10 Jul The Cow in the Room at the UN IPCC
Dear Climate Healers,
Since the time of Galileo, we have known that when an orthodox scientific view leads to inconsistencies in real world observations, it is only a matter of time before the orthodox scientific view is overturned. Western science adopted a heliocentric view that the earth goes around the sun because Galileo’s observations of the phases of Venus were inconsistent with the prevailing orthodox geocentric view that the sun goes around the earth.
Today, the orthodox scientific view on climate change is that humans started heating the climate only at the dawn of the industrial revolution with the discovery of fossil fuels. Therefore, orthodox climate science contends that fossil fuel burning is the leading cause of climate change. In contrast, the Climate Healers Animal Agriculture position paper shows that the underlying data in the UN IPCC reports already proves that animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change.
However, the UN IPCC’s greenhouse gas accounting conventions minimize the impact of animal agriculture and maximize the impact of fossil fuel burning on climate change by using NET accounting for land use change data and GROSS accounting for fossil fuel use data. Even though humans have reduced the tree count on planet earth by half from the original 5-6 trillion trees that existed 8,000 years ago, the UN IPCC’s net land use accounting assigns just 25 Billion tons of carbon emissions from land use change over those 8,000 years (see Figure 5.12 above from the UN IPCC Sixth Assessment Report).
Only 25 Billion tons of carbon were emitted while chopping down 2-3 trillion trees, even though the remaining 3 trillion trees and the soil that they support are storing a whopping 2150 Billion tons of carbon! In effect, by using net accounting, the UN IPCC is allowing humans to take credit for all the climate healing that Mother Nature did and continues to do even though we have chopped down half the trees and decimated the population of wild animals on the planet in order to eat animal foods.
Fortunately, the UN IPCC’s greenhouse gas accounting conventions lead to the following two inconsistencies with real world observations:
1) They calculate that when CO2 (carbon dioxide) is added to the atmosphere today, it stays there for thousands of years, which contradicts the real world observation that a CO2 molecule is cycled out of the atmosphere with a half-life of around 2 years through photosynthesis.
2) They count methane emissions from animals as part of human greenhouse gas emissions, while simultaneously claiming that the CO2 respiration of animals is part of the natural cycle, thereby splitting the cow as part natural, part man-made.
According to the UN IPCC’s greenhouse gas accounting conventions, humans are emitting 11 Billion tons of carbon or 40.3 Billion tons of CO2 annually, mainly from fossil fuels, while Mother Nature is storing away 5.9 Billion tons of carbon or 21.6 Billon tons of CO2 through natural healing processes. The airborne fraction of human CO2 emissions is therefore, 5.1/11 = 46%.
Now, suppose we use gross accounting for all human emissions including land use change. Then, from the above figure, humans and our domestic animals are responsible for emitting 59.6 Billion tons of carbon or 218.5 Billion tons of CO2 annually, mainly from land use change and ocean sources, while Mother Nature is storing away 54.5 Billion tons of carbon or 199.8 Billion tons of CO2 annually through natural photosynthetic processes. The airborne fraction of human CO2 emissions is therefore 5.1/59.6 = 8.6%.
That is, when we take responsibility for all that we do on earth that causes CO2 emissions, not just fossil fuel burning, we realize that all we have to do to halt and reverse global warming is to tilt our contribution to the CO2 cycle on the planet by a little over 9% in the direction of healing instead of heating.
Finally, suppose we consider humans and our domestic animals as part of nature, not apart from nature. Then, again from the above figure, as nature, we are collectively emitting 226.9 Billion tons of carbon or 832 Billion tons of CO2 annually, while we are collectively storing away 221.8 Billion tons of carbon or 813.3 Billion tons of CO2 annually through our photosynthetic processes. The airborne fraction of our collective CO2 emissions is therefore 5.1/226.9 = 2.2%.
When we consider ourselves a part of nature, we realize that all we have to do to halt and reverse global warming is to tip the CO2 cycle on the planet by a little over 2.2% in the direction of healing instead of heating.
Is this so hard? Can we not do that?
Of course, we can!
This requires overturning the UN IPCC’s orthodox scientific view of climate change and replacing it with the view that Mother Nature has been using humans to heat the climate since the dawn of the agricultural revolution and we are only now becoming aware of her awesome plans to evolve beyond ice ages and create homeostasis for planet Earth, preferably with our cooperation. When we count from 8000 years back until now, animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, responsible for chopping down half the trees, eliminating the CO2 storing capacity of those trees and the soil they create, while also decimating the population of wild animals on the planet.
Eliminating animal agriculture is the first step towards humans becoming responsible caretakers, focused on stabilizing and maintaining not just the climate, but also all the other ecological cycles of our planet, the nitrogen cycle, the phosphorous cycle, the fresh water cycle, etc. When we all become such Vitally Engaged Guardians of Animals and Nature (V.E.G.A.N), we can release at least 40% of the ice free land area of the planet back to forests, savannas, wild animals and native ecosystems, giving us an opportunity to usher in a socially just, plant-based, ecosystem-restoring, climate healing “Homo Ahimsa” civilization of our future, leaving behind the socially unjust, animal-based, resource-extracting, climate heating “Homo Sapiens” civilization in a sweltering, distant past.
I respectfully urge Mr. McKibben and Mr. Gore to join or send their best representatives to the Great Debate and help humanity move on from our sweltering present. Please note that Mr. Gore was Vice President of the United States when these greenhouse gas emissions accounting conventions were adopted at the UN IPCC and therefore, he is likely in the best position to defend them.
Thank you for your support.
HELP us every day to
Heal the planet.
It’s that simple.
Thanks again for being a superhero and joining our herd. Please forward this post to all your friends and let’s grow our MOOOvement together.
With much love,
Sailesh on behalf of the Climate Healers core team
(Akhil, Alison, Anne, BJ, Carl, Chip, Debra, Gabriele, Giva, Ilse, Jamen, Kelly, Ken, Kimaya, Krish, Maggie, Marco, Paige, Pareen, Paul, Ray, Sailesh, Sarah, Shankar, Stacey, Suzanne, Tami and Vega, the Cow and Climate Healer).