Is it possible to suggest a solution for climate change which does not mention the words fossil fuels even once? Before you dismiss this suggestion, kindly spare just two minutes for the very short viewpoint below.
Very briefly, I recommend six changes to be taken up in the next decade as a top priority. Firstly, we have to take a number of steps to almost eliminate the possibility of war, and thereby pave the ground for reducing all military activity and weaponoisation by about 90 per cent or so. No soldier will lose employment, they will only be shifted to different forms of employment, backed by training, such as disaster prevention and ecological rehabilitation of degraded areas and ecosystems.
Secondly, very committed efforts should be made to ensure that about 95% of farming takes place in the form of small farmer organic farming, rural life is prioritized and rural communities everywhere are motivated and facilitated for rehabilitation of degraded forests and creation of new forests in such a way that these mimic natural forests to the extent possible. Felling of green trees is banned, except in very rare cases.
Thirdly, all of those goods which are very harmful for health, broadly speaking, should be identified and attempts to reduce their production and consumption to the extent of 30 to 99 per cent should be made. This will include alcohol, tobacco, all intoxicants and several products of proven harm and toxicity.
Next, a massive sincere effort should be made to reduce all waste (including packaging waste, food waste etc.), segregate waste and use as well as re-cycle waste in highly decentralized ways. A lot of waste that is allowed to accumulate in landfills emits GHGs including highly potent methane, but the same waste if used directly to enrich soil contributes much to absorbing GHGs.
Fifth, an educational campaign should be implemented to spread the message of simple living and high thinking as being essential for saving earth ( seeking happiness in frugal living, combined with beautiful relationships and higher ideals),involving schools and colleges, people’s organisations, religious and spiritual organizations.
Last but not the least, effective steps will be taken to reduce inequalities in wealth and income as well as related splurge of high luxury of a few.
Readers may note that I have not even used the words fossil fuels so far. However all these changes which are highly desirable for their own sake will also lead, on their own, also to the reduction of fossil fuels in a big way.
Of course this is only a very partial view of all that can be done, that needs to be done to check climate disruption. My brief agenda presented above is only intended to show that many highly desirable changes which the world urgently needs anyway, which involve a lot of creative cooperation of people, will also lead incidentally to reduction of fossil fuels and to checking climate change in a big way. In addition, of course, the many more avenues of reducing fossil fuels should also be considered and adopted. However it is amazing to what extent highly desirable, even essential changes like a future without wars and a 90% cut in weapons can achieve on their own for checking climate change as well.
Why cannot the IPCC, which keeps making such an immense lot of calculations anyway, tell the world clear and loud that eliminating wars and arms race is the most effective single way of checking climate change, followed by eliminating factory farming and replacing it with small farmer organic farming ? It will be great to see a UN Conference of Climate Change declaring these as essential steps for checking climate change.
Life threatening problems like climate change can be seen as a reflection of the fact that our world as it exists today needs to change in very basic ways, but those who do not want such changes stand in the way of many essential reforms and thereby also hinder progress towards checking climate change.
The writer is Honorary Convener of Campaign for Saving Earth Now with its SED Demand ( Declaring the Next Decade as the Decade for Saving Earth). His recent books include ‘Planet in Peril—People’s Response Only Way Forward’ , ‘Protecting Earth for Children, ‘Earth Beyond Borders’ and ‘India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food’.