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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #14

Posted on 6 April 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 31 through Sat, Apr 6, 2019

Editor's Pick

We’re gobbling up the Earth’s resources at an unsustainable rate

Petroleum Field at Moreni, Romani 1920

Petroleum Field at Moreni, Romania, 1920   Photo by Wikimedia Commons 

George Monbiot, a correspondent for Britain’s The Guardian newspaper and known for his environmental and political activism, has made a surprising call for people in the United Kingdom to cut the use of cars by 90 per cent over the next decade.

Many will balk at this idea but it is perhaps sounding somewhat less bizarre after the release by the United Nations of a new report which paints a scary picture of the rate at which we are gobbling up the Earth’s resources.

The global automobile industry requires huge amounts of mined metals as well as other natural resources such as rubber, and the switch to electric vehicles, while a necessary move to curb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, is not without some adverse environmental consequences: large-scale lithium mining for the batteries required to run electric vehicles could cause fresh environmental headaches.

UN Environment’s Global Resources Outlook 2019, prepared by the International Resource Panel, examines the trends in natural resources and their corresponding consumption patterns since the 1970s. Its main findings:

  • The extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress
  • Resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970, including a fivefold increase in the use of non-metallic minerals and a 45 per cent increase in fossil fuel use
  • By 2060, global material use could double to 190 billion tonnes (from 92 billion), while greenhouse gas emissions could increase by 43 per cent

We’re gobbling up the Earth’s resources at an unsustainable rateNews, UN Environment, Apr 3, 2019

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Mar 31, 2019

Mon Apr 1, 2019

Tue Apr 2, 2019

Wed Apr 3, 2019

Thu Apr 4, 2019

Fri Apr 5, 2019

Sat Apr 6, 2019

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. We are indeed "gobbling up the earth's resources at an unsustainable rate" and its pretty darned serious, but I feel solutions need to also be realistic as well. Expecting people to reduce use of their use of cars by "90% this decade" and other drastic changes in consumption are not realistic to me. 25% might be a more realistic goal. Public transport is desirable, but cities are spread out and its hard making it work for everyone.

    While land based lithium reserves are limited, there are billions of tons dissolved in sea water (along with most other metals) and numerous other battery technologies under development not reliant on lithium here.

    More realistic solutions to looming resource scarcity problems would include this generation of people aiming for zero rates of population and economic growth, recyling, and wasting less, although poor countries have to be allowed economic growth.

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  2. Like another character named Don, US President Donald Trump is tilting at windmills.  The president disparaged wind farms this week while spinning his arm like a turbine and making an unpleasant whirring sound. TRUMP: "If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations. Your house just went down 75 per cent of value."And they say the noise causes cancer." - remarks at Republican fundraising dinner Tuesday.

    The facts. The sound from wind farms has not been proved to cause cancer. Trump has had it out for wind power since turbines were proposed off the coast of Scotland within sight of his golf resort near Aberdeen.

    (America by electing this guy you make yourselves look incredibly stupid, just in case you don't know by now)

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  3. nigelj,

    The fact that decades of 'deliberate lack of correction, particularly by the wealthy and powerful' have over-developed human activity to the current degree is a very poor excuse to 'reduce the rate of correction'.

    The continued 'diminished amount of correction, because of concerns regarding lost perceptions of prosperity and superiority' only develops a bigger future problem. And knowingly participating in creating more harm is almost criminal (should be limited by criminal penalty).

    This cycle of making problems so big that catastrophe is the result has to be broken. And every current generation is 'the only ones' who can 'break the cycle of harm'. And every current generation, particularly the wealthier and more powerful, that does not act aggressively to break the cycle of moral corruption is complicit in the increased future harm done.

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  4. As Attenborough says in his latest program, since we first went into space 50 years ago, the population of the world has more than doubled.  We are in the last phase of an exponential growt curve.  Exponential curves are not bell curves with a smooth rise and then smooth decline.  In the real world they rise and then go vertical......straight down.  It may already be too late with our friend Trump giving the final nudge over the edge of the cliff.  Even with Bernie we my not have been able to save ourselves from our sorry selves.  At least we would have had a chance.

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