Not a CO2 focus, but a Post-Fossil focus

The Quest in Egypt is actually quite simple: Not look for reductions of fossil, but how to live off the sun, and its derivatives, wind and water power. And where possible make things a little more effective with a little gravity and geothermal power. That’s it, in terms of energy , for now.

This is what Post-Fossil looks like. Which is actually also Pre-Fossil. Until the 18th century that was the standard, more or less, living off the sun (including energy in the form of food for people and animals) , wind and water power. Except for a few countries , that already used some fossil in the margins , like locally some coal ( England ) or gas ( china ) , or peat burning , ( hence the ‘golden age for Holland ) .

But we don’t do that anymore, we can’t afford it.

And so all research and considerations and evaluations about the future should start from a non-fossil situation, i.e. a solar budget situation. All other optimizations are nonsensical, at least if we take climate change and circularity ( in the real sense of the word, closed cycles, with recovery stock) seriously.

Now most are just trying to think of all kinds of solutions to work with percent less CO2 emissions, only to start producing those products with mostly fossil fuels. A new energy supply system, with current design of wind turbines, solar panels, or even with hydrogen as a way station, can only come about if they are produced with fossil fuels, with, moreover, immense material input. If we stop using fossil tomorrow, all these developments will be worthless. Meaningless. Nice thought but don’t work.

Not to mention everything that has to be converted for use of all new technology: electric or hydrogen cars, plus charging stations and cables, heat grids and or heat pumps, induction stoves, for all homes, to name a few. Plus the amount of airco’s that will grow…. Produced with fossil energy, which in turn will cause more air conditioners to be needed.

And to think that half the world does not even have all our luxuries, and another 0,8 billion people do not even have access to electricity: there the whole system still has to be built from scratch. Moreover, they are often also the first victims.

We are already passing the 1,5 degree in climate change, and we remain optimistic about what can be done, but no one dares to face the fact that the 2 and 2.5 degrees are in fact also already out of the picture, there is no steep reduction of greenhouse gases to be seen. On the contrary, methane emissions , partly still inexplicably, are increasing rapidly, with a 50 times greater greenhouse effect than CO2.

Then again. We are mainly talking about emission reduction. And even then mostly relative. We are not talking about absolute 0. Moreover, the focus on CO2 is a focus on 1 consequence, a side effect, but not a cause! As there are many other consequences, also not causes:

climate change, biodiversity loss, dead farmland, drying up rivers, drinking water shortages, and a lot of other effects. But still: these are all consequences.

The cause is our immeasurable consumption, our obesitas in stuff, far beyond survival needs. Which translate into energy and material needs: Energy in the form of fossil, with thus methane leaks, oil spills, earthquakes, landslides, tar fields, and with that fossil creating: material withdrawals, with pristine forest clearing, for farmland or production forest, with irrigation water shortages, biodiversity loss and displacement of forest peoples as a result, plus overexploitation of that farmland, with pesticides and fertilizers, with exhaustion and dead soil as a result,

And then also, with fossil fuels, mega mineral and metal extraction, resulting in the depletion and disappearance of resources, as well as side effects.

And all this is caused by our consumption drift . Not so the anonymous ‘ CO2′ is the problem, but us. We, Ourselves.

Last week there was Dutch Design Week overhere, which showed many wonderful initiatives. But I came back somewhat disappointed. Meetings like this one give the impression that there is a solution for every demand or wish, and there isn’t one. We cannot maintain this level of consumption and luxury, not even circular or sustainable.

Problem with DDW, and many similar initiatives, is that almost without exception, it’s about products. And every product requires materials and energy. And thus impact, even if it comes from recycling, or is made with renewable energy. Because that again requires material and energy ( fossil or more renewable energy). Its a chain of reactions and impacts. Even the more when in fact the whole world is entitled to that same luxury. 8 billion people by now.

What is actually at stake, given the problems coming our way, is to secure our basic services: Water, food and shelter for everyone as the most important. And that will already be difficult enough, with increasing climate change, resource scarcity and international battle for those, but especially when you consider that everything in fact will have to be done without fossil fuels. (including the construction and production of those solar panels and wind turbines!)

As of today. We already won’t make the 1.5 degrees, as climate conference reports show. So imagine that everything you might see as a possible solution, must firstly be accessible to 8 billion people by now, and secondly no fossil fuels should be used for that. Zero. Not even in production…

Stopping all existing fossil use tomorrow, and thus CO2 emissions, not work. But for any new activity, the 0-fossil option will have to the starting point, otherwise, moreover, we build in even more dependence on fossil.

In other words, anyone who takes himself seriously when it comes to a CO2-free future should already start calculating from a fossil-free situation. From the sun and its derivatives. And only then look at how to get there, thus skipping all wishful thinking . That shows the real level of consumption, which could be maximally possible. It is time for the Post Fossil Era. We then don’t focus on CO2 anymore. A CO2 focus is fooling ourselves. Also in Egypt, at COP 27….

Author: ronald rovers