Is the current focus on Climate Change misguided?
I was listening to the BBC Friday night comedy when the subject turned to the recent IPCC Climate Change report. “I don’t see the politicians doing anything about it, so I’m not” said one comedienne. She went on to say she had explored the UK government website to find out what she could do – and there was nothing, she claimed.
Reducing CO2 emissions is something quite difficult for individuals to tackle – seemingly it needs disruptive changes to lifestyle: stop flying, stop driving a car, turn off the heating and wear warm clothes in winter and so on. All the luxuries of modern life for which generations have strived – to be denied.
In some parts of the world the response is ‘bring it on’. How many Scottish comedians have used that line since ‘Global Warming’ (what we used to call Climate Change) became the catch cry?
To my way of thinking, the fundamental causes of Climate Change is the result of waste; wasteful use of resources, such as oil, gas and coal. But it is also the non-use of abundant solar energy, which to me is another kind of waste.
Should we be focusing on eliminating waste?
A Dutch brewer once gave me a rather colourful explanation of fermentation. Yeast cells are floating in a sugary solution. They eat the sugar, make love producing babies (more yeast) and excrete alcohol and CO2. I hasten to add he used more colourful verbs!
After a while the alcohol level in the sugary soup becomes toxic, the yeast cells die in their own waste. Thus, there is an upper level to the alcohol strength that can be produced by natural fermentation.
The metaphor is clear. When people say we are killing the planet – is it the CO2 levels we should tackle – or waste?
A few years ago an environmental documentary, ‘Trashed’, featuring Jeremy Irons as presenter, was published. The message about how pollution is harming people and the planet is as stark as Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’. But, whereas Al Gore (and the IPCC) paint a future disaster based on predictions – ‘Trashed’ shows video footage of real damage.
The effects of waste are evident. We don’t need predictions of what might be and how our lives might be affected by waste . The effects of waste are before our eyes: polluted rivers and beaches, polluted air, city streets pock-marked with chewing gum, cigarette butts on street corners, litter alongside country roads, skeletons of birds showing a gut full of plastic.
Could a focus on eliminating waste be more productive?
Tackling waste first, by being less wasteful of energy in our homes and vehicles, by focusing on the household savings that will result, becomes individual action that tackles excess CO2. Let’s not forget it is excess CO2 that is the problem – without any CO2 at all – no plants, no trees, no vegetables – no life!
With Asian countries like China and Thailand refusing waste from western nations – it is time we stopped producing waste.
The circular economy movement offers dozens of practical tips for individuals, small businesses and community groups to take action. We don’t need to wait for government.
And whereas proposed Climate Change solutions appear to add significant costs to the economy, reducing and eliminating waste via Circular Economy principles offers value – measured by some in billions.
The Circular Economy opens up opportunities, for social and for-profit entrepreneurs taking advantage of new technologies (‘green chemistry, biochemistry, Nanotechnology and whole system design) in what Australia’s Natural Edge project called the 6th wave of innovation.
Shall we focus on eliminating waste?
© Ron Ainsbury 2018