Tag Archives: climate change

Sustainability and climate change

Consumers are sustainable if offered incentives and benefits.

Offering people a benefit or incentive to become sustainable works.

Offering people a benefit or incentive to become sustainable is the only way to achieve positive outcomes on climate change.

Early morning, and chaos.  Builders are putting up scaffolding around my house, it is chaos.  The cat is sick over my laptop bag.  I escape and wait for the local library to open.  A passerby comments that I had not done my homework last night, I blink a few times, do I look that young? In the library, panic as someone cannot find their bag they left a few minutes before; the library staff had taken the bag thinking it is a bomb.  My cellphone rings, a customer wants me to deal with a last-minute project.  Welcome to my chaos.

Amongst all this chaos the media, politician and activist bombard the consumers with messages of fear and doom of global warming.  Everybody is by now jaded, one more item of fear and manipulation in a tsunami of fear and marketing that daily seeks entrance to overstimulated minds.  Important perhaps to academics in their ivory towers, and rulers who see a good thing in marketing fear, the common person on the street has to live their lives, and their attention is upon mundane activities like paying the rent and getting their kids off to school.  Climate change is at the bottom of the list of concerns of everyday people, along with the rest of the fear-monsters of everyday life.

The scaffolding around my home is part of an interesting social experiment in sustainability.  Solar panels will appear upon the roof of my house, part of a scheme that though underwritten by a loan, will start to make money.  The solar panels offer free electricity during the day, my home only pays for the electricity at night.  My home sells the excess electricity it makes to the electricity companies who run the national power grid.  It is a win-win situation, a reduction in electricity bills, a scheme that will pay for itself, and the government-electricity companies paying the consumer for the electricity their solar panels sell to the electricity grid.

It is no point hoping for change in consumer habits by top-down control and fear marketing.  Offer the consumer a benefit, something that satisfies a need, such as the scheme my house is now involved in, the sustainable activities will drive a change in behavior, thus achieve positive outcomes the advocates of climate change desire.

The oak that fell to entropy

Being sustainable now will be the difference of who survives and dies in future.

The sun is setting on this age of civilisation.  Climate change is adding to the entropic collapse of global energy systems.

The sun is setting on this age of civilisation. Climate change is adding to the entropic collapse of global energy systems.

Besieged by snow and wind for weeks, a great storm sent a 1,200-year-old oak tree crashing to the ground.  The Pontfadog Oak growing in Wrexham in Wales was one of the oldest trees in Britain, a meeting point of the ancient Welsh armies who fought the English, recorded as far back as the Viking Age of 802.  This tree, which had been a source of shelter, meetings, feed for animals and fencing for the community was cut down by entropy.

The Pontfadog Oak could be a metaphor for what human civilisation is now facing.  If the oak tree is human civilisation, then the storm that brought it down is entropy.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics is behind the idea of if you take too much energy out of an energy system, and damage its ability to renew itself, then entropy is the result.  An energy system that loses too much energy without replacement collapses to an ever increasing simplicity through disorder.  Social, political, economic and environmental systems are like the Pontfadog Oak, all energy systems that will crash to the ground when entropy reaches a certain tipping point.

By degrees the Pontfadog Oak had been weakening due to the siege of climate change conditions, then the tipping point emerged without warning that smashed the tree to the ground.  Plenty of warnings had been made that the tree needed support from its stewards and stakeholders, but nobody wanted to give the tree the love and attention it needed, so it died.  Everyone now misses the tree they neglected and took for granted.

It no longer matters what is responsible for climate change, it is too late to do anything about it.  Any historian or anthropologist would be aware climate change has been behind the evolution of humanity, it killed the Neanderthal and pushed our present human species to the technological progress it now has.  Climate change has always been the game changer, unsustainable human waste, greed and inefficiency will be laid bare as climate change wipes out food, water and energy sources in a world of seven billion people.

Whilst I try to be the optimist, I am the realist.  Like the Pontfadog Oak the decision makers and citizens of this world will carry on in their unsustainable ways, they will be negligent and blind to the obvious, then the energy systems that are already crumbling will collapse. Large numbers of people will no longer have access to the basic essentials of life, they will use the only options open to them, they will begin to move and fight.

In nature some plants depend upon wildfires destroying wood and grassland, destruction that triggers new growth.  For a better future the human race is going to face a period of anarchy and violence of a magnitude that will seem horrific.  The human race is going to have to experience a good kicking to experience a paradigm shift of the type needed to survive.  For those of you like me who are on the ball, making sustainable choices now which benefit principally you, your family and the community assists you in surviving what will be a challenging and dark time ahead.

Four ages of humanity

There is a close relationship between climate change and the ages of humanity.

Often after a storm there is a rainbow. I know that the future is going to be harsh, but I believe good will come from it.

Often after a storm there is a rainbow. I know that the future is going to be harsh, but I believe good will come from it.

Various traditions break human history into four ages, with climate change evident causing each age to end.  Hesiod living in circa 750 BCE in Greece lists five ages, Ovid a Roman in the closing decades from 43 BCE listed four ages.

Hesiod describes a utopia akin to the Australian Aborigine version of the Dreamtime, he calls the Golden Age.  It describes a time when humanity was carefree in an age of plenty, nomadic hunter-gatherers when the earth swarmed with herds of animals that the hunters obtained all they needed from.  The Golden Age was ended by the Younger Dryas, a sudden big freeze that hit inside ten years, lasting 70 years, which coincided with the extinction of scores of animal and plant species, including those that had been around in North America for millions of years, mammoth, dire wolves, sabre toothed cats, and other megafauna.

With food less plentiful the Younger Dryas caused humanity to start farming, starting the Neolithic, the beginnings of civilisation.  Hesiod calls this the Silver Age, which is marked by a continuation of the belief in animism and the rule by matriarchy.  The melting ice of the last ice age caused sea levels to rise by hundreds of metres giving rise to the world-wide flood myths, it caused widespread conflict as people were forced to move.

For defence people banded together into cities, the chaos gave rise to an explosion of technology, writing was invented, so was organised religion.  Gods such as Zeus replaced the honouring of nature spirits.  Patriarchy replaced matriarchy, women rapidly falling to servitude.  Bronze replaced stone, so began the Bronze Age.

Both Hesiod and Ovid comment that the Bronze Age is the age of war.  People live in cloth of bronze and houses of bronze said Hesiod, these people never ate bread, a reference to the mentality of obtaining food through war rather than honest farming.

Relevant only to the Greek world Hesiod adds that the Bronze Age rolls into the Heroic Age.  The age of heroes is the age when Troy fell, which textual and archaeological sources pin down to 1250 BCE.  Herodotus mentions the Greek heroic superman Heracles running around Greece 900 years before he was born, circa 1300 BCE.  Evidently based on a historical figure Heracles seems to rapidly gain cult status. The poison arrows from the slain Hydra of Heracles was used to kill Paris in the Trojan War.  Heracles a few decades before the Trojan War was serving Jason as an Argonaut in his quest for the Golden Fleece.

Greece came down with a bump when climate change in 1200 BCE caused a rapid freeze sending the people in the north of the world southwards.  By land and sea the Mediterranean and the Middle East was flooded by invaders including the Sea Peoples. Empires were destroyed, cities burned, the Bronze Age fell into a dark ages it would not emerge from for hundreds of years.  The trade routes in bronze collapsed, so people turned to iron for their needs, the Bronze Age ended.  For locations such as Britain the Iron Age came later, as a result of another climate change event in around 750 BCE, which forced them into using hill forts, and the collapse of the use of bronze in favour of iron.

The Iron Age continues into this day marked by all our wonderful technology.  This is a worse age than the Bronze Age, since war continues, but it is added with loss of ethics.  Patriarchy rules, and anything female orientated in this world is despised and destroyed. I quote from Hesiod:

“Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth. The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another’s city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidos and Nemesis, with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil.”

Humanity is in a bad situation with so many economic, social and political troubles, in a paradigm of greed, waste and inefficiency. Science predicts what happens when any system is abused so that it becomes unsustainable, it collapses into anarchy as per the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Climate change is in motion with extreme floods, storm and drought, a hand that will collapse a house of cards. The ending of the Iron Age is on the horizon, I hope the next age will be better.

The fool that laughed

Speaking to fools is a waste of life.

Emanate change by example and sharing knowledge through tools like blogs, avoid the ignorant fools.

Emanate change by example and sharing knowledge through tools like blogs, avoid the ignorant fools.

Recently I was drawn into a discussion about the future of humanity and sustainability. The person I spoke to laughed at me, it was kind of humiliating to be invited to share ideas and then have a person laugh at you.  I usually only share my ideas with people either by example or through the medium of such tools as this blog.

The person in question could be representative of the mass of humanity, those that walk blissfully ignorant over the cliff to oblivion.  Forcing anyone to a point of view is wrong, the liberty of choice to decide for oneself is sacred.  I can only offer the opportunity to see the lack of a future through unsustainable action, the offer of a bridge to join the few who see and act for a better future for themselves and their children than the inevitable abyss that awaits humanity.

I am blessed as a historian of seeing the errors of individuals and empires that have gone before, how events shape history, the winner and loser of those events.  Perhaps it is a curse to see the future based on history, like Cassandra who is gifted to see endings but cursed by the god Apollo with the outcome no one will believe her, to be laughed at as I was.

Today I was studying the period of 750 BCE in relation to Britain and Ireland, I was asking why the sudden shift of the Celts from the use of bronze to iron.  The familiar face of climate change came into view, a sudden cooling of climate with excessive rain from 750 BCE that would last hundreds of years, the sort of weather Britain faces today.  In a BBC article they mention studies of midges, pollen and peat bogs showing a sudden change in climate.  For the Celt of Britain and Ireland there is a stampede to build hill forts, abandon bronze for iron, the wipe out of the currency of bronze axe heads they used for trade. Mass starvation and conflict thanks to climate change, the mass movements of people, and a collapse in a former bronze age trading society.

It no longer matters if climate change is due to humanity or nature, it is here.  Across the ages of history I see the consequences of climate change, I see the repetitions of history, I know what is to come in the future.  I won’t preach, the ignorant people are deaf and blind, they may awaken when the events finally overtake them like a dark tsunami, but for them it is too late.  I am no hero, I share ideas in a blog, I do actions by example that some may see and follow.  Life is too short to entertain ignorant fools.

A global leaky bucket

Global weather extremes will force people to hard choices.

Nature will have the last word in the debate over sustainability.

Nature will have the last word in the debate over sustainability.

I write this in despair, it is snowing again here in Colchester UK.  I admit envy for those of you who live in California or Hong Kong area, I see your photographs where the seasons always seem to be warm and sunny.  The northern Jet Stream refuses to move, Greenland enjoys growing strawberries as the lambs die in the fields of Britain from the winter that refuses to let go.

The extremes of weather are noted in the South of the world as well as the North.  Argentina has had the worst floods in decades last week.  The cause is that the systems such as the Jet Stream are paralysed in one place, thus everyone suffers flood, drought or winter in excess.  Nobody is sure why this paralysis is going on with systems like the Jet Stream, some say it is climate change, the point is that we are experiencing this, and it appears to be more than a temporary issue.

My opinion is that these weather extremes are here to stay for the long duration.  One is then left with a harsh reality of does one seek to control the weather or adapt to the weather? How does one control the weather, a chaotic energy system where even a small change can have great consequences? Perhaps adaptation is the better option, but does one know how huge those adaptations will have to be where drought and flood could be lasting decades?

Lets say food, water and energy are all contained in a bucket.  We take a jug and scoop out from the bucket what we need.  There is a tap that is constantly running filling the bucket with the food, water and energy.  We waste those resources so the bucket leaks.  We disrupt or destroy the renewal systems in the ecosystems so the tap is no longer running as fast as it should.  We are greedy consumers so we take more than we need from the bucket with our jug.  How will the bucket look now? Is this a sustainable future to you?

If our global weather extremes continue as they are it will be like a storm rocking the bucket spilling its contents, will our bucket future look even less sustainable? Extreme weather destroys harvests, kills animals, sends already distressed ecosystems into the abyss.  What happens when the bucket is so empty that people can no longer enjoy their lifestyle of wasteful excess, or worse that people grow cold, hungry and thirsty? Do they sit there and do nothing but die? Will they fight? Who will fight who? As the bucket contents get ever smaller, who will win in the fighting for what is left?

Global weather turns hostile

2013 likely will be worse than 2012 for extremes of weather.

Two glowing eyes in the clouds promises a harsh global experience in 2013.

Two glowing eyes in the clouds promises a harsh global weather experience in 2013.

A few days ago I was bouncing around Colchester happy as a bee as the mild spring brought pleasant weather after the floods of rain during December.  The winter in Britain depresses me for its cold and darkness, so I have been liking the mild temperatures this winter, with few frosts, tons of rain and one day of snow.

The blossoms are on the trees; foraging bees were out gathering food; the birds singing their hearts out, creating their territories and finding a mate; the first flowers of spring, including snowdrops were blooming.  At the back of my mind I warned myself to be wary of my optimism, for the British weather is a temperamental animal, which can turn nasty in an instant.  Today temperatures dropped more than ten degrees Celsius on the previous day, something that has an impact of a sledgehammer on the human body, which dislikes sudden temperature changes.  The savage frosts were back and a warning of snow was being made all over the internet.  Damn!

The observant can over time spot trends, which includes weather.  The news of the first ten days of 2013 is grim.  The Middle East has been hammered by the worst storms in ten years, heavy rains and snow; a sense of disbelief that Jerusalem is at a standstill due to heavy snowfall.  In the northern provinces of China winter fell like a hungry beast trapping more than a thousand ships in sea ice, and plunging temperatures deep below freezing point.  In the USA, suffering the continuing drought, winter storms dumped tons of snow on suffering Americans.  New Zealand is in drought, their rivers at the lowest point in years.  Record killer heat waves in Australia and Tasmania resulted in vast wild fires that destroyed homes, took lives and wiped out large swathes of forest and innumerable numbers of wildlife.  Distressed whales that usually visit in summer appeared in winter in Canada, and are a cause of concern being trapped under ice with a diminishing gap in the ice providing them with air.

My prediction is that the weather in 2013 is going to give humanity a worse kicking than it did in 2012.


Sustainability Action 10: I signed up to a sustainability seminar in Colchester.

Knowledge is power, for knowledge provides the keys to open doors to success.  My progress to be a sustainable individual is hampered by the limits on my knowledge; it is through education that I can increase my knowledge, thus to be a better sustainable individual.  I today signed up to a one day seminar on sustainability at Essex University in Colchester for next week.

I shall learn about how to involve other people in a cooperative atmosphere to design and follow a sustainable process that benefits society, business and the environment.  Currently the world follows unsustainable processes that will lead to human extinction; those processes need to be changed, and it requires all individuals to make those changes together if humanity is to survive.