Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What's Your Opinion?

What’s Your Opinion?

Hello. This is Anthony Day with an early Sustainable Futures Report.  It’s Tuesday 24th March. 
Is the Sustainable Futures Report Relevant?
COVID-19, the coronavirus, is in everybody's minds and increasingly affecting everybody's lives. Is the Sustainable Futures Report relevant in these times? I need to know what you think. My opinion is that it is relevant, because the climate crisis will still be with us after this virus has been defeated. It may be months, it may be years, but one thing is certain and that is that we will have to rebuild our world when all this is over. You may argue that how we rebuild it is a political issue, and I won't deny that. Both the coronavirus and the climate emergency issues can be addressed and defeated only by international cooperation between governments. That’s political. Someone once described the Sustainable Futures Report as green but increasingly red. Let’s not put labels on people’s opinions - let’s look for pragmatic solutions to where we are. If you don’t like what you perceive are my politics you don’t have to listen. But I’d much prefer if you shared your views either in comments to the blog or direct to me at mail@anthony-day.com. Or we can discuss this on line. 
What do you want to do?
Many of us probably feel powerless, because the most we can do is simply to sit at home. Working at home or indeed sitting at home without work are new experiences for many. It's going to be stressful. Thank goodness we have the Internet, social media and web conferencing to give us some social interaction. I went to four meetings last week without leaving my desk. I chatted with people in Germany, South Africa, and Ireland as well as the UK. 
Join Me Online
I'm sending out a conference invitation to all my patrons, to take place this next Friday 27th March. Given that you are in different time zones I may propose two separate sessions. 
Surely this is an opportunity to get together and decide what we can do together. Even if you can't take part but are sitting at home with little to do, take the opportunity to reflect on how the world will change once all this is over and how you would like it to change. And how we can achieve that change.
And so to this week's topic. This is what I intended to do, but it needs a lot more work, so for the moment this is just an overview. I said last time that the Sustainable Futures Report has been too tightly focused on the wealthy west and so this time I was going to look at Africa. That is probably my biggest mistake. You could almost say there is no such place as Africa. Yes, there is a continent called Africa, the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia. Wikipedia reveals that it extends to  about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles). When it’s midsummer in the North it’s midwinter in the South. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), eight territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.  
The continent is believed to hold 90% of the world's cobalt, 90% of its platinum, 50% of its gold, 98% of its chromium, 70% of its tantalite,[112] 64% of its manganese and one-third of its uranium.[113] The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has 70% of the world's coltan, a mineral used in the production of tantalum capacitors for electronic devices such as cell phones. The DRC also has more than 30% of the world's diamond reserves.[114] Guinea is the world's largest exporter of bauxite.[115]
And yet Africa’s total nominal GDP remains behind that of the United States, China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, India and France. As the growth in Africa has been driven mainly by services and not manufacturing or agriculture, it has been growth without jobs and without reduction in poverty levels. In fact, the food security crisis of 2008 which took place on the heels of the global financial crisis pushed 100 million people into food insecurity.[116]
I don’t think it’s sensible to ask, “How does climate change affect Africa?” Africa is so diverse. I’m going to start with one country and follow up with others later.
Nigeria, which has the biggest population of any nation in Africa, will be my first choice, but I’m going to defer that until after our online discussion. After we’ve agreed where the Sustainable Futures Report should go from here.
Interactive Web Conference
If you’re a patron you’ll get the log-on details for the online conference very soon via Patreon. If you’re not a patron but you’d like to take part, you can become a patron for as little as $1 per month. All the details are at patreon.com/sfr
To my patrons, thank you for your continuing support. I look forward to talking to you soon.
I’m Anthony Day.

Till next time.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Where do I start?

Where do I Start?

I’m Anthony Day. Welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 20th March.
COVID-19 and Energy
It goes without saying that the big issue is still COVID-19, the coronavirus. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the economic fallout to wipe out the world’s oil demand growth for the year ahead, which should cap the fossil fuel emissions that contribute to the climate crisis.
But Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, has warned the outbreak could spell a slowdown in the world’s clean energy transition unless governments use green investments to help support economic growth through the global slowdown.
“There is nothing to celebrate in a likely decline in emissions driven by economic crisis because in the absence of the right policies and structural measures this decline will not be sustainable,” he said. 
On we go
I'm no expert. All I know is that this pandemic will govern everything we do, for the next weeks, months and years. The situation is changing by the day, if not by the hour, so I’m not going to comment further, except to say that I think we will gain valuable lessons which will inform our approach to the climate emergency. I’m working on a new presentation on that theme, to be tailored for individual clients and presented as a live interactive video. The working title is “Lessons from COVID-19: staying in business, staying in profit and staying sustainable.” I’ll let you know when the trailer is ready and there will be special terms for Patrons who want to use it in their own organisations.
For today I’m falling back on cliches. Okay, they are cliches, but the fact that they've survived suggests there might be some truth in them.
Always look on the Bright Side. 
There is a bright side although for the moment the dark side is seriously predominant. It will gradually get brighter, because we can be confident that This, too, will pass.
But the climate will still be an issue.
As always, the question with the Sustainable Futures Report  is where do I start? With so much information coming in from all quarters it's difficult to know how to prioritise what to do or what to say. 
“Start with the end in mind”, 
is a well-known piece of advice. My end, my objective, is to make people aware of the seriousness of the climate situation so that we can all urge governments and leaders to take the international action which is the only way to conquer the climate crisis. At the same time I bring you news of work being done to meet the challenge and I also attempt to look at areas where much more action is needed.
This time, then, the topics I'm covering include good news and positive climate messages from the mining industry, from the EU, from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority - even from Boris Johnson! There’s good news, too, about geothermal energy, cutting pollution and a possible end to the throwaway culture. The list of bad news is ever longer: Commuters committed to their cars, why trees are not the answer, threats to sue the government over continued use of fossil fuels, accelerating polar ice-melt and why wearing clothes can be bad for the environment. Let’s start with the bad news, so you’ve got something to look forward to.
Driving On
Cars are a major source of pollution, both in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases and of particulates which reduce air quality. In the UK alone, bad air quality causes some 50,00 premature deaths each year. It’s disappointing therefore to learn from a report by the European Court of Auditors that Europeans are reluctant to give up the private car. They say: “Although cities have put in place a range of initiatives to expand the quality and quantity of public transport, there has been no significant reduction in private car usage.”
This is unsurprising, given that they found that in many cases it was always quicker to get to the city centre by car. In the immediate term it is going to be even more difficult to persuade people to use public transport while there is a risk of infection in crowded spaces. Much better to stay locked away in one's own private vehicle, and people will probably prefer that even if it takes longer to complete the journey.
Through the European Structural and Investment Fund, the EU has provided €16.3bn between 2014 and 2020 to change the way people move in cities. 
The auditors complained that the money was taken but there was “limited take-up” on European Commission guidance on how to spend it. Money was being wasted on ill-fated projects, while city plans often lacked coherence. For example, in Poland, the report found parking penalties were lower than fines for not paying public transport fares. In Warsaw, cars were banned from the side of the road but it was still possible to park on the pavement.
A senior auditor said congestion cost the EU around €270bn a year and that funds provided by Brussels should be more tightly linked to plans to shift people out of their cars. It’s not going to be easy.
We’re urged to plant trees and it is by far the best way to take CO2 from the atmosphere and lock up the carbon, at least in theory. In reality there are problems.
In a wide ranging report to the RSPB by Ellie Crane, entitled “Woodlands for climate and nature”, she describes the complexity of the issue. It’s a report I’d strongly recommend you look at. There’s a link on the blog.
Trees are a store of carbon, but they take many years to grow and require careful management throughout that time. 
Trees planted on peatland degrade that land as a carbon store, and release much of the carbon. In fact removing trees from peatland can have a positive effect on carbon storage.
“Burning wood for energy releases carbon to the atmosphere,” she says. “Unlike burning fossil fuels, this does not increase the total amount of atmospheric carbon in the long term. However, forest-based bioenergy cannot be considered carbon neutral because the payback time until the carbon is reabsorbed can be very long, particularly when living trees are felled for biomass.”
“Replacing coal or gas with biomass for electricity generation is likely to significantly increase emissions per unit of electricity generated.”
And yet Drax power station claims to be one of the greenest sites in Britain, and receives massive government subsidies on that basis. 
Harvested Wood Products (HWP) can be a continuing store of carbon after they have been removed from the forest, but how long that carbon stays locked up depends on what the products are used for. 
The British government has pledged to plant 30 million trees per year, raising the U.K.'s forest cover from 13% to 17%. Skilled tree-planters - mainly Australians and Canadians - are already at work and can plant one sapling every four seconds or up to 4,000 per day. That’s the first step. Some 25% are likely to die in the early years and the forest has to be carefully managed and thinned so that trees can reach their full potential. They not only absorb carbon dioxide but they also release it through respiration. Until trees reach maturity the amount they absorb exceeds the amount they emit, but once they are mature they store the carbon but don't add to it. The forests continue to need management, because if they are simply allowed to decay the trees will die, rot and the carbon will be released again into the atmosphere. If the timber is harvested the use that’s made of it determines how long it continues as a carbon store. CO2 persists in the atmosphere for up to 100 years, so be effective trees need to lock carbon away for that length of time.
Talking to the BBC, Prof Rob MacKenzie, of the University of Birmingham says it would be a "disaster" if governments and companies rely on forests to "clear up the mess" of carbon pollution.
An article in the journal Nature warns that the rate at which carbon is absorbed by the Amazon forests is in decline. At the moment the rate in African forests is stable, but there are signs that it too will decline in the longer term.
It’s too tempting for people to believe that buying a few trees can make up for flying away on holiday. Things just don’t work like that. The government’s 30 million trees are no substitute for cutting carbon emissions at source. Increasing fuel duty, which the Chancellor decided not to do in last week’s UK budget, would have had an immediate effect. As it happens, of course, the dramatic drop-off in flying and all forms of travel are having a much greater effect without the need for a fiscal scourge. 
The small problem of plastic
Plastic microfibres make their way into the oceans and pollute insidiously because they are so small that almost every organism can absorb them. Plastic microfibres are released and washed away to the sea every time we wash our clothes. They are too small to be trapped by sewage treatment plants. But surprising research from the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the National Research Council of Italy and the University of Plymouth suggests that wearing causes more fibres to be shed than washing.
Researchers compared garments made of four different types of polyester fabric. The results implied that a wearer could emit 300 million polyester fibres in a year by washing their clothes and 900 million fibres to the air just by wearing them. The chosen fabrics had different effects: the worst was found to be a polyester-cotton mix. The tightness of the weave and the construction of the garments also affected the extent to which fibres were lost. The researchers concluded that microfibre pollution has been significantly underestimated as fibres shed into the air have been previously ignored.
The conclusion appears to be that it’s best to avoid polyester in favour of other materials. Given polyester’s versatility and cheapness that’s another message that will be difficult to sell.
And in other bad news…
…ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating. 
Ice at the poles is monitored by IMBIE, the ice sheet mass balance inter-comparison exercise. IMBIE was established in 2011 as a community effort to reconcile satellite measurements of ice sheet mass balance. It is a collaboration between scientists supported by the European Space Agency (ESA)  and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is led by Prof Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds in the UK and and Dr Erik Ivins at NASA. 
The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise mean global sea level by 7.4m, while the ice sheets of Antarctica hold enough water to raise global sea level by 58m. 
In a recent press release the organisation reports that Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice six times faster than in the 1990’s and are both tracking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst-case climate warming scenario. Left unchecked, this will lead to an extra 17 centimetres of sea level rise by 2100. 
In their Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that global sea levels would rise 53 centimetres by 2100, and it’s estimated that this would put 360 million people at risk of annual coastal flooding. But the IMBIE Team’s studies shows that ice losses from both Antarctica and Greenland are rising faster than expected, tracking the IPCC’s worst-case (“high-end”) climate warming scenario. 
Professor Shepherd said: 
“Every centimetre of sea level rise leads to coastal flooding and coastal erosion, disrupting people’s lives around the planet. 
“If Antarctica and Greenland continue to track the worst-case climate warming scenario, they will cause an extra 17 centimetres of sea level rise by the end of the century. 
“This would mean 400 million people are at risk of annual coastal flooding by 2100. 
“These are not unlikely events with small impacts; they are already underway and will be devastating for coastal communities.” 
Guðfinna Aðalgeirsdóttir, Professor of Glaciology at the University of Iceland and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report, who was not involved in the study, said: 
“The IMBIE Team’s reconciled estimate of Greenland and Antarctic ice loss is timely for the IPCC. Their satellite observations show that both melting and ice discharge from Greenland have increased since observations started. 
“The ice caps in Iceland had similar reduction in ice loss in the last two years of their record, but summer 2019 was very warm in this region which resulted in higher mass loss. I would expect a similar increase in Greenland mass loss for 2019. 
“It is very important to keep monitoring the big ice sheets to know how much they raise sea level every year.” 
On the blog you’ll find a link to the IMBIE press pack.
It includes papers, photos, the press release and videos of the changes in Greenland and Antarctica and a clear explanation of the consequences.
The problem is clear. Now we need immediate action to combat this threat.
What can I do?
Listener Esteban Eles Vega sent me a link to an article entitled, “Quit Obsessing About Climate Change. What You Do or Don’t Do No Longer Matters.”  
“Quit worrying about going vegan, or recycling, or riding a bicycle to work, or buying a Tesla instead of that Ford F-650 pickup you’ve always wanted in order to save the planet,” says author, Glen Hendrix. “You’re off the hook. It’s out of your hands. You can do these things if it makes you feel better, but they are not going to change the big picture. Whatever you do does not matter.”
He goes on, “This is the most pivotal point in the history of man. We only get one shot at this. If we blow it, we won’t get a comparable situation for millions of years, if ever. If mankind does have a world-wide civilization by then, we will have forgotten all of this — this choice we had. Save the planet or just get along and ignore it until it is too late. Scientists are saying our planet is doomed and all I hear on the news is everything but that. We are a society in denial, trying to collectively whistle past the graveyard. Our weather men won’t even talk about it on the local news. It might be construed as political. It might upset people. We are so polite and civilized in our denouement.”
His point is that we can’t do anything, not you or I. And he firmly believes that “people with money and power, the people with the means to do something, just don’t care. They would have to give up some of that money and power to change things. They figure they won’t be around to suffer the consequences of climate change anyway, so they just don’t give a damn.”
Pretty depressing stuff. If I believed that I wouldn’t bother to publish the Sustainable Futures Report each week. Yes, Governments need to act. Yes, we can change future outcomes. And Guardian columnist George Monbiot calls government to account: “Already,” he says, “the Heathrow decision [the refusal to allow a third runway] is resonating around the world. Now we need to drive its implications home, by suing for survival. If we can oblige governments to resist the demands of corporate lobbyists and put life before profit, humanity might just stand a chance.”
Spread the word!

Meanwhile, looking on the Bright Side…
That’s enough pessimism for this week. Listen to this clip:
That’s Seamus O’Regan, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, speaking at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention, the world’s biggest mining conference. He’s telling the audience, which must include those who mine coal and those who exploit Canada’s vast tar sands, that the country’s objective must be net zero. Thanks to Patron Eric de Kemp for bringing this to my notice.
Taking Aim
Across the world there is pressure for an EU climate target for 2030 to be established. In a letter to the EU’s top official on climate action, Frans Timmermans, a dozen EU member states say “the EU can lead by example and contribute to creating the international momentum needed for all parties to scale up their ambition” by adopting a 2030 EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction target “as soon as possible and by June 2020 at the latest”. This comes, of course, in the year of COP26 which we hope will still go ahead in November as planned. It's the United Nations conference where nations will report on their five-year progress since the 2015 Paris Agreement and set out their objectives for handling the climate crisis in years to come.
The EU’s proposed regulation says:
  1. By September 2020, the Commission shall review the Union’s 2030 target for climate …and explore options for a new 2030 target of 50 to 55% emission reductions compared to 1990. Where the Commission considers that it is necessary to amend that target, it shall make proposals to the European Parliament and to the Council as appropriate. 
Green activists say that a 50 to 55% reduction is not sufficient to enable achievement of net zero by 2050. The regulation is open for comment until 1st May. Find the link on the Sustainable Futures Report blog and send them your feedback.
Dissent and Denial 
Boris Johnson has been urged to publicly declare climate deniers as wrong in order to secure the UK’s standing in vital UN climate talks at COP26 later this year. Nothing has been heard from him on this, although he probably has other things on his mind at present. Climate deniers with links to the Tory party, including the Global Warming Policy Foundation, are close to a number of front-bench ministers. It doesn’t help to learn that Business Minister Alok Sharma, who has been put in charge of COP26 by the prime minister, has voted against a number of climate-friendly issues in the past. Lobbyists in Brussels are urgently seeking to reduce the impact of the new law. Hang on - I thought this was good news.
FCA takes a view
Well it must be good news that the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority is likely to require large firms to account for their impact on the planet in future. Its plans are expected to draw heavily on the climate recommendations set out by the by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), a voluntary framework for companies that is considered a global gold standard for climate disclosure. The rules should be ready for implementation by the end of the year.
Hot Underfoot
An article in EOS Science News - another link from Eric de Kemp - describes how Canadian researchers are investigating the potential for geothermal energy. Geothermal power plants have small footprints (unlike hydropower plants), low emissions, and direct-heat-use opportunities, but most important, they provide stable baseload power, unlike intermittent wind and solar sources. On the other hand, suitable sites are difficult to find. They need high temperatures and must support sufficient flow rates of heat-carrying fluids to make exploitation viable. The Geological Survey of Canada is currently investigating the area around Mount Meager, Canada’s only active volcano, developing novel tools and techniques to locate suitable sites. Let’s hope they can find so much energy that there will no longer be any need to exploit the Alberta tar sands. Come on - there must be some there. We’ve even got geothermal energy in the UK, and we haven’t got any active volcanoes!
And in other news…
Don’t throw it away!
The BBC reports that new rules could spell end of the 'throwaway culture’. Traditionally we take, make and discard. We grow or mine resources, incorporate them into products and throw them away when we’ve finished. Then we start all over again. It’s the whole argument of the circular economy that at one end of the process strategic materials are being over-exploited and at the other end we’re creating waste and pollution. 
Now the European Commission is planning rules that will ensure products are designed and manufactured so they last - and so they're repairable if they go wrong. It is likely that the UK will follow suit, even after Brexit. Instead of reduce, re-use, recycle, products should be designed so that they can also be refurbished, repaired, remanufactured and even repurposed, before being broken easily down into their components and materials for recycling.
Something in the Air - or not.
Good news from China. The industrial shutdown brought on by COVID-19 has cut deaths caused by air pollution by tens of thousands. Compare this with a total of 3,000 deaths from the virus. Forbes magazine quotes a report which claims that the shutdown has saved 77,000 lives. Will we ever go back to business as usual?
And finally,
That's the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, the 20th of March. Quite wide-ranging and a bit disjointed I'm afraid. Next time I'm going to look at what the climate crisis means for Africa. It's been pointed out that the Sustainable Futures Report tends to focus on the wealthy west. Consequences of climate change may be felt more acutely in the developing nations and consequences will arrive earlier. So I'll do my research and see what I can find. If you've got information on this to share I'm always ready to hear. Contact me at mail@anthony-day.com.
I'm fortunate in that preparing this podcast doesn't require me to leave my desk, so there is nothing in the present environment to prevent me from continuing week by week. As long as the broadband holds up, of course.
That's it for this week.
Now wash your hands.


Coronavirus poses threat to climate action, says watchdog

Bad news
European commuters still choose cars and congestion over public transport
Report from the European Court of Auditors

The government must abandon its fossil fuel power projects. If not, we’ll sue

Trees on commercial UK plantations 'not helping climate crisis'
Report to RSPB

Tropical forests losing their ability to absorb carbon, study finds


Ice Melt

Greenland video : https://youtu.be/CqyLfkSuqlw 

Taking Action 


Well at least we are hearing the right things...

This was at this weeks world biggest mining and mineral  exploration conference in Toronto PDAC 2020.

EU member states call for 2030 climate target

Boris Johnson urged to speak out against climate deniers

City watchdog may demand UK's top firms reveal climate impact


Alternative energy

Good news

Friday, March 13, 2020

Setting Sail - Charting the Course

Setting Sail - Charting the Course

Hello and welcome. I’m Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report. It's Friday, the 13th of March, Lucky for some I hope.

This week
This week’s episode is dedicated to an interview so first let me thank patron Eric de Kemp for leads to some stories which I've not had room to include this time but will report on next week. 
Be a Patron
If you are not a patron and you don't know what that means you can find all the details at patreon.com/sfr . There you can support the Sustainable Futures Report with a monthly contribution from as little as $1 which helps me to cover the hosting costs and, with this episode as an example, to pay to have interviews transcribed so you can read them on the blog if you prefer. The blog is at www.sustainablefutures.report and there you will find links to all the stories that I have covered in each episode.
I mentioned that I’ve had a number of requests from people wanting to be interviewed, but I’m afraid a number of them seem to have thought better of it, so we won’t be discussing population for the moment. 
Not true of this week’s guest. He is adamant that we need to do something about the climate crisis and he has strong views on what we should do. He’s Captain Sandy Anderson and he’s CEO of Earth Ship Ltd. That’s earth-ship.org
Here’s what we discussed.

Interviewer: First of all, I'd like to welcome Captain Anderson to The Sustainable Futures Report. Captain Anderson -- and the name gives it away -- is a seaman. He's long experienced with his own company in the barge and tug business in New York City. He's an expert on alternative energy use for marine purposes, including auxiliary wind propulsion. He's got his own cable TV show, Captain Anderson Global Show. And he was a speaker at last year's Responsible Business Summit.

What attracted me was that he wrote to me and he said we're both interested in climate change, but we've all got it wrong.

Now tell me, how have we all got it wrong?

Answer: Well, we all took our lead from, I think, perhaps, back in August of 1988. Dr Jim Hansen from NASA went before Congress, and he explained to Congress this business called global warming -- the long term variations in the weather data. In other words, we're seeing trendlines, we're seeing the average temperature of the Earth separate from where it should be. And he used a lot of statistics to explain that to Congress.

The US Congress understood nothing, and they did even less. So Jim Hansen left NASA and he went out into the public and he began a decades-long campaign to explain climate change to the public. But the problem is, when he did it, he said, "climate change is floods, droughts, storms, melting ice, forest fires." And so the public, including myself, I might add, took the bait and said -- wow, that's climate change.

And I lectured on the subject at universities and I had the television program and whatnot, and I'm telling the public the same thing.

But actually, that's like, supposing you went to the doctor and you said to the doctor -- I've got a runny nose and a cough, and so on and so forth. And the doctor said, don't worry about it, you've got the flu, go home and rest.

But then, you still feel bad, so you go to another doctor. The doctor says, well, guess what? You've got a terminal disease. You had better go home and make arrangements.

Well, by introducing climate change in terms of the cause, it's like telling the public we've got a terminal disease. Wouldn't you react differently if you left the doctor and thought you had the flu? As opposed to leaving the doctor knowing you've got a terminal disease?

I can't stop climate change at this point. Neither can anybody else. But we had better face the fact that by disrupting the carbon ratio, we have a very serious disease, and it's not an inconvenience -- it's terminal.

Interviewer: Okay, all right.

So let's take the opportunity at this point just to explain what you mean by the carbon ratio.

Answer: All the carbon on Earth is in the carbon cycle in some way, shape or form. Either in the short term carbon cycle or the long term carbon cycle. We keep track of carbon. It's called organic chemistry. You can't do anything about it. It is what it is. Neither you nor I can change it. However, some of the carbon that's taken out of the atmosphere in the form of CO2 doesn't stay in the carbon cycle. It's sequestered in the Earth in the form of fossil fuels. Every molecule of CO2 we convert to fossil fuels, we have in essence shrunk the size of the carbon cycle.

Interviewer: Well, that's not something we do. That's something that happened in prehistory, isn't it?

Answer: That's right. That took hundreds of millions of years. We had no control over that.

Interviewer: Right.

Answer: In fact, there was a time in the Earth's history when too much carbon was taken out of the atmosphere and the Earth froze over from pole to pole. And they have proven that the Earth was frozen over because there was too little carbon in the atmosphere to trap the heat.

Now let me just get back to that with something that's very easy to think about. Carbon is what traps thermal energy. Thermal energy is what warms the atmosphere. That's solar energy that bounces off the earth and radiates back into space, long wave thermal radiation. Only carbon traps that -- oxygen doesn't, nitrogen doesn't, argon doesn't. Only carbon.

For instance, if the Earth's atmosphere had no carbon in it at all, the scientists have calculated that the earth's temperature would be about 17 degrees Fahrenheit. But put just a little bit of carbon in the air, and you've got just the right temperature. So it's regulating the carbon in the atmosphere that's the only thing we need to be worried about. It's the only thing humans can control. We can control how much carbon goes back in the atmosphere. That's the only thing we've got. And that is the determining factor of whether or not our species is going to continue.

Interviewer: Okay. So how do we control it, in your view?

Answer: Well, stop all planes, trains, ships, cars, fertiliser -- everything that burns fossil fuels. That's a pretty tall order.

Interviewer: Yeah, I think we've got to accept that's an impossible order, isn't it? Because people will not do that.

Would you not argue, at least in the short term, if we did that, life on Earth would be not worth living and probably not sustainable anyway?

Answer: I wouldn't say it wouldn't be sustainable because we lived for hundreds of thousands of years without burning fossil fuels.

Interviewer: Yeah, but not in the electronic age, though, did we.

Answer: No, no. So that's the choice we have to make.

And there's a lot of people that don't call me back, because I think that they're saying the same thing that you are, Anthony -- well, for God's sake, we can't stop doing it.

Well, if we know how serious the problem is, maybe we will be a little bit more determined in the actions that we take. It doesn't matter, by the way, how fast we put the carbon back in the air. Once you have combusted the fossil fuels, the carbon is back in the carbon cycle, it's there forever, and you can't get it back out again.

Now, I've also came across what I call the delay, the carbon delay. And you asked me to explain that, and just calculating the carbon delay. The delay is, when you release carbon at ground level, it doesn't do us any harm at ground level. Carbon at ground level takes time to rise up into the troposphere. That's where it tracks the heat. Nobody knows how long that takes. There's lots of estimates. Best estimate I can get to is about 30 years. I've heard estimates from 20 years. I heard them all the way up to 40. So I take the middle road. So it takes about 30 years before that carbon rises up into the atmosphere and traps the maximum amount of heat. Nobody can tell you exactly how much carbon that's in the troposphere, how fast it's getting there.

What we can do is two things. We can measure the rate of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. That's at 13,700 feet. That's halfway to the troposphere. And the other thing we could do and measure with some accuracy is we can measure the amount of carbon that's combusted at the ground level. So now we know two things -- how much carbon was released at ground level, and how much carbon is at 13,700 feet.

So take this calculation. In 1950, we burned enough fossil fuel so that we put six giga tonnes, or six billion metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere. In the 1950s, the rate of increase of CO2 in Manila was 0.7 -- 0.7 parts per million per year. That's the rate of increase.

Now, let's go up to 2019. 2019, we put 36 giga tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere at ground level. That's six times greater than 1950 -- that's six-fold in 70 years.

The rate of increase of CO2 in parts per million went from 0.7 to 2.1. So ask yourself, that's a threefold increase. Why did the amount of carbon released at ground level go up six fold, and the amount of carbon measured at Mauna Loa only go up threefold? And the answer is it's being held down -- it's been released, but it hasn't yet risen into the troposphere.

So it's entirely possible we've already combusted enough carbon to cause us real chaos on Earth as it just rises up into the troposphere.

Interviewer: But how do you know it's actually going to rise into the troposphere, and that it hasn't actually being absorbed by the natural carbon sinks? Which I know are being overwhelmed to some extent? But carbon dioxide is absorbed to some extent by the oceans; it's absorbed by plants and forests and growths and things like that.

So although we may be putting large amounts into the atmosphere, some of it surely is being sucked out and sequestered by natural means.

Have you got any data to show how the concentration of CO2 is changing in the troposphere?

Answer: Okay, you just hit the nail right on the head. You took the bait along with everybody else. What you described to me about the sinks and the carbon in the ocean, that's exactly right. You're 100% correct. But that's carbon that's in the carbon cycle, that's in the game. The carbon that was in the earth in fossil fuels that's carbon that's taken out of the system. It's no longer doing anything. It isn't going into the ocean, or the trees, or the animals. It isn't being anything, it's in the game. It's able to warm the earth.

Interviewer: Why is it not being absorbed by the carbon sinks?

Answer: Because it's in fossil fuels. It's not even in play. The best way to think of this Anthony is to think of ping pong balls in a lottery cage. It's exactly the same thing.

If you put too many balls in the lottery cage, nobody wins. And so nobody plays the game. If you take too many balls out of the lottery cage, everybody wins and the game can't play. And again, the game fails. You have to have that right balance of balls in the cage in order for life to exist or the lottery to thrive. Now the ping pong balls you take, put them in the lock box. They're still there, but they do not influence the odds of winning or losing. Well, those ping pong balls in the lock box are fossil fuels. It's what fossil fuels is. So that's the difference.

Interviewer: Yeah. Okay, well I accept that, but all right, let's accept that your premise says that carbon dioxide which is being added to the atmosphere is going to move, we don't know how quickly, is going to move up into the troposphere. And in due course, that change in the troposphere will lead to warming, and that then will lead to unusual weather and all the downsides that we know about climate change.

So assuming that that's all going to happen over the next 30, 40, 50 years, things are going to get worse, what is the message that we have to give to the public? Because what you're saying is that the public do not fully understand the message. And more importantly than the message, what is the call to action? What are we going to ask people to do? Because we can't say don't drive, don't use fertilisers, don't fly in airplanes as off now, because that won't work.

Answer: Forgive me if I don't have an answer for everything. But back in the early 1980s when I was putting wind power on the merchant ships, and in the United States, there were gas lines and alternate days of buying and there was all sorts of problems, and we thought the economy was going to crash, and it was a lot of big brouhaha in the United States.

But what I did notice is when the message -- albeit it was erroneous -- but we got the message, we were told that we were running out of fuel back then. And when I did that, the ideas came out of the woodwork. People you never would have thought could do anything without a shopping list, they were coming up with ideas. High school scientists went down and invented stuff. People got cars to run on chicken fat. We had new windows, new doors, new insulations. We really reduced our fuel consumption once the public began to believe that they had a problem.

What we're doing now is we're not telling the public how serious the problem is, so we're lulling them into thinking it's going to work out in the end and I'm telling you, it is not going to work out. If you put that carbon back in the game, you take those balls out of the lock box and put him in the lottery case, you've changed the odds of us continuing.

Interviewer: Okay. But back in the example you quoted, when people were actually queuing up outside the filling stations because they believed there was a shortage of petrol gasoline, they had a problem. They had a problem which was affecting them, they had to wait in line in order to get their fuel so they could go on with their daily lives.

There is a problem now, but it's not affecting people. It's not affecting people. They can continue to drive larger and larger cars. They can fill them up with lots of fuel. They can pollute as much as they like. It is not actually real, although we can say it, we can show documentaries and we can prove, we can quote the science. To people in their daily lives, and today is a big example, they would say -- but there's a Coronavirus, we're afraid that we're going to get sick and that a lot of people are going to die and surely that's much more important.

Okay, in the short time, it is more important. In the long time it is not more important. But that is going to concentrate people's minds. If we got that out of the way, they're going to turn around and they're going to say, okay, we have a problem in the future. But today I have a family to feed, I have a job to go to, I have to look after my sick parents. I have day today, immediate issues. Unless actually something is going to come out of the woodwork and to stop people from doing what they want to do on a day to day basis and that that can clearly be seen to be directly related to the climate, they are not going to do anything, are they?

Answer: Well, you answered your own question. No, but ask the question I'm asking. No, you have to tell the public how serious the problem is. And one of the things I learned in my television program, which was a call in program, for I don't know how much, for nine or ten months, I didn't get many calls by the way. But every single one of them came from women. They seem to get this quicker than we do. And not only that, women seem more willing to make some compromise in their own lifestyle if they thought it was going to save their children. If women didn't feel as strongly as they did about putting their children into the future, then quite probably our species wouldn't even be there. They've been taking care of their kids since the beginning of time.

So that's one thing in our favour. Secondly, I give people a little bit of credit. If I can enforce upon them just how serious this problem is, I think they will take some stronger action. Right now they're being lulled into believing that it's going to work out all right.

And you hit the nail right on the head when you said people are able to do what they're doing now because the situation isn't that bad. And that is the unbelievable tragedy of a global warming or climate change, and that is, I just explained to you, a great deal of the carbon that has been released is still at ground level and not yet able to trap heat. And I gave you the numbers that support that. Mauna Loa has only gone up three fold, and yet the amount we've released has gone up six fold.

In fact, I could tell you statistically, 50% of the excess carbon that's in the atmosphere today, 50% of it has been released in the last 30 years. 85% of the excess carbon in our atmosphere has been released since World War Two. So the whole mess, the GDP, the economy, growth, population, money, it's all driving forward as if this was going to work out in the end and nobody is standing up and saying anything.

So you have to ask yourself Anthony, who's going to stand up and say something? Would it be an elected official? Because you see an MP standing up in front of his constituency, and saying -- if you'll vote me in the Parliament, I will assure you that this suffering that lies ahead will be divided equally among all people. No, he doesn't get elected. How about a CEO? The Bank of England. What if he got up and said, folks, it's no good, we're putting too much carbon in the atmosphere, it's the death knell for humanity, we're closing the bank. We've got your money. That's the end of it. We're all done.

No, he's not going to say that. No, has to be an activist to get up and explain to the public how serious the problem is. And I think that can do that.

Interviewer: To be fair, the outgoing Governor of the Bank of England has actually stood up and told the financial community that climate change is a problem. He hasn't said, we've got to close everything down, or anything like that. But look, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Worldwide Wildlife Funds and many others are actually making it clear that we have got a climate crisis.

So how does your method of putting over this message differ from the way that these people are already addressing the problem?

Answer: Well, I haven't heard anybody described climate change in quite the stark terms that I am. I haven't heard anybody say that. They all believe that they could tweak the existing system and make it work. And you said to me, well, we're not going to change our system, we're going to keep doing what we're doing because we're human beings and we're greedy, narcissistic people and we're going to keep doing it.

So you know what, Anthony, maybe that's what will happen. But the fact of the matter is, you cannot tweak the existing system a little bit here and a little bit there, like Greenpeace says, and everybody else says. You can't save a whale here and drive an electric car someplace else and think it's going to work. It's not.

Somebody has to tell the world the truth. And the truth is, we made a mistake.

Interviewer: How do we make the world listen? How do we make the world act? Because, nobody wants bad news. This is the worst news anybody will ever have heard.

Answer: I couldn't agree with you more. Don't forget, England, the UK, Canada, the United States, Japan, much of China, we're very wealthy, but there's a whole other 3/4 of the planet that isn't so wealthy. And so the higher you have risen on the socioeconomic scale, well, the bigger the adjustment you've got to make. But the people in Somalia might not even notice any change in their lifestyle. People in Brazil and people in Arkansas in the United States and the poor people in Japan, the rice farmer, they're not going to care too much. It's only people like you and I who are living fairly high on the hog that don't want to change our lifestyle. And that's perfectly natural. I can understand that.

But if you and I... I'm sorry to go on. But if you and I were in a rowboat, the ship sank during the night and we wake up the next morning and you and I are in a rowboat that's leaking. I don't know you and you don't know me, being the gentleman I am Anthony, I pick up the oars and I start rowing.

So the water's coming up around your ankles. Now, I don't care if you bail, or you don't bail. If you drown, that's none of my business. But if you drown, I got to drown with you. So it's incumbent upon me to say to you -- Anthony, please pick up the bailer and start bailing the water or we're both going to croak.

So we have to tell the majority of the people on Earth that as a species we've made a monumental mistake by taking the carbon out of the earth and putting it back. Look, it took nature hundreds of millions of years to pull that carbon out of the earth, to get it out of the carbon cycle, so that the Earth would be cooled down. What do you think's going to happen if we put it back in the atmosphere? Now, our ancestors didn't know that. They didn't know it. But now we do know. So we're going to commit self inflicted genocide, or we're going to act like the sapient animal we're supposed to be. Which are you?

Interviewer: Okay. Okay. Just supposing we could actually persuade everybody to stop driving cars, using natural gas for heating their homes, stop using fossil fuels, as of tomorrow. From what you're saying about the carbon delay, there is already too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and we are going to see tremendous effects over the next years. So we've got two problems. We're going to stop it increasing. But what are we going to do with the stuff that's already there? And if we can't do anything with the stuff that's already there and it's all disaster in the future, well, we might as well enjoy things while we can, mightn't we?

Answer: I didn't say we had released too much, because I don't know the answer to that. And I don't ever say anything unless I know what I'm talking about. I just said that we have released a lot and it hasn't yet risen into the troposphere. So you've got to make people understand exactly that.

I don't think there's that many people on earth... Well, I could be wrong. If there are, most of them are in America. But I don't think there's that many people on Earth that would want to commit genocide and just say -- well, this is the end of us, we might as well have a good time because the younger you are, the longer you're going to be suffering from the problem.

No, I think we have to come together as a people. We're supposed to be a smart animal. You know, if you had a bunch of people in a foxhole and there was a black one and a white one and a Christian and a Jew and a smart one and a dumb one and all sorts. And there's nothing to do. They just have to hold their position. And what happens? They squabble. They squabble and they fight. And they break into ethnic groups and racial groups and religious groups.

But when the bombs start falling and people begin to understand that there's a battle going on and some of the people in the fox hole are killed, there's not enough water, there's not enough fuel, there's not enough anything. Those people come together without any consideration of who they were or how rich they were, or whatever the problem is, they will all work together so that they can survive.

And that's the purpose of the Earth Ship Program is to tell the world, we're in this together, we've got to work together and devil take the hindmost, we're going to have to change our standard of living.

Interviewer: Okay. Now we're coming up to a time where we're going to have to wind up. But you've just introduced the idea of the Earth Ship Program. So this is your solution to getting the message out. Tell us more about how that is going to work?

Answer: Oh, that's interesting. Now keep in mind the Earth Ship Program, really novel thing about us, there's just a couple of things.

First and foremost, I'm going to tell the public just what I'm saying now. I'm not going to say what Greenpeace is saying, or World Wildlife Fund. I'm going to put the numbers out there, I'm going to make it very clear we made a mistake.

Secondly, we're going to travel around the world in sailing ships. Al Gore goes to his meetings in private jets and limos. That's really not sending the right message. No, we're going to travel in sailing ships, something I know a little bit about. All right, but here's the real key. The real key is that I've devised a way for corporation to underwrite the program, to sponsor one of the ships. There'll be many ships, there'll be all over the world. And each corporation can sponsor one of those ships and make a substantial profit in the process. And I do that by selling to the corporation a charter on the ship without actually selling them the ship itself.

It's interesting if I can get corporations interested, we'll have a flock of ships telling the whole world the whole message. That's all I can do, is just tell the world the truth and then let the world do what they want. And I think they will respond to the problem.

Everybody wants to survive. Being alive is being better than being dead. Never having been dead I'm speaking out of turn, but I don't think it's going to be... It's boring. But being dead has got to be boring.

Interviewer: Well, Captain Anderson, But you really have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for putting over what is a very, very important message. I'm not sure I agree that we can persuade people to be quite as draconian as we need to be. But everybody who's raising the awareness of this whole issue is adding towards creating a solution. We'll just have to see. But at the same time, let it not be said that we didn't actually try to do something about this.

Answer: Hit the nail right on the head. I'm not sure they're going to respond either, Anthony. But damn it, I'm not going to roll over and play dead. I'm going to at least tell people the truth and -- devil take the hindmost.

Interviewer: Captain Anderson, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, your very interesting thoughts with The Sustainable Futures Report.

Well what do you think? Capital Anderson would certainly be interested in your thoughts and you can contact him at earth-ship.org. I always welcome your comments so please do come back to me if you've got ideas or suggestions on this or future episodes. It’s mail@anthony-day.com as always.
One thing that really concerns me is how we keep minds focused on the climate emergency while everyone is concerned with the immediate problems of the coronavirus outbreak. Maybe we accept that people just won’t want to know, so maybe we should wait until it’s all over before we redouble our efforts to get governments and corporates to take action. By then of course people may well have bad news fatigue. Someone once said, “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.”  We need to work with the people - our neighbours, our colleagues, our families, our friends.
How do you think we can get the message across?

There will be more next week, but that’s it for this episode of the Sustainable Futures Report. I’m Anthony Day and I’m always glad to have your feedback so I can make sure the Sustainable Futures Report talks about things which you want to hear.
Until next time, wash your hands and stay safe.