My interest in social and cultural politics extends from my interest in genealogy and history and how they project into today's societies.
The Scope of This Article
I don’t intend to delve into the technical or scientific details of climate change and its causes, or focus in depth on any aspects of the remedies.
This is purely an overview to encompass a wide spectrum of a very complex topic to illustrate that every effort to tackle climate change is important.
The purpose of this overview is that a significant number of Americans I speak with on social media are very dismissive of the good efforts being made by governments around the world to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy and fossil fuel cars with electric cars because, in their view, those efforts are undermined by other more pressing issues such as rainforest fires, plastic waste pollution and population explosion etc.
Whereas dismissing these good efforts, because they don’t tackle the other issues, is self-defeatist.
Therefore I wish to raise awareness on a holistic level, and help to show that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’; that while we also need to tackle the issues of rainforest fires, cows methane, plastic waste and recycling etc., we also need to fully engage in replacing oil & coal with renewable energies, and fossil fuel car with electric cars, as a matter of urgency.
Causes and Effects of Climate Change
What is the Holistic Approach to Tackling Climate Change?
It’s all inclusive; tackling every aspect of climate change from every angle.
The two main prongs of the holistic approach are:-
- Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere, and
- Carbon Capture; taking CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Why Aren’t Governments Taking the Holistic Approach?
In my view they are
When a Government commits to reducing carbon emissions by 80% or ‘Net Zero’ by 2050, as most Governments around the world have, then that commitment does include a holistic approach.
The confusion (from my discussions with Americans) is that a lot of Americans I speak with focus on the headlines, and don’t delve into the details. So when they hear that Europe, China and other countries around the world are rapidly replacing fossil fuels with Renewable Energy, and ICE vehicles with EV vehicles, they often argue things like it’s all a waste of time because methane from cows, plastics in the ocean, and the Amazon rainforest fires have a far bigger impact on our climate, and the world is doing little or nothing to tackle these other issues.
Fighting Climate Change on All Fronts
The problem with news reports (in this respect) is that they are not all-encompassing, and neither should they be e.g. if an article features wind farms there is no reason why it should also mention plastic pollution in the ocean.
When the news media reports on the successful progress of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, or of governments plans to ban ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and replace them with EV (Electric Vehicles), then those news reports are specific to just that aspect of combating climate change.
Likewise, reporting on Amazon rainforest fires or the high levels of emissions of methane from cows having a dramatic effect on Climate Change are also separate issues.
The point is that all these separate issues (and others not mentioned here) are not exclusive of each other, and to combat climate change, all need to be tackled; and that is what most governments (to varying degrees) are doing.
When a government commits itself to replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, and ban all fossil fuel cars, it doesn’t mean that they are focusing in just those areas, to the exclusion of all other climate change issues. For just a couple of examples, in separate statements the EU is putting political pressure on Brazil to tackle the rainforest fires in the Amazon; and is also making various efforts to reduce the volume of methane released into the atmosphere by cows.
Limiting Climate Change Impact
The strategies by each country to meet, or exceed, its targets set for 2020, 2030 & 2050, to reduce its ‘carbon footprint’, and help to limit the impact of climate change, isn’t limited to just phasing out the use of fossil fuels in preference for renewable energy and EV vehicles, it’s a whole package that includes:-
- Electrification of transport, including road, rail, shipping and potentially air
- Making homes and businesses more energy efficient
- Making electrical appliances more energy efficient
- Encouraging the growth of local markets e.g. more food being grown and sold locally rather than around the world to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation
- Aiming for ‘zero waste to landfill’ by improving recycling and converting non-recyclable waste to electricity
- Converting sewage to renewable energy
- Making better use of building materials that have a ‘low carbon’ impact on the environment
- Investing in, and encouraging, Research & Development in all aspects of climate change
- Wide ranging government policies to help protect the seas and the environment as a key factor in limiting the climate change impact
- Reforestation and using only timber from renewable sources
- Running public awareness campaigns to encourage people to eat less meat
The above list is not exhaustive, but when you put it altogether it amounts to a holistic approach that most governments around the world are following, to varying degrees of enthusiasm and success, to tackle climate change.
Some would say its ‘too little, too late’, but that’s no reason to give up, or not even bother to make an effort; it’s all the more reason that efforts should be doubled.
USA vs The World
I am disappointed that many Americans I speak with are still in denial about Anthropogenic Climate Change and its effects on global warming, or if they recognise the problem take such a defeatist attitude.
I am also frustrated by Trump’s denial of ‘Climate Change’, and his whole hearted support of the American coal and oil industries that unabated are making it that much harder for the rest of the world to combat the effects of climate change.
Although I am encouraged that a few Americans I’ve recently spoken with do recognise the issue and are actively campaigning to raise awareness in America.
In contrast to America I am encouraged with the efforts and achievements being made by most countries around the world, including China, to combat climate change. Most of the publicity tends to focus on the rapid rollout of renewable energy and electric cars, which is gradually replacing the use of fossil fuels; but when you dig deeper, looking at all issues and what each country is doing to tackle each issue, then it can be seen that these countries are tacking a holistic approach.
Trump Says He's Ending the War on Coal
As is well publicised; in the USA oil companies lobby Trump to keep the status quo, stifling development and rollout of renewable energy and electric cars.
In contrast, in Europe oil companies are investing in Research and Development (R&D) of renewable energy; and in Britain Shell oil company is taking a leading role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Shell Oil: Renewable Energy Advert
Campaigning and Lobbying
The more people campaign and lobby on the various climate change issues, especially in the USA where momentum has been slow, the more the news media and politicians will sit up and take notice.
Although we still have a long way to go; and time is rapidly running out.
Greta Thunberg Rips World Leaders at the U.N. Over Climate Change
Britain’s Response to Lobbying
British Governments have been committed to tackling climate change for a long time, but there is always more that can be done. In this respect, concerted campaigning and lobbying of politicians in the UK has had a profound effect.
As a direct result of the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in London in May 2019, and Greta Thunberg meeting British MPs in Parliament, in June 2019 Parliament declared a ‘State of Climate Emergency’; and the following month Theresa May passed a law committing the UK to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emission by 2050.
Greta Thunberg in Bristol for Climate Rally and March
UK Becomes First Country to Turn its Back on Fossil Fuels (How Life Will Change in a World of Net Zero Emissions)
I am referencing specifically the UK because that’s where I live, and therefore I can speak more authoritative about it than elsewhere.
In spite of the fact that the UK Government is Conservative and therefore not naturally ‘Green’ by nature, it has nevertheless embraced the need for Britain to reduce its ‘carbon footprint’ in accordance with the ‘Paris Agreement’; and like many European countries has already exceeded its 2020 target towards achieving 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
Not only that, but the UK Government went a step further in July 2019 when it set in law that it will achieve ‘net zero carbon emission’ by 2050.
Walney Extension in the UK (World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm)
The Scottish Government, which as a Socialist Government, has been even more progressive in tackling climate change to the extent that they now produce such an abundance of Renewable Energy, not only do they frequently export up to 50% of it (as surplus) to England, but they are also beginning to convert some of their surplus renewable energy into hydrogen as an alternate clean energy.
World's First Hydrogen-powered Seagoing Ferries (in Scotland)
ICE vs RV
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Arthur Russ
Arthur Russ (author) from England on October 11, 2020:
Thanks for your feedback.
For clarity, no one is suggesting people should stop eating meat; just to eat less meat.
The issue is because of the way cows digest their food, they produce a significant amount of methane that escapes into the atmosphere through their backside.
Methane is 25 more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, fortunately methane does breakdown in the atmosphere fairly quickly (about 25 years) so its effects on Global Warming is only short to medium term; unlike Carbon Dioxide, which stays in the atmosphere for hundreds and thousands of years.
In recognition that people are not going to give up eating meat, “running public awareness campaigns to encourage people to eat less meat” will help to lower greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by a measurable amount; and every effort towards reducing greenhouse gases is a step towards combating Climate Change.
There is no suggestion that places like India, who breeds cows for cultural (religious) reasons should change their habits. The aim of the ‘public awareness campaigns’ is to encourage people in the western world, like Europe, North America and Australia etc., to just eat less meat as a contribution towards reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
It doesn’t affect me as I am a vegetarian anyway, but the British Government is on-board and have run a series of ‘pubic awareness’ campaigns to its citizens over the last year or two.
As regards animal dung, that’s good, it’s a good natural fertilizer.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 10, 2020:
Arthur, this is a very important topic. You treat it extra with practical information. But there is a point where I disagree even though I had doubts, meat eating. You said we should eat less meat. I may agree here if it is not total. Arthur, well consider a place like India, where I think much of the world's cows were being breed but not eaten. And the animals' dungs? This is unfortunate. Thanks.
Dr Pran Rangan from Kanpur (UP), India on September 30, 2019:
Thanks Arthur for expressing your confidence in India.
Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 30, 2019:
Thanks DR Pran Rangan for your most detailed account of the population issues facing India; so well explained. It certainly is challenging, and it will take time, but unless you say otherwise, I have confidence in India.
Dr Pran Rangan from Kanpur (UP), India on September 29, 2019:
Thanks for your views.
In India, there is a social diversity that includes people from different castes, communities and religions. This the reason that the implementation of measures of population control that are already in existence meet resistance from some sections of the society.
Those measure have not been able to check population growth as they are in the form of incentives and thus optional. Undoubtedly, people belonging to the middle class and some of the upper class believe in having smaller families.
But people from lower strata of society don't have smaller families; they, in fact, need it most.
Our democratic system doesn't allow to formulate strict rules of population control.
We will also have a decline of population growth rate after we have reached the highest level. But if we are able to check the growth at present, our economy will grow much faster. This can only be achieved by awareness of the people of the lower strata of society.
Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 29, 2019:
Thanks for the feedback Dr Pran Rangan, some good info.
It’s good to hear about India’s reforestation efforts; reforestation is something that doesn’t get enough publicity, in spite of its importance.
Population growth is an interesting topic. In the developed worlds like Europe and America we actually have a reverse problem with birth rates falling and people living longer creating an ageing and declining native population. Although right-wing nationalists are in denial, developed countries are increasing becoming dependent on immigration.
Yes, China had a strict policy on birth rates, restricting couples to just one child; which is why our neighbours emigrated from China to live in England e.g. so that they could have two children.
According to some world experts, and recent UN reports, there is speculation that even in the developing countries birth rates will start to decline over the next couple of generations; and that consequently there is an expectation that world populations will level-off at about 11 billion by 2100. Obviously this doesn’t help India in the immediate future while they are trying to tackle a rising population level at the same time as trying to tackle climate change; but if the reports are right then maybe there is some ‘light on the horizon’ (hope for the future)?
You may find this of some interest:-
Is world population growth slowing down? https://youtu.be/UAIv15fWfHg
Dr Pran Rangan from Kanpur (UP), India on September 29, 2019:
Thanks Arthur for your reply.
In India, we have the same problems as others while tackling the issue of climate change. We have also achieved some progress in this regard, especially reforestation. Much more needs to be achieved.
Overpopulation and fast-increasing population is a big hindrance in the progress of various measures that have been taken to handle the crisis. We are likely to exceed China in population after 5-6 years at the current population growth rate. In fact, no concrete step has been taken by the government in this regard.
A lot has to be done in creating an awareness among people about the fast growing population as an important cause of climate change in India as well as many other countries.
Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 28, 2019:
Thanks for your feedback Dr Pran Rangan. Yes, many countries have achieved a lot by meeting or exceeding their Paris Agreement Targets; but apart from a small handful, such as Scotland and Denmark, their efforts are not sufficient, and most certainly there is always more that can be done.
Theresa May in July 2019 committed the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 by law; part of which will require Britain planting 1.5 billion trees by 2050 (50 million a year). That’s equivalent to 30,000 hectares of trees being planted every year. Last year (before Theresa May’s commitment) 13,400 hectares of woodland was planted (mostly in Scotland), which is less than half of what we need to achieve in future years, but with the right Prime Minister in power it’s doable.
What gives me some encouragement is that at the turn of the 20th century only 5% of the UK was woodland, but with a change of Government policies back in the 1990s in favour of reforestation, 13% of the UK is now woodland; and to meet our 2050 target of net zero carbon emission we need to increase that to 17%.
Yes, overpopulation is a major issue that makes tackling climate change for the large countries like China, America and the EU very challenging. China in particular, with the largest population in the world faces the biggest challenges of all, but to their credit they are investing far more into tackling climate change than any other country in the world.
I'd be interested to hear what India's difficulties and achievements are in respect to tackling climate change.
Dr Pran Rangan from Kanpur (UP), India on September 28, 2019:
Your hub gives a great insight into the climate change crisis, which is a biggest threat to the survival of humanity. Some of the efforts taken by many governments are laudable but they aren't sufficient.
Overpopulation, which needs to be taken care of effectively, is very important reason for the climate change.
Thanks for sharing.
Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 28, 2019:
Yes, I'm also intrigued to see what response such and important and relevant topic gets.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 28, 2019:
This is an important and very relevant topic, well tackled in this article. I am intrigued to find out what response you get.