The following is from the Green Building Forum
CONCRETING THE UNTHINKABLE
In memory of Herman Kahn.
Climate change is worse than even the “expert” climate modellers are predicting. We will soon discover this to be true. That is my prediction.
So we must begin carbon sequestration and live in a way that stores carbon rather than emits it — and in a big way. We must show the rest of the world how this might be done, design lifestyles that they can buy into. If we can’t we might need to consider military force.
First, getting our own house in order is imperative. And talking of houses we must build them to store large amounts of carbon, which has been extracted from the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if this is short-term (decades), without action there is no bearable medium-term, let alone long term.
So let’s set a target of building 70 tonnes of CO2e into any dwelling during construction – rather than emitting 70 tonnes during construction. That means almost no products that have high embodied CO2 can be used. That means little or no concrete amongst many other products. And, if that did mean no structural elements capable of supporting buildings much above the ground floor then so be it. We must live on the ground floor.
We must also use non-fossil fuel energy (e.g. off-shore renewable energy) so the heat storage ability of concrete becomes irrelevant. Anyway, this is not necessary if we believe the Hemp and Lime people.
I went to the Centre of Alternative Technology recently for a “Hemp and Lime” conference. Several of the speakers discussed the CO2 impact of Hemp and Lime: basically it stores CO2 taken in during its growth. One speaker estimated that 30 to 50 tonnes of CO2 can be sequestered in an average viagra house.
Of course there are many other things we must do – or rather not do. Not fly, not drive etc.
But back to the military option: Say we were concerned about forest destruction in the Amazon basin. We would threaten to nuke a city in Brazil, but to be equitable, (because we have carbon-sinned more than they have) let them nuke a city of ours with twice the population. Before this we should, of course, offer the Brazilians lots of money to be ecologically friendly. And the Chinese …
Herman Kahn would have insisted we must be prepared to go ahead with military action if we make the threat. But I remember James Lovelock, who is an advocate of nuclear power, recently saying that a nuclear war would not kill as many as the coming climate change catastrophe.
I will probably regret this tirade when I’m sober and may wish I had not used my real name. But I have friends who know about these sort of things and they tell me that there really are policy analysts paid to think these thoughts.
May 11th 2007
Postscript December 2010: At a 2010 UK election meeting I asked Bob Ainsworth, then Secretary of State for Defence, whether there was any military planning for climate change. He said there were some analyses of where the effects of climate change may cause conflicts. He also said that he knew of no planning that would envisage a international military task force to enforce climate change treaties. Understandable perhaps, but if we are setting off a doomsday machine that will kill hundreds of millions or billions of people, some diplomatic and military analysts somewhere should be at work on the issue.
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