Nitrogen levels are too high, as are levels of particulate matter, too much manure, CO2 emissions continue to rise, as does methane emissions, biodiversity drops dramatically, the agricultural land is exhausted, natural gas fields collapsing, heat waves of 40 degrees, lack of cooling capacity in a hot summer, sea levels rise and the land sinks.
That is the Netherlands currently. We also cause immense problems abroad. If the Amazon forests burn because farmers want to grow soy, it is because we need soy in the Netherlands for our meat production. We also tend to forget that part of the CO2 emissions in, for example, China must be attributed to us, we have our products made there. Just as we sail the vessels ready for scrap on a beach in India or Bangladesh, and have the mess moved to them. And where does all our new steel come from? Not from the Netherlands and not even Europe. We don’t have it.
The country is becoming exhausted, and we are continuing to exhaust it even though it is not even for ourselves: Schiphol is mainly a transfer airport. And our meat production from Brazilian soy is largely exported again. If it was only for the Netherlands, the problems could be handled (maybe).
And we stand by and watch it from being in traffic jams. The whole natural system is about to collapse, and no one who sees it, or wants to see it?
Even our drinking water supply is at risk, after two dry summers. And that will be exacerbated by salinization along the coasts. We are now stuck with too high nitrogen levels: the problems are becoming so huge that construction projects are being stopped now. The agricultural land is exhausted, and requires more and more fertilizer. We cant get rid of our waste anymore, China has forbidden importing it, and even burning it ourselves is hardly possible anymore. Plastic particles are everywhere, now even in beer, the one drink that for centuries was the rescue when the drinking water was not reliable.
Surveillance fails, I read everywhere, to keep everyone abreast of laws, whether it is chemical waste dumping, or drugs trade, or checking engine power of fishing vessels, or blending waste in fuel oil by sea vessels, or monitoring countless other underground activities.
And then there is CO2, for which emissions have go down drastically and very fast, if we want to have some chance of combating catastrophic climate change. That should be 0 within 30 years. And 30 years is a political choice. If we share the remaining CO2 budget fairly globally, we will run out already in 2027. It must go to Zero! Do people or politicians realize what that means? Nothing, nada fossil anymore, no gas, oil, coal or brown coal. Or peat, or whatever. Also no biomass burning, which is an immediate CO2 contribution. (the cycle will only be closed after 40 years of regrowth or so. Far beyond the Paris targets. Zero is zero!
When does it come to the fore that everything is coherent, and resulting from the same attitude: we want too much, we consume too much, we export too much, we have exhausted our country: the Netherlands is worn out. We have lost everything, lived far beyond our means, sold the soul to the devil. The society as we manage it here is squeaking on all sides, and is no longer tenable. We see the hard boundaries looming everywhere, and instead of taking a little distance and considering how we have to re-organize things differently, we look for ways out of each individual problem: lawyers who try to overrule nitrogen treaties, a government that appeals when convicted to meet climate goals, promoting some circular recycling thinking the problem will be solved. We are saving an aluminum factory in Groningen from bankruptcy: a metal with CO2 emissions as high as 10 times as steel, a metal that should be used as little as possible. And only to save 300 jobs, while we are short of thousands in more essential places.
We solve some local problems, but do not close the open ends of the complex cycles, do not act on the damage we cause abroad, think of the Soy production, think of palm oil, think of collapsing basins with chemicals for metal production, think of tar fields, burning forests in Siberia, emptied oceans, strongly shrinking fresh water reservoirs for irrigation of oranges and other food, desertification through overgrazing for sheep wool. To name just a few.
It is just too much, at the same time, and then complain that we are short of people here …. And why? Because all people are pushed into jobs to try to further increase exports and trade. So that the basic social services are eroded: education, care, enforcement, all because, while the systems around us are cracking, we only want to grow the pressure by consuming and exporting. Resulting in a monopoly game with interest rates,which in turn erodes the pension funds.So, in addition to the natural systems, social structures are also cracking, sacrificed to the adage of consumption and export. Incidentally, based on a monetary / financial system that is completely detached from actual value, from fundamental physical laws, that of a globe with limited and restricted capacity.
We want to retrofit each home for € 80000 in an energy-neutral way, enough money around, but do not realize that the CO2 impact of the materials used for all houses together exceeds the climate carbon budgets of Paris. We override ourselves in optimistic solutions, in more technology: to solve problems caused by technology. By wanting to arrange everything smartly, not realizing that all data centers in the Netherlands are already adding more (new) energy consumption than all offshore wind farms can deliver. We cant build them fast enough, the energy needs of data centers are growing faster than we can build wind turbines*.
And in the meantime, the foundation underneath everything is being knocked away: nature, the soil, our drinking water, our food supply, our biomass supplies, and in the long term also our country if the sea level keeps rising. All systems on which we depend, are exploited beyond capacity. Not just CO2, but all sources on which we depend. First abroad, the Amazon, the permafrost, the desertification, the ice melt, but that was still far away, but now its coming home. These are not accidental, short-lived, individual or transient problems, that is a major structural and integral problem.
We are blind with eyes wide open. What is needed is to reconsider our society, and to detach ourselves from the straitjacket that international financial trade has forced us into. Moreover, if we want more than we have people for, don’t we want too much, don’t we?
It’s not all possible: CO2-neutral construction cannot be achieved with steel and aluminum and concrete, even though we make believe they can innovate themselves out of this trap. Building will only have to shift to use materials that capture CO2, not with materials that cause CO2 emissions, no matter how much.
Agriculture requires 6 times as much energy input as food energy. Time is over for using pesticides, artificial fertilizer, antibiotics. Forget about ‘vertical agriculture’: If the world is scorching and we are living in a desert, imagine plants will grow in our buildings, with us standing outside in the heat begging for some food.
We cannot produce so-called efficient tumble dryers, and then build wind turbines to supply the energy for something that is also done directly by wind on a clothing line. Which is forbidden by most owners that rent out apartments (VVEs) . How blasé are we anyway?
It is almost impossible to see how time and again politics, the market, and special interest groups focus on 1 issue, and cry for a solution, that is: “solve it, remove the barriers, so that we can continue with what we were doing. I don’t care how”.
Flying cannot be sustained, yet we are going for an extra airport, because we are going to solve flying electrically. That is : on solar energy somehow. Really?
How long are we going to look away from this? And I do not mean that everyone should go looking for solutions individually. But that we collectively start arranging things properly, that we reorganize society in a way that can be sustained for years to come, That we do suggest that everything can be solved technologically, that not everything is for sale, with a fake financial system, thinking that nature and physics are annoying side issues. The world works on the basis of physical-biological principles and laws. Not on (financial) economic laws. Nothing more and no less.
The only solution is moderation, in everything.