It has become well-established knowledge that social media algorithms promote content that stokes controversy. They do so in an attempt to keep users on their platforms for longer times. The ill-effects of this are playing out in many different spheres, including climate change. A recent analysis by Avaaz showed that YouTube was broadcasting climate change denial videos to millions of viewers. This debate often turns into discussions about “free speech” that don’t seem to be resolving much of the root issue. Meanwhile, actors on the political far-right have learned how to play these algorithms to broadcast their views to audiences far greater than they would otherwise be able to reach. This week’s post looks closer at these tactics. In an episode of the Data & Society podcast, guest Joe Mulhall, senior researcher at European anti-extremism NGO HOPE not hate, explores how the international far-right is leveraging the current climate crisis.
Why has climate change not yet been solved? It turns out that the science, politics and human psychology prevents us from really addressing the challenge of climate change. However, there is hope. If we all put effort in something that lies close to our heart and that’s (by accident) also helping to fight climate change, we take a big step forward.
Carbon+Alt+Delete co-founder Kenneth Van den Bergh gave a TED-talk on this at the KU Leuven.
No more meat. Fly less. Use LED lights. These are all some individual actions that one can take to lower their climate impact. However, not all impact is the same. A simple example at home: turning the lights off and lowering the thermostat. Two individual actions that we may say at home but with a very different impact. Leaving the light one for one hour emits the same amount of carbon as turning on your gas boiler for .. four seconds. (The blog does not take into account the different carbon factors for electricity and gas).
Using plastic bags is also considered a “climate crime”. It its true that by reusing bags you lower the waste pile, which is always a good thing, but purely speaking in carbon, 16 plastic bags can be made with the same amount of energy as boiling the water kettle just once.
Therefore, it is not only important to take some individual actions but also to know how much these actions actually matter. In the figure you see that the impact of some actions are overestimated (stop using plastic bages) while for others, this is underestimated (eat less meat).
And for the people that want to know more on this topic:
How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything
We have talked about David Attenborough before. As a key figure in the environmental media landscape, he has received plenty of criticism for not speaking up sooner about the impact humans have had, and are having, on the world around us. Some of the shows he worked on were even accused of covering up some of the already noticeable effects. In recent years, Attenborough has completely changed that approach. In the BBC’s new flagship nature series, Seven Worlds, One Planet, Attenborough weaves the story of our impact on nature through the breathtaking shots of our planet and its life, rather than tacking it on at the end as they have done in the past. It is an honest display of what humanity has done, what we are losing, but also what we can do when we decide to act: since the ban on commercial whaling, 35 remaining females have become a population of 2,000. We may be at “the most critical moment for life on earth since the continents formed”, Attenborough notes. And that includes human life. See the spectacular trailer via the link below.
The call for a Green New Deal is one that is heard increasingly often. From the US to the European Union, the term is used to indicate a large-scale, ambitious, government-led program -much like the 1939 “New Deal” to which it calls back- that can deliver the kind of climate action that is needed. What would it actually look like? Rutger Bregman, journalist at De Correspondent, tries to answer that question by looking in more detail at the 1939 version and imagine from there what the 2019 version could/has to be. His conclusions contain some elements that might feel uneasy to people of different persuasions and values. With a Green New deal, we can win the fight against climate change, but it will require action on a scale beyond what most of us currently imagine, and given the speed at which action must be taken may force us to agree with actions that are not our first choice.
This piece opens up an interesting and urgent conversation: given that we can’t “solve” climate change, but rather will move to a new kind of society at a new point of climate equilibrium, how do we balance the three-way trade-off between (1) trying to take climate action as quickly as possible to limit climate change, (2) trying to make sure that we don’t opt for solutions that create new or exacerbate existing societal issues, and (3) ensuring that we build and maintain the broad societal support we need to see a Green New Deal through to the end? Read Bregman’s article or listen it via the link below as a starting point for that conversation with people around you.
Climate change is an issue to be taken on at all levels of society. Local and regional governments can, and increasingly are, leading the way in reimagining life in their towns and cities. Certain effects of climate change can already be felt on the local level. That is why it makes a lot of sense that local governments are part of addressing them. Making climate change, and climate action, tangible can also help build support for larger-scale action.
One key area in which this is already playing out is air pollution. The WHO has demanded that clean air and its consequences for health are integrated more closely into the national climate plans adopted under the Paris Agreement. However, according to the UN, only 20% of climate plans currently deal with the health consequences of air pollution. At the same time, poor air quality causes 422,000 premature deaths each year in Europe.
At the C40 World Mayors Summit, taking place in Copenhagen from 9-12 October, 35 cities decided to take the lead in addressing this problem. Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Paris, Rotterdam, Stockholm, and Warsaw have all committed to set new air quality standards that meet or exceed existing national targets within two years. Such local leadership is key to success in dealing with climate change. This case also shows that dealing with climate change actually helps us deal with many other issues we want to address.
Except for Greta Thunberg’s “We will not forgive you” speech, newspapers did not write much about UN 2019 Climate Summit in New York. The reason: except for some national leaders and CEOs promising to increase their ambitions, there were no results to write about.
If you are disgruntled about all these meetings without results, read this remarkable and must-read 30-year-old story about The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change published by the NY Times.
“Like most human questions, the carbon-dioxide question will come down to fear. At some point, the fears of young people will overwhelm the fears of the old. Some time after that, the young will amass enough power to act. It will be too late to avoid some catastrophes, but perhaps not others. Humankind is nothing if not optimistic, even to the point of blindness. We are also an adaptable species. That will help.”
Let’s keep this in mind at the 2020 COP26 in Glasgow.
Today is the start of a week-long #globalclimatestrike. In over 150 countries, people are stepping up to support young climate strikers and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.
Go to GlobalClimateStrike.net and be overwhelmed by this global movement that unites millions of people.
NASA made a fun little game about carbon emissions.
Keep Earth in balance by replanting forests, replacing gasoline with electric cars, and buying clean wind and energy farms.
Een daling van je uitstoot kan perfect samengaan met een hoge levenskwaliteit.
Netwerk Bewust Verbruiken lijst 15 geniale geboden op voor een duurzaam en eenvoudig leven.
- Denk groot, woon klein
- Eenvoud siert
- Wees af en toe onbereikbaar
- Het is jouw tijd, ga voor de essentie
- Bezit is passé. Deel spullen, ervaring, ruimte en tijd
- De belangrijkste dingen in het leven zijn geen dingen
- Haast en spoed zijn zelden goed
- Als je lokaal koopt, doet iemand een vreugdedansje
- Durf nee zeggen
- Hou van het verhaal, niet van het materiaal
- Ontspul je huis. Je bent niet wat je bezit
- Alles is te repareren (ook je fouten)
- De grootste bedreiging voor de planeet is denken dat iemand anders het wel zal oplossen
- Drukte is een keuze, er is moed voor nodig om minder te doen
- Doe wat je graag doet en doe het NU