From May 11, 2020
I reviewed this film, but it’s not enough just to criticise it, we also need to think what a good film might have done. This is a sketch for such a film. It may make a film which is too long, but at least it puts forward a course of action, while recognising the problems. And, perhaps we only need a minute on some points: the original film skipped about to begin with.
Very Brief Intro
1) Climate change is primarily brought about by emissions of greenhouse gases, primarily through burning fossil fuels. While our civilisation has depended on fossil fuels, fossil fuels are now a problem. Fossil fuels are taking more energy to find, and more energy to get out and prepare – people do not invest in tar sands and fracking if better sources of energy are available. The fracking industry appears to be run on debt rather than profit, causing major companies severe problems, and bankruptcies are plentiful. Coal is ecologically destructive and poisonous. Gas leaks are more plentiful than is admitted, and can be seen from space . The whole system is destructive and on the verge of failure.
However, lowering the pollution from burning fossil fuels is not the only challenge we face.
2) We are heading for ecological disaster through ecological destruction, pollution, deforestation, over-development and over-fishing, as well as climate change. The ice caps are melting. Sea waters will rise. Species are dying out etc… Our lives and economy depend upon a smoothly working ecology, and our ecology is moving into unpredictable turmoil. Our whole civilisation is likely to be heading to the trash can.
How do we solve this?
3) We may need to recognise our psychological response to climate change and eco-destruction: mourning, distress, disempowerment, hopelessness, loss of a way of life, loss of the world, and a sense of immovable obstacles. If we don’t face into these psychological processes we are lost, or likely to slip into scapegoating blame-games.
Is it possible to clean up fossil fuels?
4) No. There is no reliable evidence this is possible or desired by fossil fuel companies. Clean coal is a marketing term. Carbon Capture and storage is not working at the levels we need it to work, and we cannot guarantee its safety. Any working clean up would cost vast amounts of money, and is unlikely to occur.
5) The IEA and IPCC expect that we will remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the air to reach their targets. While this is necessary, it seems unlikely. It is difficult and there is little financial incentive. We would probably have to be pay for it out of tax.
6) We would discuss current information about renewable energy in terms of the apparent problems, as done in the film but with modern data:
- a) Consumption of resources
- b) Destruction/consumption of land
- c) Breakdown, replacement and recycling
- d) Intermittency and storage (battery, pumped hydro, weight etc)
- e) Grid design and regulation
- f) Electric vehicles are better than fossil fuel vehicles, but it’s hard to convert quickly (infrastucture issues) – especially against government opposition.
- g) Why biofuel is not green. The history of seduction of green organisations by biofuel, and it’s importance in UK and Germany.
- h) The need for research while we act, to check our acts for destructive unintended consequences
- i) The tendency of capitalism to stuff everything, and lie, and the State to favour established business. Promotion of misinformation is a normal part of the market
- j) The small amounts of renewable energy we actually have in action when compared to fossil fuels.
- k) Why has the possible transformation not occurred? The corrupt and embedded politics of fossil fuels.
7) Renewable energy could, in many places, replace most of our use of fossil fuels in a fairly short time, if it did not face: a) political and regulatory opposition and b) fossil fuel subsidies. Renewable energy is getting cheaper all the time and, is in many places, now cheaper than fossil fuels. Examples of successful countries, if there are any, that are making it without biofuels.
8) Will RE save us, by itself? No. even if we overcame the opposition to it, it would probably not be enough, quickly enough. The problems we face have to be solved on multiple fronts
Other necessary practices
9) Changing philosophy and living in better harmony with the world. We live here. We are part of the eco-system and depend on the eco-system. We need to simplify, and place less stress on the world’s systems – we may need to relax and observe its beauty, rather than consume items.
10) Ceasing Pollution. If we continue to issue material which cannot be processed by the world system or our economic system, then we will poison the ecology and ourselves. Water is precious. Ultimately all the products of manufacturing should be re-processable by the ecology.
11) Degrowth. The need to abandon continual economic expansion on a finite planet. Difficulties of escape in to space.
How do we lift people out of poverty without growth?
12) Is is possible to have degrowth with capitalism? Are there dangers that capitalism will destroy any attempts at survival? Will the profit motive unhinge transformation?
13) Talk to experts on the necessary steps towards degrowth, and problems of degrowth.
14) Regenerative Agriculture. Building up rather than destroying soils.
15) Curtailing population expansion in the long term and curtailing expanding consumption. If everyone in the world consumes at the rate of the ‘average’ person in the US and Australia we are sunk. The best tools we have to solve this problem are easily available birth control and education of girls, both of which are likely to face religious opposition. Those of us in the more prosperous world, need to set an example by lowering our consumption, without this just affecting the poor and middle classes.
16) Expanding emergency services and health care for extreme weather events, pandemics and so on.
Such a movie would point out some of the problems we face, and some of the best ways that we have of dealing with them. It could conclude by arguing that this may not be enough, but that what has been suggested is certainly a start.