Aviva Chomsky Climate Change

The United States is Exceptional, Just Not in the Ways Any of Us Should Want

The United States have already used up far more than their “fair share” of this planet’s carbon budget.
Electric Towers during Golden Hour. Credits: Pixabay

By Aviva Chomsky / TomDispatch

Three years after the end of World War II, diplomat George Kennan outlined the challenges the country faced this way:

“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.”

That, in a nutshell, was the postwar version of U.S. exceptionalism and Washington was then planning to manage the world in such a way as to maintain that remarkably grotesque disparity. The only obstacle Kennan saw was poor people demanding a share of the wealth.

Today, as humanity confronts a looming climate catastrophe, what’s needed is a new political-economic project. Its aim would be to replace such exceptionalism and the hoarding of the earth’s resources with what’s been called “a good life for all within planetary boundaries.”

Back in 1948, few if any here were thinking about the environmental effects of the over-consumption of available resources. Yet even then, however unknown, this country’s growing wealth had a dark underside: the slow-brewing crisis of climate change. Wealth all too literally meant the intensified extraction of resources and the production of goods. As it happened, fossil fuels (and the greenhouse gases that went with their burning) were essential to every step in the process.

Today, the situation has shifted — at least a bit. With approximately 4% of the world’s population, the United States still holds about 30% of its wealth, while its commitment to over-consumption and maintaining global dominance remains remarkably unshaken. To grasp that, all you have to do is consider the Biden White House’s recent Indo-Pacific Strategy policy brief, which begins in this telling way: “The United States is an Indo-Pacific power.” Indeed.

In 2022, the relationship between wealth, emissions, and climate catastrophe has become ever clearer. In the crucial years between 1990 and 2015, the global economy expanded from $47 trillion to $108 trillion. During that same period, global annual greenhouse-gas emissions grew by more than 60%. Mind you, 1990 was the year in which atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) first surpassed what many scientists believed was the level of safety — 350 parts per million, or ppm. Yet in the 22 years since then, more CO2 and other greenhouse gases have been emitted into the atmosphere than in all of history prior to that date, as atmospheric CO2 careened past 400 ppm in 2016 with 420 ppm now fast approaching.

Inequality and Emissions

Growing global wealth is closely associated with growing emissions. But the wealth and responsibility for those emissions are not shared equally among the planet’s population. On an individual level, the wealthiest people on Earth consume — and emit — far more than their poorer counterparts. The richest 10% of the world’s population, or about 630 million people, were responsible for more than half of the increase in greenhouse-gas emissions over the last quarter-century. On a national level, rich countries are, of course, home to far more people with high levels of consumption, which means that the larger and wealthier the country, the greater its emissions.

In terms of per capita income, the United States ranks 13th in the world. But the countries above it on the list are mostly tiny, including some of the Persian Gulf states, Ireland, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Switzerland. So, despite their high per-capita emissions, their overall contribution isn’t that big. As the third largest country on this planet, our soaring per-capita emissions have, on the other hand, had a devastating effect.

With a population of around 330 million, the United States today has less than a quarter of either China’s population of more than 1.4 billion or India’s, which is just under that figure. Four other countries — Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan — fall into the population range of 200 to 300 million, but their per-capita gross domestic products (GDPs) and their per-capita emissions are far below ours. In fact, the total U.S. GDP of more than $19 trillion far exceeds that of any other country, followed by China at $12 trillion and Japan at $5 trillion.

In sum, the United States is exceptional when it comes to both its size and wealth. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn then that, until 2006, it was also by far the world’s top CO2 emitter. After that, it was surpassed by a fast-developing China (though that country’s per capita emissions remain less than half of ours) and no other country’s greenhouse gas emissions come close to either of those two.

To fully understand different countries’ responsibility, it’s necessary to go past yearly numbers and look at how much they’ve emitted over time, since the greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere don’t disappear at the end of the year. Here again, one country stands out above all the others: the United States, whose cumulative emissions reached 416 billion tons by the end of 2020. China’s, which didn’t start rising rapidly until the 1980s, reached 235 billion tons in that year, while India trailed at 54 billion.

Having first hit 20 billion tons in 1910, U.S. cumulative emissions have only shot up ever since, while China’s didn’t hit that 20 billion mark until 1979. So the U.S. got a big head start and, cumulatively speaking, is still way ahead when it comes to taking down this planet.

The U.S. Climate Action Network (USCAN) argues that excessive emitters like the United States have already used up far more than their “fair share” of this planet’s carbon budget and so, in fact, owe a huge carbon debt to the rest of the world to make up for their outsized contribution to the problem of climate change over the past two centuries. Unfortunately, the 2015 Paris Agreement’s voluntary, non-enforceable, and nationally determined limits on emissions functionally let rich countries continue on their damaging ways.

In fact, nations should be held responsible for repaying their carbon debt. The world’s poorest people, who have contributed practically nothing to the problem, deserve access to a portion of the remaining budget and to the sort of aid that would enable them to develop alternative forms of energy to meet their basic needs.

Under the fair-share proposal, it’s not enough for the United States just to stop adding emissions. This country needs to repay the climate debt it’s already incurred. USCAN calculates that to pay back its fair share the United States must cut its emissions by 70% by 2030, while contributing the cash equivalent of another 125% of its current emissions every year through technical and financial support to energy-poor nations.

Bernie Sanders’s Green New Deal proposal adopted the concept of the “fair share.” True leadership in the global climate fight, Sanders has argued, means recognizing that “the United States has for over a century spewed carbon pollution emissions into the atmosphere in order to gain economic standing in the world. Therefore, we have an outsized obligation to help less industrialized nations meet their targets while improving quality of life.”

On this subject, however, his voice and others like it sadly remain far outside the all-too-right-wing mainstream. (And if you doubt that, just check Joe Manchin’s recent voting record.)

Are We Making Progress Thanks to New Technologies?

In 2018, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report on our chances of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade — the goal that the countries involved in the Paris Agreement, including the United States, accepted as their baseline for action. It concluded that, to have a 50% chance of staying below that temperature increase, our future collective emissions couldn’t exceed 480 gigatons (or 480 billion tons). That, in other words, was humanity’s remaining carbon budget.

Unfortunately, as of 2018, global emissions were exceeding 40 gigatons a year, which meant that even if they were flattened almost immediately (not exactly a likelihood), we would use up that budget in a mere dozen years or so. Worse yet, despite a Covid-induced decline in 2020, global emissions actually rebounded sharply in 2021.

Most scenarios for emission reductions, including those proposed by the IPCC, rely optimistically on new technologies to enable us to get there without making substantive changes in the global economy or in the excessive consumption of the world’s richest people and countries. Such technological advances, it’s hoped, would allow us to produce as much, or possibly more energy from renewable sources and even possibly begin removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to support the likelihood of such progress, especially in the time we have left. No matter how much new technology we develop, there seems to be no completely “clean” form of energy. All of them — nuclear, wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, and perhaps others still to be developed — rely on massive industrial operations to extract finite resources from the earth; factories to process them; facilities to create, store, and transmit energy; and, in the end, some form of waste (think batteries, solar panels, old electric cars, and so on). Every form of energy will have multiple dangerous environmental impacts. Meanwhile, as the use of alternative forms of energy production increases worldwide, it hasn’t yet reduced fossil-fuel use. Instead, it’s just added to our growing energy consumption.

It’s true that the world’s wealthiest countries have achieved some gains in decoupling economic growth from rising emissions. But much of this relatively minor decoupling is attributable to a shift from the use of coal to natural gas, along with the outsourcing of particularly dirty industries. Decoupling has, as yet, made no dent in global greenhouse gas emissions and seems unlikely to accelerate or even continue at a meaningful enough pace after these first and easiest steps have been taken. So almost all climate modeling, like that of the IPCC, suggests that new technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere will also be needed to counter rising emissions.

But negative emissions technologies are largely aspirational at this point. Instead of counting on what still to a significant extent remain technological fantasies, while the wealthy continue their profligacy, it’s time to shift our thinking more radically and focus, as I do in my new book Is Science Enough? Forty Critical Questions About Climate Justice, on how to reduce extraction, production, and consumption in far more socially just ways, so that we can indeed begin to live within our planet’s means. Call it “post-growth” or “degrowth” thinking.

Make no mistake: we can’t live without energy and we desperately do need to turn to alternatives to fossil fuels. But alternative energies are only going to be truly viable if we can also greatly reduce our energy needs, which means reconfiguring the global economy. If energy is a scarce and precious resource, then ways must be found to prioritize its use to meet the urgent needs of the world’s poor, rather than endlessly expanding the luxuries of the wealthiest among us. And that’s precisely what degrowth thinking is all about: scaling back the mindless pursuit of production, consumption, and profit in favor of “human wellbeing and ecological stability.”

Abandoning Exceptionalism

In April 2021, President Biden made a dramatic announcement, setting a new goal for U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions — to reduce them 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050. Sounds pretty good, right?

But given that this country’s CO2 emissions had hit a high of 6.13 billion tons in 2005, that means by 2030 we’d still be emitting three billion tons of CO2 a year. Even if we could reach net-zero by 2050, our country alone would, by then, have used up one quarter of the entire remaining carbon budget for the planet. And right now, given the state of the American political system, there’s neither a genuine plan nor an obvious way to reach Biden’s goal. If we stay on our current path — and don’t count on that if the Republicans take Congress in 2022 and the White House again in 2024 — we would barely achieve a 30% reduction by 2030.

At this point, there’s no guarantee we’ll stay on that path, no matter the political party in power. After all, consider just this:

  • In 2010, about half of the new vehicles sold in the United States were cars and half were SUVs or trucks. By 2021, close to 80% were SUVs or trucks.
  • In 2020, more than 900,000 new houses were built in this country, their median size, 2,261 square feet. Most of them had four or more bedrooms and 870,000 had central air conditioning.
  • President Biden’s infrastructure bill, signed in November 2021, included $763 billion for new highways.

And let’s not even talk about the military-industrial-congressional complex and war. After all, the Department of Defense is the single largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels and emitter of CO2 in the world. Between its worldwide bases, promotion of the arms industry, and ongoing global wars, our military alone produces annual emissions greater than those of wealthy countries like Sweden and Denmark.

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the climate-change meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, in the fall of 2021, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry insisted repeatedlythat the United States must work to bring China on board. Joe Biden too kept his attention focused on China. And indeed, given its greenhouse gas emissions and still-expanding use of coal, China does have a big role to play. But to the rest of the world, such an insistence on diverting attention from our own role in the climate crisis rings hollow indeed.

A 2021 study shows that almost all of the world’s remaining coal, not to speak of most of its gas and oil reserves, will need to stay in the ground if global warming is to be kept below 1.5 degrees centigrade. Back in 2018, another study found that even to meet a 2-degree centigrade goal, which it’s now all too clear would be catastrophic in climate-change terms, humanity would have to halt all new fossil-fuel-based infrastructure and immediately start decommissioning fossil-fuel-burning plants. Instead, such new facilities continue to be built in a relentless fashion globally. Unless the United States, which bears by far the greatest responsibility for our climate emergency, is ready to radically change course, how can it demand that others do so?

But to change course would mean to abandon exceptionalism.

Degrowth scholars argue that, rather than risking all of our futures on as-yet-unproven technologies in order to cling to economic growth, we should seek social and political solutions that would involve redistributing the planet’s wealth, its scarce resources, and its carbon budget in ways that prioritize basic needs and social wellbeing globally.

That, however, would require the United States to acknowledge the dark side of its exceptionalism and agree to relinquish it, something that, in March 2022, still seems highly unlikely.

Aviva Chomsky

Aviva Chomsky, a TomDispatch regular, is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts. Her latest book, Is Science Enough?  Forty Critical Questions about Climate Justice, is just about to be published.

28 comments

  1. Whew. Is this 2010? This is old, rewrapped “infomation/info-tainment” by a Chomsky!

    We are just one in a line of exceptionalists. It’s Capitalists. Transnational finance. An elite that sees no national borders.

    This is BlackRock, Vanguard, Rothschilds, the Fortune 2000, every chip of paint and washer and payload as part of the military industrial complex. Every burger sold to a US mercenary. Every river polluted by big Ag. Every drop of water coming to the home pipe full of, well, toxins.

    We have to retrench, as in ecosocialism, and that means hard work for everyone taking over the world. Ag, energy, forests, transportation, banking, education, mountaintop removal, electricity. How many poisons in children growing up in big cities, or along ag watersheds?

    Read Peter Ward, Under a Green Sky. We need to start planning for OCEAN rise. INUNDATION. Coastline crumbling. Hug areas with less rain, more rain, etc.

    Capitalism and this Chomsky yammering are not the tools for sure. What a waste of digital electricity expelled signing on, reading it, and writing this.

    1. To Paul+,
      “What a waste of digital electricity expelled signing on, reading it, and writing this”
      So why did you bother?
      You apparently have a thing about Chomskys …
      She talks about what, IMO, is too seldom emphasized, but what is THE key – de-growth. Capitalism relies on perpetual growth, forever increasing our “GDP”, but how can there be infinite growth on a finite planet. Want to take a whack at Capitalism? Promote the concept of de-growth.
      Indeed that means hard work – instead of replacing people with machines, how about reversing the process – rolling back our “industrial revolution” which “succeeded” because of fossil fuel consumption – doesn’t mean “going back to the stone age”
      Renewable energy, hmm .. Isn’t our own human energy renewable? What about decreasing our energy use, what about eliminating energy use for stuff we don’t need – the enormous amounts of energy used by AI and cryptocurrency mining, e.g. – do we really need that stuff? Have we given up on human intelligence? Isn’t that the real problem?
      Returning Industrial Ag to Natural Ag – Mother Nature used to recycle everything and produced amazing surplus and diversity without artificial, processed, inputs, without “genetic engineering” in a lab.
      “Artificial” in a name gives it away every time …. Ironic at a time when we claim to want “real”, we laud, develop and consume more and more “artificial” stuff …

  2. Good stuff at MR Online:

    https://mronline.org/2022/03/23/pacific-northwest-the-salmon-fishery-climate-change-and-the-eco-system/

    Salmon are a keystone species, meaning that the health of salmon can tell scientists about the health of the entire ecosystem–including rivers, oceans, forests, soils and other animal species. And in recent years, salmon have been in steep decline with some salmon species already “on the brink of extinction,” according to the New York Times.

    “It’s definitely true in this region [Pacific Northwest] that if the salmon are not well it’s probably because the land and the people are not well, so salmon’s a keystone, or indicator species for that reason,” says Ian Gill, the co-creator of the network called Salmon Nation, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    Pretty much anybody in the bioregion has some experience [with] salmon, whether it’s catching one, or eating one, or that it’s a symbol in an organization or a sports team they’re part of, or whatever it is. Salmon is everywhere. And we want to reflect that because how we live on the land and live well and treat salmon well affects the makeup of the entire fabric of Salmon Nation.

    Importance of the Bio-Region
    In 2021, Salmon Nation launched a project called Salmon Stories which aims to collect stories that signify the importance of salmon in the lives of people in the bioregion and provide a deeper “understanding that the fight for wild salmon is about much more than fish: it’s about culture, community, livelihood, sustainability, life.”

    As part of the Salmon Stories initiative, people interested in sharing salmon stories from their community can apply for a fellowship which pays each fellow $1,000 to collect and record 10 video-based stories, which are 2 to 3 minutes each, that capture “community members sharing a story about salmon.” The project also pays a $50 honorarium to each person interviewed. People also have the option to submit their personal salmon stories on the website. These stories will eventually be launched in the spring of 2022.

    “We’re hoping to put thousands of faces to the importance of salmon, and through salmon, the importance of all the other things that need to change about our economic security, capitalist system and ways of living,” Gill says.

  3. The Dragon is called Satan, who gives power to the Beast, which is the Vat, which gives power to the False Prophet, the USA. This World, belongs to Satan, God allows h I s power, which will end very soon. He will be thrown into the spiritual lake of 🔥 with his false Church head, the Beast. And there lakie, the False Prophet. But before that happened, in Isaiah, it states that he will be taken, and placed in a pit with the Captains of power, Royalty. A nd they are dumbfounded. Because they deride him, an d say to him, where is your power.

    1. G O D has nothin’ to do w/ it except as part of the problem

      “mother nature” and time always rolls, the anthropocene will be a very thin layer in geologic history.
      It’s really too bad

  4. “Make no mistake: we can’t live without energy.”

    Correction: global industrial civilization cannot continue without energy. Humanity has done it for thousands of years. Uncontacted tribes still do.

    Climate change is a symptom of overshoot. The technological solutions you hope for will not stop overshoot. They will only prolong environmental degradation and collapse.

    Mathematician Sid Smith gave a talk to the Green Party in 2019 that explained this. The Jenga tower is coming down. https://youtu.be/5WPB2u8EzL8

    1. @Julie Ashton
      That’s quite correct Julie. It’s astounding that people are so mentally deficient that they make statements like that, and that the vast majority of people believe it. It should be obvious to any ten-year-old that humans don’t need any artificial energy in order to live.

      What people like Chomsky are doing is fighting for their lifeSTYLES, not fighting for life. Huge difference. Industrial society is war against the Earth and must end. Humans can do it voluntarily in 150-200 years if accompanied by a major population reduction (in order to prevent people from starving to death due to a lack of artificial fertilizer), or they can let nature do it for us. Even if one doesn’t care about nonhuman life as much as one cares about one’s lifestyle, if nature ends industrial society it will be far more brutal and painful for humans than if humans do it voluntarily.

      1. Jeff,
        I must argue that humans may well be living without energy and/or experiencing that major population reduction within twenty years. The graphs of past Arctic ice melt indicate we are on track for a blue ocean event very soon. Several scientists I listen to expect it between 2023 and 2035. Once this occurs we will have exponential heating, and I expect global industrial civilization will quickly collapse.

        So far, I’ve been preparing by ramping up my gardening, composting, and cooking with a sun oven. I have also put in a large pollinator garden and small ponds to assist the wildlife. I hope to have rain barrels and experience dehydrating with the sun or sun oven by year’s end. I then need to figure out how to stay warm in winter. Those willing to adapt have the best odds of survival. But it may be all for naught, as wet bulb temperatures are projected to become lethal in my state several days out of the year.

  5. Looks like Aviva is following in her father’s footsteps, not just passing along the same old George Kennan quote of which Noam was so fond, which outlined challenges (rulers of) this country faced in maintaining Pox Amerikkkana, but dutifully promoting propaganda of the present like climate change, enabling today’s elites to maintain even grosser position of disparity vis-a-vis the masses of people in whose name they claim noble purpose as fig leaf covering their real plans.

    It’s unexceptional that Aviva should be programming us for powered-down depopulation and Hunger-Games austerity as made-to-order solution to the contrived problem of our (not their) carbon footprints, effectively marching along with Noam’s own technofascist targeting of the unvaxxed and other domestic terrorists against (corporate state) science, which this geniusized idiot represents (especially after all those years at the MIC’s MIT debunking conspiracy theory on behalf of CIA psyop).

    But these two’s pretenses as champions of the people while they’re advancing whatever grand area of rule our masters have planned for us carries on professional class manufacture of consent in ways none of us should want.

    1. To Niko,
      Rail on as much as you like but the simple facts are:
      – one cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet
      – Nature bats last

      1. @SH
        Leftists can be every bit as anti-environmental as right wingers, and many if not most of them are.

  6. What ever happened to simple solutions like plant trees? I guess the first qualification would be to know what a tree is. The second would be how to plant them. The republicans would plant them upside down and blame the democrats. The democrats would argue about it for hours on end, compromise and plant them horizontally.

    Another example of build, backward better.

    1. To Beeline,
      Perfect! And yet for some reason the majority of voters insist on making a beeline for either party in every electoral contest …

      1. @SH
        “Apparently, according to you, anything that does not “solve” the climate change problem in toto, that does’t suck all the excess CO2 out lickety split, is of little import …”

        Wow, did you not read my replies to you? I explicitly said that 1) global warming/climate change is a symptom and therefore not a big issue with me; 2) my environmental priorities are protection and restoration of native ecosystems and species; and 3) restoring NATIVE trees and forests would be great for native ecosystems and species. You’re correct that problems that only affect humans are more minor problems and I don’t prioritize them, but aside from that possible interpretation, your comment makes no sense.

        You also clearly don’t understand what the cause of global warming/climate change is: it’s industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. Destruction of forests and the massive number of unnatural ruminants like cattle certainly contribute, but these are minor details compared to the massive unnatural amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by industrial society. If you want to stop harms caused by industrial society, you have to eliminate industrial society. Pretty simple, and sorry, no magical solutions like planting trees. Ending industrial society is not MY solution, it’s THE solution. Native trees and forests SHOULD be restored, but for different reasons.

        Good on you if you’re not a typical American hyperconsumer. Overconsumption and overpopulation are the twin physical root causes of all environmental problems. Those reductions could eventually lead to ending industrial society, which is the ONLY solution to this problem. As to me, I have no car, no cell phone, I don’t eat meat, and most important, I have no kids. I consume almost nothing except food, and I focus my life on “being,” not on “having.” So I live what I preach.

      2. Jeff,

        I read your posts – and my critique stands – esp now. Anyone who insists the (s)he has the ONLY solution, especially one that will take >100 years to achieve and who denigrates any attempts at ameliorating the distress to living organisms caused NOW by CC, let alone those in the future, that is those that survive, and who simply insists on repeating his talking points without engaging in a substantive discussion with anyone who has a different perspective …. seems rather rigid to me ..

        So you are an expert in what trees should be grown in any particular place all over the world? Gee, maybe you should be a consultant with the OneTreePlanted group that the message i included came from – did you even check out their site?

        2) “my environmental priorities are protection and restoration of native ecosystems and species”
        Hmm, it seems to me that humans are “native species”

        “You’re correct that problems that only affect humans are more minor problems and I don’t prioritize them”
        Yo! you don’t get sarcasm, do you – I put that “minor problems” in quotes – i guess with you I need to add that /s or whatever that silly symbol is to designate such. I am a retired physician, so problems that “only affect humans” have been a decades long concern for me – but i have come to understand that all things are connected and that stuff that affects humans affects all else as well and vice-versa

        OK – so we need to eliminate industrial society and by that I will assume you mean fossil fuel dependent industry which by your own admission will take >100 years – in the meantime there’s no point in doing things like planting trees … So to live a good life we need to ditch our cars, our cell phones, and apparently our kids – and it’s true that after 100 years if nobody has any more kids, “industrial society” will have disappeared – Voila! end of problem …

        But here’s the thing Jeff – even with no more humans, other critters may, for some strange reason, wish to reproduce in the future, some who live in trees ….

    2. @Beeline
      Planting trees is not a solution to global warming/climate change. More trees to suck up more carbon dioxide would help, but 1) tree-planting must be limited to native trees; 2) trees should not be planted where they don’t grow naturally; and 3) we couldn’t plant anywhere near enough trees to fix this problem.

      You want a “simple” solution? End industrial living. Industrial living is what caused global warming/climate change, and there’s no more simple solution than to end that unnatural living. This could be done in 150-200 years if people wanted to do it. If people want to prioritize their unnatural lifestyles instead, then it will just be more of the same. There are no magical solutions here that would allow humans to have their cake and eat it too. Either give up living unnaturally or continue to wreck the planet and kill all the life here.

      1. To Jeff,
        150-200 years – in case you haven’t noticed, we don’t have that kind of time … Lots of “appropriate” trees could be planted in lots of places, and they can be integrated into agro-ecology practices – tree planting is being done in many places by “locals” all over the world, because they understand the role they play in holding soil water, preventing erosion and rapid water run-off etc. You need to do a bit more research before you denigrate this eminently useful and natural solution. I am a bit surprised that you do so …

      2. @SH
        I’m a lifelong environmentalist and I’m very familiar with this issue (though it’s not a top issue for me because despite being an existential problem, it’s a symptom not a cause, and I don’t dwell on symptoms). I know for a FACT that nowhere near enough trees could never be planted to fix global warming/climate change, I read it in a scientific paper about how much CO2 trees absorb and how much would be needed to be absorbed without great reductions in emissions, and I’ve read discussions about that paper (sorry, I can’t link to it, don’t remember where I read it, but I’m sure you could find it if you’re really interested). You brought up the time factor; well, it takes time for trees to grow, and baby trees don’t absorb that much carbon dioxide. Of course restoring native forests would be a big boon to the entire planet for multiple reasons, and doing that would HELP with this problem, but it would not come close to fixing it.

        The idea that we can just plant trees and fix this problem is just more of the human desire for people to have their cake and eat it too. I don’t understand why adults can’t understand the simple fact that you can’t live unnaturally without harming the Earth and the life on it. Simple as that, no exceptions. People who claim to want to fix this or any other environmental problem without greatly lowering human consumption and population are advocating for their lifeSTYLE, not for life.

        The fact that we probably don’t have time to implement real solutions is irrelevant to what needs to be done. We’re stuck with, on one hand, the deadline for eliminating or at least greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and on the other hand how long it will take to do that. Humans created this mess and we’re stuck with it; all we can now do is to do the best we can. Furthermore, humans certainly can immediately start lowering their consumption and population. Organize your life so you don’t have to drive regularly and get rid of your car; don’t have more than one kid (none is best, adopt if you want kids); etc.

        Things that are too good to be true, are. Sure it sounds good that all we have to do is plant a few billion trees and all will be well, but that’s not reality.

      3. Who said I suggested planting a bunch of trees was the only thing we needed to do?

      4. @SH
        Beeline asked, “[w]hat ever happened to simple solutions like plant trees?” I responded to Beeline that “[p]lanting trees is not a solution ,,,” and you responded to me that I “need to do a bit more research before [I] denigrate this eminently useful and natural solution.”

        The definition of a “solution” is that it solves a problem. Planting trees won’t approach solving this problem. Again, restoring native forests and planting native trees would be great, but it would do far more for ecosystems and the life in them than it would for global warming/climate change, the latter which it would only be of some help. And to be clear, I’m all for helping native ecosystems and native wildlife, protection and restoration of them is my top environmental priority. But planting trees just doesn’t do that much for the global warming/climate change problem.

        I don’t know if we disagree here, but people always offer phony solutions to the global warming/climate change problem because they don’t want to give up their lifestyles by having to live naturally. That’s why I objected to Beeline saying that planting trees was a “simple solution,” because it’s not a solution at all.

      5. To Jeff,
        Where did I say it was THE solution, problems can have multiple solutions and planting trees is just one I just received this
        “Good news, your trees have been planted in India!

        Thanks to your support, a total of 1,533,930 fruit trees have been planted on 1,553 hectares of land across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, India. We also built nurseries in strategic areas of Haryana to reduce transportation costs and improve seedling acclimatization. As the trees grow, they’ll help alleviate hunger and poverty while fighting pollution and climate change across rural India.

        To accomplish this, we planted a diverse mix of fruit tree species, including Mango, Guava, Key Lime, Pomegranate and more. When intercropped with seasonal vegetables, a grove of 100 fruit trees provides nutritional meals and sustainable income to a family of 4, helping to reduce migration into urban areas. Special emphasis was given to employing people from marginalized groups like widowed and elderly women.

        Fruit trees change lives. Here are some key stats from the project:

        12,500 farmers and their families participated
        85% of the reforestation work was done by approximately 11,000+ women farmers
        100+ women were employed through the nurseries we built
        2 managers and 9 supervisors of the project were women

        In addition to providing social benefits, the trees planted will grow food and shelter for insects, bees, small animals, and birds. Biodiversity will also benefit from improved watershed health due to the prevention of water runoff during rain events. This will help keep area rivers clean by stabilizing soils, filtering stormwater and more.

        India suffered greatly from the pandemic during 2021. Local lockdowns and restrictions on movement changed the shape of this project throughout the year, but our amazing on-ground partners were able to adapt the program to ensure the safety of their team and the local communities. Providing access to healthy food and empowering farmers to develop sustainable livelihoods has never been more important.”

        Apparently, according to you, anything that does not “solve” the climate change problem in toto, that does’t suck all the excess CO2 out lickety split, is of little import, except of course for all the “little problems” mentioned here that planting trees does help solve. Your “solution”, ? to the exclusion of others, is “life-style” change, which by your own admission will take >100 years – so how about this – one of my “life-style” changes is to spend less $ on “stuff” and instead spend it on – planting trees which won’t take 100 years to grow .. I humbly suggest that perhaps you and many others might consider this one of your “life-style changes” as well …

      6. @SH
        If you read my posts you’re not acknowledging them, because you keep repeating the same false statements. Where in hell did I say not to plant trees?

        Additionally, it is YOU who keeps repeating the same points and not engaging in a substantive discussion, because you don’t acknowledge or address what I write; you instead repeat false talking points about how I don’t want to plant trees, which I never said. You are projecting your personality traits onto me here.

        You are clearly not well-versed in ecology or wildlife biology. Non-native species, which includes non-native trees, is one of the major factors contributing to the current Sixth Great Extinction crisis that humans are causing. Non-native species replace native ones, and that’s very ecologically harmful, in addition to being totally foolish and immoral. Where do you you human supremacists get off thinking that you know what’s best for the natural world or any of the life there? The only thing we should be doing in the natural world is to protect it, and where humans have damaged or destroyed it, to restore it to its natural condition as much as possible. All else is ecological harm. Human ego and hubris makes people think that they can and should manage natural areas and nature in general, but this couldn’t be more wrong. Nature knows far more and is far wiser than all humans put together regarding how to manage itself, thank you.

        Elimination of industrial society would be the first major step of humans getting onto the right path. It simply means no more industrial living, not changing sources of energy. The reasons for doing this are twofold: First, industrial society is war against the Earth and all who live here. Merely extracting fossil fuels is very ecologically harmful, and that’s before even refining and burning them. Most traditional indigenous societies have absolute prohibitions against digging into the Earth, and this is a perfect reason for those prohibitions. My reason for advocating elimination of industrial society is for the Earth and all life on it, not for human benefit. But I think that once people began living a lot more simply and naturally, they’d appreciate the lack of pollution and unnatural noise and light at night, and would have overall better lives, even if they were no longer unnaturally long lives. Second, the only proper role of humans is to expand our consciousness. (I’m not going to go into the reasons here, the explanation is too long for this venue & format.) Expanding consciousness can be done in many ways and takes many forms; it’s not limited to mental exercises like meditation, though I think the whole planet would be better off if people were to meditate every day.

        I don’t understand why you insist on personalizing this issue. Elimination of industrial society is not MY solution to global warming/climate change, it’s the ONLY effective solution. All else REGARDING THAT SPECIFIC PROBLEM is people trying to maintain their lifestyles while trying to solve the problem, which is not possible. For the umpteenth time, yes people should also plant native trees and do countless other things to fix all the environmental and ecological harms we’ve caused and are still causing, but none of those things will fix this problem.

        And BTW, my comment about minor issues was not a reference to your comment about it. My point was that issues that only affect a minority of humans are minor compared to environmental issues, because the latter affect a lot more life, regardless of whether that life is human. I’m ecocentric, which is the opposite of being anthropocentric or a human supremacist, and I don’t value humans over any other species, and in fact I value them below more important things like ecosystems.

        I may not have responded to everything in your last post, but I’m NOT retired and this is all I have time for now.

      7. To Jeff,
        I never said you said not to plant trees – where did that come from?
        As far as addressing points – I have yet to see you address mine …
        So what trees should they be planting in that area of India referred to in my post?

        You can’t resist insulting, can you – “You (referring to me) human supremacists”

        There are some other of your statements I would ordinarily choose to address, but at this point I have had enough interchanges with you that it is clear there would be no point … You think you need to explain all this stuff to me – as if i don’t get it, but I do and have for some time – your beef seems to be that I don’t bow down and say “Oh thank you, wise man, now i get it, I will amend my ways”

        So, at this point, I will say “adios! have a nice life!” and go back to planting trees …

      8. Ahhh, hence, the hair splitting. This is a systems failure, and you all know that. Thousands of books on replanting, rewilding, agro ecology, co-housing, density, farm-towns, getting all poisons out of the water system, wetlands restoration, and yes, huge bio regional planning, etc. etc. But the retrogrades and the elites and their Eichmann’s just LOVE this hair-splitting . . . laughing all the way to the Fink Scwatrzman BlackStoneRock billionaires’ club. Scaling up up up. Community centered. There is so so much work to do to go back to a better time, and, yes, global heating . . . how’s that working out in places like India where heat islands and other heating will necessitate A/C and fans? Some tough tough issues, but we spend our time on academy dud awards, war, celebrity nonesense, and shipping trillions to the AI-Space-Surveillence-App-Satellite-6G Titans.

  7. This is an excellent article. Should be read by every political leader in the country.

  8. Exceptionally exceptional:

    And here’s one more from Maria Zakharova, Director of Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation:

    “The US arguments for fielding low-yield nuclear warheads is intended to blur the lines between strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons which inevitably leads to the lowering of the nuclear threshold and the growing threat of nuclear war…. Those who like to theorize about the flexibility of US nuclear capability, must understand in line with Russian Military Doctrine, that such actions (using low-yield nukes) will be seen as warranting retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by Russia.” (“Russia slams US argument for low-yield n-warheads”, You Tube)

    It’s not Russia that’s “lowering the nuclear threshold” and making the case that nuclear weapons are “usable”, it’s Washington. And that is why we think there is a constituency in Washington for using a nuclear device in Ukraine.

    https://www.unz.com/mwhitney/ny-times-frustrated-putin-could-use-nukes-in-ukraine/

  9. Exceptional!

    The grocery store shelves are partially empty, thanks largely to the Covid lockdowns and restrictions, but if Joe Biden and his warmongering neocons have their way, the shelves will be almost completely empty. Americans are about to pay for the ruling elite’s decision to sanction Russia.

    Biden said the other day people will suffer under the escalating sanctions imposed on Russia.

    “It’s going to be real,” the president said about the impact of sanctions.

    “The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia; it’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well,” Biden said.

    “Both Russia and Ukraine have been the breadbasket of Europe in terms of wheat, for example — just to give you one example.”

    You heard that right. Biden expects you to sacrifice for the sake of the Azov Battalion, a gaggle of ultra-nationalists and Neo-Nazis that have killed untold numbers of ethnic Russians in Donbas since 2014 and the “Revolution of Dignity” sponsored and funded by the US State Department and the neocon Victoria Nuland.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/biden-tells-serfs-they-will-go-hungry/5775518

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