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Slaaaake

CO2 Emissions - Focusing on what matters?

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Hi,

No trying to blame anyone or pretend I'm better than anyone, just genuinely confused by the diving community/industry (especially the part that travels, not talking about people who dive locally).

Most of the divers I meet tell me they care about protecting the ocean, the reefs, sharks, etc. They all have their ocean conservation tee shirts, participate to beach clean ups, and talk about conservation all the time.

Yet the biggest threat to this ecosystem is global warming. You can take out all the plastic you want from your local beach, by 2100, if we're very very lucky, earth will be 2 degrees warmer and 90% of the corals will be gone. If we're not careful, it will be more than 2 degrees and 100% of the coral will be gone (with all the effects this has on the rest of the ocean). People are focused on animal rescues, plastic in the ocean, not feeding sharks on a very specific dive site, etc. But not many people care about throwing tons and tons of CO2 in the atmosphere to fly to the other side of the planet every year for a scuba dive trip? I know people also dive locally, but many people travel for their liveaboards or amazing Macro dives in Ambon/Lembeh etc. The majority of the dive industry is based on travelling, and most of it is by plane.

Why are people still encouraging this? I've never seen any post or dive professional say to people to stop travelling thousands of kms for a 2 week dive holiday. It's often the opposite, you see instructors telling their clients to come again next year :) (I know they need to make a living, but so do people who work in the Oil & Gas industry - except those people don't pretend to be environmentalist).

I feel like if you want to protect the ocean, you have to reduce your carbon footprint and do it efficiently by focusing on where you spend most. For most westerners, the efficient way to do that is by eating less meat, not driving a massive truck (not using a car at all when/if possible), not using AC to live in a freezer during summer (or heat up your to 28 degrees in the winter), and not flying to Asia (or somewhere far) every year for your amazing liveaboard holiday. 

If we want to limit the warm up to 2 degrees (which is already a loooot, it will fuck up most of the ecosystems we know), we need to have a global footprint of 2 tons of co2/year by 2050 (right now the global average is around 4). I'm no math expert but even if your average is 16 tons today (that's the average of an American, don't quote me on this but I think Europeans are around 10), it's going to be difficult to divide that budget by 2 while still taking flights that cost 5 tons (again that's a minimum, if you include all the effects of flying it's more than double). 

How do people live with that? They just think those numbers/estimates are bullshit and we're fine? That a magic piece of technology is going to come and save the planet at the very last minute, so no need to do anything? All we need to do is stop drinking in plastic straws and wear a sea shepherd tee shirt? 

Again, not trying to discourage any other imitative for conservation, they're all great and doing it is better than not doing anything. And I know some people just don't care, all they want is have a good time and see beautiful things. My concern is about people who say (and I'm sure they do) they care about the environment, but don't focus on the main problem we're all facing. 

Pfiouu that's a long post. Just wanted to share those thoughts. Feel free to insult me, tell me you're sure that I use more CO2 than you do, that my numbers are BS, that Elon Musk will save us, that we'll be dead by 2100 so it doesn't matter, etc. etc. :)

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33 minutes ago, Slaaaake said:

Pfiouu that's a long post. Just wanted to share those thoughts. Feel free to insult me, tell me you're sure that I use more CO2 than you do, that my numbers are BS, that Elon Musk will save us, that we'll be dead by 2100 so it doesn't matter, etc. etc. :)

I really hope no-one insults you, certainly no-one from Wetpixel anyway. The arguments you set out are perfectly reasonable.

I guess divers, well many anyway, DO care about the environment and climate change. But perhaps it's only because they have seen coral reefs live that they actually care about them - rather than through the slightly deadening lens of TV.

I guess I'm as guilty as the next man - actually probably WAY more guilty - as even though I live currently 20m from the ocean I'm always jumping on planes albeit not now to dive. Perhaps the pandemic has taught us that technology allows us to do things remotely that we didn't consider before. The problem is, how can you appreciate a reef - and photograph it - without actually being there? A selfish notion maybe. But then if we didn't do it, and people wern't aware of reefs would anyone really care about the impact of climate change on them? 

Maybe The Matrix had it right. Humanity is a virus. Homo Sapiens have innate ability to kill everything around them. Including themselves. Maybe by creating climate change and our seeming inability to tackle it truly, we will finally kill ourselves off.

And on that cheery note..... 

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2 hours ago, TimG said:

I really hope no-one insults you, certainly no-one from Wetpixel anyway. The arguments you set out are perfectly reasonable.

I guess divers, well many anyway, DO care about the environment and climate change. But perhaps it's only because they have seen coral reefs live that they actually care about them - rather than through the slightly deadening lens of TV.

I guess I'm as guilty as the next man - actually probably WAY more guilty - as even though I live currently 20m from the ocean I'm always jumping on planes albeit not now to dive. Perhaps the pandemic has taught us that technology allows us to do things remotely that we didn't consider before. The problem is, how can you appreciate a reef - and photograph it - without actually being there? A selfish notion maybe. But then if we didn't do it, and people wern't aware of reefs would anyone really care about the impact of climate change on them? 

Maybe The Matrix had it right. Humanity is a virus. Homo Sapiens have innate ability to kill everything around them. Including themselves. Maybe by creating climate change and our seeming inability to tackle it truly, we will finally kill ourselves off.

And on that cheery note..... 

Same here, as guilty as the people I'm talking about, I used to travel a lot and then started reading about global warming in general and realized the scale of the problem (i.e. it's not just about turning the light off when you leave a room :D). And as I grew more conscious about it I kind of felt disappointed that no one really talked me into that. I worked with a few dive shops in Asia, and like I said in my first message, I participated to many beach clean ups, heard many rants about plastic straws etc. But never heard anyone complain about the travel industry and its impact on the ocean :(

You're lucky, at least you have the ocean right next to you. For me it will be the train from now on, and definitely not the best dives in the world (I'm in France). But it is what it is, I made that choice, everybody is free to do what they want. And I definitely understand the selfishness of wanting to see it for yourself. I can't even guarantee myself that I won't indulge myself with one trip for the rest of my life... 

And I agree with you on showing this beauty through our lenses so that people can care about the impact of climate change, but as far as I am concerned, my pictures are not impactful /public enough to justify the flights :) So I try to convince people as I can, with other arguments. Because yes, the ocean is pretty and people should care if you tell them they're destroying it. But I think people will also start to care, even if they haven't seen the ocean, when 2 billion people have to relocate because of climate, or that entier cities/harbours get flooded because of rising sea levels (that will create interesting dive sites at least!). But it will be too late...  

 

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1 hour ago, Slaaaake said:

But it will be too late...  

Could be already, right?

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13 minutes ago, TimG said:

Could be already, right?

It's super hard to predict the future but it doesn't look very good. And unless of a technological miracle, or a disaster way worse than covid that wipes out a big chunk of the population, I don't see a drastic change coming soon. People are more conscious but it's slow... 

And even people change, there is a massive inertia with CO2. Even if today we completely dropped our CO2 emissions to 0 (which is impossible),  50% would still be there in 100 years, and 20-30% in 1000 years. 

Screenshot_8.thumb.png.ba4cd55c2cb590f774d76bd35093bcca.png

https://cmc.ipsl.fr/ipsl-climate-models/ipsl-cm6/

You can see here that no matter what, all scenarios have the same path until 2050. And as I said, even at +2 degrees, it's a total disaster. 

So no matter what, by 2050/60 we're very likely to see hundreds of millions of climate migrants (because it will be 50 degrees + 100% humidity several weeks per year where they live (i.e. if you go out you die because you can't physically sweat)), unstable climate all around the world (with associated disasters, both in terms of crops being destroyed (freeze/fire) and crazy events like fllooding, heatwaves, etc.), and a lot of unpredictable stuff like Covid.

I'm a positive person but honestly, unless something really special happens, I don't see how we are not doomed. It's just a matter of damage control, but there will be damage for sure. A lot of it. 

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This is all true, however, it's a double edged sword, a lot of reef conservation is based upon making the reefs and its inhabitants more valuable alive so that people will pay to travel to see it.  You speak of oil and gas people needing to make a living, but if oil and gas consumption slows or stops I would wager the oil and gas people are more than capable of finding alternative work in renewable energy fields or other alternatives, while the local villages and dive guides would go back to extracting a living from the reefs be that by cyanide fishing, shark finning or just over fishing to gain an income to support themselves.

On the impact of flying, this link might be useful:

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

If you look at emissions by sector transport is 14% of total and air travel is a smaller segment of that currently 2.5%  An individual flight is high in emissions but most people don't fly that often.

If you want to look at positives the big emitters are electricity and heat, industry and agriculture and there is currently good alternatives available for much of those emissions and it's largely a matter of political will to drive to develop policies to facilitate the conversion of these sources to low emission technologies.  The good thing about this is it doesn't require people to change behaviour - people really don't care where their electricity/goods comes from as long as its available.   To me it makes sense to attack these first where the impact will be biggest and particularly where the technology already exists to switch over.

Transport is a little harder but again it's political will to encourage infrastructure investments to facilitate converting to electric vehicles.  Once people start driving electric my prediction is they won't look back range is not an issue for commuting with current vehicles.  Plug it in when you get home and it's always full.  And there is no service for these vehicles - no oil changes, no filters etc.  No brake pad changes - only tyres really. 

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It's super hard to predict the future but it doesn't look very good. And unless of a technological miracle, or a disaster way worse than covid that wipes out a big chunk of the population, I don't see a drastic change coming soon. People are more conscious but it's slow... 
And even people change, there is a massive inertia with CO2. Even if today we completely dropped our CO2 emissions to 0 (which is impossible),  50% would still be there in 100 years, and 20-30% in 1000 years. 
Screenshot_8.thumb.png.ba4cd55c2cb590f774d76bd35093bcca.png
https://cmc.ipsl.fr/ipsl-climate-models/ipsl-cm6/
You can see here that no matter what, all scenarios have the same path until 2050. And as I said, even at +2 degrees, it's a total disaster. 
So no matter what, by 2050/60 we're very likely to see hundreds of millions of climate migrants (because it will be 50 degrees + 100% humidity several weeks per year where they live (i.e. if you go out you die because you can't physically sweat)), unstable climate all around the world (with associated disasters, both in terms of crops being destroyed (freeze/fire) and crazy events like fllooding, heatwaves, etc.), and a lot of unpredictable stuff like Covid.
I'm a positive person but honestly, unless something really special happens, I don't see how we are not doomed. It's just a matter of damage control, but there will be damage for sure. A lot of it. 

This is why there is a big effort looking into carbon sequestration. As you say, ceasing emissions isn’t enough, we actually need to extract it from the atmosphere.

Albeit very low impact, divers can help with this. E.g. a seagrass restoration project that we in Project Baseline UK have recently supported.

Perhaps divers need to reassess their objectives in diving. The ultimate achievement would be everyone diving carbon negative local initiatives, but settling for less carbon positive adventures may have to do.

Interestingly Covid has eradicated at least 3 jet fuelled trips I would have otherwise taken in the last 12-18 months. Talk about Mother Nature restoring the balance!


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On 6/8/2021 at 7:33 AM, ChrisRoss said:

This is all true, however, it's a double edged sword, a lot of reef conservation is based upon making the reefs and its inhabitants more valuable alive so that people will pay to travel to see it.  You speak of oil and gas people needing to make a living, but if oil and gas consumption slows or stops I would wager the oil and gas people are more than capable of finding alternative work in renewable energy fields or other alternatives, while the local villages and dive guides would go back to extracting a living from the reefs be that by cyanide fishing, shark finning or just over fishing to gain an income to support themselves.

On the impact of flying, this link might be useful:

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

If you look at emissions by sector transport is 14% of total and air travel is a smaller segment of that currently 2.5%  An individual flight is high in emissions but most people don't fly that often.

If you want to look at positives the big emitters are electricity and heat, industry and agriculture and there is currently good alternatives available for much of those emissions and it's largely a matter of political will to drive to develop policies to facilitate the conversion of these sources to low emission technologies.  The good thing about this is it doesn't require people to change behaviour - people really don't care where their electricity/goods comes from as long as its available.   To me it makes sense to attack these first where the impact will be biggest and particularly where the technology already exists to switch over.

Transport is a little harder but again it's political will to encourage infrastructure investments to facilitate converting to electric vehicles.  Once people start driving electric my prediction is they won't look back range is not an issue for commuting with current vehicles.  Plug it in when you get home and it's always full.  And there is no service for these vehicles - no oil changes, no filters etc.  No brake pad changes - only tyres really. 

Yeah, Ideally there will be political change helping towards this goal. But unfortunately it is extremely slow, and complicated (for electricity for instance). We can't just expect governments to do something about it and not do anything on our end. At the scale of an individual, the best you can do is actually change your behavior: use less electricity, consume different agricultural products, and reduce your transportation footprint. If every westerner did an small effort, we'd get there with or without governments/green energies/etc. 

Also, "we" (westerners) destroy the planet and people with low incomes and a low carbon footprint will be the first to suffer (everything around the equator).  This is very unfair, and that's why I don't really agree with the "not many people fly so it's ok as long as only us (the rich) do it".  

Electric cars aren't green btw. They could be if they were light, but making a 1.5ton electric/hybrid SUV is absolutely not sustainable, by the time this thing gets out of the factory, it has already the same carbon footprint of a 15 year old car with 100k miles. 

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On 6/8/2021 at 7:45 PM, OwenF said:


This is why there is a big effort looking into carbon sequestration. As you say, ceasing emissions isn’t enough, we actually need to extract it from the atmosphere.

Albeit very low impact, divers can help with this. E.g. a seagrass restoration project that we in Project Baseline UK have recently supported.

Perhaps divers need to reassess their objectives in diving. The ultimate achievement would be everyone diving carbon negative local initiatives, but settling for less carbon positive adventures may have to do.

Interestingly Covid has eradicated at least 3 jet fuelled trips I would have otherwise taken in the last 12-18 months. Talk about Mother Nature restoring the balance!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Do you have more info on how that carbon sequestration works with seagrass? Are you sure it's not just a transfer of carbon from air to the ocean ? If it is, it will be only temporary, ocean will become more acidic with all that co2 and as the ocean warms up, the co2 will be released in the air again. 

Same here for the trips and covid :)

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Do you have more info on how that carbon sequestration works with seagrass? Are you sure it's not just a transfer of carbon from air to the ocean ? If it is, it will be only temporary, ocean will become more acidic with all that co2 and as the ocean warms up, the co2 will be released in the air again. 
Same here for the trips and covid

My understanding is that it’s fundamentally photosynthesis, much the same as forests are carbon sinks. In the oceans, seagrass and plankton use CO2 and convert to oxygen. Plankton currently supplies something like 70% of atmospheric oxygen.


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On 6/13/2021 at 4:34 PM, Slaaaake said:

Do you have more info on how that carbon sequestration works with seagrass? Are you sure it's not just a transfer of carbon from air to the ocean ? If it is, it will be only temporary, ocean will become more acidic with all that co2 and as the ocean warms up, the co2 will be released in the air again. 

Same here for the trips and covid :)

Seagrass works by (I believe) removing carbon from the ocean and storing it in the seabed.

A quick google search throws this up:

"Seagrass plants have an excellent capacity for taking up and storing carbon in the oxygen-depleted seabed, where it decomposes much slower than on land. This oxygen-free sediment traps the carbon in the dead plant material which may then remain buried for hundreds of years." Link to full article here.

This is (again - I think) fairly unique to seagrass and why it is focused on so much compared to something like kelp. Kelp can remove carbon from the atmosphere/ocean but scientists are unsure on its long-term benefits as a carbon store. Essentially, they're unsure whether all the carbon in the plant matter eventually decomposes and releases back into the atmosphere or if it forms part of the long term carbon store on the seabed on any significant level.

I'm not a scientist so I can't 100% be certain about this information but I heard it on this podcast episode (great podcast too, btw).

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