Monday, April 11, 2022

The US And EU Have Unsustainably Plundered Natural Resources For Decades, Study Shows

This is all just opinion. How do they define "sustainable"? If it is minerals such as coal or elements such as aluminium, the world is virtually swimming in the stuff. What is mined is simply a response to price. If there is a shortage the price will go up and less accessible sources of the product will be brought into use.

Both Britain and Germany are almost floating on coal and aluminium is famously the most abundant element in the earth's crust. Asking how much use of a resource is sustainable is like asking how long is a piece of string

In an analysis looking back over almost 50 years of natural resource extraction across the world, researchers found the United States and high-income countries in the European Union drove the lion's share of global excess resource use beyond thresholds of environmental sustainability.

"The results show that wealthy nations bear the overwhelming responsibility for global ecological breakdown, and therefore owe an ecological debt to the rest of the world," explains economic anthropologist Jason Hickel from Spain's Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

"These nations need to take the lead in making radical reductions in their resource use to avoid further degradation, which will likely require transformative post-growth and degrowth approaches."

In a previous study, Hickel attempted to quantify responsibility for the climate crisis at the national level, by analyzing how much countries across the world exceeded their fair share of a safe threshold of carbon dioxide emissions.

In the new work, Hickel and fellow researchers applied the same kind of methodology to resource extraction, which is broadly considered to be a key starting point for where environmental degradation begins.

"Global material use has increased markedly over the past half century, to the point where, as of 2017, the world economy is consuming over 90 billion tonnes of materials per year," the team writes in the new paper.

"However, not all nations are equally responsible for this trend; some nations use substantially more resources per capita than others."

To identify where countries fall in terms of over-extraction responsibility, the team developed a "sustainability corridor", representing a safe or sustainable global limit for annual resource extraction (measured in billions of tonnes, or gigatonnes) for the period 1970 to 2017, then calculated how much nations over- or under-shot that threshold each year based on their population size.

The results show that almost 2.5 trillion tonnes of materials were extracted and used globally in the study period, with close to half of that amount (1.1 trillion tonnes) being in excess of the safe, sustainable corridor.

High-income countries (per World Bank classifications) were collectively responsible for 74 percent of that excess use, despite representing only 16 percent of the global population.

This excess resource exploitation was led by the US (which was responsible for 27 percent of the excess), and followed by EU countries and the UK, which together accounted for 25 percent of global excess resource use.

An interactive website developed by the researchers lets you easily explore the results of the analysis, comparing individual countries (such as China, which accounted for 15 percent of the excess), or wealth level categories of countries (which reveals lower-middle income and low-income countries never ever breached their fair share of resource use in the period, unlike high income and upper-middle income nations).

Aside from highlighting the global inequality of resource over-exploitation, the results also make clear that consumption of raw materials needs to sharply decline if the world is to have any chance of addressing ecological crises.

"High-income nations need to urgently scale down aggregate resource use to sustainable levels," the authors of the study write. "On average, resource use needs to decline by at least 70 percent to reach the sustainable range."

According to Hickel, it's a question that might require some reframing what the global economy really ought to be.

"The 'economy' is our material relationship with each other and with the rest of the living world," he tweeted shortly after the study came out.

"We have to decide whether we want that relationship to be based on extraction and exploitation, or on reciprocity and care."


Are Britain’s heritage railways running out of steam? Vintage train operators warn coal stocks are dangerously low after Ukraine invasion cuts off supply

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British heritage railways are facing service cuts just as the Easter peak season approaches due to a critical shortage of coal.

The closure of British coal mines, along with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have plunged British heritage railway operators into uncertainty over coal supply sources.

Ffos-y-fran, near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, was the last coal mine to supply steam trains with lumped coal, but this source has been stymied with the pit winding down production as it prepares to be permanently shuttered, according to the Guardian.

Paul Lewin, of Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, said: 'UK coal for steam trains has now gone and our next supply source was to be Russia, which is now off the table for totally understandable reasons. 'It is a very serious problem.'

The UK's 150 heritage rail companies, operating 560 miles of track between them connecting to 460 stations, will be forced to operate fewer but longer trains while at the same time slashing capacity at times when demand is lower.

Australia and Colombia, meanwhile, have been identified as candidates for coal imports going forwards - with the fuel source still an important input not only in the heritage railway sector but also in the cement and steel industries.

However, finding an international supply of coal with the characteristics needed to serve Britain's 19th century relic steam trains could prove challenging, according to James Shuttleworth of West Coast Railways, the company that provided the steam trains the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.

Mr Shuttleworth told the Guardian: 'You need coal that burns with a high calorific value for steam trains like ours and UK mines provided that.'

'It was absurd to close every British mine at a time when our steel and cement industries also still need coal and to rely, instead, on imports. 'We are paying the price for that decision today.'

Worth an estimated £500million annually to the UK economy, mainly through the tourism they drum up, Britain's heritage railways take millions of tourists on trips every year.

Heritage steam trains range from Jacobite engines operating on the Network Rail track from Fort William and Mallaig, Scotland, to privately owned trains that go up and down tracks of only a mile or two in length.

Chris Austin, secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on heritage railways, said: 'Heritage railways are worth protecting because they are popular.

'They are relaxing to travel on and the journeys provide educational experiences.

'For good measure they produce relatively little carbon dioxide compared with the emissions produced by an average holiday jet flight.

'They are also especially important to the nation because railways were Britain’s gift to the world.

'They were invented and developed here and exported all over the globe.

'They changed the world and are linked tightly to our history.'

Smokeless fuels are being trialled in some parts of the heritage railway sector, blended up from a mix of anthracite, coal dust and molasses.

It is unclear so far how viable this smokeless concoction could be, with concerns raised as to the substance's effect on delicate parts of the locomotives, like their fireboxes and boiler tubes.


Environmental group calls for deflating tires of SUVs to combat climate change: target ‘wealthy areas’

A radical environmental group raised a few eyebrows on Twitter after encouraging people to let the tires out of SUVs in an apparent bid to combat climate change.

The group, Adbusters, tweeted step-by-step instructions for the provocation on Wednesday, calling it a "gentle escalation" or ramping up the urgency about climate change.

"Wedge gravel in the tire valves, leaflet the SUV to let them know the tires are flat and why it was done, and walk away. It’s that simple," the group tweeted. "If we organize, we can hit enough SUVs in particular neighborhoods to spark reporting and spread the metameme."

The group said climate change was the "biggest crisis we’ve faced as a species, and we are failing the test at every step," adding: "it’s time for us to carefully escalate our methods in a non-violent manner to convey the seriousness of this crisis in tangible ways."

They argued that targeting SUVs – which they said were playing a big role in carbon emissions – was a good way to "hurt the automotive industry where it hurts."

"Start by targeting wealthy areas – our goal isn’t to disrupt workers – and avoid targeting vehicles with disabled stickers or hangers," they said.

Many Twitter users ridiculed the proposed action as dangerous. One user said someone who tried such an action risked getting shot.

Another user quipped that taking air our of SUV tires was a "great way to meet your medical insurance deductible."

"You should do this in Texas and report back if you can," another Twitter user wrote.


British minister blasts 'selfish' petrol protests: As fuel blockades threaten fresh misery over Easter getaway, Home Secretary hits out at eco-zealouts for making life miserable for 'hard-working people'

Priti Patel last night condemned 'selfish' eco-zealots inflicting fuel shortages on motorists. On the tenth day of the hugely disruptive protests, the Home Secretary branded the activists 'fanatical, and frankly dangerous'.

They have been holding up fuel supplies by targeting three crucial depots in Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.

And yesterday protesters also blocked two central London bridges in a series of 'exceptionally dangerous' stunts.

The mayhem comes ahead of a record 21.5million motorists preparing to take to the roads this coming Easter weekend.

A furious Miss Patel said: 'Hard-working people across our country are seeing their lives brought to a standstill by selfish, fanatical and frankly dangerous so-called activists.

'Keir Starmer's Labour Party repeatedly voted against our proposals that would have given the police extra powers to deal with this eco mob. The police have my full backing in doing everything necessary to address this public nuisance.'

In a sign of the havoc, nearly a third of drivers surveyed in the Midlands and the South East reported a lack of fuel at forecourts. Diesel was in especially short supply.

Ministers had planned to introduce new powers to help police tackle eco-protesters but the measures were blocked in the House of Lords in January. At the time, Miss Patel accused Labour of siding with 'vandals and thugs'.

Proposed measures had included an offence of 'locking on' in a bid to stop protesters resorting to the common tactic of chaining themselves to buildings and vehicles.

New stop and search powers were also proposed to allow police to detain protesters arriving carrying bike locks and other equipment designed to make themselves difficult to remove.

Ministers are expected to try to revive the measures in the next Queen's Speech.

The Metropolitan Police reopened both London bridges by 8pm last night, making 38 arrests. Essex Police said the depot protest tactics were becoming 'exceptionally dangerous' and putting activists and officers at 'unacceptable' risk of harm.

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Pavelin said: 'We cannot stand by while criminal acts are being committed, and lives are being put at risk, in the name of protest.'

The force has made 338 arrests since the protests began on April 1.

Warwickshire Police has detained 180 people and its assistant chief constable, Ben Smith, said: 'While we will always recognise and respect the public's right to peaceful protest, we will take action against anyone who breaks the law or causes significant impact on the local community.'




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