Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What is the Carbon Debate actually about?

From PAUL OATES in Queensland, Australia
What is the Carbon Debate actually about?
What are the REAL issues?
Climate Change - well the Earth's climate has repeatedly changed over the millennia. Why is it so important now? Probably it's because there were never so many people in the world that would be affected. Who is responsible for having so many people? Not the Earth's climate surely?
Carbon - Why is it so important? Carbon Dioxide along with Methane and other poisonous (to humans) gases are the original make up of our planet. When plant life first started to use Carbon Dioxide to grow and so released free Oxygen into the atmosphere, eventually animal life developed that used this free Oxygen to live. Hence the symbiosis developed between plants and animals that still exist today. However there have been periods in the Earth's history where there were significant changes in the amounts of free Oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. During the Carboniferous Period, there was so much plant life that the free oxygen was over 20% of the atmosphere rather than today's average of 16%. At this time, the basis for our coal and oil deposits were laid down by these plants dying and being converted to Coal which is mostly carbon. We are now digging and drilling this carbon up to release the energy that these ancient plants trapped from our sun millions of years ago. The more carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, the better plants like it to grow. Therefore if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, we should get an increase in plant life which will redress the balance. Wrong. We won't get an increase in plant life because basically human activity is using the plants at a faster rate that they can naturally regenerate.
Ownership - By chance good fortune, some humans have been born into countries that have desirable natural resources available for use. These resources were needed for the current human civilization to develop. Coal and iron ore are two of the original most important resources that have recently been joined by oil. Given our use of oil is depleting the available reserves and that it takes millions of years to produce oil, the importance of this substance will continue to become rarer and more expensive. Not so coal, where there are conservative estimates being bandied around about having at least 300 years supply at the current usage rates.
Control of Resources - So who owns these resources? Logically, possession is nine tenths of the law. Staved of resources 70 years ago, Japan was arguably forced into a war that logically, she had a poor chance of winning. Therefore, by sharing the available resources, the risk of heightened tension is reduced. But as soon as these resources are sold, the seller ceases to have any control over there use. Can there be any way of preventing unethical use of a product that is ethically sold? Does the current imposition on the sale of uranium for only peaceful purposes stop the buyer from the production of weapons grade material? Doubtful!
The Struggle for Power - Demonstrably, were developed countries to stop their industry and power production they would very quickly become on par with those countries that are today euphemistically called 'developing countries'. So are the governments of developed countries going to say to their voters "Stop using your vehicles, and turn your computers off for a start". We have to stop using power than is creating carbon dioxide"? Not on your Nelly! So what is the answer? Charge more for using the same product thereby hoping to reduce demand. But then this creates a voter backlash so those people who can't afford the price increases have to be subsidized by the same government who increased the prices by taxation in the first place. This strategy would be laughable if, by its own simplicity, it wasn't so insidious.
What to do with Excess Carbon Dioxide? - One of the most incredible shams that is being foisted on the world stage is the theoretical principle of 'Carbon Sequestration". The theory goes that excess carbon dioxide will be somehow 'harvested' and turned into a liquid and pumped underground. Based on this unproven and totally bizarre notion, the general populace is supposed to breath a sigh of relief and concentrate on more important issues life whose going to win 'the footy' this week. They won't be breathing anything however if the oxygen we need to live is steadily removed from the atmosphere and pumped into the ground along with the unwanted carbon. The only answer is to revert back to the natural cycle and have plants 'sequester' the carbon themselves. But this relies on one very important point. Will the plants be allowed to continue to exist?
The law of Business or that of Profit and Loss - If governments and their power providers start charging more for their product, what happens to the surplus virtual tax monies reaped by artificially increasing the cost of electricity and use of coal and oil? Clearly there needs to be a way of assuaging public concern that they aren't being screwed once again by their leaders? Enter the politics of 'green power'. "Feeling guilty at being told you're wrecking the planet and depriving people of their way of life? Add a 'top up' on your next electricity bill for example, and we'll tell you it's a 'greening levy'. There now, don't you feel better already?" But in this modern age where some media still can investigate and report on what is actually happening, something has to actually be done.
Enter 'Big Business'. A viable business must turn a profit to survive, unless of course it's owned by a government. The developed world is addicted to the use of carbon based energy production. Until recently, everyone was being encouraged to use more. Governments who ran the power generation plants were reaping indirect taxes by people doing so. Now, with power generation from carbon being a 'dirty' concept, governments are divesting themselves from power generation and wherever possible, distancing themselves from the industry. Why? Well they can't tell people that power generation from carbon burning is bad if they are the ones doing it, can they? So business has been given the role of the 'villain' who must come up with a solution to stop ruining the world. But how can it do this when this exercise must entail making a profit?
Enter the politics of Green Power' - Add a little extra to the cost of power generation and call it good for the world. But what does a business (or for that matter a government), do when it is held accountable for charging more to save the world? Why it goes back to basics and creates a new term called 'Carbon Sinks'. This technology will save the world and naturally in the process make some very rich. All one has to do is create the idea that if a forest 'sequesters' carbon, then we'll plant new forests or look after that few that are left.
So who benefits? - Well clearly those who are 'in' at the start. This is a mega industry in parenthesis. Vast amounts of green money is involved so vast amounts can be made. The question is: Who will end up with this 'Green Taxation'? If one is a cynic, the answer is very simple. Whoever manipulates this operation to help themselves.
New Forests versus Old Forests - Planting new forests is a very difficult issue. Forests will only grow where the conditions are suitable. Many places on Earth where forests used to grow are now covered by concrete and houses. Agriculture has been pushed out into the ever more marginal periphery of the big cities where conditions are increasingly more difficult to sustain. If the agriculture that is necessary to sustain a growing population is becoming more difficult, 'silviculture' (the growing and harvesting of trees) is becoming vastly more so. Drought, fire and pests compete with poor soil and lack of attention to destroy any newly planted forest.Existing or so called 'Old forests' are therefore becoming ever more sought after. But these existing forests are very few and far between and their 'ownership' is therefore very much sought after.
Where do countries like Papua New Guinea come into this Equation? - It has been claimed that PNG has one of the few natural rain forests left in the world. But why is this so? Primarily, this is because other countries like Brazil have continually cut their rainforest down for economic reasons. Brazil has just recently said it will work to reduce the speed of which their forest is being cut down. What Brazil did not say is that the felling of the forest would stop.
So what are the guarantees that if the billions in 'green taxation' from the developed world are available to 'buy' the existing world's forests, who will then be held accountable for the continued existence of the forests that have in this way, already been 'bought'?
The government of the particular country? Governments often change regularly and therefore can't be held accountable.
The business that made a profit from the deal? Not likely. Business can fold overnight and cease to exist, although if the recent financial crisis is any indicator, only after they pay their CEO's a huge gratuity.
The people who have been lucky enough to be born where there is currently a forest or the future generations of these people that may well need the forest to survive?
A cynic might observe that the whole process is an 'Aladdin's Cave' of potential for the right people or persons to REALLY make some serious money. Afterall, who really understands what is going on and who is really interested?
'Carn th' Blues', I say... and pass the meat pie will ya'?
Whoever heard of "Bread and Circus's" anyway?

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