The burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) is the major driving force for global warming¹. However, livestock rearing is responsible for around 18% of the anthropological greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) and various edible insects are therefore excellent alternatives to meat in the fight against climate change. It is estimated that insects today is part of the diets of 25-30% of the global population and about 1,900 species are being used as human consumption. The following examine the climate- and environmental impact of different species of insects versus beef, pigs and chicken.
Nobody knows how high the costs of global warming will be in the future. However, ‘Studies’ predict a total of $369 trillion by 2200, assuming that humans will have stopped emitting greenhouse gases from burning Fossil Fuels around 2100 and atmospheric CO2 concentrations will have reached 700 ppm. The calculations include accelerating release of methane from melting permafrost (13% of the total costs).
ClimatePositions calculates the ‘Climate Debt’, accumulated since 2000, for 148 countries with full data. The global Climate Debt amounted to $0.8 trillion in 2005, $2.6 trillion in 2010 and around $6.0 trillion in 2015 (preliminary estimate). The diagram below illustrates the accumulated Climate Debts (red dots) “smooth climbing” towards the predicted costs of $369 trillion by 2200 (black dot) … all speculatively of course!
This article is about the different greenhouse gases and what appears to be a delaying COP negotiation strategy on the road to a potentially very costly global greenhouse gas reduction agreement. The essential climate change problem (as I see it) is the greenhouse gas emissions related to fossil fuels. As an example, around 82% of all anthropologic greenhouse gases in the United States are related to coal, oil or natural gas. This measure includes emissions of three different greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Since 1990 the atmospheric concentrations of these three gases has increases by around 13% (carbon dioxide), 7% (methane) and 6% (nitrous oxide). However, the three gases are also emitted from other sources than fossil fuels, including many natural sources … in addition, the potent synthetic fluorinated gases (F-gases) are not related to fossil fuels at all. On a global scale the overall picture is extremely complicated. Note that water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas among all, but it is not considered relevant to the anthropogenic global warming – and therefore water vapor is usually not regarded as a greenhouse gas.
March 2015, a group of prominent experts¹ in international law, human rights law, environmental law, and other law adopted the ‘Oslo Principles on Global Obligations to Reduce Climate Change’ (pdf 8 pages) – see also the expert group’s appended ‘Commentary’ (pdf 94 pages; this ‘List of contents’ written by me might be useful).
Before proceeding read this summarizing article on the subject in The Guardian: ‘Climate change: at last a breakthrough to our catastrophic political impasse?’ and this article in Huffington Post: ‘Landmark Dutch Lawsuit Puts Governments Around the World on Notice’.
The Oslo Principles are divided into a Preamble (introduction), a General Principle (Principle 1), Definitions (Principles 2-5) and Specific Obligations (A. Obligations of States and Enterprises, Principles 6-12; B. Obligations of States, Principles 13-24; C. Procedural Obligations of States, Principles 25-26 and D. Obligations of Enterprises, Principles 27-30).
In short, the message is that ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions (GHG emissions) are unlawful unless they are consistent with a plan of steady reductions to ensure that the global surface temperature increase never exceeds pre-industrial temperatures by more than two degrees Celsius – in accordance with the recommendations of an overwhelming majority of leading climate scientists.
Below is a selection of essential selected quotes from the Oslo Principles (in red) and the appended Commentaries (in blue).
Since ‘COP1 in Berlin’ in 1995 the global CO2 Emissions from fossil fuels have increased by 50% (in addition to increased greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, cement production, melting permafrost, etc.). The purpose of COP1, COP2, COP3, COP4, COP5, COP6, COP7, COP8, COP9, COP10, COP11, COP12, COP13, COP14, COP15, COP16, COP17, COP18 and COP19 were to reduce dangerous greenhouse gases and counteract global warming. The current COP20 in Lima builds on twenty years of mushrooming in a flawed system without tools to secure meaningful negotiations and reject derailments caused by powerful nations such as the United States and China. Meanwhile, depression¹ is spreading from climate scientists to larger parts of the planet’s population.
Carbon is one out of 118 known chemical elements and symbolized with a “C” (as in CO2). Carbon is globally spread and essential for all life (18.5% of the human body mass is carbon). However, only around 0.003% of the carbon on earth is within living organisms and possibly the double occur in ancient organic deposits of coal, oil, gas and peat. Pure carbon can be chemically composed several ways, for example in the form of diamond, graphite, graphene or simply as amorphous carbon. See this short instructive video: ‘Carbon – Periodic Table of Videos (10:02)’. Carbon forms almost ten million known compounds with other chemical components, which is more than any other chemical element. Carbon dioxide (or CO2) is one compound, composed of one atom of carbon (C) and two atoms of oxygen (O2). Methane (or CH4) is another, composed of one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen.
Methane (CH4) is the third most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor. Approximately one fifth of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas effect is caused by methane and slightly over half of the total methane emissions are due to human activity¹. The data of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1980 is available ‘here’. Since the 1800s, atmospheric methane concentrations have increased annually at a rate of about 0.9% (doubled in 200 years) and the present concentration has not been higher for over 800,000 years (see the atmospheric contrations ‘here‘). However, 3-4 billion years ago there was 1,000 times more methane in the atmosphere and oxygen did not become a major part of the atmosphere until photosynthetic organisms evolved later in the world’s history. The following gives a brief introduction to methane with emphasis on the interaction with carbon dioxide and the potential global warming feedback loops.