The world has focused its attention this week on the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021. The 26th conference COP26 is being held in the UK for the first time – in Glasgow, Scotland, my native city, and so I suppose that I should make some comment on what is frightening so many people.
If we were to draw lessons from the behaviour of those attending or protesting at this conference, it seems that the only way to motivate large groups of people is to preach panic, death and destruction.
The conference opened with the doomsday scenario painted by David Attenborough, Boris Johnson and even the archbishop of Canterbury contributed to the fire and brimstone imagery served up, which only scares the rising generation witless.
Outside, protesting in the relative calm of God’s Earth, frightened teenage activist Greta Thunberg led the climate activists in her mocking protest of the “blah, blah, blah” going on inside the Conference, which she described at the end of the first week as “a Greenwash”.
Thankfully, I have not had to watch any of the histrionics and did not do so. If the Paris 2021 Conference is anything to go by, inaction will be the order of the day.
These frightened teenagers need the Christian Gospel to enlighten their minds better.
The 11th hour
In a poor imitation of Jesus’ parable warning about the dangers of neglect and delay, young people and world leaders are being told that we are in the 11th hour and that if we do not act soon then humanity may not survive on the Earth. They need a little Christian realism preached to them to give them a more balanced view of life on Earth.
After a century of teaching young people that the world has been in existence for billions of years, suddenly the narrative has changed and we have reached an existential crisis in which human beings are under threat of extinction. Well do I remember the same existential panic in the 1980s from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Secularism has a whole series of doomsday scenarios with which to scare the public into action.
The former error of thinking that everything has carried on ‘just so’ was mentioned by the apostle Peter almost two millennia ago 2Pe 3:3-13. On the other hand Jesus warned us against the religious and secular doomsday merchants:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no-one deceives you. For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ’, and shall deceive many. And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that you are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”Matthew 24:4-8
Some commitment to greening the planet with forests has emerged. The best way to green the planet, however, as shown by NASA satellite imagery is from the rise of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere Such observations are what science is made of, rather than the hysteria of evolutionists and the manipulation of data by those climatologists who want “to get rid of the mediaeval warm period“. Ask greenhouse growers how many parts per million of carbon dioxide they want in their greenhouse for their plants to grow. Climatology is a young science and needs many more data points than it has at present and a better understanding and theories concerning climate.
Renewable energy sources
The global effort to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is commendable but not sufficient. The timescales are unrealistic but without climate panic environmentalists do not seem to know how to motivate people to behave responsibly. The Christian church knows the problem and has succeeded wherever its message has been taken seriously.
Kicking the can down the road
The commitments of the previous Conference in Paris have not been met, such as the promised $100bn to implement programmes, and dates such as 2025, 2030, 2050 and 2075 are chosen almost at random in an attempt to concentrate minds on the matters in hand. However, today’s politicians will not be here when these target dates arrive, and well do they know it.
Lithium and cobalt are the new oil
Renewable energy needs to be converted into electrical energy. Storage of this electricity highlights the need to improve battery technology and the wiring that goes with them. As long as people baulk at nuclear, the commodities copper, nickel, lithium and cobalt will be in high demand and short supply during such a global revolution. The largest global source of lithium is Bolivia (and destabilised Afghanistan is another useful source) and of cobalt is the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is not surprising that there was a coup d’état in 2019 in Bolivia and war-torn DRC uses child labour and has environmental issues of its own.
Markets and stealing technology
Stealing technology has gone on for a very long time. Intellectual property rights have real value, and the call for the direct transfer of technology to poorer countries is simply another form of stealing. The demand during the 2020-2021 coronavirus pandemic for vaccine technology to be shared with other countries was just opportunism to continue the stealing that has gone for centuries.
Markets are uneven and unfair. There are different markets throughout the world because of different cultures, worldviews and religions. The global community cannot simply ignore these. We have no international statesmen able to address these issues.
Various solutions have been suggested at COP26. Nevertheless, the aim of this conference is not so much to present solutions as to obtain commitments from the international community to limit their carbon footprint so that the average global temperature rise would not rise higher than 1.5ºC, whereas Paris 2021 set a goal of limiting the rise to “well below 2°C” of pre-industrial levels. Some people claim that we are currently heading towards 2.7ºC, but not to be outdone, others have said it is more likely to be 5-6ºC.
Many people have commented that COP26 is a cop-out and Greta Thunderberg has called it a ‘Greenwash’.
The Bolivian president, whose stock has risen high because of Bolivia’s large deposit of accessible lithium, dismissed the COP26 efforts as simply trying to create green capitalism in favour of the richer nations, and possibly with some justification.
US President Joe Biden contributed to the cop-out by appearing to fall asleep and was nudged awake by an aide.
President Xi of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia were not there. Presumably they had more important things to do.
We need cool heads at such a time of hot-headed debate – and Christian calm amidst secular panic.