Bugs In My Borders And More About Climate Change

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It’s cool today after yesterday’s roasting, and thinking is easier. I’m still brooding on Boris Johnson’s climate change contentions (quote and article link in previous post) and it occurs to me that when an issue becomes polarized between sceptics and supporters, more energy goes into the argument than the resolution. In other words, nothing gets done and the conflict becomes an end in itself.

A poor end, I might add; the kind that happens in marriages, between nations, in neighbour feuds. And so when it comes to the climate-change sceptics, those cash-loaded, vested-interest, shadowy entities who fund political campaigns, and infiltrate their agendas across our mass media through advertising and sponsorship, then such wily bodies with share-holders to appease are sure to understand this very well. Distract. Confuse. Immobilize.

In some ways, then, whether rapid climate change is caused by humans or is the product of the planet’s own cycles, isn’t the point. The point is we need to act, because we’ve known for decades that environmental degradation affects the climate. If you cut down a forest, there will be less rainfall and more soil erosion. If you overgraze grassland you will create a desert. If you crop, mine or drill for natural resources and leave a wasteland of pollution you threaten the lives of the locals and their resulting survival tactics may only add to the problem.

Another fact: humans have been radically changing the natural environment for 10,000 years, ever since they took up cultivation and herding for a living. There is absolutely no doubt that these events happened. Environmental degradation creates and accelerates human poverty in a multiplier vortex of deprivation. Those of us who live in more privileged conditions may then be alarmed by the threat of arriving migrants, and this in turn starts colouring the complexion of a receiving nation’s politics – and not for the better for any of us.

But many of these things can be fixed. If we want to fix them. And since thinking globally is too big ‘a think’ for most of us, then there is much that can be done on local and regional levels. Here is a stunning example from China. Watch the video and be heartened and amazed. This is what it says about itself:

In 2005, the Chinese government, in cooperation with the World Bank, completed the world’s largest watershed restoration on the upper banks of the Yellow River. Woefully under-publicized, the $500 million enterprise transformed an area of 35,000 square kilometers on the Loess Plateau — roughly the area of Belgium — from dusty wasteland to a verdant agricultural center.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QUSIJ80n50&t=1810s

The further good news is, the Loess Plateau model is now being used to tackle desertification in other parts of the world. So you see we CAN do it. Acting locally, regionally, nationally can go global.

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copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

 

July Squares #26

65 thoughts on “Bugs In My Borders And More About Climate Change

    1. It’s not a hard concept to grasp is it. Better than the aftermath of the policies of some of our regime-changing, bomb-happy leaders. Thanks for the reblog, Ark.

  1. “(W)hether rapid climate change is caused by humans or is the product of the planet’s own cycles, isn’t the point. The point is we need to act, because we’ve known for decades that environmental degradation affects the climate.”

    It is the point because we’re being fed lies that each of us can act locally and bring about widespread change. This is factually incorrect, although it can make us all feel like we’re actually doing something.

    But here’s the problem: it places the emphasis for ‘action’ on the wrong end of the causal chain and diverts us – and our voting – from effectively addressing the front end for the cause of rapid climate change, namely, collectively spending our carbon budget far beyond the planet’s ability to absorb it. No matter how much carbon absorbing practices we take now, no matter how many plateaus we reclaim, no matter how much we reduce/reuse/recycle, we are emitting far too much CO2 each and every day.

    The temperatures we are seeing today in India and Europe of periods of 40+C is caused by a global rise of .75C. We are on track to reach irreversible 1.5C (for the next 300 years) rise in global temperatures within 8 years (estimated to cause periods of 45C). We are on track to reach 2.5C (for the next 500 years) rise in global temperatures within ~40 years (estimated to cause much longer extended periods of 45C as well as waves of 50C). We are on track to reach 4C (for the next 1000 years) rise in global temperatures in ~80 years (with related period of extended 50+C). Those estimates are conservative and they do not describe the kind of extreme weather that will cause massive regional disruptions. And what this means is that no amount of reclaimed land or personal action today – no matter how well intentioned, no matter how hopeful it may seem – will alter this trajectory one iota. A 5C rise will make half the US inhospitable for human life, meaning one will die by 20 minute outside exposure. Fruit trees and farmland don’t stand a chance.

    That’s the brute fact. That’s why admitting what the problem really is – we have overspent our carbon budget already and are planning on spending even more with rising global CO2 emissions – is the very first step necessary to addressing thjis driver of rapid climate change. And we’re not even there yet.

    We need a war on carbon, fought to the same extent as nation-threatening world wars in the past. And this requires cohesive national action and organized implemented reduction policies. As Greta Thunberg just said to the French parliament, but aimed at every voter in the world who thinks younger people sounding the global crisis alarm over ANY additional carbon emissions are overreacting is, “Perhaps you’re not mature enough yet.”

      1. I know I sound like a Debbie Downer but it really is high time more of us put aside our well-intentioned but honest platitudes and spoke truth to power. We have to stop pretending that climate change caused by human energy emissions is open to any debate and doubt whatsoever or can be mitigated in any meaningful way by incremental small personal changes. This is the important role all of us who care about the environment and the future of the biology that inhabits it including people must take up if we really want to do our individual part to bring about necessary change on behalf of the future we are making now.

        Apologies if the message is too blunt or seems too depressing but it is true, nevertheless.

        Convince a young person to bother to vote primarily on this issue alone and not be diverted by the Merchants of Doubt. Each and every time the opportunity locally, regionally, and state arises to vote let’s hold politicians as well as media, neighbours, families, friends, and even friendly bloggers accountable anytime we encounter the vestigial remnants of that intentionally crafted and crafty Doubt.

        Energy production is the primary target here. And we need to make this message a fixture in all things. Constantly. The kind of energy we must have cannot be carbon based. Our energy production therefore must change. Radically. Those are the plans that have to be brought into being as soon as possible. On a fixed timeline. It should be free but transmission should carry a premium price. This is the model that works. Everything else – every other human action to mitigate atmospheric carbon release – falls well below the planet’s carbon budget so we shouldn’t get sidetracked by quibbles about the morality of this or that action. Focus on carbon free energy production. That is the only action that will bring about meaningful change for everything else.

      2. I wasn’t denying that climate change is caused by human activity. I was saying that in the polarization between those that accept this, and those that don’t, there’s a risk of not a lot getting done, and the media and corporate world play on this. My niece works in fusion technology research, but there’s no fast answers there. Dismantling our carbon based economies will be resisted by those in power. One currently discovered daft example of how wedded our government is to it: the British Overseas Aid budget included £680 million of assistance in fossil fuel projects since 2010, assisting dirty technology in the name of development. They’ve admitted they need to do better!!!

      3. You make it personal, for all: you make it almost as if the planet itself is fighting back and adjusting its own parameters to remove the blight, no?

        Perhaps: it is.
        With us as tools. Some of us.

        So the whole thing then can be reduced to a simple ‘control system’ with its very own feedback mechanisms; like a toilet cistern for example—so long as the water in the tank is down the float holds the valve open to admit more water and raise the level until the the float is lifted enough to shut off the input.
        So perhaps killing off the damaging parasites (us) (ouch) by overheating, the planet itself is rectifying the situation?

        Because WE can’t do it.
        Not without one helluva lots of violence, widows, orphans … and forests being levelled for the manufacture of peg-legs and rudimentary weapons.

        Victory will go to the stayer who won’t be the guy living in concrete towers with piped water, frozen foods, all the volts he can eat. My advice? Make the most of what you have now …

        Democracy (which isn’t, anyway) will be doomed by expediency and necessity.
        If you (okay, … we) are serious about making change you’ll need much more than the votes of the simplistic, the easily led, the wishful dreamers yearning to breathe cool … sadly.

      4. How we think often determines what we think. How we think about specific problems determines what we think about solutions to them. Addressing climate change as a problem in need of solutions is no different. How we think about it matters because this determines what we think about it. This thread demonstrates the link.

        Real life problems require real life solutions. Global problems require global solutions. But a fundamental starting point has to be to respect reality. (And the reality is that on every measurable comparative scale, humanity by seeking real solutions to real problems is living a Golden Age in spite of people who think they have justifications to believe differently.) And reality demonstrates that addressing climate change on a personal level by altering today’s behaviour doesn’t work to create meaningful solutions to this global problem. Reclaiming desert doesn’t work. Becoming vegetarian doesn’t work. Recycling doesn’t work. Riding a bicycle to work doesn’t work. Climate change is not about pollution. It’s not about morals. It’s not about personal behaviour. It’s not about humanity’s fallen nature. Climate change is a global problem caused by immediate carbon-based emissions greater than the planet’s ability to balance it by absorption except over long periods of time. That’s why the framework about coming up lasting solutions is about a global carbon budget. One could envision ten thousand Loess valleys reclaimed this year and it would not alter rapid climate change one bit because it does not address the decline in our global carbon budget. That’s the point: this problem is not really understood to be a global problem requiring a global solution, which is finding out what works to eliminate the primary cause, namely, carbon-based emissions (the reclamation of land is at best a mitigating solution but one that cannot work unless and until the carbon-based emitting problem is reversed). The right solution, therefore, has to address this carbon-emitting problem specifically.

        Thinking about climate change in ways that do not address this single fundamental problem will not produce or even work towards fundamental solutions. Thinking about climate change solutions, therefor, means recognizing that what works must be altering energy supply from carbon-based to carbon-free renewables. That does work. It works at every level. It is the solution.

    1. In the UK, members of Extinction Rebellion the international climate emergency activists who come from all age groups and communities across the country are being branded subversives and anarchists who want to destroy the fabric of our society. See Policy Change think tank report: https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Extremism-Rebellion.pdf
      Less histrionically in a recent BBC report “Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said the climate activists have “no right to cause misery” and the Met Police “must take a firm stance”.

      Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “This is very, very difficult for us because my colleagues have never come across the situation that they are faced with at the moment.”

      “They are dealing with very, very passive people, probably quite nice people, who don’t want confrontation whatsoever with the police or anyone else – but who are breaking the law.”

      Extinction Rebellion says anyone who is annoyed by its protests should “find out more about the severity of the ecological and climate crisis”.
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/47991237
      So begins the drip-drip of mass media demonization which again gives people space to think they should do nothing, or that protesters are cranks and law breakers, only intent on causing aggravation and depriving us of our comfortable existences – those of us who have comfortable existences that is. I also think that if people start feeling hopeless about the climate situation, they are less likely to engage with the process of demanding change. ‘There’s nothing we can do’ is a common refrain, just as we swallow all the propaganda that propounds the need for regime change in any nation with a socialist bent that does not conform to western requirements.

      1. Destroying stuff is easy. Building stuff is hard. Any kindergarten class will reveal this truth. Add in the need to change some fundamental thing first to build something better and it’s even harder. But a good place to start is with respecting what’s true, caring about what’s true, dealing with what’s true. Stick with that, and the rest usually falls into place. Eventually.

        Humanity operating under Enlightenment values has produced marvels of advancements in all areas of human endeavor and flourishing because real life problems can be mitigated by real life solutions. Just ask smallpox. Just ask global poverty. Just ask infant mortality. That’s why we need to keep promoting the simple but truthful message that energy production has to change and become carbon free. For all kinds of good reasons… not least of which is because we have to if we want humanity to survive in some semblance of surface dwelling creatures. Being vilified for stating this fact, for respecting that it’s true and daring to say so anyway, and holding everyone around us to be accountable for contra-factual opinions on this matter that impedes its acceptance, is the very least we can do individually.

        Secular democracies are funny beasts this way. Consider gay marriage. What was once something a mere two generations ago that was almost a verboten subject – a subject assumed to be immoral if not mentally deranged and whose supporters for acceptance were often painted as the destroyers of a moral society – has now become a legal right widely supported throughout the West to the point no one really cares as long as it’s legal. When one looks at the percentages of what people thought about gay marriage in these secular democracies, we find a slow rising but small percentage of people in support. And then in a matter of a single generation, a tipping point arises around 15% support where a vast swath of undecided/unsure people suddenly switch. And the driver is the voting by the younger generation. We are seeing the same today with the rise of the Nones regarding religious affiliation. The young generation cohort is now massively non religious. And in both cases, the same vilification occurred against its supporters, the same calls for these vocal supporters being more careful not to offend, the same temptation for supporters to throw up their arms in frustration…. and assume the lack of fast support, the ire of talking heads and media essayists, the criticisms of natural allies concerned about looking bad,… means the majority has given up or doesn’t care or is immune from changing their positions. You’ve heard the same criticisms leveled at New Atheists, leveled at LGBT activists, heck, even feminists willing to stand up and call for equal rights! Yet look what the slow progression has produced.

        The same is true, I think, for carbon-based energy production. The call is going forth. The activists are causing social stress., earing all the same ire and criticisms and back-stabbing by natural allies. The vast swath of the Undecided/Unsure are being courted by these activists and what we need to happen is for the younger generation to be the driver of this next massive change, to demand the change take place not in 10 generations but in this one so that turning on a light or running tractor is not a moral failure or even big deal… as long as it doesn’t use carbon emissions.

        We see in the United States a hundred well paying jobs in renewable energy for every lost coal job. More people work now in renewables than in oil, gas, and coal combined. We’re seeing some forward thinking strategic planning from utility companies offering their electricity for free from their renewables but competing successfully with gas and coal and oil power generating stations (and even nuclear) by charging only for transmission. We have states offering huge tax incentives for large companies to build plants that are carbon neutral and Michigan has attracted tens of billions of dollars in investment. This is where many younger people are going to go to live, work, and raise families: in a carbon neutral setting. Fly over Hawaii and just try to find a roof without solar panels! The change IS happening, IS hopeful, and so calling for national policies to further this slow rising public demand for carbon free energy is what’s respectful, is what’s right, is what encourages human flourishing over time against today’s media blasting steep odds of rejection. You can hear the same old mantra from the nay-sayers, from the Merchants of Doubt, from the pulpits of the prejudiced, the ignorant, and the biased: The sky is falling! If women get the vote, it’s End of Days! If abortion services are part of women’s reproductive health care, girls will be having sex in the street! If the Church can’t control our children’s moral education, there will be robbing and rampaging and raping hordes. If we allow two men or two women to get married, the next generation of children will be forever gay. If we demand energy production be carbon free, the economy will collapse. Yada, yada, yada. But its time has come. We just have to keep getting ever closer to that tipping point.

      2. TILDE:

        True. But if, in a fit of sense/charity/whatever … if everyone gave everyone nuclear power, it wouldn’t be long afterwards before wars go much bigger and better.

        One answer might be genocide—you know, kill off all the backwards peoples? Or educate the savages … but how long before they stopped slaughtering each other with spears to go nuclear?

        Or inculcate a sense of ‘one planet, one only human race’? But how long before cities are set ablaze in squabbles over the One True God?

        Teach us all morals? Teach us all how to think rationally—but again, by whose standards and how long before God once again seizes control? Make ’em all atheists, then? Sure …
        … perhaps the answer does lie in God, no? Make a religion out of saving the planet—which it seems some are trying to do already.

        It may just be the answer actually, we already have the necessary Prophets (of doom) and the requisite damnation (planetary heat death) and the promise of salvation (go back to the serfdom on the land) (except for the aristocracy and priesthood, of course) with the tightness of control that only modern hi-tech can provide.

        After we’ve saved us, I do not think the Great Unwashed will thank us for it.

        Thank heavens this old dog never had pups (but he did have an eye for human nature and could do the sums).

  2. Thank you so much, Tish for the Youtube link. I have never heard of it. It’s all done by hands… Very moving to see the hard works and the beautiful result. 🙂

  3. wonderful wonderful photograph, and you are spot on with your analysis. We can fix it but we all have to accept we all need to change if we are to be successful in our endeavours.

  4. There are vast fortunes to be made in this arena. And as long as this is so, status quo. QED.

    Perhaps I may have got it right when I posted recently that we need a truly terrible world-engulfing very major war … (need, I said, not want).

    Nuclear winter to counter global warming? Knock us all back to the stone-age for our own good?
    Where are those dinosaur asteroids when you need ’em? (Sure quicker than making everyone paint their roof silver or white.)

    1. One wonders how many million tons of ordnance has been exploded in the last decade or so – all in the interests of securing access to carbon sources. I agree with you – those who rule are hooked on the stuff.

      1. Sadly, Tish — there will be many millions more. Humans have been squabbling over resources since Christ was a cowboy, it ain’t gonna stop now just because modern warfare causes pollution.

        To misquote some cynic “Sadly, in order to save the planet we had to destroy it …”

  5. I’m sitting here nodding my head. Well said, Tish.

    This is an important subject. Nay – it’s a critical subject and I’m gobsmacked by the people still out there who view the topic of climate change as a “leftist liberal political agenda”. Yes, that’s an actual quote from a blog post I read recently from a woman I had thought (up to that point) was rational and intelligent 😕

    1. I think that view underpins a lot of climate scepticism. It means we can keep on with the same old same old. But even without climate crisis, there needs to be big big action around the globe where corporate logging, mining and drilling have left locals with deserts or terminally polluted land or in complete poverty because they gain no benefit from the exploitation of those resources. Poverty stricken people can wreak havoc on their environment – Mongolia – the Sahel…

      1. Unfortunately the world is run by Big Money and Big Money doesn’t like anything that interferes with their profits … even if it is highly detrimental to all our futures 😕

      2. The flip side to that assertion, if true, is that conditions that threaten these profits receive can receive focused attention even if it is highly beneficial to all our futures. Consider reinsurers, for example, surely some of the biggest moneyed interests in the world and their calls for climate change attention. It’s not one-sided.

      3. TISH:
        “where corporate logging, mining and drilling have left locals with deserts or terminally polluted land or in complete poverty”

        Why is that, do you think?
        Was it because their own democratically elected (or otherwise) officials put it to the public who then voted for what they now have? Or did the officials sell up and skip with the loot?

        In the vast region that is “the lungs of the planet” they (archaeologists and things) keep tripping over long lost ancient civilisations. Apparently the land itself (some of it, much of it, most of it?) was artificially created from yeuch by human effort (the so called terra preta* ). So: wot happened?

        Perhaps the Chinese and Japanese and many others had the right idea, with poop collected in poo-pots and lovingly restore to the land instead of it being chemically scrubbed and flushed out to sea? (Now you just try doing that in modern Duckburg!)

        I wouldn’t fancy it myself—not with all the drugs and stuff in modern excreta (not mine, but I’d be violating gods alone know how many laws, rules, regulations and commandments anyway.)

        * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta

      4. I’m all for composting as Ark knows, though as you say, I too would draw the line at certain forms of input. The comment you highlight was me thinking of all those regime-changed, stooge-run nations whose populace have no choice in the matter of what goes on with their natural resources. e.g. DRCongo – one of the most resource-rich nations on the planet, but with the poorest people, further tyrannised by geo-politically inspired war-lordery and place-men. And who benefits from the resources (copper, gold, diamonds, cobalt, oil, timber etc). Why is Yemen a hellhole of human misery and Libya a nightmare when so recently it was the one of the most economically and socially successful nations in upcoming Africa (UN report). And why do I keep writing to my Tory MP and get nothing but anodyne, pointless answers…

      5. Thanks for sharing and yes, climate change is worrying. We are doing so much to destruction this world we are living in. I keep thinking about what we leaving behind for the future.

  6. You can, of course, in a Democracy simply vote for the necessary changes, no?

    (And yes … that was sarcasm. Sue me …)

    1. It seemed to work for civil rights, worker’s rights, peace treaties, social safety net, you know… all those useless pipe dreams… nope, doom and gloom is the correct attitude to have because it always solves problems.

      1. Are you suggesting I’m doomy & gloomy? Tut~! Perish the thought … under this scruffy furry interior and big teeth I’m actually a bundle of fun …

  7. how nice to have good news and you gave us hope – this is an important post and may it ripple and ripple to
    raise awareness that we can do it! start with small or large projects –

  8. And of course more energy goes into the argument than the resolution. The arguing is either to make one’s self look good, or feel good … or to demolish what may well be erroneous.

    (Put me down for the latter, mostly I don’t give a damn what people think of me but I do like having my viewpoint considered seriously. A crying clown? What other option in a world of polarisation with so little genuine objectivity?) (So I rediscovered that cynicism is the last refuge of the desperate …)

    1. But Argus, there are so many lies and damned lies doing the rounds, and especially on the world ‘foreign policy’ front and from well calculated, conniving official sources, one can argue to demolish daft thinking until one’s blue in the face, and people would still rather believe the lies and half-truths. And how angry they become when you dare to suggest that the received ‘wisdom’ is propaganda, and that if they gave the topic a touch more scrutiny they might begin to see this. I tried this locally as an activist group trying to protect our little town from flash flooding. Oh the flak we got from vested interest, and the disinterest from those whose homes are most at risk, which ours isn’t. So now I go gardening. This of course could be called sitting-on-the-fence on my part – or rather keeping head down in multiple compost bins. I have grown some very nice carrots however, and yesterday evening my allotment plot was a mass of butterflies and bees. Like all our politicians I’m in short-termism mode.

  9. It is nice when we achieve something other than the customary sore head from banging it against endless brick walls. Many oriental poets and stuff used to write about being ‘a twig carried on the flood of fate’ sort of thing; you know, that tide in the affairs of men …

    I blog not out of the hope that I may achieve something but to get it off my chest. “When rape is inevitable, lie back and—” No way! If all you can do is scream in the bastard’s ears, DEAFEN HIM!

    And you never can tell … maybe you might just strike the one resonance that people DO listen to. (I never seem to, but I shan’t stop.) (And I enjoy poking fun at sheeple.)

    1. Well, keep on prodding. Because as you say, you never do know when you might have a breakthrough. Attenborough finally did with his filming of world plastic pollution, and he’s been going largely unlistened to for years. Finding the right angle is the key. I’m brooding on’t.

    1. Yes, but not when it comes to effectively addressing climate change. For that, we need a complete change in energy production, which is why the latest court ruling holds the oil companies responsible for purposefully selling doubt to stop necessary systemic change when their own data revealed human caused climate change using this product over 30 years ago.

      1. I told folks decades ago about the rubbish floating looooong ways out to sea.
        I used to do the ‘Titanic’ bit (without the outstretched arms, silly yelling, or pretty girl in my arms) right up at the front end of the ship when cruising. (Yep, it really does seem like flying!) and was amazed at (a) all the rubbish, and (b) all the snakes …

  10. We can change our lifestyles in the west but will that be enough to halt climate change? Governments need to harness their collective power to effect real and lasting transformation of the ways in which we exploit nature.

    1. I think anything we can do – even for the short-term, and the immediate generations following us – could make SOME difference. As to halting climate change altogether, that seems unlikely, given our western addictions to techno-comforts of every sort, and predominating corporate lobbies. The planet has its own agenda too.

      1. Tish, I commented here to point out the collective problem of thinking man made climate change can be addressed on the personal level. This notion is simply and factually wrong. Belief in it serves only the fossil fuel industry.

        This notion is clever because it preys upon the individual autonomy of classical liberal values. We want to believe it so that we can think of ourselves as powerful. But it’s a con job fomented and sold by the fossil fuel industry. They know – and we should know – it’s a con job and not fall for it. At best, acting on the belief transfers and spreads guilt and that is all it does… in the same way a serial rapist blames every victim for enticement, which contains a kernel of truth for anyone who thinks they play a part in attracting a mate. But it’s not true in the sense of the real crime of raping the planet and blaming the inhabitants for ‘allowing’ it.

        We cannot help using energy because it’s essential to live. Assigning guilt to this practice is not helpful. Believing we can make a real difference by using the same energy source – as we must – but mitigate it is to believe treating the symptom rather than the cause is a path to a magical cure.

        Sure, we can do lots of stuff on the personal level to mitigate our part in climate change in the same way rape victims can alter their appearance or withdraw from any social contact but it doesn’t address the ongoing cause of climate change and will not produce lasting solutions any more than wearing ugly clothes or retreating from social contact almost all the time may temporarily deter but not stop the serial rapist. And the fossil fuel industry has every intention to continue feeding us this created addiction while telling us it’s all our fault. But the truth of the matter is that each of us is the victim of a publicly-supported climate changing energy system in that we have no other reasonable and equivalent options to meet our life-sustaining energy use – in everything from our food supply to clothing to heating and cooling our domiciles – you know, THE BASICS. Supporting other options is a public investment need and that’s where the solutions to this cause lie, in the public and not the private sphere.

    2. “We can change our lifestyles in the west but will that be enough to halt climate change?”

      No. Unequivocally no. The best we can do with such measures is offset our carbon footprint. But that does not address the underlying cause of burning fossil fuels.

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