Photo: Daily Monitor, (file photo).
By Irene Banos Ruiz
The best personal choices to reduce our individual contribution to climate change are living car free – and having fewer children, a recent study shows. But is it a realistic solution to have no children at all?
If you were proud of yourself conscientiously recycling on your drive back home after picking up your kids from school – forget it!
A new study has identified the most effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Having one fewer child is the number one, followed – way behind – by living car-free.
If we rarely hear about about having fewer children, but often about recycling, this mainly due to misrepresentations in government advice and school textbooks, the study shows.
But once we know what to do to reduce our climate impact, the question remains: how to do it. Biking instead of driving a car is a relatively easy lifestyle switch compared to deliberately deciding to have fewer children.
Industrialized countries play a major role in cutting carbon emissions and reducing global warming. But fertility rates in these countries are already low, alarmingly so for many governments. Yet, this is also key for sustainability.
Your child in tons of C02
In industrialized countries, one person could save 2.4 metric tons of CO2 a year living car-free, 1.6 from avoiding a single trans-Atlantic flight and 0.8 by changing to a vegetarian diet, researchers have found.
But having one fewer child blows those figures out of the water, with a reduction of more than 58 tons of carbon emissions per year.
This might be an uncomfortable result for many – but the data doesn’t lie.
“Many people ask me what they can do to stop climate change,” Kimberly Nicholas, co-author of the study told DW. “And I just wanted to give them answers.”
Nicholas emphasized that she did not want to tell people what to do with such a personal decision as having kids. “But the data tell us that these four actions all have a big impact on the climate.”
Are fewer children the solution?
Nicholas’ findings revive a controversial debate. In a world of increasing human population but limited resources, the challenge of sustainable development increases daily.
The think tank Club of Rome garnered serious criticism in 2016 after promoting the idea of a one-child policy for industrialized countries in a book called “Reinventing Prosperity.”
According to the authors, such a drastic measure is a neccesary part of a strategy to achieving economic growth, reducing unemployment and inequality, and addressing climate change.
A child born in an industrialized country consumes 30 times more resources than one in India – which for the authors was a fair justification to support a one-child policy. They suggested incentivizing women to give birth to only one child with a financial reward.
But for Reiner Klingholz, chairman of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, this is pure nonsense.
The average number of children needed for a stable population is 2.1 – but the average fertility rate in Europe is already as low as 1.5. In countries like Portugal, the average is even lower – only 1.1 children.
“In countries like Portugal, a further reduction in fertility rates would result in social disasters,” Klingholz said.
It could destabilize the economy.
Focus on Africa
An extremely high population growth in Western Asia and Africa is a major hindrance for sustainability. But this is not the case for industrialized countries, Klingholz believes.
“The rich part of the world does not live sustainably due to its high consumption and emissions,” he said.
The right move in Klingholz’s mind would be to reduce the carbon footprint of industrialized countries through a change in our lifestyle while supporting development in Africa that reduces fertility rates there.
Europe successfully reduced unsustainable fertility rates “only through education and development,” Klingholz said.
The difference between the birth rate of educated and non-educated girls in some African countries is astonishing.
In Ethiopia, for instance, women who manage to finish a secondary-level education have an average of 1.3 children – and 5 if they lack schooling. In Nigeria, the difference is from 3.9 versus 6.7.
Education is the solution!
This is in fact the same line Nicholas supports. Having children or not wouldn’t be as much of a controversy if we could manage to strongly reduce emissions through a car-free life, a plant-based diet, and a combination of all the other sustainable practices the study recommends, she says.
“If we make those changes and succeed in reducing emissions at the challenging level we have to, the impact of a person would be much smaller,” Nicholas said. “This would push our societies in the right direction.”
With that aim, they are encouraging governments and educational institutions to adapt their content and further motivate people to take action.
“They must make clear that recycling is a good start, and it is worthy – but there is much more to be done to save the planet,” Nicholas said.
Now, it is up to each person to decide how they will start.
Number 10: Upgrade light bulbs
You just bought a fancy lamp? Make it cooler with efficient light bulbs. This is one of the small actions that make a difference in the long-term – and let’s be honest, it’s not a big effort. Some LED bulbs consume up to 90 percent less than traditional ones.
Number 9: Hang laundry to dry
In cold or rainy countries, the task might be challenging – but these challenges are nothing compared to the worst consequences of climate change.
Number 8: Recycling
Recycling has become normal behavior for thousands of people around the world. It definitely contributes to making a better world – but unfortunately, it is not enough.
Number 7: Wash clothes on cold
Worried about your clothes shrinking in hot water? Here another reason to keep washing with cold water: Since it avoids turning on the water heater, cold-water washing also produces less greenhouse gas emissions.
Number 6: Drive a hybrid
Until you are ready to get rid of your car completely, you could move to a hybrid electric car. But beware: The electricity that powers it is probably still coming from dirty fossil fuels.
Number 5: Switch to a vegetarian diet
Beef production is the largest driver of tropical deforestation worldwide, with soy production closely following – mainly to feed animals. The carbon footprint of a meat-based diet is almost double that of a vegetarian one. Even reducing the amount of meat you eat makes a difference.
How to stop climate change? Start now!
Number 4: Buy green energy
Renewable energies are the new trend – but we are still largely dependent on fossil fuels such as coal. In countries like Germany, you can choose your energy provider – among some that draw from renewable sources.
Number 3: Cancel one trans-Atlantic flight
Air travel is a major challenge when it comes to tackling climate change. Policy-makers are exploring ways to reduce the climate impact of flights – but in the meantime, you can start thinking twice before taking a plane. Particularly to cross the pond.
Number 2: Don’t use a car
Getting rid of your car is the second-most effective action you can take to tackle climate change. And riding your bike also helps keep you fit!
Number 1: Have one fewer child
Giving birth to a new person consuming and polluting at the current rate of people in industrialized countries is the worst thing you can do for the planet, according to the study. But if you start now with the other nine actions, your kids might be able to live in a better world.
By Adam Garrie
China and Russia’s increased cooperation in matters pertaining to commerce and trade, monetary exchange, military cooperation and media integration, continue to shape Eurasia, East Asia and the wider world.
Russia and China continue to forge ever closer bonds across many fields of interaction.
Here are some important recent developments that underlie what has become the world’s most important multifaceted bilateral partnership.
During Chinese President Xi Jingping’s recent visit to Moscow where he brought with him scores of representatives from the business and government sector, Russia and China agreed to increase bilateral trade in local currency.
There were also discussions about the need to rely on gold rather than the US Dollar as a major trading currency.
This week, Russia’s largest bank, the government-owned Sberbank began trading on the Shanghai Gold Exchange.
“Sberbank was granted international membership of the Shanghai exchange in September last year and in July completed a pilot transaction with 200 kg of gold kilobars sold to local financial institutions, the bank said.
Sberbank plans to expand its presence on the Chinese precious metals market and anticipates total delivery of 5-6 tonnes of gold to China in the remaining months of 2017.
Gold bars will be delivered directly to the official importers in China as well as through the exchange, Sberbank said.
Russia’s second-largest bank VTB is also a member of the Shanghai Gold”.
As Russia and China just signed a number of agreements on bilateral commerce and join-infrastructure project, many suspect that the economic weight of the accompanying transactions could do damage to the monetary hegemony of the US Dollar.
2. One Belt–One Road/New Silk Road/Belt and Road and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Since One Belt–One Road was initially announced in 2013, Russia has been a stalwart supporter of China’s global project to harmonise international trade through the creation of logistical land and maritime ‘roads’ as well as trans-national political agreements to smooth the process of sending raw materials and finished goods between the borders of multiple states.
On May 15, at the largest ever meeting of heads of state and government in Beijing to discuss the Belt and Road initiative, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated,
“All the proposals (under the One Road, One Belt initiative) are in the trend of modern development and are deemed to be extremely necessary and highly demanded.
This is why Russia not only supports ‘One Road, One Belt’ project, but will also actively participate in its implementation jointly with its Chinese partners and, of course, with all other interested countries”.
During the forum in China, Putin also praised Moscow’s strong economic ties with Beijing saying,
“Not only were we able to cope with trade and economic decline, but we also entered a path for growth”.
The recent deals that Russia has signed with China covering a variety of areas should be understood as implicit efforts to strengthen relations which will help to eventually complete the prominent China-to-Russia corridors of the New Silk Road,
As the Duran reported on 4 July, 2017,
“Russian banks, high-speed rail projects, projects for cooperation in space and investment funds which will trade in the national currencies of China and Russia. This represents a big blow to the US Dollar in respect of its position as the standard currency of Internationale trade.
There were also deals between multiple companies from both nations including between Russia’s Gazprom and Chinese energy companies.
Deals for cultural cooperation in the areas of film and cartoon production, education and tourism were also signed. Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of helping Russians and Chinese people to visit each others countries which are already popular mutual destinations.
Furthermore, the Foreign Ministers of Russia and China, Sergev Lavrov and Wang Yi, signed a memorandum of cooperation on the issues in the Korean Peninsula. Both sides stated that in this respect it is the desire of both China and Russia to freeze Pyongyang’s nuclear program as well as end US-South Korean military drills in the region.
Finally, President Putin and President Xi signed a Treaty of Friendliness and Cooperation between the two countries which will see further and deeper integration of Russia and China’s work towards mutual global problem solving.
President Putin later spoke of his optimism for what the One Belt–One Road Chinese economic, commercial and infrastructure project can offer for both countries.
President Xi spoke of the strategic partnership between the two countries as an “historic choice” and thanked President Putin for awarding him the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle“.
As leading founders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Russia and China recently welcomed both India and Pakistan into the group of nations. This will help to not only de-escalate latent tensions between China and India in the long term, but could also help India and Pakistan to eventually resolve their lingering disputes. All of this of course will help to expedite the progress of the New Silk Road.
Lingering issues between China and India while problematic in the short term, can and must be overcome through joint initiatives of the SCO. This is in India’s long term interests as well as China’s.
3. The Arctic
Russia has recently announced plans to expand its fleet of Arctic Icebreaker nuclear powered ships. New technologies involving lazer-armed technology could make sailing through the arctic vastly more efficient and faster in the coming years.
Military expert Dmitri Yurov stated that where once Arctic warfare would be considered an “absurdity”, thanks to new technology, the need to ready Arctic ready military vessels is becoming increasingly necessary.
As Russia continues to develop, modernise and innovate within its expanding fleet of icebreakers, many are looking at the possibility that a China-Russia trans-Arctic trading route could be a future possibility, one that would allow important goods to bypass many of the conflict zones of the Middle East and southern Europe.
Independent journalist and Asia expert Pepe Escobar published the following map on 17 July, 2017 which shows what a trans-Arctic ‘Silk Road’ might look like.
In recent years, China and Russia have increased cooperation in respect of joint military exercises.
This week, the two countries will conduct a wide range of drills in the Baltic Sea surrounding Russia’s Kaliningrad region.
A statement from the Russian Defence Ministry reads as follows,
“The main goals of the exercises are to increase the efficiency in cooperation between the two fleets in countering security threats at sea, to train compatibility of the crews of Russian and Chinese warships, to strengthen friendship and cooperation between the Russian Navy and the Naval Forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army”.
The location of the drills is also of importance. NATO continues to increase its presence the three Baltic states as well as Poland in a clear provocation towards Russia. By coming to Russian waters in the Baltic to conduct drills, China and Russia are demonstrating a clear united front against NATO manoeuvring in the region.
During President Xi’s visit with President Putin in early July of this year, RT’s Editor-In-Chief Margarita Simonyan spoke before both leaders, emphasising the need to fight disinformation from western mainstream media outlets with a unified yet diverse voice.
In an impassioned speech, Simonyan offered RT’s content to Chinese media outlets free of charge as a gesture of goodwill in the spirit of further cooperation.
It was later announced that Russia’s Katusha television channel would begin broadcasting in China, one of the first non-Chinese media outlets to do so.
As Simonyan indicated, cooperation between two of the world’s three superpowers in the so-called information war is vital to the interests of both countries in giving news from the two countries and their partners a wider international, multi-lingual platform. She described cooperative media initiatives between Russia and China as efforts to fight “media terrorism”.
These are just some of the crucial ways in which China and Russia continue to be the dominant world partners in the 21st century.
And bit by bit the Sino-Russian Communist World Order (SRCWO) takes shape…. Don’t be fooled by the ‘disagreements and arguments’ with NATO: Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO is a former KGB agent (if there is such a thing as former). All smoke and mirrors.