By DJN for the North Herts Green Party April 2019
The earth has warmed 14 degrees C in the last 3 million years. What does this mean for us? Some of the effects are:
- shrinking ice sheets at our poles
- rising sea levels
- higher rates of temperature-rise over land and sea
- increases in “radiative forcing”. This means making a judgement about particular gases about how they can affect our climate
- measurements of carbon dioxide which show that it’s increased by 40%, and is being absorbed by the oceans causing them to acidify
- disruption to weather patterns – floods, extreme heat, droughts and forest fires and unusual winters – out of synch with crop cycles and insect life cycles
The effect of human activity is clear. The Green Party considers global warming to be a potentially devastating environmental (and societal) hazard for people now and in the future, and seeks immediate, and cooperative global agreement and action.
Modern human activity
Modern humans only appeared about 200,000 years ago and industrialisation has only happened in the last 100 years or so. The rate of warming was low, about 0.000004 degrees a year, but recently the rate has accelerated to about .005 degrees a year, which is approximately 1000 times faster than the ice-age rate. The Earth has warmed by 0.19 degrees since 1978/9 (38 years).
The last few years have broken weather records, which have been monitoring conditions for the last couple of centuries. Last year the whole earth had warmed by 1.6 degrees C since the industrial age, higher than the target of 1.5 degrees set by the Paris conference in 2015.
Global warming happens when greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapour, nitrous oxide, methane, particulates and chloro-fluoro-hydrocarbons prevent or slow natural planet cooling. These gases can be produced by industrial human activity such as burning fossil fuel such as gas and oil, and processes involved in intense livestock/meat. Livestock farming for meat and dairy have multiple harmful effects starting with “land-use change” – sacrifice of natural grassland or forest (for example the Amazon); the production of fertiliser for the growing of crops (such as pulses or maize) which are then fed to factory-farmed animals – not people. Industry and manufacturing also release enormous amounts of these and other gases, and our natural systems of cooling such as carbon sequestration in forests and peatlands is under direct attack and becoming less effective all the time as atmospheric temperatures rise.
Extreme Risks and Disasters
The “Earth Summit” in Rio (1992) led to the establishment of UNFCCC (The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that regularly publish up-to-date reports on various aspects of climate change such as “extreme risks and disasters” “CO2 capture and storage” “mitigation using renewable energy” and “regional vulnerability”. The Green Party actively supports the leading roles of these bodies (1). Good overall statements of issues and scientific and governmental consensus are reported with international work-party organisation.
However, the global environmental cooperation needed is happening far too slowly.
The Green Party calls for the establishment of global and national greenhouse gas emission reductions and effective enforcement mechanisms (2). Safeguarding our climate, for ourselves and for future generations, is a Green Party objective. The Green Party hopes to reduce the risk of disaster by keeping the global temperature rise to 2 degrees C or under, and reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions. We need, at the very least, to get all UK greenhouse gas emissions to 10% of 1990 levels by 2030. Climate change will likely increase the number of heat-waves, floods and droughts; changes of habitat; cause water and food scarcity; and the destruction of vital national and local infrastructure.
Stopping Climate Change at an International Level
Four main methods in our Climate Change policy join up to other Green policies such as our Energy/Forestry/Transport and Social Welfare policies, and include:
- Changing our fuel source. Although not to monocultured agrofuels which are set to significantly accelerate climate change and are not carbon-neutral, although they may be described as such. The Green Party calls for an immediate moratorium on all investment in such projects.
- Reducing our brutal intensive meat production – eat less meat and dairy.
- Protecting carbon sinks and carbon sequestration. In other words, preventing deforestation and the loss of peatlands – particularly of old-growth forests like the Amazon, and the peatlands of South-east Asia.
- Changing air and shipping towards increased efficiency, and the use of new fuels
- No fracking. We don’t need it in the UK; it’s environmentally damaging; and releases greenhouse gases
- Redistribution of fossil and nuclear fuel subsidies and changing “allowable CO2 production” to a fairer (per capita) measurement which assumes equal rights to the atmosphere
Short-sightedness and unfair trade agreements have led directly to deforestation, biodiversity loss, and faster climate change. Big polluters get the biggest permission to pollute, which is something the Green Party would tackle with carefully structured market-based mechanisms to protect our irreplaceable natural resources.
Our Personal Response to Climate Change
- Awareness, and political pressure. Awareness leads to individual changes in consciousness and knowledge, which eventually lead to universal acceptance of a truth. This has been shown, for example, by the change of attitude to the mandatory wearing of seatbelts, which was previously considered a violation of rights and is now taken for granted. Each person needs to form an awareness of, and relationship with, the planet that supports their life. It’s our air, our water, our soil, our life support systems.
- The power of your £. Your money often speaks louder than your vote. Spend according to your ethics; for green energy, non-meat/dairy organically-produced food, ethical investment and banking, and many others.
- Vote nationally and locally. Get green councillors on to your local council to start making a difference at a local level.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle and recover. Every man-made object from packaging to large-scale items like cars has been drawn from the finite resources of the Earth. Don’t buy anything new if you can help it.
- Reduce your own carbon footprint. This is a stepwise process, where every step is valuable, however small. Guides to reducing personal levels of consumption (such as of plastic bags/bottles or nappies) and reducing your carbon footprint are readily available, for example by supporting locally grown food.