"Sometimes realisation comes in a blinding flash. Blurred outlines snap into
shape and suddenly it all makes sense. Underneath such revelations is typically
a much slower-dawning process. Doubts at the back of the mind grow. The sense
of confusion that things cannot be made to fit together increases until
something clicks. Or perhaps snaps.
Collectively we three authors of this article must have spent more than 80
years thinking about climate change. Why has it taken us so long to speak out
about the obvious dangers of the concept of net zero? In our defence, the
premise of net zero is deceptively simple – and we admit that it deceived us.
The threats of climate change are the direct result of there being too much
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So it follows that we must stop emitting more
and even remove some of it. This idea is central to the world’s current plan to
avoid catastrophe. In fact, there are many suggestions as to how to actually do
this, from mass tree planting, to high tech direct air capture devices that
suck out carbon dioxide from the air.
The current consensus is that if we deploy these and other so-called “carbon
dioxide removal” techniques at the same time as reducing our burning of fossil
fuels, we can more rapidly halt global warming. Hopefully around the middle of
this century we will achieve “net zero”. This is the point at which any
residual emissions of greenhouse gases are balanced by technologies removing
them from the atmosphere.
This is a great idea, in principle. Unfortunately, in practice it helps
perpetuate a belief in technological salvation and diminishes the sense of
urgency surrounding the need to curb emissions now.
We have arrived at the painful realisation that the idea of net zero has
licensed a recklessly cavalier “burn now, pay later” approach which has seen
carbon emissions continue to soar. It has also hastened the destruction of the
natural world by increasing deforestation today, and greatly increases the risk
of further devastation in the future."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics
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