Planet Earth RIP

It’s been widely reported this week that carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has reached record levels – 400 parts per million (here). This is the highest level of CO2 for 3 million years – long before modern humans existed – and it’s shot-up from 316 parts per million to 400 per million in just the last 50 years. Be worried.

Every day, worldwide, humans consume 85 million barrels of oil (Americans consume just under 20 million barrels of that figure). Likewise, every day an estimated 20 million tons of coal is used (the five largest coal users – China, USA, India, Russia and Japan – account for 76% of total global coal use – here). It’s often said (mostly by those with vested interests) that volcanic eruptions cause more CO2 than humans do. Not true: on average, volcanoes emit anything up to 300 million tons of CO2 a year; whereas humans emit 29 billion tons of CO2 each year (here). Well, I could go on and on with the stats, but a picture paints a thousand words, so here’s one of the regular smogs they now get in Beijing. It reminds me of London in the old days…


As well as fossile fuels, there’s another big factor in greenhouse gases that doesn’t get mentioned very often. Take a look at the explosion in human population: in 1800 there were 1 billion people in the world; in 1927 there were 2 billion people; in 1974 there were 4 billion people; now, in 2013, there are 7 billion people alive. All these extra people need to be fed, and the farming of animals has raised exponentially. The Worldwatch Institute recently reported that animal agriculture acounts for about 50% of all greenhouse gases (here); that’s mainly cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, et al, farting CO2 into the atmosphere.

The Industrial Revolution started 250 years ago, in Britain, at the dawn of the Victorian age. 250 years, that’s all it’s taken to just about destroy this planet we live on. I’m not just talking about greenhouse gases. The Industrial Revolution also brought about capitalism and consumerism (which is basically about greed, and people being persuaded to buy stuff they don’t really need). The results are all around us, not least the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch. Neoliberalism is now almost a religious cult in the West; the last days of a failed system that was based on the belief that the planet earth has infinite resources.

Which brings me on to atomic energy. There was a report this week about the Hanford atomic bomb factory in the US, and how dangerous it still is (here), all to make weapons of mass destruction; and it’s not just the US: Mayak in Russia and Sellafield in Britain are just as bad, amongst others. Then we have Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima and God knows how many others that have been covered-up. Cancer rates have gone through the roof ever since humans started mucking around with atoms a 100 years ago. To quote Albert Einstein: Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

But let’s have some light relief here. I’m never sure if Mr Armstrong is being ironic when he sings this song…

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