Consume more, conserve more: sorry, but we just can’t do both | George Monbiot

“Governments urge us both to consume more and to conserve more. We must extract more fossil fuel from the ground, but burn less of it. We should reduce, reuse and recycle the stuff that enters our homes, and at the same time increase, discard and replace it. How else can the consumer economy grow? We should eat less meat to protect the living planet, and eat more meat to boost the farming industry. These policies are irreconcilable. The new analyses suggest that economic growth is the problem, regardless of whether the word sustainable is bolted to the front of it.

“It’s not just that we don’t address this contradiction; scarcely anyone dares even name it. It’s as if the issue is too big, too frightening to contemplate. We seem unable to face the fact that our utopia is also our dystopia; that production appears to be indistinguishable from destruction.”  From:

GR:  In Arizona, the government asks us to conserve water while, at the same time, the government invites more people and businesses to move here.  Perhaps we should begin awarding huge cash prizes for promoting zero growth.

The World Runs on Palm Oil, and That’s Fueling Climate Change

The worst climate crisis of the year is happening right now in Indonesia due to slash-and-burn deforestation that sends up as much carbon dioxide as the U.S. does. It’s all for the sake of palm oil.

Each day in Indonesia, forest fires release as much carbon dioxide as the entire United States. The fires have been burning since July, thanks to a combination of slash-and-burn land clearing, flammable peat soil, and El Nino. And the worst part is, although your and my consumption habits are largely to blame, there’s almost nothing we can do about it.

Palm oil companies are largely to blame for this crisis. The larger companies usually don’t set the fires, but (not unlike the chocolate industry) they often buy palm oil from smaller landholders, who do. This makes it very hard to assign blame (there are over 200,000 small landholders in Indonesia) and hold the larger firms accountable, and it means the direct culprits are often impoverished small farmers trying to make ends meet.  From:

GR:  The market for palm oil is huge and it’s growing. The only way that deforestation will stop is for demand to decline. The major distributors might volunteer to buy and sell less and we might volunteer to use less. However, the most effective means to cut demand is for us to begin reducing our population and our need for food and fiber taken from the land.

It’s hard to have faith in voluntary programs. Cargill and the other major commodities distributors would have to accept zero growth, and we consumers would have to be educated and given alternatives. Our traditional growth and development models do not support either action.

Rich praise for poor nation’s emissions targets – Climate News Network

Analysts say the DRC, one of the world’s poorest countries, has more credible plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions from forestry than several more developed states.

LONDON, 16 November, 2015 – An African country whose people are among the poorest on Earth has won plaudits from US scientists for its clear and detailed plans to reduce climate-warming emissions from its forests and farms.

The strategy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – rated next to bottom of the 187 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index in 2013 – is described as “robust” by the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

They also rate it as better than those produced by three other more prosperous countries struggling to combat deforestation − Brazil, India and Indonesia.  From:

GR:  The targets aren’t that far in the future.  Meeting them will put pressure on the standard growth model that is followed by the great majority of the world’s businesses.  It is essential that energy and resource commodity corporations move toward zero-growth.  Eventually, they will have to shrink.  Voluntary downsizing now, rather than later when conditions force it to happen, would help preserve some of the planet’s ecosystems.

Deforestation: Give credit where credit is due – GreenBiz

With Indonesia burning, are corporations failing in their “no deforestation” pledges?  From:

GR:  This story is long and empty.  Deforestation is required for Cargill and other major commodities corporations to keep growing.  There is no indication that any of them have committed at all to zero-growth, the policy that is necessary if Earth ecosystems are to withstand the human onslaught.