Ecology tends to be a new obscurantist ideology. This module gives you a balanced synthesis about facts and solutions.
Deforestation and global warming are real threats but the solutions are too often diverted by political tasks.
Technical progress remains the effective solution to the ecological threats such as global warming and pollution.
By the year 1300, a climate change occurred in Western Europe. This was caused by advance of polar and alpine glaciers. Viking settlements in Greenland disappeared and the rains were incessant. People believed in the return of the flood described in Genesis. Scientists say that it was a global cooling called the little ice age and which was to last until 1700.
Today again, rains are incessant. Greenland is becoming green again as it was before 1300. It is said that Ice melt and glaciers are reduced. Media propagate the concept of global warming. Moreover, many people think that this warming is due to human industry. But before 1300, there was not any human industry.
In January 2002, the journal Science published the findings of scientists who had been measuring the West Antarctic ice sheet. Far from melting, it turns out the ice sheet is growing thicker! About the same time, the journal Nature published the findings of another team of scientist: Temperatures in the Antarctic have been getting colder for the last 30 years!
Another story: Tiny amounts of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) kill disease-carrying insects with no harm to humans, protecting them from malaria, dengue and typhus. However, in 1972, the world community banned DDT because it was suspected to kill all the birds. Now environmentalists are in a panic because malaria is spreading over Africa. Last year, 80,000 people in Uganda alone died of malaria, half of them children.
These stories show that in this matter we have to speak very carefully. Ecology deals with the entire cosmological balance and we are far from having extended knowledge in this field. We should focus rather on:
What we can do.
What we do not know.
Everybody agrees that suffering, in all its physical and psychological forms, must be banished. This elimination of suffering should include all creatures that also have the ability to feel pain and pleasure. We can hope that citizens will become aware of the damage we cause to the animal kingdom.
21-Breeding farms and slaughter houses
Predatory behavior is part of the food chain but modern techniques can replace meat diets with vegetables. Foot and mouth and others diseases turn out in slaughtering millions of poor animals. More and more enlightened people abhor these massacres of animals.
Maybe it is impossible to abolish meat diets right now but we have to take care of animals. It is not the case in our farms where animals are bred in inhuman conditions. In Argentina or Brazil, animals herd in the open air. It would be cheaper for the consumers to import beef from these countries (see the figures in Globalization module).
We can lower tariffs, abolish quotas instead of subsidizing cattle breeders and slaughterhouses in our countries. Seeing the catastrophic results of their activities (bad care of animals, dangerous nutrition, over pricing for the consumers) they merit fines instead of subsidies.
Wild animals are going to disappear in many undeveloped countries. We can hope that some species will survive. In countries, such as Rwanda, where 500,000 people were slaughtered, it seems difficult to explain that gorillas must be protected!
It means that the struggle against suffering is a global challenge. It includes humans first and then animals. It again implies freedom, knowledge and civilization.
We still blame Aristotle for having condoned slavery. In the future, we will be blamed for massacring inoffensive animals .
On a world scale, between 199O and 1995, we destroyed 500,000 km2 of forests, i.e. the equivalent of the surface area of France. 3,000,000 km2 could be deforested between 2000 and 2030 i. e. six times the surface area of France! At this rate, the rainforests in Latin America, South East Asia and central Africa will be seriously damaged, with irreversible consequences.
In just a few hours, deforestation can cause land to disappear through tropical storms.
We must bear in mind that arable land is an organic composite that is probably unique in the universe. It took millions of years to make this humus. In a few hours, through deforestation and storms, we destroy something that is as precious as the air we breathe.
Ecologists often focus on oil drilling, logging, and new roads, as the cause of deforestation. We must also add nomadic agriculture, over cattle, and overall the pressure of population. Poor people in under developed countries clear the forest to obtain wood in order to cook their food. They also burn soil on a large scale to increase the fertility of the land. From a plane, 20,000 feet high, you can usually see the long channel of fire along the African land just before the beginning of the first plowing.
In fact, we have no control over the major threat represented by the deforestation of billions of hectares each year in the under developed countries. Democratic countries replant large areas each year. By 2000, the US , Canada and France had replanted 9000 km2.
It is not enough to compensate deforestation and its consequences on desertification, water supply and even more seriously on climate (see global warming)
As a result of deforestation, the problem of water supply will be a serious threat in numerous regions. North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia are the most exposed.
The consumption of water supply is divided into: 70% Agricultural, 20% Industry, 10% drinking water for households. It means that the first step is to reduce agricultural consumption ( OGM could be useful)
Solutions exist: Sea water can be transformed in drinking water and the manufacturing cost is decreasing.
Once again, UN and dictatorships focus on a problem that could be easily solved just in using technical progress!
Ozone depletion is due to chlorofluorcarbons, which were used widely as refrigerants and solvents. The release of these products created the Antarctic ozone hole.
Holes in the ozone layer allow more sun ultra violet radiation. Overexposure to such radiation leads to skin cancer and other harmful effects
These products were banned after 1995.
As a result, normal level of ozone should return by 2050.
Global warming is a real threat. Many people highlight the fight against the emission of gas from developed countries. In fact all is linked and global warming is partly caused by massive deforestation in the third world.
611-Global ecological system
Energy from the sun heats the Earth surface. In return, the Earth radiates energy back into space. Water vapor, (clouds), C02 and others gases trap some of the outgoing energy and retain heat.
This is the Greenhouse effect. Look at the next Drawing:
Without this green house effect, the temperature would be 18c under zero and life would not be possible. Thanks to the green house gases, the Earth temperature is 15c above zero.
Since the beginning of time, the green house effect has varied and modified climate (remember the ice age). The volume of green house gas is determined by the water vapor (sea evaporation from oceans, clouds) and by the carbon cycle.
What is the carbon cycle ? The natural decay of organic material release about 220 billions tons of carbon every year. A biological process balances this release of CO2 : CO2 is dissolved in seawater and removed by FORESTS. Look at the next drawing:
large forests are carbon sinks: Each year hundreds of millions of CO2 are absorbed by oceans, soils and FORESTS.
Global warming is proven by melting glaciers, decreased snow cover, the rise in sea level because dilatation of water and melting ice cliffs.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution scientists have observed that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased nearly 30%. This increase is supposed to have enhanced the heat trapping capability of atmosphere. The Green house effect rises and the planet may be warm.
If the phenomenon goes on, the temperature could rise to 0.6 C or to 2.5 c in the next fifty years. The global sea level is expected to rise by a further 15 to 95 cm by the year 2100 because the dilatation of oceans and the melting of polar ice.
It is easy to forecast the catastrophic issues: 50 to 70% of the global human population is living in coastal areas. Moreover a warming climate will spread plagues such as malaria, and so on.
Scientists say that human activities are increasing the level of C02. The human activities concerned are:
-The use of fossil fuel as oil, natural gas, and coal release CO2. It is the only item, which can be easily measured. It is said the use of fuel accounts for 80% of the CO2 being added to the atmosphere.
-The burning of soil by nomadic agriculture in the third world releases CO2. It is said that it accounts for 20%.
With satellite pictures, you can see the entire amazon basin covered by smoke during the burning season each year.
At this point, people say that the rich countries are mainly guilty because oil natural gas and coal are the products of the developed countries.
But what about our ecological balance ?
Remember that carbon is added by human activities but that carbon is absorbed by large forests.
Nothing is said about the massive deforestation in the third world.
The carbon sinks disappear and as a result the level of CO2 is growing! Look at the next drawing:
The increase in CO2 is due to larger emissions of gas and the lower absorption because of deforestation. As there are no calculations about the impact of the lower absorption, it is not possible to assert that the global increase is only caused by larger emissions.
63-Kyoto protocol ?
Many people support the Kyoto protocol, but we can assume that few people have read it!
This protocol is unfair.
If we look at the figures: the emission of CO2 coming from human industry amounts to 25 billion tons which are divided as follow:
-USA, EUROPE, FREE ASIA 48%
-CHINA AND THIRD WORLD 52%
If you add the 20% coming from burning vegetation, the part of communist China and authoritarian countries accounts for 70%.
There are no figures about the lower absorption of carbon due to massive deforestation. Since the beginning of the century, how many billions of tons of carbon have not been absorbed each year because of deforestation ? Without such figures you cannot prove that the increase in CO2 is only due to gas emissions.
Despite this situation, free countries take commitments to reduce their gas emission by 5.2% during the 2002-2008 period. It means reducing power plants, the use of energy and growth. It means a rise in unemployment and a slow down in welfare.
Kyoto protocol does not fix quantitative commitments for gas emissions and deforestation caused by other countries !
The protocol says that there are common but different responsibilities: Free countries must make all the commitments because they are less populated. Moreover, emissions of gas follow the level of GDP per capita.
This protocol is not the right solution. From a technical point of view, it does not correct anything:
Even with the implementation of the Kyoto protocol, emission levels of CO2 are still expected to be more than 30% higher in 2010. The economy and sacrifices made by free countries will be offset by emission increases from countries that are not bound by emission limitations.
The kyoto protocol must be negotiated again.
64-Real solutions ?
First, there is incomplete scientific knowledge of the causes of global climate change.
Huge factors such as change in the sun energy, or cooling effects of volcanic eruption must be taken into account.
Scientific research must be increased.
Secondly, the warming trend is proven and we have to take measures.
It means that a new protocol must be negotiated. It must imply large commitments of under developed countries which are mainly responsible for this situation (gas emission + burning soil + deforestation):
-AN URGENT STOP TO DEFORESTATION.
We must remember deforestation is irreversible because the humus is destroyed and prevents any further replanting.
-FAST REPLANTING IN FREE COUNTRIES.
We must engage in carbon storage with a big replanting program in our own territories in order to match the damage. You can quickly reduce emissions of gas but replanting needs a long term program.
-DEVELOP NUCLEAR FUSION.
Replanting and reducing deforestation could absorb 12 to 15% of projected emission. It is not sufficient and we have to find substitutes for the use of coal and oil. The best way is to develop nuclear fusion on a fast track even if it costs more than fossil fuel.
Technical progress is again the only real solution instead of complex and unbalanced state regulations.
Do you agree? Do you not agree? Send your comments.
Independently of the global warming, some people assert that there is an increase in pollution, congestion in town, noise and so on ,
In fact, creativity reduces pollution: For example, air pollution has dramatically decreased in USA, Europe and Japan. On the contrary, pollution increases quickly in African towns. Once again it's wrong to say that the riches more pollute than the poor's.
What is more, the Pince Curve shows that as education raises, people consume more spiritual goods (See "New growth theory"). This evolution authorizes a sustainable growth: Material goods use resources and bring negative externalities such as pollution. On the contrary, spiritual goods which are mainly made up of ideas, need a few resources and have only positive externalities.
One again, it means that the fight again pollution depends on the level of education.
Global leaders must be concerned about the ecological balance.
We can protect the animal kingdom and stop deforestation. We must develop scientific researches and technical progress in order to use new forms of energy.
Global leaders must also be vigilant: Like globalization, ecology is too often used as a machine against free countries. We are not guilty because we are developed. Our wealth is the product of freedom, knowledge and hard work!
Freedom, creativity and education are the best tools for solving ecological problems.
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