Theater of Cruelty

Optimistic blade cutting

It's not too late to save the environment, says George Monbiot. But we have to fly less.


[environment] Climate issues have received a lot of attention this fall. Books, movies, politicians and movie stars have all spread the gloomy message and demanded change. The focus on the CO2 curse is important, but there is no value in talking if it does not lead to action, points out the radical thinker and Oxford professor George Monbiot. He promises you the money back if the book Heat doesn't motivate you to take responsibility. I think he'll keep his money.

carbon stock Exchange

Monbiot has a very constructive and optimistic approach to climate problems. He rebuffs scientist and author James Lovelock's occasional jealousy that it's already too late. But changes need to be made, and they must happen quickly.

Monbiot's requirement for the world's rich countries is a 90 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by the year 2030. This reduction will hopefully stabilize the global temperature at two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. This is the increase the earth can withstand without losing the world we know. Most of the reduction must also occur early in the period if it is to have any effect, because the CO2 we emit will remain in the air for around 200 years. So the steam from the first locomotives still blows around our atmosphere.

Monbiot's goal is to achieve these cuts without having to return to the hunter-gatherer community, and in order to achieve such a drastic reduction in CO2, it is crucial that everyone contributes. This will not happen automatically, political incentives are needed. A CO2 "currency" will be the most just scheme, Monbiot believes. All residents will be given an equal sum of the "currency" each year. This must be used every time you buy electricity or fuel.

If you have too little throughout the year, it will be possible to buy more on the "carbon exchange", but this must then be purchased at market price. If you manage to spend less than your ration, you can sell the excess. Companies will have to buy their shares directly from this stock exchange.

Flight alarm

Monbiot convincingly argues for such a rationalization, because if we are to really overcome our emissions, measures must be implemented that affect everyone equally. At the same time, we avoid over-regulation of society, and as long as you stay within the limits of emissions, you can use their carbon crowns at exactly what you want. The decisive factor is getting the rations at the right level, getting the initiative started in several countries at the same time, and supplementing with a large-scale investment in energy from renewable resources.

The desire to reduce our emissions by 90 percent will be the driving force for the remaining chapters of Heat. Monbiot examines different areas to see how the large-scale reduction can be made possible. It is surprising to see how much is already within reach, for it is the will, knowledge and financial profitability it lacks, and not technological innovations.

One area, on the other hand, is left without good, alternative solutions: Air traffic. Not only is aircraft the most polluting vehicle we have, but cheap tickets and more departures have led to a global growth in traffic of five percent a year since 1997. This growth is beyond any sustainable development, and if it continues, aircraft are at risk to "zero out" the measures we are implementing in other areas.

We simply have to start flying less, Monbiot concludes. Even here, where he reluctantly has to realize that technology is not enough, Monbiot does not run out of his optimistic mood and sharp pen. Chris Martin, the vocalist in Coldplay, thus gets away with it. In an interview where he commented on the climate issue, he was also asked how he experienced touring life. Martin said he was happy that now that the band could afford to use a private jet, he could go home between concerts. Thus, Martin uses 250 times his carbon ration a year – just by flying.

George Monbiot himself is no one ashamed, but hopefully his lyrics can lead to more than just singing.

Reviewed by Erle Marie Sørheim

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