Explanations, Examples and Arguments on Climate Change

Draft 1, to 15 May 2009

This page contains material to expand the Manifesto 'Climate Change: Roots and Actions'. Each section is pointed to from a part of the Manifesto, and points back there.

Understanding the Relationship Between Climate Change and Global Economy

There has been considerable discussion among economists, including at government and global level, of how climate change might impact global economy in the future. But there has been much less discussion on two other relationships:

But all three relationship must be taken into account, and all three understood. We call urgently for more discussion of the latter two.

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Climate Change and Global Temperature: An Explanation

Part draft of of Report on emission targets for TearFund written by John Lockwood, and used with permission. Possibly this section needs a summary of this, with this available via link.

"It was shown in the introduction that the negative radiative forcing of anthropogenic aerosols at the present time approximately balances the positive contributions from greenhouse gases other than CO2 (see Figure 1). Therefore for the next few decades it is possible to consider a stabilization target for CO2 alone. Sulphate aerosols provide the largest component towards aerosol cooling. Sulphur dioxide emissions are the precursors for sulphate aerosols, and since these emissions cause low-level pollution and acid rain it is highly likely that they will be reduced over the coming century. Any CO2 stabilization target will have to be adjusted for this later in the 21st century.

As already noted, the long life of CO2 in the atmosphere makes stabilization difficult, and at present nearly impossible in the short term, for levels below the present atmospheric concentration (383 ppm). The carbon cycle has a strong one-way direction in the short term that is to increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration. For this reason Hansen et al (2008) target of 350 ppm, while scientifically sound, is not attainable in the foreseeable future. Houghton (private communication) comments that the stabilization of CO2 alone below 400 ppm would require an immediate drastic reduction in global emissions which would be extremely difficult to achieveand that this is not attainable. Houghton believes that the targets of 2˚C and 450 ppm (around 520 CO2e) provide a rational basis for action at the present time. I would strongly support him in this view. However a 450 ppm stabilization level for CO2 only provides a 50% chance of achieving a 2˚C temperature rise. An 80% chance of achieving 2˚C would require stabilization at about 380 ppm (around 440 ppm CO2e), the current atmospheric CO2 level. A 50% chance of a 3˚C temperature rise only would require a CO2 stabilization level of 550 ppm (around 620 ppm CO2e). This is illustrated in the lower diagram of Figure 5.

CCC (2008) have analysed eight greenhouse gas emission trajectories. Trajectories with global emissions peaking in 2028, and with subsequent reductions in total CO2 emissions of 1.5%, 2% and 3% per annum. Trajectories with global emissions peaking in 2016 with subsequent reductions in total CO2 emissions of 1.5%, 2%, 3% and 4%. None of the three trajectories with emissions peaking in 2028 would keep atmospheric GHG concentrations below 550 CO2e by the end of the century, and all would give a global average warming of 2.5-2.8˚C this century. CCC (2008) does not believe that a global policy, which leaves emissions peaking as late as 2028, is adequate. All the trajectories with emissions peaking in 2016, except a 1.5% annual reduction after 2016, would keep concentrations below 550 CO2e by the end of the century. Only reductions after 2016 at 3% or 4% per year would limit the chance of reaching 4˚C to very low levels, with central model estimates indicating a 2.2˚C rise this century with the 3% trajectory, and a 2.1˚C rise with the 4% one. Even in these cases the CCC (2008) comment that the chances of exceeding 2˚C by 2100 would be 63% and 56% respectively.

Anderson and Bow (2008) comment that in the absence of the widespread deployment of geoengineering technologies that remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide they come to the following conclusions. If emissions peak in 2015, stabilization at 450 ppm CO2e requires subsequent annual reductions of 4% in CO2e and 6.5% in energy and process emissions. If emissions peak in 2020, stabilization at 550 ppm CO2e requires subsequent annual reductions of 6% in CO2e and 9% in energy and process emissions.

As the century progresses, because sulphur dioxide emissions are highly lightly to decrease, the sulphate aerosol cooling will decrease. Therefore the minor greenhouse gas contribution to global warming will steadily increase. Parry (2008), Parry et al (2008) comment that limiting impacts to acceptable levels by mid-century and beyond would require an 80% cut in global emissions by 2050. This policy, leading to a stabilization of greenhouse gases at 400-470 ppm CO2 equivalents would still leave a large number (half billion in 2050) of people at risk of water stress and flooding by climate change. Lord John Browne, one time Group Chief Executive of British Petroleum, has stated that, for carbon dioxide, ‘stabilisation in the range 500 – 550 ppm is possible, and with care could be achieved without disrupting economic growth (Committee on Climate Change (CCC), 2008). Houghton (2008) considers that global emissions should peak at 2016 for 450 ppm CO2 (520 CO2e) stabilization and 2˚C temperature rise (Figures 5 and 6). As explained above the CCC report (2008) suggests that a decrease in emissions of at least 3% per year is required. As explained later, the peak for individual countries will vary, but all should decline to about zero at 2050.

Both the CCC (2008) study and that by Meinshausen et al (2006) suggest that greenhouse gas concentrations will have to overshoot an acceptable long-term level and then fall before temperatures reach equilibrium. If it were assumed that overshoot is not acceptable, then much stronger action would be required. Anderson and Bows (2008) show that a long-term stabilisation at 450 CO2e without overshoot (leaving a roughly 50% probability of exceeding 2˚C) will require a 6.5% annual reduction in fossil fuel CO2 emissions given current emissions growth.

The Rio Earth Summit in Article 2 states that the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere should be stabilized at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The stabilisation should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner."

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Examples of Man-Made Climate Change Emissions

to be written

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Climate Change is Beginning To Happen Now

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Examples of Non-linear Effects

JL: please supply some.

If climate change is a non-linear effect, then ...

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Reaching 80% Reduction in CCEs

Need the curve to show how difficult it will be to reach 80% reduction.

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Why Western Lifestyle Generates Climate Change Emissions

Speaking as a Westerner:

These lead to a mix of bigger and smaller things. Bigger things:

Smaller things, which nevertheless mount up:

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Why Global Economic Activity Generates CCEs

==== this is grabbed from another email. Needs rewriting.

Suppose I receive $1000 per month. It might be used as follows:

The conversion ratio ($ to CCEs) might vary, but it is clear that all money-flow implies CCE generation.

Question is: can we find a way to reduce the conversion of $ to CCEs by a massive 80%? If not, then the total global economy must shrink.

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Examples of Ignoring of Aspects

To be written.

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Examples How Social and Economic Structures Affect CCEs

The various structures of society encourage some ways of living and discourage others. Structures include structures of taxation, which can encourage us towards some activities and discourage others, legal structures, health and safety structures, political structures, structures formed from our current beliefs about the nature of the world, for example from science, structures formed from our expectations and aspirations, etc. To be written.

How Structures Encourage certain behaviours, most of which increase CCEs:

How Structures Discourage CCE Reduction:

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How Climate Change Will/Might Damage Other Areas of Life

to be written

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Attitude and Example

Examples of Western attitude setting wrong example. to be written.

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The Illusion that Technology will Solve the Problem

showing examples of belief in technology and why it is likely to be illusory, or the extent to which technology will be able to deliver. e.g.

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The Illusion that Market Forces Can Solve the Problem

to be written

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The Illusion of Trickle-down Finance

to be written

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Spiritual Drivers

How aspirations, expectations drive our actions and attitudes.

Example: The prevalent attitude in our modern society is that we should do our utmost to try to keep what we have and possess by all possible means, and even expand it where possible our material standard of living fully included. But precisely that fear, that utmost concern, motivates us again and again to do things which, seen in a realistic way, aggrevates the paradoxes and increase the tensions, and so threaten the very underpinnings of nature and of our own human existence.

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Spiritual Root of Morality

BobG: Not sure what you were referring to by "the deepest level for our sense for morality, justice, stewardship ".

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Please Comment:

John Henry Lonie suggested "The root cause of this I think is simply man s alienation from God, creation and himself (your part 3)". Is it helpful to include that? I wonder whether it is too general, theological an idea. It is also centred on the individual, and - I did not fully realise this until today - the Manifesto must centre on society. True, society is composed of individuals, but I am not sure whether that is helpful here. What I think might be needed is to address the components or immediate consequences of this alienation, including idolatry, ruling illusions, etc. But maybe it's because there are useful possibilities that I cannot see.

Please comment.

Back to Manifesto. 3 May 2009.]


For example, [to be thought out]
Characteristic of idolatry Economic Growth > Prestige Personal convenience Business competition
Elevate it
Consecration Treasury is most important government department
Protect it We sneer at anyone who questions it
Create false enemies "We can't return to the dark ages!"
Look to it to guide us It determines other policy, e.g. planning
Things are sacrificed to/for it Real action on climate change
Justice for poor
Expect it to reward us
It blinds us, distorts our reason

[Based on Goudzwaard, Idols of our Time, 1984, IVP.]

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Why Spiritual Change is Necessary

Some examples:

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Examples of Spiritual Solutions

We can locate in history examples of spiritual action which have been effective in turning society around to take a different way. Some are major, others minor, but all have resulted in a widespread change in people's beliefs, aspirations, expectations, lifestyle and behaviour.

These major changes are effective, but continued vigilance thereafter is needed. Some of the above 'revivals' deteriorated after perhaps 50 years into religious rules and regulations. But that does not detract from their effectiveness in solving intractable problems of society for a time.

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An Outline of the Christian Way

As far as these illusions do have idolatric traits, we find in the Judeo-Christian tradition not only clear warnings against them, but also the spiritual power (after unmasking) to break them, so that a real widening of the perspective becomes possible. The Christian view gives the following:

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New Ways of Seeing Things

We draw these from reading the Christian Bible. In spirituality, especially in the Judeo-Christian approach, there are also clear hints that can help us to find a realistic way out of the present predicament. The Bible suggests how to issues of today's life may be reinterpreted in new ways, which lead to sustainable, prosperous life.

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tsedeq is the Hebrew word translated both 'justice' and 'righteousness'. Though translated into English in these two forms, it does not refer to two concepts, but one combined one. Whereas in English, 'justice' emphasises the social side and 'righteousness' is seen as an attribute of individuals, tsedeq is an indivisible combination of both.

Paul Marshall ['Thine is the Kingdom', Marshalls, 1984], discussing the meaning of tsedeq, defined justice-righteousness as "maintaining right relationships among all things in the created order". This implies that each type of thing - humans, animals, plants, planet, as well as institutions, bodies of knowledge, etc. - receives its due. The benefit of this approach is that it overcomes individualistic notions of justice without denying the importance of the individual. It moves us to a relational notion of justice, which recognises the interconnectedness of all things in creation, and that each has responsibility to the rest.

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How Finance Destroys Shalom

==== to be written.

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Blossoming Economy

The deep notion of shalom for instance points in another direction than the choice for an always expanding tunnel-economy, in which continually exclusion takes place in view of the overriding goal of reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Shalom is the concept of broad happiness in the context of social wellbeing, of harmony with nature and of economic saturation, which together point in the direction of the choice for a blossoming economy. This is an organic, not a mechanistic concept, which reminds us direclty of the nature of processes of growth in even the simplest tree. In that kind of growth all cells are included.There is moreover a symbiosis with the surrounding other parts of nature, within the limits of their own carrying capacity. But all this goes without any kind of orientation to unlimited expansion. Not expansion is the horizon of growth, but blossoming en bearing fruit (compare this fertility with economic notions like enough food and shelter and medical care for all, and the presence of meaningful work for all). All this is however only possible on the base of the inbuilt wisdom present in each tree, that it does not make sense to try to grow till the skies, so that at a certain movement the growth-potential is re-directed from vertical expansion to fruit-bearing.

The economic parallel is, that we too in our modern, already mainly rich societies need such a kind of transformation, based on a levelling off of the trends towards an always rising level of income and of especially material consumption. That restraint has to become the base for the economic transfer which is needed: a transfer towards more care for nature and for other human beings, also in terms of meaningful employment, which at the same time is able to take away away the deep angle out of growing paradoxes and to halt the driving motor behind the acceleratation of climate change and the general warming up of the global atmosphere.

The notion of 'blossoming economy' comes from the Accra 2004 meeting of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). The following is from the Report of Task Force on Covenanting for Justice to the General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches:

"An Orchard of Blossoming Economies: An alternative vision of God's Economy

It is often suggested that there is no alternative to the neo-liberal economy. This is not true, as can be shown, by thinking of the economy as either a tunnel or a fruit tree. The tunnel represents the present process of globalisation. All people and all economies are expected to go through the tunnel of growing productivity and competitiveness in the global market if they wish to reach the light at the end - a high standard of consumption for everyone. However not all traffic is welcome in the tunnel. The least efficient, least-productive elements such as the unemployed and those countries not willing to adapt or modernize get in the way. The fastest vehicles have their own privileged lane. Finally everyone must accept the stress, pollution and noise in the tunnel. The traffic has priority over the environment.

A tree is quite different from a tunnel. A healthy tree is full of life and its growth is quite different from the journey through the tunnel. Firstly, all the living cells of the tree participate. Secondly, the tree does not overburden its own environment: it enriches it. Lastly, it bears fruit both to sustain its own life and to feed others. The activity of the cells is meaningful labour, the surroundings are the global environment and the fruits, the fulfilment of all basic needs. So how can a simple tree do that which the most advanced type of tunnel-economies cannot?

As soon as maturity is reached the tree refrains from further vertical growth and puts its energy and resources into making fruit. Its basic rule is blossoming not expansion. Even in the richest countries the law of endless market expansion is becoming a curse: stress is growing, environmental problems are uncontrollable and everything is under the rule of the market, which continues to demand higher productivity and competitiveness.

But this could all change if the demand for an ever rising standard of living was abolished and new patterns of production, consumption and distribution were based on caring and sharing. The material wealth of the wealthy has grown enough. Their trees are now mature and should leave space for new trees to develop and blossom. Our alternative is an orchard of blossoming economies each bearing its own kind of fruits. The time has come for radical change if total catastrophe is to be prevented and all creation to enjoy fullness of life."

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Economic Action

The aim to to prepare for moving to a blossoming economy. Somehow a joint deliberate choice for a gradual economic restructuration has to be taken, together. All the social, economic, media, political and spiritual agents have to be involved (including labour unions, organisations of employers, consumer organisations, environmental organisations, the various levels of government and so on). The start can be local and regional before it becomes national or European or global.

The restructuration needed will not be unlike the restructuration of the British economy during wartime, and the miniumum agreement is to pave the way to improve drastically the energy- and carbon efficiency of as well production and consumption in order to save the environment, in order to stop a further long term rise of temperature, and to mobilize those forms of technology which can strongly support this process of collective saving. This already presupposes important changes in the entire tax system, but also the joint willingness of consumers and middle-and higher income earners to accept that they will not receive any kind of income-compensation for the resulting higher `costs of living';

The next step is a kind of re-diversification of existing patterns of productive economic growth and their accompanying various styles of technology and technological innovation, which are now now almost entirely oriented and focused on rising standards of material personal and collective consumption, to the developtment of a primarily preservative type of growth, focused on the continued maintenance and/or preservation of the stocks of human, social and natural capital, with the (rising) level of employment attached to it.

This whole process would be helped immensily if a common acceptance of time-horizons could take place , agreed upon together by the leading social and political agents, to reach the level of real saturation, or bliss, for society. This implies at least a clear restraint for the production and consumption of those varieties of goods and services which have a clear luxury character and command at the same time a high level of energy amd resource use. This common restraint should be implemented in a narrow correspondence (as a kind of term trade -off) with the building up of an extended human, social and and natural wellbeing, not only for people here, but also for poor people elsewhere, in the style of real sharing of all resources..

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This is part of a project involving Sir John Houghton, Prof. Bob Goudzwaard, Prof. Andrew Basden, Dr. John Lockwood to understand the links between climate change, global economy, spirituality.

Copyright (c) 2009 The CCGE Group.

Created: 1 February 2009. by Andrew Basden using Protext on Amiga.

Last updated: 22 February 2009 amendments from BG. 22 March 2009 last few added. 13 April 2009 changed to emphasise 'way', and replaced 'religious' by 'spiritual', in response to BG's comments. 3 May 2009 JHL piece; Accra 'Orchard'; Lockwood explanation. 15 May 2009 struct eg. 17 May 2009 made into draft 1, ref. mfst1.