Heatwaves are not just a European Problem

Heatwaves are not just a European Problem

Heatwaves are not just a European Problem unless everyone keeps buildings cool as it gets hotter.  Here is INKSTICK‘s

Heatwaves are not just a European Problem

Climate change is affecting all of us, so why does the media only focus on Europe?

 

The summer of 2022 was marked by devastating heatwaves around the world, a level of extreme heat that was yet “another clear indicator that emissions of greenhouse gases by human activity are causing weather extremes that impact our living condition,” said Steve Pawson, chief of the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Temperature records were repeatedly shatteredwildfires blazed across the Mediterranean; and extreme heat contributed to thousands of deaths across Europe.

In June 2022, the distressing heat effects in Europe in particular were the focus of the latest bout of extreme weather events caused by climate change. In July alone, western news outlets reported dozens of stories on how the heatwaves were most seriously affecting Europeans: from threats to Britain’s economy and agricultural industry; to wildfires in Spain and Portugal; to reports of thousands of French residents being evacuated from their homes. One New York Times article even advised readers on how to cope with the changing European tourism landscape as climate change continues to morph the world we’ve always known.

It is true that Europe is targeted by extreme heat more than other mid-latitude areas, and this past summer caused many to confront the continent’s uncertain future in the wake of increasing climate change-fueled emergencies like heatwaves, especially when much of its infrastructure is not AC-equipped. However, while the news coverage from this summer should not be underestimated, it is important to recognize that the volume of mainstream media reporting on Europe’s heatwaves overwhelmingly overshadowed blazing heat crises in other parts of the world like the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

GLOBAL HEAT

In Baghdad, temperatures soared to dangerous 50-degree Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) levels this summer, devastating Iraq’s already vulnerable electrical infrastructure. Iraq now ranks fifth on the list of countries most impacted by climate change, but it has been experiencing more extreme temperatures for years. In 2015, the Iraqi government announced a mandatory “heat holiday” on days above 50 degrees Celsius, and government workers were ordered to stay home. It has been mandating these holidays on extremely hot days since. A 2021 study conducted by the European Institute of Security studies estimated that Baghdad will experience 40 “extreme heat days” per year by 2039, roughly three times the number of annual extreme heat days it experiences now. Increasingly high temperatures will only continue to overwhelm an already fractured Iraq, especially as the country descends into more uncertainty after recent political clashes.

THERE IS STILL “LITTLE INTEREST AND FUNDING FOR STUDYING THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND NORTH AFRICA REGION.”

In North Africa, across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain and Portugal, wildfires also raged in Morocco and Algeriakilling dozens and wounding hundreds, and causing still thousands more to be evacuated from the most fire-ridden areas. The wildfires prompted criticism over both countries’ lack of fire technology. This critique, however, is just a small part of the larger conversation on individual countries’ ability to adapt to skyrocketing temperatures and other climate change-induced effects — a challenge that low- and middle-income countries will most certainly struggle to meet.

One study predicts that, if nothing is done about climate change, the MENA region could see temperatures upwards of 56 degrees Celsius (132.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the second half of this century — just 28 years from now. By 2100, some urban centers could even see 60 degrees — all but guaranteeing near impossible living conditions as well as bubbling tensions due to drought, water woes, and food shortages. So, in the wake of these incredibly apocalyptic predictions, why didn’t the same alarm bells ring for the Middle East as they did for Europe?

UNDER-REPORTING

To start, local climate data in the region is scarce. The same study that predicted the 56-degree Celsius temperatures—a conservative estimate—also argues that much of the scientific data on heatwave projections in the MENA region is “mostly based on global simulations at relatively coarse resolution” or “on regional modeling of the edges of European and Mediterranean model domains.” This reliance on European and global modeling devalues the unique “weather regimes” in the MENA region, specifically its distinct topographical landscape.

Another study underscores the cyclical harm that underreporting events like heatwaves into global disaster databases can lead to. The Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), one of the largest of these databases, based in Belgium, records “technological and environmental disasters across the world” ranging from “extreme weather to earthquakes and oil spills, and record their impacts on lives, livelihoods, and economic costs.” A disaster is included in EM-DAT if it is reported to kill more than ten people, affect more than 100 people, cause a state emergency, or call for international assistance. However, extreme heat events in certain parts of the world are “not routinely monitored.” For example, during the week of Jul. 18 to Jul. 24, 2022, EM-DAT reported a heatwave for the whole of Europe, while heatwaves occurring during the same week in countries like Iraq went unrecorded in the database. This gap in reporting diminishes our understanding of how extreme heat can be so deadly, and it eliminates countries’ ability to create future heat action plans.

The only region that perhaps faces an even greater crisis of climate and weather-related modeling, data collection, and reporting than MENA is Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the same study, the EM-DAT lists “no more than two heatwaves in sub-Saharan Africa since the beginning of the 20th Century, leading to 71 recorded premature deaths,” while in contrast, the same database has reported over “83 heatwaves…in Europe over the same timeframe, contributing to more than 140,000 associated deaths.” Since heatwave mortality goes unreported, our understanding of the thresholds that result in heat-related deaths in these parts of the world is unclear.

Despite the dangers that come with data gaps like these, the case for researching more localized climate data in these regions is still weak. In a 2021 news release by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, director of the Regional Models and geo-Hydrological Impacts division Paola Mercogliano admitted that there is still “little interest and funding for studying the impacts of climate change in the Mediterranean and North Africa region.”

Beyond the lack of available climate and weather data is the issue of data reporting by governments on heat events and heat-related illnesses and deaths. Some countries in the MENA region, particularly in the Gulf, have been notably unreliable at reporting instances of heat-related health impacts, specifically in the case of affected migrant workers and non-citizens. In Qatar, for example, a BBC investigation recently uncovered that the country has been underreporting the number of migrant workers who have died of heat stroke as temperatures climbed above 50 degrees Celsius this summer.

Of course, many regions outside the MENA region face the very real, present-day horrors of climate change. Reports from April 2022 showed that the Indian subcontinent was already experiencing temperatures upwards of 50 degrees Celsius; China dealt with a devastating, months-long drought; and a third of Pakistan was wiped out by “apocalyptic” flooding during its increasingly long and extreme monsoon season.

A lack of climate and weather-related modeling and data collection unequivocally played a role in the nearly nonexistent heatwave reporting by western news outlets we saw across the Middle East and North Africa this past summer. However, it’s only one piece of the story. Beyond modeling and data collection, there is a lack of willingness of western audiences to understand the bleak reality that vulnerable regions like MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa face, as well as how reporting inequities play a role in the future of these regions.

Rachel Santarsiero is a Spring 2022 Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the National Security Archive. She focuses on issues related to the Middle East as well as Climate Change and Security.

Role Architectural Prototypes Play in the Global South

Role Architectural Prototypes Play in the Global South

It’s an essential component of the design process, where spatial ideations are translated into built form – the design of the prototype. Architectural projects, throughout history and in contemporary practice, have been prototyped to carry out both technical and aesthetic tests, where further insight is gained into the integrity of the design. It’s the blurred line between the experimental and the practical.

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Antoni Gaudí’s 1:25 and 1:10 scale plaster models of Sagrada Família can be defined as architectural prototypes, and so can the wooden model of Filippo Brunelleschi’s Florence Cathedral dome. But these are investigations conducted on a smaller scale. It can be argued that architectural prototypes are most effective when built out 1:1, from which further architectural interventions based on the prototype have the security of a design attempt that is not a scaled-down version of the finished product.

But the making of these prototypes is a protracted endeavor – necessitating the complex maneuvering of resources, labor, and capital – for a structure that aims to merely lay the foundations for how similar designs should be approached in the future.

When scrutinized from the perspective of the Global South, this dialogue is complicated further – in countries that have been historically over-exploited and are currently under-resourced, are full-scale architectural prototypes wasteful if they don’t immediately function as a working building? Is it right for these prototypes to simply exist as say, explorations of new materials without serving as a structure that will be in constant use from its inception?

What Role Should Architectural Prototypes Play in the Global South? - Image 11 of 11

Jean Prouvé’s Maison Tropicale exhibited at the Tate Modern in London. Image © Steve Cadman licensed under the (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.
 

In colonial Africa, architectural experimentation was commonplace, from Fry and Drew in West Africa to Guido Ferrazza in Libya. This experimentation included that of French industrial designer and architect Jean Prouvé, who in 1949 developed Maison Tropicales – prefabricated, modular housing prototypes constructed out of aluminum designed to be easily transported, assembled, and disassembled.

The design problem that the Maison Tropicales had to solve was climatic – as France’s African colonies faced a shortage of housing and civic buildings. The prototype was designed for the equatorial climate, including a veranda with an adjustable aluminum sun-screen. Internally, walls were made of a combination of sliding and fixed metal panels – as glass portholes provided protection against UV rays.

What Role Should Architectural Prototypes Play in the Global South? - Image 8 of 11

Jean Prouvé’s Maison Tropicale exhibited at the Tate Modern in London. Image © Steve Cadman licensed under the (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.
 

But despite this resourceful, ingenious response to the tropical climate, the Maison Tropicale as a prototype failed. It was no less expensive than locally constructed buildings, and the French colonial bureaucrats did not warm to the industrial appearance of the house. The prototype, ultimately, was a colonial project built for French administrators. A prototype built for the colonial class that proved unpopular with them, and that instead of being widely adopted, was resigned to be a traveling object, making frequent appearances in design exhibitions. This prototype of the African Tropics became a design object that to most, was known outside of its intended context.

But contemporary practice in the Global South has offered up more substantial prototypes, where investigations into materials are coupled with substantial usage. Senegalese firm Worofila’s Ecopavillon in Diamniadio, constructed in 2019, is one such example. Commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment of Senegal, it is built with earth and typha – a type of water reed found in the Senegal River. Woven typha panels provide sound insulation, and when mixed with adobe bricks, provide thermal insulation.

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Ecopavillon / Worofila. Image Courtesy of Worofila
 

As the prototype is part of the Senegalese government’s initiative to build a new city to ease congestion in Dakar, its usage is still in its early stages. The intention, though, is clear. The Ecopavillon will allow the monitoring of how the building’s materials behave, and performance can be assessed. the behavior of materials and to measure the performance of buildings. Furthermore, it can act as a training venue for craftspeople, where local knowledge of energy-efficient materials can be further developed.

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Ecopavillon / Worofila. Image Courtesy of Worofila
 

The most tangible example of a living prototype in the Global South, however, is arguably found in Bangladesh, in Marina Tabassum Architects’ Khudi Bari. It is a modular mobile housing unit, with an area of 128 square feet. Its light footprint and elevated form mimic the architectural vernacular of the Bengal delta, but more pressingly, it responds to climate change.

In an area with high instances of flash flooding, the raised second level acts as shelter for occupants as they await the receding of the water. In the Chars of Bangladesh – low-lying islands naturally formed by silt from rivers – the spaceframe structure is a crucial response, low cost, durable, and easily assembled and disassembled with minimum labor.

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Khudi Bari / Marina Tabassum Architects. Image © Asif Salman
 

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Khudi Bari / Marina Tabassum Architects. Image © Asif Salman
 

The true success of the Khudi Bari project can only be measured by what happens after the housing modules are built. A pilot project initiated by a non-profit organization affiliated with Marina Tabassum Architects in conjunction with private and governmental donors aims to establish at least 80 to 100 “Khudi Bari” modules in the flood-prone communities of Bangladesh by May 2023.

More crucially, March 2021 saw the first three homes built in collaboration with families, with some adapting their modules, with the vision for the future being that people involved in this pilot project will then become part of the training collective as the modules are initiated in other areas.

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Khudi Bari / Marina Tabassum Architects. Image © Asif Salman
 

Perhaps this is how architectural prototypes built in the Global South should function – as bold, inventive assemblages, that are not only for observation and display, but instead examples of architecture that is dynamic, in use, and living.

 

Read related Article: Why Bamboo is the Future of Asian Construction

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The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

A child walks on the dried-up bed of Iraq’s receding southern marshes of Chibayish in Dhi Qar province on August 23, 2022. HUSSEIN FALEH ©AFP

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change: Oil-Rich versus Crisis-Riddled Countries

By Dana Hourany

 

The earliest known agricultural civilizations are thought to have started in present-day southern Iraq. Known as the “Fertile Crescent,” the area situated between the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers’, witnessed the birth of the earliest known sedentary civilizations on earth.

Mesopotamia, the earliest human settlement in the area, saw the development of agrarian societies, the domestication of animals, thriving agriculture, and the invention of irrigation methods owing to the Tigris and Euphrates’ abundant water supply.

In 2022, the UN Environment Program placed Iraq, which was long considered the “Cradle of Civilization,” as the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.

The effects of climate change have long been most severe in IraqTemperatures have soared to more than 50 degrees Celsius, devastating water resources, food supplies, and agricultural livelihoods and needs.

Although Iraq is one of the MENA region’s most severely affected, environmental scientists and academics warn that if MENA governments continue to be inactive and unwilling to work together to create sustainable mitigation strategies, no country will be spared.

What went wrong?

In the past couple of years, Iraq’s annual rainfall has decreased exponentially causing more drought and structurally denting the agricultural sector.

While reasons vary, solutions are scarce. Upriver damming in Turkiye and Iran has restricted the water flow from the Tigris and Euphrates. Scorching temperatures affect soil moisture and salinization (increasing the amount of salt in the soil) have further degraded the land.

“The water that flows to the southern region is also extremely polluted. By the time it reaches us it is no longer the purified water that flows from the northern mountains of Turkiye. Ours is mixed with sewage, chemical pollutants and trash,” Basra-based researcher Mishtak Idan Obeid told Fanack.

The researcher added that the “diplomatic incompetency of politicians” has exacerbated the crisis since “Iraqi politicians have failed to negotiate with Turkiye and Iran, allowing them to take advantage of our water resources.”

Once a region of luscious greenery and a vibrant community of farmers, landowners and fishermen, it is now at great risk of desertification as farmers abandon their lands in hopes of landing better job opportunities elsewhere.

“This is their livelihood and main set of skills. If they move to urban areas they might not have access to job opportunities which can push them to unlawful activities, compounding local conflicts and putting pressure on an already fragile infrastructure,” environmental climate-security at The Hague’s Clingendael Institute, Maha Yassin told Fanack.

“The responsibility falls on the state to ensure these people are well taken care of to maintain civil security across the country,” she added.

More crisis for the crisis-riddled

Amidst this summer’s heatwave and crippling energy shortages, homes are plunging into darkness as power cuts become the norm in crisis-riddled Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Despite its abundant oil supply, the Iraqi electricity sector has seen years of neglect, deteriorating under the hands of corrupt leaders, according to analysts.

Similarly, cash-strapped Lebanon has been the subject of constant neglect and systemic corruption that crashed its economy and devastated its infrastructure. Unable to provide for itself, Lebanon relies on Iraqi oil imports to avert nationwide blackouts that now plague the country.

Syria’s power infrastructure as well has suffered heavy blows during the 11-year crisis causing frequent electricity cuts. Subsequently, many people in all three countries are turning to solar power to remedy the situation.

Syria’s state electric company has recently completed a 1-megawatt solar power station connected to the electricity grid, located between the central city of Homs and Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Only 50-250 houses will benefit from state solar energy.

Lebanese, on the other hand, are left to fend for themselves as many flock to private companies to purchase solar panels for their houses and businesses. As for the Iraqis, ambitions have been set to generate up to 12 GW of electricity from solar power by 2030, according to the Iraq oil report. However, political stalemate, disputes over payment terms and general political inefficiency have put the plans on hold.

“This is what sets Iraq apart from other oil-rich countries in the Gulf. Political instability and frequent protests push lawmakers to shelve important environmental projects,” Yassin said.

A huge impediment to decent living standards

While the peoples of crisis-affected MENA nations swelter the blazing summer heat, sandstorms add to their woes.

“Families have been going out less and less. People are forced to remain in their houses as if imprisoned and this is mentally taxing. You become easily irritable and unmotivated,” Obeid said.

Physical well-being is also at risk as Yassin puts it, “sandstorms compound pulmonary diseases such as bronchitis and asthma, while water pollution propagates cholera outbreaks and skin diseases.”

No country in the region is immune to climate change, but the effects are unequal and the solutions are unique.

“Climate change was never a top priority for MENA governments. The majority of environmental policies were developed as quick fixes. This has proven ineffective in an area that is prone to climate crises and has unequal mitigation capacities,” MENA Climate Change Expert Achref Chibani told Fanack.

In his 2022 research, “Sand and Dust Storms in the MENA Region: A Problem Awaiting Mitigation,” Chibani states that Gulf countries’ economic and technological advancements facilitate fielding faster and bigger projects to curb the climate’s impact, particularly sandstorms which he believes are only getting worse.

Saudi Arabia for instance is working on the “Saudi Green Initiative” and has invested several billion dollars in developing green belts, while the UAE has invested in new technologies that allow monitoring dust storms through a forecasting system to better prepare for any incoming threats.

Kuwait, on the other hand, reported dangerous air quality levels in some regions without discussing proper mitigation tactics.

Unlike Iraq, which suffers from similar breathing and temperature issues, most Kuwaitis enjoy day-long indoor cooling. Similar to Iraq though, Kuwaiti politicians delay finding solutions as inaction reigns over a comprehensive approach to tackle climate change.

North African countries at risk

According to Chibani’s observations, countries at most risk of climate crises are on the North African belt, while Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan sway behind. He says this is due to crops vanishing from North African fields, as well as threats of fiercer sandstorms, rising water stress, and soaring electric bills.

AlgeriaLibya, and Egypt are also dependent on the hydrocarbon industry and much of their revenue comes from exporting fossil fuels to Europe. Any negative diplomatic differences will therefore wreak havoc on economic security.

Tunisia, meanwhile suffers from limited natural freshwater resources, deforestation, soil erosion and rising sea levels. In addition to ravaging wildfires spread across North Africa and also Lebanon.

“Governments elevating the costs of electricity and water bills might make people more conscious of how much they’re wasting. However farmers need to switch to harvesting crops that consume less water for irrigation to further preserve our resources,” Chibani said.

Divided, we fall

Egypt will host the 27th UN climate Change Conference in November, which encompasses over 40 countries, in hopes of pushing a climate agenda suitable for the MENA’s challenges and needs.

However, Chibani notes that the region lacks environmental research that could contribute to future projects.

Until then, civil society and renewable energy seem to be the most productive remedies. Around 312 NGOs support the MENA’s environmental causes including bio-diversity, conservation, and protection. However, Yassin says that their existence is endangered by state corruption, scarcity of funds, and governmental pressures.

“Civil society groups run the risk of sounding like politicians when employing rhetoric that citizens perceive to be elitist and condescending. There needs to be more work done on climate change messaging for non-Western audiences,” Chibani noted.

Obeid points to the importance of civilian involvement in minute details such as conserving water and maintaining the cleanliness of public areas while keeping in mind that responsibility falls primarily on the governments that are not leading the way for people to follow.

“I estimate that in 30 years the MENA will have less water and more sand threatening its environment. Countries must cooperate, otherwise the whole region is in danger, particularly its poorer communities. Well-off countries need to help the economically vulnerable states to salvage what’s left of the region’s environmental richness,” Chibani said.

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Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

An international team of scientists warned that Climate change could devastate the Mideast and the East Mediterranean. Let us see what it’s all about.

The above picture is of EUROACTIV

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

A man carries a fishing rod during sunset along the shoreline in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, 230 km (140 miles) north of Cairo, July 12, 2011. Alexandria, with 4 million people, is Egypt’s second-largest city and also one of the Middle East’s cities most at risk from rising sea levels due to global warming. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean – scientists

NICOSIA, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Climate change could have a devastating effect on the lives of millions in the East Mediterranean and Middle East, where temperatures are rising nearly twice as fast as the global average, an international team of scientists warned.

The region could see an overall warming of up to 5 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century on a business-as-usual scenario, a report prepared by the Cyprus Institute said.

That temperature spike was almost twice that anticipated in other areas of the planet, and faster than any other inhabited parts of the world, it said.

The report, prepared under the auspices of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Climate and Atmosphere Research Center of The Cyprus Institute, will be submitted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) taking place in Egypt in November.

A combination of reduced rainfall and weather warming will contribute to severe droughts, compromising water and food security, with many countries unprepared for rising sea levels, one expert said.

“This (scenario) would imply severe challenges for coastal infrastructure and agriculture, and can lead to the salinization of costal aquifers, including the densely populated and cultivated Nile Delta,” said Dr. George Zittis of the Cyprus Institute, an author of the report.

Meeting the main targets of the Paris Agreement, a global pact of countries to cut emissions, could stabilize the annual temperature increase to about 2 degrees Celsius.

Scientists recommend rapid implementation of decarbonization actions with a particular emphasis on the energy and transportation sectors.

“Since many of the regional outcomes of climate change are transboundary, stronger collaboration among the countries is indispensable to cope with the expected adverse impacts,” said Jos Lelieveld, director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, institute professor at the Cyprus Institute, and coordinator of the assessment.

Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Bernadette Baum
Read original Reuters
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Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change

Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change

Promising a new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change can be achieved through defusing ‘carbon bombs’ per Kjell Kühne, University of Leeds who elaborates:

The image above is of the UNESCO

Why defusing ‘carbon bombs’ offers a promising new agenda for tackling climate change

Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change
Nubli Alwi AlFarisi/Shutterstock

Kjell Kühne, University of Leeds

A carbon bomb is a fossil fuel extraction project, such as a coal mine, that can cause over a gigatonne of CO₂ emissions during its lifetime. That’s a billion tonnes – more than twice the UK’s annual emissions from a single project.

In our latest research, my colleagues and I found that there are 425 of these carbon bombs worldwide. Collectively, they can unleash over 1,000 gigatonnes of CO₂ emissions, which far exceeds the world’s carbon budget for staying below 1.5°C of warming (around 500 gigatonnes in 2017) – the world’s agreed target for limiting climate change.

Even though it is now recognised, even by the conservative International Energy Agency, that no new fossil fuel projects must be built to avert catastrophic climate change, fossil fuel companies are working on setting off dozens of new carbon bombs while raking in record profits off the back of temporarily high fossil fuel prices.

For decades, and thanks to efforts by the US, Saudi Arabia and other countries with entrenched fossil fuel interests, UN climate talks have avoided the obvious solution: halting fossil fuel extraction and use. It seems this taboo was finally broken in Glasgow in November 2021, where phasing down coal burning was mentioned in the officially adopted text of COP26 for the first time. But a credible plan from governments to limit fossil fuel extraction is still missing.

This next vital step in climate policy might become more tractable by framing each new mine or oilfield as a potential carbon bomb. It’s not hard to figure out that if some countries set off their bombs, others won’t be able to, because carbon space in the atmosphere is limited. This simple insight into the physics of climate change has so far been ignored by world leaders.

The carbon bombs concept helps us understand that rich countries like Germany digging lignite or Canada cooking tar sands to extract some of the world’s dirtiest oil takes up carbon space which means Saudi oil and Qatari gas will have to stay in the ground. Roughly 80% of all carbon bombs are concentrated in just 12 countries: China, US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Qatar, Canada, Iraq, India, Brazil, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Any one of these could convene talks on defusing carbon bombs.

Or perhaps another government that has similar projects under its belt, say Germany, Norway, Colombia or the UK, which is poised to increase drilling for gas in the North Sea. A fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, akin to the cold war nuclear non-proliferation treaty which aimed to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, could bind national commitments in a global agreement.

The fuses not yet lit

When we compiled our list of carbon bombs to understand the global picture of fossil fuel extraction, we learned that 40% of these projects hadn’t started yet. This means that there is still time to scare away investors of new carbon bombs through campaigning and lawsuits.

Because these projects are so huge, they take years to prepare and operate on a timescale of decades – and their breakeven points, where they start generating a profit, invariably lie many years in the future.

Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change

An excavator loads coal onto a truck.

Coal is the most carbon-rich fossil fuel.
Kemdim/Shutterstock

For the climate movement, these huge, slow-moving targets are a constructive challenge which offer many opportunities for intervention, as recent sanctions against Russia have made clear: some Russian carbon bombs look unlikely to proceed without support from other countries.

Thanks to the interconnectedness of the fossil fuel industry globally, very few carbon bombs can go ahead without any foreign involvement, be it through finance, insurance or equipment manufactured abroad.

While the term “carbon bomb” sounds frightening, it bears great potential for transforming the way people look at the effort to mitigate climate change. The call to “reduce emissions” – a mantra that’s been repeated by governments for the past 30 years – isn’t sparking an emergency response on par with the challenge of the climate crisis. Meanwhile, talking about carbon bombs makes no secret of the fact that global heating kills people, just as bombs do.

Time to get to work. Pick your carbon bomb and help cut the fuse. There are 425 of them smouldering.


 


Kjell Kühne, PhD Candidate in Geography, University of Leeds

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

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