New children’s greenhouse gases

It was because of the previous piece, the piece about green roofs, that the latest IPCC report was suddenly on the table, or rather: appeared on the screen. Because with its 2,700 closely printed pages, it will probably not even be physically distributed anymore. The report may not even be published anymore Read because it is basically little more than a summary of previously published climate articles. It is a reference book where you can find your way with the digital search function.

With the keyword ‘take’ the green roofs (green roofs) easy to find. The letter combination ‘roof’ appears a hundred times in the report, also in ‘evidence’ and ‘sunroof’, but it went surprisingly fast. The green roofs are explicitly mentioned in the chapter on ‘urban systems’, which provide tips for climate-friendly urban design and environmentally conscious life. It’s about the benefits of wood construction, total electrification and more. Remarkable how many of behavior change expected: You can live closer to each other, lower the thermostat and from now on go to work by bike. It is a long story because the report suffers from wording as well as from a pathological penchant for completeness.

A hard exercise

The ‘mitigation report’, published in early April, is the latest in a series of three to be published at regular intervals to assess the state of the climate. The first report describes the physico-chemical background of climate change and the second its consequences, including the means to deal with these consequences. The third report identifies opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a strenuous exercise that also involves nuclear energy, hydropower and biomass. Given the high expectations that the IPCC has for behavior change, it sometimes seemed nice to check whether contraception was meanwhile included among the useful advice. The fewer people, the less energy you need, you might say.

But no, the search function did not match the terms ‘contraception’, ‘family planning’ or ‘contraception’. ‘Fertility’ is mentioned, but primarily in connection with the fertility of the soil. The report clearly states that population growth and prosperity are the two strongest driving forces (strongest drivers) originates from fossil CO emissions2 but draws no further conclusions from it. Contraception is ruled out, as has been established here before.

This year, the cold feet were extra strong, and apparently the problematic side of the growth of the world population had to be kept completely under wraps. She gets a candid mention in the huge report, however does not in its summary, the so-called ‘summary for policy makers’ (Summary for policy makers, SPM). It only finds that the ‘drivers’ of town greenhouse gas emissions are complex and include population size, income, degree of urbanization and form of urbanization (section B.2.3). Nothing about problematic growth.

Prolonged meetings

SPM is a piece of strange status. It has been prepared by climate scientists, but must be approved by various officials and other representatives of the IPCC countries. They are under political pressure and are trying at lengthy meetings to adapt all paragraphs to national wishes. The rejection not only makes these sections unreadable, they are also detached from the report they are to summarize. Risky, because in practice, the SPM is the only thing read from the IPCC reports.

That there is just no room was in SPM to state how large the impact of population growth is is unlikely. There are enough sentences in it that you would easily give with the garbage man: because they consist of pure emptiness (C.6.3) or because there is no string to tie (C.1.4). Population growth must have been pushed out of the SPM under political pressure.

Philip Cafaro of the Overpopulation Project also concluded this on April 12th. He reacted sternly to the enthusiasm of the British professor Simon Lewis The Guardian (April 6) found that the IPCC had finally said goodbye to the “dangerous misconception” that population growth has a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Lewis only read the SPM, Cafaro assumed. That actually turned out to be the case The Guardian has since adapted Lewis’ piece.

Everyone knows where the cold feet come from. There is the religious side (offspring as numerous as the sand on the shores of the sea), you have the economists who want to let the economy grow against the rocks if necessary, and there is the eternal fear of aging† And there is the assumption that developing countries would be blamed for climate misery if the objections to population growth were highlighted in this way. To blame the poorAfter all, it is the poor countries that are growing the fastest. This is nonsense, because it is in the rich countries that the growth per. per capita has the most serious consequences, such as cars, holiday travel, air conditioning. Especially in industrialized countries, parents should realize that every new child puts a greater strain on the environment, and that you are therefore – sorry for the rapid transition – quite weak if you ask us from a family with three or more children for an extra climate effort.

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