Monday, 11 June 2012

Sustainability stuff from the week 4-10/6/12

The ever-increasing damage done by overpopulation and economic growth:

'Loss of biodiversity increasingly threatens human well-being'
"Over the past two decades, strong scientific evidence has emerged showing that loss of the world's biological diversity reduces the productivity and sustainability of natural ecosystems and decreases their ability to provide society with goods and services like food, wood, fodder, fertile soils, and protection from pests and disease"
"If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and 'decoupled,' then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation,"
"Burgeoning populations and growing economies are pushing environmental systems to destabilising limits"

The populations of richer countries, such as the one i reside in, are exporting their ecological impact to poorer countries, where coffee, cocoa and timber, for example, are imported from.
"Academics at the University of Sydney spent five years tracking the world economy, evaluating over five billion supply chains connecting consumers to over 15,000 commodities produced in 187 countries...
The study showed that in countries like Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Honduras, 50 to 60 percent of biodiversity loss was linked to exports, mostly to meet demand from richer countries."

It's long been known that the costs of accommodating fossil-pollution caused climatic change would far outstrip the costs of mitigating it.
This report estimates the cost to South America alone at $ 100,000,000,000

The capitalist habit of economic growth - producing more and more, and just throwing it away - is one that is increasing waste pollution in synchrony.
Exponential increase in economic throughput of goods can only cause an exponential increase in 'waste' - don't buy it - don't throw it away!
"[The world's] city dwellers will generate a waste pile of 2.2 billion tonnes a year by 2025, up 70 percent from today's level of 1.3 billion tonnes."

'Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated, new study reveals'
Biofuel was always going to be bad news, because it involves burning food; but also for other reasons:
The whole problem with carbon emissions from combusted fossil fuels is that it means taking the hydrocarbons out of the solid/liquid/gas stores underground, and moving it into an atmospheric carbon dioxide store, where it plays a part in the greenhouse effect.
Any process that mitigates this effect must shift the store of carbon from the atmosphere, to the ground.
For biofuels to have a sequestrative effect, they must increase the amount of plant matter involved in the system, from what was there before the industry started (increase the biomass).
Forest logging, whether specifically for Palm Oil plantations, or for other farms, has the effect of releasing carbon from the plant-store, and putting it into the atmosphere, because the farms are always less foliage dense than the forests.
On top of that, farms tend to involve fertilisers, which are nitrogen-based, and these, when released into the atmosphere, have a greenhouse effect orders of magnitude greater than that of CO2!
Sustainable farming/logging has to preserve the total biomass/nitrogen content. If the carbon/nitrogen are not neatly locked into even cycles, and are allowed to creep into the atmosphere, then our problems will increase.
Biofuels are simply not reconcilable with plans to sustain biomass or retain nitrogen stores.

No comments:

Post a Comment