waiting that the government will fix all our problems, while drinking wine in our air conditioned cooled house will not work. People should use the time to go and pick up plastic from beaches, rather than twitting (with the latest iphone) and blaming others. Or maybe the solution to be taken should go to completely another direction. For example the provided numbers suggest that  a more effective approach to fight global warming would be disincentive large families (having child is a choice too) and building more nuclear power plants…But that is really crazy and politically incorrect…

So the scope of this article was just to try to bring up some miss-conception about the topic. And as always, look at the numbers, not the social media.

 

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