A acute CO2 lockdown: When could that happen….2/2

When can we expect a real CO2 lockdown, some wondered, after reading my previous comtributions. Good question. Months ago, someone also asked how I saw the future in 20 years, following an article about predictions from 20 years ago[1]. That question still keeps me busy, but I have not yet finished formulating an answer. This question also refers to that same issue.

Will the climate crises develop gradually, and we just sink deeper and deeper into the swamp, until it’s too late and everything slowly comes to a standstill ? (A) Or (B) at some moment someone will see the light , and drastic interventions will follow, so the real lockdown?

The evidence for us having an immense problem is mounting, the situation is becoming increasingly clear. But a point of brute intervention is difficult to determine, because interventions are usually ad hoc and and aimed at end of pipe effects. Like recently the Netherlands faced too high nitrogen levels, which is addressed with some minor repair measures to keep everyone happy. While you cannot approach such an issue solitary, since it is a symptom of a larger coherent problem. Same with drought and subsequent drinking water problems, which will probably be tackled with the use of more technology. Or Agriculture, which has exhausted the land, now proposing to move to hughrise buildings=vertical agriculture: We will catch the sunlight outside, convert the energy, store it, and release it again as indoor light to grow plants indoor, for which we have constructed buildings… No soil needed, but a lot of energy and material.

Ok, the maximum speed on motorways in The Netherlands has been reduced from 130 to to 100 to reduce Nitrogen emissions, something that was not thought possible 2 years ago. But at the same time, the outcome of lawsuits about climate policy are ignored …(The Urgenda climate case)

Now then, will it be case A, will it go gradually? If we look at effects in nature itself: changes are seldom abrupt, it is gradual. Land gets dehydrated, animals start roaming, looking for water, or birds shift their breeding grounds gradually, adapting to temperatures. As well as you can already see winegrowers in southern Spain who move to the higher Pyrenees because of drought and heat. Slow changes like that are already underway.

The advantage of animals is, they know of no boundaries, and they keep moving freely. We humans, however, have drawn imaginary borders that we want to defend, even when there is nothing left to achieve, at the same time exclude everybody from outside those borders. Just look at the containers that Belgium placed as roadblocks on the roads during the corona lockdown. And the Spanish winegrowers can not cross the Pyrenees to France: In principle they themselves do not want that, they are Spaniards. Moreover, when crossing it becomes French wine, and the end of Spanish wine …

So we actually created prisons that we cannot get out of, even if nothing grows anymore or if the land is flooded. Those borders could become our own downfall … I have already proposed before that the Netherlands should donate itself to Germany as a present, in order to have some room for maneuver in the future.

But I don’t see those borders being lifted quickly, so we are locked up within our borders. My best guess is even that Europe will be falling apart, in seperate countries trying to save for themselves what can be saved. It is no coincidence that the Netherlands is planning huge offshore wind farms: the sea is the only escape route in one of the densiest countries of the world to be assured of some energy in future, when the local gas is used up, and other countries will protect their resources. The question is whether man is able to break free from such a scenario, or whether this kind of reaction, the boundaries focus, is ingrained in the natural response of our species, of evolutionary genes. Incidentally, there have been large migrations in history, but at that time there were not yet borders to protect, as well as there was still land unused. ( Or as in the case of the native american indians, it was regarded as free land, since noone had ‘a legal’ claim… ) . And I think Europe will disintegrate before evenually realising that borders should be opened, to make the most of it together. ( I am truly thining here of a Go East movement, as compared to a Go West movemenet, where large group of people will in time populate Siberia…) .

Are there any other scenarios, than the slow sinking, scenarios with major interventions (B)?

As long as the current financial and economic model is ruling , efforts will continue to focus at postponing the inevitable conclusion, and with a lot of money trying to continue to defeat nature. Also because people think there is still time. I can only think of a few reasons that could lead to some form of lockdown:

1 the money system collapses.

2 broad awaremess that there is no time left,

3 there is some kind of imminent danger

4 a resource crises/shortage

Ad 1: I had hoped that this had already happened in 2008, that the banks had not been saved and that a new financial economic model could have been developed on the ruins. That has not happened. We now have to wait for another blow. Perhaps it will be in the coming years, if finding a vaccine against corona will take more time, or one of its mutants will hit. I that case drastic reforms are unavoidable. Otherwise, it will take longer, but even then more and more countries will get into trouble, growing debts will not disappear, nor will the huge amouns of money: that will continue to circulate and reinforce climate / consumption-related problems (more see *).

2 If 1 does not happen, the moment will soon come that the 1.5 degree scenarion is out of sight, and soon after that the 2 degrees will also be out of sight. That could give momentum to drastic interventions, but also cause panic. However the effects are by then already inevitable, and will spread over years and decades. So whether crossing 1,5 or 2 degrees will be enough for a lockdown? And will that still make sense and be effective…? Perhaps by then the attitude will already be “after us the Flood”. What the attitude is actually already today, but still unconsciously.

3 Where could acute danger come from? Viruses indeed. And the evidence is piling up that the pandemic is closely related to climate change, with how we are changing nature, how we are minimizing it, and put pressure on biodiversity. This can, and is expected to happen more often. At some point, the damage could be big enough to turn a temporary corona lockdown into a permanent one, actually accepting a climate-proof lifestyle: Everything is still there, but less. Living slower, adapted to the speed of regenerating sources.

Other acute dangers? Migration flows? Not really, either we’ll try to stop them, or it’s too late and we’ll be overrun. Which in itself will also lead to a form of lockdown, because we suddenly have to share everything with many more people. It could happen in relation to crop failure for instance.

Next: Bee mortality? No idea.

Drought? Perhaps, but rather locally. In which case country borders will again play a role. Mark that borders have in general no relationship whatsoever to any area’s resource potential. The most logical boundaries would be boundaries of water sheds between river areas. But that is not the case anywhere in the world, as far as I know. If it was, then the world or Europe would look very different [2]

The Arctic ice-free, as a trigger? Which in itself will have direct and rapid consequences for climate changes, for example the via changes in the warm gulfstream? That could trigger fast measures, but again probably too late to avoid the worst effects.

4 a resource crises. Which is in fact already ongoing. Most trade disputes between countries involve the procurement of raw materials or semi-finished products. Think of America first, or the new silk route of China. However, I am afraid that this more likely lead to wars, as to a lockdown and living from own resources.

All things considered, my humble guess would be that it will be gradual process, with some shocks, (and therefore too slow), but thats taking place already for the past 30 years.

And it seems we have already crossed several tipping points, latest research show.We only do not yet see it directly [3]

Anyway, everything is with greatest reservations, it can turn out completely different [4].

It is speculating, things always turn out differently …

[1] http://ronaldrovers.nl/20-40-jaar-later/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_watershed

[3] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0

[4] here’s another way to describe the future, and what it takes to prevent it: