Al Gore's "Solutions" - a critique
This is the trailer to Al Gore's Movie "An Inconvenient Truth". His message is correct and not at all exaggerated. We saw the film and believe that it could even become worse, once the effects of climate change interact with the depletion of oil and natural gas, as well as food and water shortages. Such a catastrophe is unavoidable because we still continue to expand economically and in human numbers - a development that is actively promoted by our opinion leaders. On a finite earth this is suicidal. But our leaders must believe this world is flat and endless.
So, whilst the description of the climate change problem seems correct, the proposed "solutions" fall way behind what is required and some, like the Kyoto Protcol's mechanisms (Carbon Credits, Clean development Mechanisms) are even counter-productive. What we urgently need is not the development of questionable technologies but the immediate slowing down of society and
change-over to localised structures, where people work where they live. That will dramatically decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Al Gore is a good salesman. He knows how to sell himself and his ideas. It's almost as if he discovered climate change. But the warnings by serious scientists and climatologists have been around for a long time. Except that nobody wanted to listen. Now matters appear becoming dramatic. But speaking of a crisis is wrong.
A crisis is the worst situation, after which things can either turn for the better or the patient dies. Talking of a climate crisis is underestimating the real scale of the problem. Since only a radical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70 per cent could possibly stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. And only emissions reductions of more than 70 per cent could reduce greenhouse gas concentrations and thereby reverse the process of global warming and climate change.
We should remember that it took some 200 million years for the fossil fuels to be formed in times of a very different Earth. We are burning these fossil fuels within a time span of some 300 years. We started at the onset of the industrial revolution around 1750. And oil and natural gas will probably be reduced to insignificient quantities within the next few decades. Virtually all opinion leaders are still pushing for economic growth. Therefore the emissions will increase rather than decrease.
Climate change is here to stay and it is set to become worse. As Mr Gore says, melting permafrost in Siberia and Canada may release methane, seriously increasing the greenhouse effect. Sequestration by nature, by the oceans for instance, could take hundreds of years. Capturing carbondioxide by trees is no permanent solution since trees are burnt and the carbon thus released again. And anyway, we don't have the surfaces needed to plant all those trees that would be required to compensate for the emissions. On the other hand, deforestation of the Amazonas, Borneo and other forests is still continuing. We - the rich - are buying the hardwood and the agriculture on the cleared soils produces the feedstock for our steaks.
Kyoto and other technocratic "solutions" do not stand serious analysis. Emissions trading, "joint Implemetation" and "Clean Development Mechanisms" cannot and will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon taxes may have a positive effect, we think. But capturing carbondioxide gases and storing them in depleted oil, gas and coal mines is no really feasible technique. Replacing liquid and gaseous fossil energy by alternatives like biofuels is not possible because the capacity is absolutely insufficient and also since biofuel production is competing with food production.
Mr Gore shares those illusionary solutions with many others.
Al Gore's speech at New York University on 18 September 2006