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April 23, 2016

Unnoticed, We Are Close to Destruction of Our Planet

By Roberto Savio


ROME, Apr 21 2016 (IPS) - On the 17th of April, Italians were called to vote in a
national referendum, on the extension of licenses to extract petrol and gas from the
seas. The government, the media and those in the economic circles, all took a
position against the referendum, claiming that 2000 jobs were at a stake. The
proponents of the referendum (among them five regions), lost. Italy is following a
consistent trend, after the Summit on Climate Change (Paris December 2015), in
which all countries (Italy included) took a solemn engagement to reduce emissions.
Two weeks after the Summit, the British Prime Minister took the initiative to extend the
licenses to extract coal, explaining that 10.000 jobs were at stake. Then it was India’s
turn, to declare that licenses for coal powered stations would be increased, as the
development of the country comes before protection of the environment.

On this, the Polish government declared that it had no intentions to reduce the use of
Polish coal, in the short term. Then Hungary made a similar statement about its use of
fossil energy.

Meanwhile, no significant initiative for emission’s control has been announced after
Paris. And all the Republican candidates have announced that, once installed in the
White House, they will declare null and void the agreements reached in Paris, where
Obama played a crucial role. In fact, several Republican initiatives are seeking
Supreme Court cancellation of measures taken by the administration to limit pollution.
And with different accents, all the xenophobe and right wing parties which are
emerging everywhere in Europe, have indicated that they do not consider the Paris
agreement as a priority in their agenda.

The main criticism of the scientific community, on the Paris agreements, was that while
the accepted goal was to limit the increase of the global temperature to 2 degrees,
compared with that of the beginning of the industrial revolution (while accepting that
1.5 degrees would have been an adequate target), in reality the sum total of all
individual targets freely established by the countries, was coming to at least 3.5

The idea was that with further negotiations, the target of 2 degrees would finally
emerge, also thanks to new technologies. Now, an equally crucial flaw is emerging. No
control of implementation of the agreement will take place before 2030. Until then,
each country is responsible for implementing its target, and also for checking the
implementation of its commitment.

It would have been interesting to see a similar philosophy, adopted on tax levels.
Every citizen could decide how much tax he or she pledges to pay, and be
responsible until 2030 to check that this engagement or commitment is met. Then only
in 2030, mechanisms of verification would fall in place. And those mechanisms would
bear no enforcements or penalties. They would only indicate public shaming of those
who did not keep their engagements.

Of course, the fact that industrialized countries, like Italy and United Kingdom, far from
reducing sources of pollution, is not a good example for developing countries, who
are now coming into industrialization, and have to limit their emissions because since
early 19th century industrialized countries have been polluting the world.

In fact, subsidies to the fossil industries, according to the World Bank, run now at 88
billion dollars per year. According to a report from the Overseas Development Institute
G20 countries spend more than twice of what the top 20 private companies are
spending on finding new reserves of oil, gas and coal, and do so with public money.
Meanwhile, the Fund for helping underdeveloped countries to adopt new
technologies, established at 100 billion in Paris, has yet to be completed. Of course a
check up is due by 2030.

Well, every week we receive alarming data on how the climate is deteriorating much
faster than we thought. I am not talking about the uninterrupted news on natural
catastrophes. I am talking about the alarming cries by the scientific community from all
over the world.

The National Centre for Climate Restoration from Australia has published a sort of
summary about all those calls, in an alarming report by Prof. Kevin Andersen of the
UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change in which it says:

…According to new data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmosphere
Administration, measurements taken at the Marina Loa Observatory in Hawaii show
that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration jumped by 3.08 parts per million (ppm)
during 2015, the largest year-to- year increase in 56 years of research. 2015 was the
fourth consecutive year that CO2 grew more than 2ppm.Scientist say that they are
shocked and stunned by the “unprecedented NASA temperature figures for February
2016, which are 1.65”C higher than the beginning of the nineteen century and around
1.9”C warmer than the pre-industrial level…..

This means, according to Prof. Michael Mann “we have no carbon budget left for the
1.5 degrees target and the opportunity for holding the 2 degrees is rapidly fading
unless the world starts cutting emissions rapidly and right now. The current el Niño
conditions have contributed to the record figures, but compared to previous big El
Niños, we are experimenting blowout temperatures.” For a glimpse into what lies in our
future, we have only to look at Venezuela, where now public offices work three days
per week to cut water and power usage.

Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Change Research says “In 2012,
the US National Academy of Science analyzed in detail how a major drought in Syria –
from 2007 to 2010 – was a crucial factor in the civll war that began in 2011. More than
a million people left their farms to go to crowded and unprepared cities, where they
were inspired by the Arab Spring to rise against a dictatorial regime which was not
providing any help.

Journalist Baher Kamal, who is the Inter Press Service IPS Advisor for Africa and
Middle, East did publish a two part series on the impact of Climate Change on the
Middle East and North of Africa region, which makes clear the region, could become
largely uninhabitable by the year 2040. Just to give an example, the Nile could lose up
to 80% of its flow. Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
and the Emirates are all at very high risk. But so are also Algeria, Iraq, Jordan Libya,
Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

Dr. Moslem Shathout, deputy chairman of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space,
considers that Arab North African countries are the most affected, by large, by the
climate change impact.

In other words, we have to expect a mass of displaced people, on the shores of the
Mediterranean, and therefore of Europe. The category of climate refugees does not
exist in any legislation.

While it is a fact that Europe’s population was 24% at the beginning of the nineteen-
century, it will be 4% at the end of the present one. Europe will lose 40 million people
that will need to be replaced by immigrants, to keep productivity and pensions running.

The arrival of 1.3 million people, two thirds young and educated, has created a
massive political crisis, and the unravelling of Europe.

The climate refugees will be of all ages, and many from the agricultural sector, the
most conservative and uneducated in the Arab world.

Do Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and British Prime Minister David Cameron –
who for electoral reasons play the chord of a few lost jobs from the fossil industry –
have any idea on how to face this imminent future?

Probably not, but they do not care. This problem will not be during their tenure. So
climate change is not in the political agenda as a very top priority. And media follows
events, not processes, so no cries of alarm; yet, from one to the next, a continuation
of disasters lead to catastrophes…

When, everybody will realize as the saying goes, God pardons, man does sometimes,
but nature never.