Discourses of climate delay

The University of Cambridge published a 2020 analysis of the Discourses of climate delay.

If this paper already summarizes very well what is sometimes heard to justify inaction, we had fun to complete modestly & briefly some of these objections and more particularly those concerning the CO2e emissions related to IT.

  • The latest IPCC report reminds us of the urgency of the situation, that every fraction of a degree counts, and that we must act today to reduce our emissions, especially since, on the other side, compensation strategies have a much higher level of uncertainty about their effectiveness.

  • These environmental issues have become a priority under the combined pressure of the regulator, employees, citizens and customers, and will sooner or later affect the profitability and/or reputation of the brand if they are underestimated.

  • If this project can seem time-consuming, solutions exist to facilitate the task and be able to slip the project in with little or no impact on the IT department's agenda.

  • The 3 levers of carbon cost reduction - reduce the number of equipment; increase their lifespan; lower the electricity bill - inevitably induce a decrease in operating costs. The ROI of this type of project is not only largely positive but most often achieved within the first 2 years.
  • IT is often presented as one of the levers in the reduction of carbon emissions of other verticals of the company, it then becomes difficult to remain blind as to its negative impacts without lacking seriousness or being accused of greenwashing.

  • Is it really the carbon footprint we are talking about, including indirect emissions (scope 3)? Indeed, this is an important detail because most of the carbon emissions linked to IT are indeed upstream or downstream of the company's activity. For example, the use of a fleet of several thousand smartphones is incomparably lower in terms of CO2e emissions than the emissions that were necessary to manufacture this equipment.

  • Given the urgency of the climate, there is no "small carbon savings", especially since this would be forgetting that this is the area of emissions that is increasing the most, by far.

  • Carbon reduction opportunities are perhaps easier to find than elsewhere, as IT has been producing "fat" without realizing it for years. Also, its intrinsic automation capabilities facilitate measurements and impact reductions ensuring it has conclusive and necessarily visible successes since IT is used by almost every employee.

  • Applying a few best practices seen here and there without contextualizing them and understanding where your expenses are, is taking the risk of acting in the wrong place, being unable to value your progress over time, being accused of greenwashing and ultimately not changing much to your carbon balance.
  • How can we be sure if the accounting exercise has not yet been done?

  • Global warming is considered as one of the biggest challenges of humanity, especially because it strains our coordination/coercion capacity of almost ten billion people, the majority of whom do not see the effects yet or in a very indirect way. WE ALL HAVE TO DO OUR PART IN THIS REDUCTION, WITHOUT FORGETTING OUR PART OF INFLUENCE!

  • No, the latest IPCC report is clear that, given climate inertia and man's share of responsibility, the climate future is ours: the climate of the next two decades still depends largely on our mitigation actions TODAY.
  • Our capacity for technological innovation will of course be welcome in the fight against climate change but not sufficient, as the foundations of our economic systems are based on the continuous consumption of a myriad of products and services that have so far not been thought to be low-carbon or nearly so & that we need to reduce right now. There is therefore no other way than to reduce AT THE SAME TIME what can be reduced by focusing on the essential, by eliminating the superfluous.

  • The environmental performance of innovations is very often counterbalanced by rebound effects - for example: the energy savings of smartphones are far from having compensated for the explosion in their number and uses.

  • Not all humans are equal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Disparities are huge from one country to another - in 2018 - in Qatar it is 32.4, tons of CO2/inhabitant/year, 15.2 for the USA and 0.1 for Ethiopia and these disparities are even more important according to the wealth of each: "The richest 1% of the planet emit twice as much CO2 as the poorest half of humanity" (src. Oxfam).

  • Let's also remember that the human species represents less than 0.01% of the (bio)mass of life on earth, while it alone is responsible for the current global warming.

  • The latest IPCC report, concluded in an independent, international and unprecedented scientific consensus, with the highest level of confidence, that only Man is responsible for the climate change observed since the beginning of the industrial era.

Nourished by Science-Fiction, we would like to believe that it would be possible but, some orders of magnitude are there also welcome to get an idea of the reality:

  • There is no habitable planet in the state in our solar system, but just to get out of it, if we set the limit by the gravitational influence of the sun, it is necessary to travel +19 000 Billion Km. In 2019, after 42 years, the travel probe will have covered... 21.7 billion km only...
  • The speed of light, 300 000 km/s, is the maximum possible speed according to the theory of relativity. And even at this speed, it would take millions of years to reach the nearest galaxies. The Voyager probe, one of the fastest ever conceived, moves at an average speed of 17 km/s
  • Terraforming Mars is excluded according to Nasa in the current state of our knowledge, but let's admit, it would undoubtedly take tens of thousands of years and more likely millions of years to make it only livable...
  • Wormholes, space-time shortcuts seen in the movie "Interstellar", even if they existed and let's admit that they exist in our solar system, would be a priori and according to the astrophysicists impracticable because of the existence of a black hole nearby which would pulverize any object approaching it.
  • It is always possible to dream, but let us say that it seems unreasonable to bet on this outcome.

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