I posted this on Eye on the Storm, a weather and climate related blog that I follow. I wanted to share it with you, my dear reader.
Thank you Messrs. Henson and Masters for this very sobering report. Even more sobering when I consider it alongside other concerns.
For example: for several decades, fossil fuels have contributed to the massive increase in crop yields worldwide. Directly through transformation into fertilizer. Indirectly through transporting fertilizer from sources to end users. The mechanization and industrialization of agriculture, Transportation of raw and finished products. Can we decarbonize and maintain current crop yields? I don’t know. Colour me skeptical.
Another example and this is a lengthy one. In North America at least, a lot of infrastructure – streets, roads, highways, bridges, water and wastewater pipes, water and wastewater treatment plants, other infrastructure – is decades (in some cases, decades and decades) old. So approaching, nearing, at, past the end of its expected life. Many (most? almost all?) towns, cities, counties, states, are functionally insolvent. Here’s a personal example.
As of 2017 (latest data available) my municipality was spending only about 1/3 of what was needed to clear the road maintenance and replacement backlog. I would be quite surprised if that has changed much, if at all. I know that my property tax bill comes nowhere near paying the annual and lifecycle costs of maintaining, repairing, and eventually replacing my half of the segment of street in front of my house. And that is only the street, never mind the water, wastewater, and stormwater pipes that run in front of and service my house, or my share of other municipal infrastructure.
There. Is. No. Way. That my property tax as well as that of the thousands of other taxpayers in my muni, and/or funding from provincial or federal sources, increase to the point at which the backlog will ever be cleared. Ever. Same goes for provincially maintained infrastructure. I feel quite certain that if my fellow North Americans drill into the numbers for where they live, almost all will find a similar result. The long-term solution I see is that less and less stuff is maintained in a timely manner. What breaks gets fixed. And triaging what gets fixed probably becomes inevitable.
Some places will do well. Some will be OK. Others will struggle. Still others will be abandoned.
A third example. My central furnace, stove/oven, and water heater are natural gas powered. I’m well aware that I’m therefore contributing to emissions. Sure I could electrify. But who pays? I am close to what I *hope* to be an OK – not comfortable, OK – retirement and am extremely unwilling to spend thousands of $ out of my pocket to switch, as ‘right’ a thing to do as that might be. The functionally insolvent provincial or federal governments will have to give me a huge tax credit, or reimburse me, or preferably give me cash up front. For another thing, relying solely on electricity leaves me vulnerable to a 1998 Quebec Ice Storm event, a Carrington Event, a grid failure. What would be my backup? Gas or propane, and will be for a long time.
A final example. Tens of thousands of things in common (and uncommon) use derive from fossil fuels. Dentures. Artificial limbs. Pill bottles. Pharmaceuticals. Trash bags. Backpacks. The sheathing on the charging cable for your [fill in the blank]. Sitting on my deck, I look around the backyard and ponder all of the things that were made from, result from, were touched by fossil fuel in some way. Chairs, the coating on the metal chairs, chair pads, plant pots, hoops over the raised garden bed, bird baths, bird feeders, watering cans, rain barrels, propane tanks, the umbrella, kayaks and paddles, CoCoRaHS rain gauge, weather station, bricks . . . How will each be replaced? Can it be? Should it be? If yes, how?
It may seem that I am worried, anxious, about all of this (sweeps arm to indicate all of this and much more). Not at all. It’s more an acceptance of what I anticipate playing out during the time I have left, and during the decades and tens of decades beyond that. I’d love to be wrong and see today’s abundance and (relative) peace continue forever. Don’t think I am wrong.
Interesting times ahead for sure.