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By Luis E. Sabini Fernández
The projects and attempts to stop the increase of CO2 particles in the air are extremely varied, extremely expensive and extremely insecure. Reduce freight and therefore, Buenos Aires dogs and cats can no longer eat food products from the United States, that we have to eat missionary and non-Ecuadorian bananas, limit in a word the globalization (which is actually advancing) of the market and bet more on local or regional markets.
The lucubrations about global warming or "climate change", as it is more euphemistically referred to, are intensifying. There is talk of investing hundreds of billions of dollars in "containing" the process, mitigating it, betting on renewable energy (another euphemism to refer this time to fuels made with vegetables from crops traditionally applied to the nutrition of living beings, with food in sum); the hydroelectric plant, with the consequent environmental and social disorders, which causes the eradication of the affected population; nuclear, which in turn raises the growing danger that it implies from the environmental and human cost of the extraction of radioactive material to the final location of the waste without danger for present humanity and our descendants, an issue that has not yet been able to to be solved in the whole world, and that may be unsolvable.
Another way to face the problem of global warming that is being proclaimed more and more from the rooftops is that of the formation of hypothetical carbon sinks, for which some enthusiasts propose plantations of forest monocultures, although no one has yet been able to ensure that such deposits they will remain there safely and no one has even found an efficient method of knowing the true magnitude of such deposits. Is there no logging, no fires, no old age?
Curiously, these aspirants to modify the climate through carbon sequestration come from the large transnational consortiums (which are precisely those that have contributed the main way to the shooting of CO2 in our atmosphere, and to a few other gases, product of the industrialization unleashed without ecological considerations) that systematically speak of 'reforestation', a misleading concept because it includes plantations of forest monocultures and even jatropha or soybeans themselves.
The technicians of the system that governs us are looking for even more elaborate ways to see how to lower the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. Sheltered in technological optimism, they are called biogeoengineering. Researchers are receiving huge sums to investigate the removal of CO2 from the air by “fertilizing” the seas with iron, which is supposed to stimulate the growth of oceanic algae which in turn will “sequester” carbon dioxide; There are those who have planned to "inject" sulfates into the stratosphere to darken the air, although this project was wrecked in the port, because before being able to estimate its impact on reducing the presence of CO2 particles, it was possible to verify that such sulfates would damage ozone, already greatly weakened, and would facilitate the spread of ultraviolet radioactivity, which researchers fear has already increased considerably due to anthropogenic factors. (1)
There are projects to capture CO2 directly from the air, using sodium or potassium, which are considered good absorbers of carbon dioxide.
Almuth Ernsting and Deepak Rughani in their work Climate Geo-engineering with ‘Carbon Negative’ Bioenergy. Climate savior or climate endgame? (Climate geoengineering with 'negative carbon' bioenergy: climate salvation or final play?), (2) Analyzing the options offered by biogeoengineering they consider that this carbon sequestration from the air is the least delusional of all the projects to reduce the amount of CO2. The company Global Research Technologies (GRT) and researchers from Columbia University built a prototype to sequester about 90,000 tons. annual CO2 emissions, estimating that with 250,000 such installations all the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by the global combustion network could be absorbed. Of course, Ernsting and Rughani warn us that the amount of energy for such a sequestration is enormous and that both its energy and financial costs are staggering.
As can be seen with this very quick glance, the projects and attempts to stop the increase of CO2 particles in the air are extremely varied, extremely expensive and extremely insecure. In many cases, we could even come up with an amendment worse than the sonnet.
All the “solutions” imaginable, as you can see, except one that is quite clear and straightforward: emit less CO2. Travel less by car, more by bicycle; bet more on public transport and among them, those that produce less CO2 (boats, trains, buses, planes, in that order). Reduce freight and therefore, Buenos Aires dogs and cats can no longer eat food products from the United States, that we have to eat missionary and non-Ecuadorian bananas, limit in a word the globalization (which is actually advancing) of the market and bet more on local or regional markets. Of course, “sad boys” are not going to be able to consume lecchi from Japan or bamboo from the Yang-Tse-kiang basin. We will also have to learn to settle for figs or Rioja apricots and miss out on the Turks (who are undoubtedly very rich…).
But that is not talked about. It is sin. Or poop.
On the other hand, we know that the globalized system, the WTO, the G8, the transnational consortia and the government that best represents them, the US government, would not allow it. For this reason, the option simply does not appear. From the media, we go through that repertoire of "solutions", never to recognize the nakedness of the problem ...
In the search for "solutions" the preservation of what exists is being simply and simply sought.
What exists is an integrated humanity like never before, interrelated in such a way that each of us perceives the rest of humanity today much more clearly than at any other time in our history.
When one registers such an interconnected network, and we are not only talking about electronic networks, but also about the speed achieved in communications and transport, in the "facts of consciousness", a spontaneous movement of our imagination is to suppose that Along with such technological advances there must have been parallel advances in the quality of life of humans in general.
But there we find a different problem. Humanity is still very divided between the center and the periphery, between the rich and the impoverished. And among the impoverished, who are the considerable majority of humanity, there are those who are worse off than before from so much technological deployment.
That is already a worrying fact. But another, equally problematic, is that even those who could be considered to have made some progress, some improvement in their lives along with the development of the 20th century human economy, have separated themselves from the rich much more than before.
Seen more globally, the gap between rich and impoverished has been brutally accentuated, it has become a very deep cut that is permanently deepening. Between included and excluded. Between privileged and discriminated.
From Request to Waiver
In a word, that the "losers" that some winners like to talk about so much, are getting worse and worse.
But since it is a question of preserving this golden goose, which is called a globalized, corporate world economic system, expeller of labor and pollution by the handful, all the solutions that we gloss are dedicated to knotting and fixing asymmetric relationships, a little beyond the half millennium already passed.
The climate change conferences, the old CCC of the UN, now anglicized even in its acronym COP (Conference of Parties), showed their truest face in Copenhagen: much more than facing anthropogenic climate disorders, it is interesting to commercialize “what is given” . And there, then, what was most talked about was how to sell and buy “carbon credits”, an entelechy of doubtful existence but undoubtedly attractive.
Much more than having to address the devaluation of pollution and face its control, dewatering, and think and contribute to forging a world without pollution.
The "solution" of carbon sinks has tempting features for the privileged of the planet: they think of "southern lands" to establish them. It will not be because there is no land in the north. It is probably because they cannot tame their solidarity efforts ...
Let's look at three examples.
1) Already at the beginning of the '90s a research and prospective work announced it: "At least 500 million tropical hectares are obtainable to mitigate global warming." (3) This really is having the world as you please.
2) “Climate change” seems to have become the best alibi for a neocolonization, more comprehensive, if possible, than the one that has already been configured. And if the first was to "Christianize" and "bring progress", this is presented to save us from the fire ... climate. For this reason, the forefront of the business world declares: “Along with the sale of land and forests, we can offer them options to lease or act as intermediaries in joint-ventures for reforestation. Leasing has the additional advantage of being an excellent option for cash flow for the company, while reforestation serves to generate the necessary credits now and later the benefit of the timber harvest. (4) "[ …] Hoping to do business in the near future for our mutual benefit, we salute you atte. Demetre Calimeris. Director OMNI Consultoria Imobiliaria Ltda., Brasilia D. F. "(5)
3) An analyst from the Di Tella Institute says it with undisguised sincerity, that one does not know whether to attribute it to an inveterate and unconscious colonialist mentality or to an irrepressible ethical impudence (6) “It is important to grant carbon credits not only to the expansion of the forest [sic, it refers to forest monocultures, which are NOT forest, precisely] which is until now a marginal process but also to provide explicit financial support to the maintenance of the great forest resources of Latin America, Africa and Asia. The large tropical forests are all today located in low-income, developing countries. If it is intended that they renounce new productive developments that generate income and jobs, it is necessary to implement global financing mechanisms that compensate them for this resignation. "
500 years ago it was submitted to the periphery that had been “lucky” to come into contact with “progress” through the “Requirement.” (7) Now, after a relationship of centuries, it is proposed to maintain the duality of humanity through the "Waiver".
What better solution for the minority that has all the technocultural means than to preserve what is theirs while "the south" renounces "new productive developments" and remains in the state of cultural and economic dependence in which it has been for 500 years?
We have gleaned three examples of the incursion that the planetary center has organized and is carrying out on the lands "of the south". The last, that of Guadagni, we have collected from Clarín Rural, (8) which will not have the virtue of serenity or greater concerns for those victimized by the system, but sincerely lays bare the messages of its privileged ones.
Atomization or for himself who can: the particular dominates the public
The CCC or COP until the latter reflected the existing power relations. The national delegations with greater influence, such as that of the United States, which tends to walk with its entourage of confident followers, (9) could have a greater impact. Groupings of countries could also have the capacity to forge some resolution; both the EU and Third World groupings have occasionally been relevant.
But the Copenhagen meeting was a sincericide. Each national delegation has come out to defend their own, imitating a homo hominis lupus, each government the wolf for another government, and thus even some groups such as the Group of 77, which in the 1990s, together with China, tried to confront the asymmetries enjoyed by the First World, has lost relevance.
China came out to defend its "national development" regardless of any outside consideration. The US didn't even deliberate in meetings, it just came up with a document that it offered to sign in the style of imperial ukase: love it or leave it. Some delegations, especially African, aware of the infertility of the entire meeting, withdrew.
What came out of Copenhagen was a non-binding declaration, a text that does not interfere with CO2 emissions, the real reason for the consultation, so it does not say a word about the progressive pollution of the planet. It just formulates: "that the rise in global average temperature with respect to pre-industrial levels should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius, an absolutely insufficient" brake "or rather selfishly and myopically disposed from a view from the temperate north.
It is already known that the societies settled in torrid areas of the planet, continental or insular, lack the margin that this resolution seems to consider. There are already statements from those living in Bangladesh or Tuvalu that only a steady degree of ascent translates into floods and other disturbances totally out of control.
It is difficult to agree on the actual magnitudes in progress, but in general climatologists agree that an average rise of one degree in temperature has not (yet) been reached since the so-called pre-industrial times (say, from 1750 to the present day) . With this "minimal" warming, already inevitable and irreversible for many, we are witnessing a clear melting at the poles, a permanent shrinking of the arctic icy surfaces. The fear that the north pole will simply disappear in a matter of a few years is on the dreaded horizon of many analyzes that wonder how we are going to be affected when the rhythm of the strong cold that determines the planetary climate today breaks. It seems clear to me that such a cataclysm will not go unnoticed by the forms of life that accompany us. Nor is it going to go unnoticed.
One of the most shocking articles, published in Nature, (10) in 2004, estimated the disappearance of species from the planet in the next few decades on the basis of a warming of 2 degrees. A million species seems like a terrifying enough figure. In their survey, the signatory ecologists referred to the disappearance of half of the tree species of the Brazilian Cerrado, for example, 60% of the plant species known today in the Kruger National Park of Africa, a quarter of all the European bird species and so on. By the way, the processes that end the niches for various species are open processes, no one knows or can know their outcome and therefore any estimate, such as the one published in Nature falls short of its weight. In other words, it can be a lot worse than “predicted” by Thomas and associates.
A fact in which all researchers agree is that the search for new niches for individuals of any species is a task that radically surpasses them: that is, a movement to a new habitat demands a time that does not match the rhythm of global warming. Species constantly seek their survival, but the limitations for this are generally insurmountable. The presence of urbanizations or gigantic monocultures block the migrations of many individuals of any species, plant or animal, to re-establish themselves. For example, it has been verified that some cold climate trees move, that is, they are bearing fruit on higher soils since the seeds that fall to lower soils stop doing so. In this way, the forest of this species "goes up a slope".
This displacement has many limitations, spatial, of competition, but, above all, it is slower than the rate at which individuals of this species die due to global warming.
The estimates of Thomas and associates have led a well-known biologist, Edward Wilson, to speak of a “lonely time”, with humanity less and less accompanied by the myriad animals and plants that accompany us and allow our life, although the urbanization dulls our appreciation of that basic dependency that we have… and enjoy. (eleven)
Returning to the heartbreaking but significant result, or lack of, of the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009, the commodification unleashed as "the solution" is seen in many orders. For example, the insistence on consigning sums of money as remediation, money to be delivered mainly in the form of technology by the rich countries to the impoverished to attend, adapt or accommodate global warming.
This instance of the UN has been one of those that has most clearly assumed the design of the rest of the world in terms of the nucleus of enriched societies. This new configuration of the planetary periphery at the service of the privileged center of consumption of the planet is shielded under names of “prestige” such as “technology transfers”. Prestige patiently crafted from the ideological powerhouses of the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, the Washington Consensus, the Davos meeting, the main media network and the colonized thought that prevails among leaders of peripheral countries.
It is tacitly recognized that the periphery is there, on the planet, to meet First World needs. As Alieto Guadagni "teaches" us.
Small voices, but solidarity and discordant against the single thought
From this point of view it is still significant that practically the two speeches that in Copenhagen most sought to raise the substantive issues instead of facing a mere commodification and valuation in money of procedures and procedures to keep everything as it is, which prevailed in the Most of the representations of the enriched countries came from two governments of the planetary periphery, from "ours"; that of Evo Morales, president of Bolivia and that of Hugo Chávez, his counterpart in Venezuela. (12)
For example, the claim for “the rights of Mother Earth” was heard in Copenhagen, highlighted by the Bolivian ambassador to the UN (Pablo Solón Romero). The Bolivian delegation was one of the few that warned that an agreement accepting warming of 2 degrees was criminal for much of the planet; "If we say that our goal should be two degrees and (up to) 450 parts per million (of carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere), that for Africa means […] that a catastrophe is coming."
According to Robert Corell, who heads the Global Change Program in Washington, humanity has enjoyed even greater climate stability than we mentioned earlier, since the beginning of industrialization. Corell considers that in the last ten thousand years one cannot even speak of an average degree of difference over the entire period. Let us remember that ten thousand years is more or less the period since humans have settled down and started cultivating and raising domestic animals. They are “the moment” of our most present humanity, at least until the plummet of the techno civilization of the last century.
The Capital Striptease: Following King Midas
What finally led to this spawn of summit meetings organized by the UN as market places and commercial bidding is expressed pristinely in the slogan used by some business networks: "Turn risks into opportunities." (13) Translated into crude Spanish: converting environmental risks caused by our ambition (or anguish) into opportunities to satisfy (a little more, again) our ambition (or anguish).
Connie Hedegaard, Minister for Climate and Energy for the host country Denmark, says it without mincing words: “We, the world's professional politicians, have a responsibility, to reach a credible and comprehensive climate agreement now in December 2009. But it is the business society that can release the tools to make our vision come true. Businesses can provide the smart solutions that enable us to live in a modern and sustainable world. " (14)
This organization of "world leaders" aims to "demonstrate how policy coupled with innovative business can drive a transformation of the economy, stimulate job creation [sic] and" low-carbon "solutions.
The CCC seems to be very attentive to the amount of carbon dioxide, or is it trying to alarm us to better do business ?: “Scientists around the world are alarmed by the rate at which the global ecosystem is changing. Accelerating at an ever-increasing rate, climate change is the greatest risk facing the world economy today and our planetary future. At the same time, a very deep depression looms with which we are faced with two impending difficulties. The risks we face can be turned into opportunities if the business world and governments work together to develop the necessary policies and corresponding partnerships. ” (fifteen)
And when many of us learned to discover the nonsense of perpetual or indefinite development, which collides with the increasingly unavoidable awareness of the limits of the planet we live on, these optimists ask us: “Green development is the only development we can afford. " (16)
The key to this commercialization of pollution is presented to us by Efraín Peña and Lincoln Bent, in “El mercado de carbon”, in the Colombian magazine Perspectiva (17).
The authors define this market called in English, of course: “The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is the only scenario in the American continent where [sic] emissions can be traded today. One of its main purposes is to facilitate the commercialization of CERs through its platform, with the addition of voluntarily contributing to the reduction of gases that generate the greenhouse effect.
The dynamics of the CCX is that of a traditional stock exchange, in which suppliers and demanders, private and public, coincide in a scenario to exchange a good or service, only in this case what is traded [sic, sic, perhaps the authors have creatively linked the transaction and the braid, a prominent figure in the business world] are reduced emissions certificates. In this sense, a company that has a commitment to reduce its emissions to 10,000 tCO2e per year, but at the time of evaluation, emits 12,000 tCO2e per year, must go to a Climate Exchange to buy certificates equivalent to 2,000 tCO2e per year to compensate your surplus. "
We do not know how much global warming affects our lives, and how much it will affect, but we do know what and how much business will be done in its name. And how simple they are, like 10 + 2 = 12.
Pearls of the Atrocious
In that universe in dissolution that resulted in the UN COP 15, in which there was not even an attempt to face collective or group solutions, it is more than absurd of a striking cruelty that it has been arranged that: “the poorest nations and the island states developing countries will be able to take voluntary actions to mitigate their emissions. " (18)
As if the problem of global warming that is taking place in Tuvalu, Bangladesh or the Pacific atolls came from the warming that such societies would have caused and were not the result of the “hot” economies, the OECD in general and the EE. .UU. In particular.
They are given "the right" to regulate their own emissions, which are among the lowest on the planet. If it weren't ethically disgusting, you'd have to laugh.
Another striking feature that reiterates the "meeting" in Copenhagen is the handling of funds, of amounts to "send" to the poor, to solve the problem. Ten billion, one hundred billion dollars… This is nothing more than a way to tie a greater dependence of the peripheral countries with respect to the metropolitans.
Seeing the naked king is no easy task
The only thing that can really help lessen the adverse effects of global warming, the melting of glaciers and the poles is ... less pollution. Physically. Which means, we return to the same, changes in lifestyle, stop waste, live without mortgaging what should become of our grandchildren.
But as the Russian researcher Boris Kagarlitsky (19) summarized it well: “A different strategy is needed, as well as measures aimed at achieving concrete results and not generating profits. […] The states that are responsible for the failure of world economic policy have no intention of admitting their mistakes […]. Instead of ensuring concrete measures to be taken to limit harmful emissions, the agreement creates a trading mechanism for emission quotas that has had the same effect on the ecology as the sale of shares in the economy. "
The average temperature since the middle of the 18th century at least and perhaps for ten thousand years has not risen more than one degree centigrade. But the climatic and meteorological disaster seems to be accentuated ominously. All the statistical data endorse growing imbalances.
Business organizations of the global economy shout from the rooftops all their "solutions", facing a temperature increase of two degrees, already considered inevitable, saying: -we are reaching two degrees, but we have the resources to save ourselves. As if covering the fact, more and more undeniable, that the enormous world economic machinery affects and out of control the planetary balances.
And promising, in a climate that seems to be punishing more and more, in torrid areas, in lands with few defensive resources, "salvation." By mountains of dollars, refractory mirrors or swallowing algae. But never confessing the role of the system of segregation and privilege.
Luis E. Sabini Fernandez - Professor of the ecology area of the Free Human Rights Chair of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UBA. Editor of the magazine Futures, of the planet, the society and each one. magazinefuturos.com.ar
(1) These "solutions" have been reviewed by ETC Group, Gambling with Gaia, Ottawa, January 2007.
(2) http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/docs/cnbe/cnbe.html December 2008.
(3) Richard A Houghton et al, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, vol. 7, no 2, 1993. “Current Land Cover in the Tropics and Its Potential for Sequestering Carbon”.
(4) This "little detail" of "the harvest" debunks the notion of sink. We attribute it to the nature of the one who offers the business, who, like the scorpion, cannot against his greater impulse ...
(5) Cit. p. Movement for the Defense of Tropical Forests, bulletin nº 38, WRM, September 2000.
(6) Alieto A. Guadagni, “Climate change on the prowl”, Clarín Rural, 10/10/2009.
(7) The "conquerors" had the very legal precaution of reading to the various ethnic groups and populations with which they came into contact an entire document, in Latin, in the presence of a notary public, by which these people were incorporated into the quality of subject of the Spanish Crown, with all its rights. But, they were warned in the incomprehensible final sentence as the whole reading had turned out, that if the new inhabitants of the kingdom did not comply with all the laws, the weight of that same law would fall on them, taking away their children and property, taking over. their women, killing them with justice for being the result of so much brutal evil for not knowing how to comply with ... what is required.
(9) At the UN meetings on biosafety and food security, the US had the “Miami Group” at its side and at its service; Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Australia and Canada. On other issues, the US maintains a thinner entourage, with microstates such as the Marshall Islands or Palau, Taiwan or Israel.
(10) Chris Thomas et al., “Extinction risks for climate change”, Nature, London-New York, no 427.
(11) Both the reference to the work of Thomas and associates and the comment of E. Wilson are taken from Sex grader [Six degrees], a book by Mark Lynas dedicated to analyzing planetary scenarios for warm-ups of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 degrees (Ordfront, Stockholm, 2007).
(12) An article signed by Fidel Castro, "The Hour of Truth", contains almost entirely the presentations of both South American presidents as well as a paragraph of its own, so for the reading of Chávez and Morales, we refer to the text compiled by Castro , widely disseminated on the internet.
(13) Es la consigna del Copenhagen Climate Council (Consejo de Copenhague sobre el Clima), en rigor un organismo nórdico [región definida por los estados nacionales de Suecia, Noruega, Dinamarca, Islandia y Finlandia) con sede en Dinamarca que procura la “colaboración” empresaria para solucionar los problemas climáticos provocados… por el mundo empresario.
(16) Íd. n. 13
(18) Los puntos de acuerdo de Copenhaguen, 19 diciembre 2009. Agencia Ideal.
(19) Instituto de Estudios de Globalización, Moscú.