Many attempts are being made to convince governments around the world that urgent action needs to be taken to avoid unpredictable climate change due to human activities on Spaceship Earth. One of these is the Earth Statement issued by the Earth League on Earth Day 2015 (22 April). The eight point statement refers to the danger of the current trajectory of global warming and the growing awareness that fossil fuels will have to kept in the ground to avoid drastic and destabilising increases in global temperatures.
This lead article from the New York Times is an example of the ecological deficit that was the topic of my last blog post. Deep aquifer water is being ‘mined’ in California’s Central Valley to maintain high-value large-scale agricultural production despite unusually strong regulations that have recently been introduced to diminish the demand for irrigation. The application of complex irrigation systems and fossil fuel powered pumping technology seems to have run into nature’s current limits. Water is the staff of life (all life, not simply human life) and humans seem to hold the anthropocentric view that it exists as a ‘resource’ to support unending expansion of human populations and affluence. Not only will there be an inevitable deficit of water but we already have a major deficit of human understanding, imagination and education about the impossibility of infinite growth of human systems on a finite Spaceship Earth.
In this transcript of an interview on Democracy Now, a different slant is placed on the regulation of water in California. It highlights exemptions from the regulations for the most powerful agro-industrialists, the biggest producers who have the greatest lobbying power.
This BBC article and video elaborate further.
If all people were to have the standard of living enjoyed by OECD nations, than the Earth would have been full around the 1970s according to the Global Footprint Network calculations. The news media are full of items about the economic deficits that many countries build up in order to become rich (credit-based material wealth) but the rich countries also depend on ecological deficits whereby other countries supply them with the resources they need to maintain their level of wealth. This newsletter from the Global Footprint Network has a vivid world map that shows which countries are in ecological deficit and which enjoy a surplus of resources that they export to the nations in ecological deficit. In this extract from the GFN newsletter (12.03.15) Mathis Wackernagel, the GFN founder stresses the importance of the Global Footprint metric:
“In addition to recognizing the importance of indicators like GDP, unemployment or inflation, we look forward to the day when national decision-makers around the world also track their resource dependence. I hope they recognize that natural resources are a fundamental asset for any economy. They should be measured and managed wisely,” says Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel. “We believe it is not only critical but also possible to live within the means of nature. It can be achieved without sacrificing current human well-being.”
“This is a particularly important year for looking more closely at the planet’s resource budget, first in September with the new Sustainable Development Goals and then in December in Paris for the climate talks,” Wackernagel adds. “What is becoming clear is that living within nature’s budget is vital for each and every nation’s economic strength and the well-being of its citizens. Working with, rather than against, nature’s budget is not only important for our planet as a whole but also for the health and resilience of each individual nation.”
Divestment means withdrawing investments from companies and corporations. The Guardian newspaper group (Guardian Media Group) has just announced that it will withdraw its 800 million GBP investments from coal, oil add gas extracting enterprises. This decision has been taken based on the belief that these fossil fuels must be kept in the ground if excessive anthropogenic global warming is to be avoided. The chair of GMG Neil Berkett calls this move a ‘hard-nosed business decision’ justified on ethical and financial grounds. Read the article here. In its campaign to slow down human impact on the planet’s climate the newspaper group is acting to encourage other large corporations to follow suit and the article lists several that it is targeting and provides several useful links to other sources.