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PS-Humanitas

2020 -2030

The most important decade there has
ever been in human history

PS – Humanitas

2020 -2030 is the most important decade there has ever been in human history.

On the one hand, we are on course to bequeath an unliveable world to our children.  On the other, there are so many amazing inventions in the pipeline we could create a wonderful new world for them –  if we can only rise to the challenges that face us now. This is surely the most exciting and important time to be alive there has ever been. The news from the climate front is terrifying. But if we are united and determined enough we can beat it and enter a new age in the process.

At the centre of the coming horror that threatens to engulf us is climate change.  But we should also not forget that soil degradation is so bad:

Earth Flaking

The Soil Association tells us the world is losing two soccer pitches of top soil a minute. Because we are destroying virgin forests we are coming into contact with hitherto alien animal diseases and may have to face an ongoing series of pandemics. 

Half the world’s species are on track to be lost by the end of this century. The destruction in a few decades of millions of beautiful creatures that took millions of years to evolve is surely a crime on the level of the Holocaust.  But it is not the Nazis that are doing it, it’s humanity – us. 

Currently we have almost no hope of avoiding the terrifying future that the scientists are forecasting.  They say that to have any chance we need to achieve a 45%  reduction in carbon emissions  by 2030.  According to the International Energy Agency the forecast for 2021was a 0.5% increase. The IPCC says on present undertakings we are still heading for a 2.4% increase, even 2.7. Is it likely the politicians will keep their promises any more than they did after Paris in 2015?   We only have ten years to bring about dramatic change.  Aren’t you a bit worried?

Smog at the Taipei 101 Building

Isn’t all this a bit exaggerated and over the top?

Unfortunately, not. The evidence for all these things is now overwhelming. Most people are not cynical or stupid or irresponsible. But they are uncertain, confused, find it difficult to imagine years ahead and pre-occupied with everyday problems. The politicians are reflecting this, so the years when we can still do something decisive are slipping away with not enough being done.

Why is the climate problem so urgent?

Everybody has heard of the greenhouse effect. But nothing in the climate debate has been so widely misunderstood. 

Smoke Stacks

People commonly think that we are pumping so much carbon into the atmosphere it is forming, as in a greenhouse, a thick blanket of carbon round the earth, letting heat in but preventing much of it from getting out and so warming our planet. 

This is completely untrue. 

The amount of carbon that humans are emitting is tiny, minuscule, compared with that produced by nature.  Every organism that dies surrenders carbon to the atmosphere. But nature balances these huge emissions almost exactly by cooling mechanisms.  These are most importantly three. 

Algae build up on a beach
  • Trees absorb carbon and through metabolic processes emit oxygen.
  • Even more importantly, trillions upon trillions of ocean algae do the same
  • Thirdly, the polar icecaps reflect sunlight and heat back into space, something like a third of it in fact.

Yet these cooling mechanisms do not quite cancel out all the carbon.  Almost miraculously it would seem, for millions of years they have permitted just enough carbon to rise into the atmosphere to keep the number of carbon atoms circling our planet to just under 300 in every million. This is the greenhouse effect.

Plant Earth in the dark with stars in the background

Without it the planet would be too cold to support life. 

We owe everything to carbon emissions. But what we have to grasp is the extraordinary and finely delicate balance of this arrangement, with its concomitant implication that it is very, very easily upset. 

What we are doing is disabling the cooling mechanisms through destroying forests, relentless ploughing, warming the earth enough to melt the polar icecaps and poisoning the oceans.

Polar Bear on the sea on a small iceburg

Once this process has gone far enough, and now it nearly has, we shall reach a tipping point and all that carbon nature has been sequestering will roar into the atmosphere. We shall then be faced with runaway climate change that will feed on itself.  As more trees burn the globe will grow hotter and more trees still will burn. The more the ocean is poisoned yet more algae will die. As ice melts more and more, less and less heat will be reflected back into space. it is extremely unlikely that humans could trigger runaway climate change in the full sense that turned Venus into an oven. Here we are using it in the more restricted sense that once we transgress an increase of 1.5 degrees, and certainly the 2.7 the IPCC is forecasting on the basis of current undertakings, it will become harder to contain the feedback effect that is the dynamic of global warming. Future generations could see if not the eventual demise of human and most other forms of life, then certainly its severe restriction to cooler parts of the globe. Catastrophe would come probably not directly from the increased heat itself but a breakdown of civilization as the world is unable to cope with millions of climate refugees, and possibly nuclear wars as nations fight for scarce resources. We just can’t read the future on the basis of computer models. But they are the best we have, and it is surely crazy not to go all out to avoid what they are telling us could happen.

At all costs, we must not trigger runaway global warming.

What could happen?

There will be ferocious hurricanes far worse than anything we have yet seen. Droughts could become far more devastating and floods more frequent than anything up to now.  Forest fires will burn out of control and the Amazon rain forest, the lung of the earth, will start to emit carbon rather than storing it (this is already beginning to happen). Summer heat could become unbearable and much of the earth too hot to live in.

Child holding sign saying This can't wait until i'm bigger

Sea levels could rise by a metre and in worst case scenarios by as much as 2.5, with the consequence that the world would lose much of its most fertile land, coastal cities will be drowned and whole countries will go under water.  There will be acute shortages of food and water and widespread starvation.

The scientists are warning us that there could be hundreds of millions, yes hundreds of millions they say, of climate refugees.  As nations scramble to acquire the earth’s diminishing resources it is easy to see how nuclear wars could begin.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

A most wonderful future is opening before us if we can only get over this present crisis. 

  • Nuclear fusion may well not be now so far off, totally environmentally safe electricity really will be too cheap to meter. 
  • Lab cultured meat and fish will be on the market within ten, even five, years and is already being sold in Indonesia.  It sounds pretty disgusting but it will improve. 
  • Gas from grass is already being developed in a pilot unit in Reading. It is estimated that there is enough marginal land in Britain already to heat the UK’s homes. if we support the same kind of determination to get lab-cultured meat and fish on the market a.s.a.p. with the speed that produced the vaccines, we could see a new and more prosperous kind of farming in which a few farms produce high-grade grass-fed meat, most organic veg and miles of wild flower meadow. One too far? Think about it. Do we really want to be reliant on gas from Russia or anywhere but here?

 There will be artificial bacteria doing all sorts of jobs, not least cleaning up the carbon that is already in the atmosphere.  High rise towers in cities could become green oases growing trees on the balconies, there are already examples in Milan.

Vegetables will be grown hydroponically in cities. Tomatoes are already being grown in the Australian desert using piped desalinated sea water.  Israel has already developed desalination plants that are delivering fresh water to most of its population (problems about desalination though).

Electric cars will be ubiquitous and dirty air in cities a thing of the past.   Electric cars are on the verge of using batteries that can be charged up in five minutes (more problems here though).

Progress is even being made on hydrogen planes.  It’s never going to be as good as kerosene.  Passengers will be fewer and cargo less, and long-haul flights will have to be done in stages, but we will still fly, and who knows what inventions there will be that nobody has as yet even thought of?

Scientists are already making progress on developing enzymes that break down plastic so it will be endlessly recyclable. We could clean up the seas and the creatures of the ocean so currently under threat will flourish.

All this is within our grasp. 
Above all we could create a more humane and loving world. 

The Pivotal Position of Britain.

It was the UK who first taught the world to pour carbon surplus into the atmosphere in order to get rich. Our wealth was founded on investments derived from slavery. The present poverty of many poor countries is rooted in colonialism that prevented them benefitting from trade but turned them into market gardens to benefit us.  If we want a fairer world we have to put all this right.  We are never going to defeat climate change simply by changing to electric cars, we also need a radical change of mind and heart.  We need to do penance and the UK is in a supreme position to do that.  Yet little colonialism was done out of malice, for most colonialists had the best of intentions but the worst of effects.  We meant well and still do.  But we can see now more clearly the disastrous long-term effects of colonialism. We need to put it right for history does not go away. We aren’t doing all we could do to charge ourselves and then the world. We need to set an example of a profound change of mind and heart.  We can do that.  We can start today not only to defeat climate but to create a much, much happier and more loving world.  We can stop exploiting people and animals and the beautiful nature we have been given for money. . That’s what the UK has done and we are still doing it and we need to change.  We set an example of how to become a rich country and now we need to set an example of how to become a loving country. In fact, we have little choice. If we allow hundreds of millions of climate refugees to happen, mostly from poor countries. it will destroy our world as well as theirs. 

Satelight image of the United Kingdom

PS-Humanitas

Yet none of it will happen if the world is overtaken by runaway climate change, and we continue to tear down forests, don’t abandon fossil fuels, keep on polluting the oceans with plastic waste and pathetically stand by as the bees and butterflies die.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

We have the technology we need but we must want to use it if we are to change course radically. We have to want to do it and be prepared to make sacrifices meantime.   If we don’t vaccinate everybody in the world covid could develop variants (not that likely but possible). that evade the vaccines. And the same is true of climate change, If we want to save ourselves we must think not just of ourselves but all humanity.  Hundreds of millions of refugees, mostly from poor countries, would destroy not only their world but ours.

But we can nevertheless still save the world for our children, and all the world’s children!

How exciting is that?

The main purpose of Ps-Humanitas is to awaken people to the grave peril we are all now in and to inspire them that we need to put everything, but everything  aside to address this while there is still time. But this is not just a great crisis. It is also a wonderful opportunity to create a better world. There has never been so exciting and challenging a time to be alive! But people aren’t inspired and excited by climate change.  It is our mission to change that. It is now a globalized world but our consciousness and concerns are still hemmed in by local circumstances.  We need to get wider minded. Yet we need to think locally too. We need to go all out to make ourselves in the UK energy self-sufficient and environmentally friendly. We can do that, the two go hand in hand. Do all you can to support Ecotricity’s gas from grass. Will it work? At least we should try. We have extensive resources of wind round our coast line. Heat pumps use British heat from British air and soil. You hear little about lab cultured meat. Press the politicians to make its development a priority for this is a key. If we were using less land for raising cattle we would have more for vegetables and grass. Do we want our children inheriting an unliveable world? No! Do we want to be dependent on Russia for energy? No! Let’s do something about it then while there is still time. Miles of wild flower meadows. Imagine it! A better and more loving world. Imagine it! We can only save ourselves by saving the whole world, including its plants and animals.  But to do that we will have to put all else on hold for the next ten years and that is clearly not happening at the moment, even as the last years when we can still act are fast running out.   We got into this mess by exploiting people and animals for profit. It’s not the way humans should live. We need to become more humane.

What can you do?

Women at a rally with a sign saying We need a change

We aim to  train people who understand the enormity of what wer’e facing to go back to their communities and inspire people with determination and excitement about climate and the hope that once we can deal with this we could enter a new and much better world.  The course will consist of 12 zoom meetings once a week over 12 weeks preceded by an explanatory meeting. The first course is due to start in early June 2022. Most of the meetings will be addressed. we hope, by experts in the field. You will find out more about climate change and be prepared to respond to the objections that people frequently have. Each talk will last only 25 minutes with 15 minutes for questions, as Zoom allow 40 minutes meetings free.  If you are not an attendee at the meetings you will be able to access recorded versions (I think but still need to sort this out) on our facebook page. We’ve also established the facebook page so you can talk  to each other (The Coming Ten Years). Sample topics of the twelve that will be dealt with, for example, will be ‘What does runaway global warming mean?  Could it really lead to the demise of the human race and most other forms of life?’ ‘ It’s the sun and nothing we can do. Why is this argument wrong?’  ‘Could we really be facing hundreds of millions of climate refugees?’ ‘Why in the nineties did emissions increase but temperature didn’t?’ ‘What’s happening in the Arctic?’ ‘Will there ever be hydrogen planes?’and so on up to the full twelve. You are recommended to read, so you understand both sides of the argument  Michael Shellenberger’s ‘Apocalypse Never’ and Mark Lynas’s ‘Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet’.  If you would like to sign up to this free of charge, then please e mail climateonehundred2@gmail.com If you  would like more information please ring 07847108474

Join our facebook group The Coming Ten Years and post!

What else can we do?

Form local groups to spread information, resolve and optimism on social media.

Put pressure on your local MP to stop compromising.

Read We Are the Weathermakers by Tim Flannery; Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas; Heat by George Monbiot

Get a local sheet metal worker, or even practical person, to make a small scale plastic re-cycler. Councils cannot recycle all the waste plastic. There are four parts. The main part, the shredder, should cost about £3000. The design is by the Dutch industrial designer Dave Hakkens. For instructions google Precious Plastic,

.Open a local coffee shop doing things Starbuck’s don’t do. Serve home-made cakes. Install a Dave Hakkens plastic reycling mach. Use beakers and chairs made from the recycled plastic in the shop. Have literature available urging people to more decisive action on climate. All profits to Practical Action (helping farmers in Bangladesh) or starving kids in Yemen or Afghanistan. Or try to persuade an existing coffee shop to become a ps-humanitas coffee shop.

If you think this document is saying the right things distribute a pamphlet version in your locality, any cafés, pubs, shops etc. that will take them. If you would like to do that e mail thomas2205.jackson@me.com or climateonehundred2@gmail.com and we will send you as many copies as you think you can handle.

Start or join a sewing club making and selling hand-made garments in local shops. Note the emphasis on the coming future of work profoundly changed by automation in the Pantisocracy section of this website.

Ask permission from the local council to turn grass verges into wild flower meadows. You will need to find out who owns the verges, hire a sod cutter, solve the problem of what can be done with the resulting compost, and plant plenty of rattle to stop new grass overwhelming the wild flowers.

If your’e performance-minded put on applicable satirical sketches and video them on websites. I can supply scores I’ve written. Examples on this site in the comedy section.

Bees. Insects are being wiped out all over the planet and if they go then we go. Honey bees are under particular threat from pesticides. If you can find an organic farm in your neighbourhood and are not a beekeeper -still better if you are – but interested, join a local bee club and learn how to do it. A team could look after them and if fruit trees can be planted – some fruits do quite well at high altitudes – the bees will pollinate the fruit.

Run a stall on your local market selling recycled goods, veg cook books, items made from recycled plastic perhaps, and disseminating appropriate literature.

Campaign to end international debt. We have poor countries by the throat in debt traps. It’s making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Campaign for vaccines to be made available to everybody however poor. Until everybody is vaccinated everybody is vulnerable to variations which could be lethal.

Support gas from grass. If this works, and it looks very promising, it will be brilliant as it would make domestic heating and gas use independent of foreign suppliers, eco-friendly and sustainable. But few know about it. There are plenty of interests who prefer high profits from foreign gas and don’t want you to. Information at https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/our-green-energy/green-gas.

Any more ideas?