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Decarbonizing All Life Forms: A Concern of Shortsightedness


Photo credit Scott Evans


THE RACE TO NET-ZERO


As the world races to net-zero emissions by 2050, the human race may have forgotten that the foundation for all life forms on earth requires carbon. Indeed, complex molecules like proteins and DNA, which construct humans and all life forms, are expressed from the carbon element itself. [1] However, if the carbon cycle and engineered carbons are reconsidered, cohesion and unlimited potential can exist; as both become the antidote for the carbon toxicity that has been manufactured, and continues to be, by humans. [2]


THE WAR ON CARBON


The immediate concept that humans seem to be locked into are claims that carbon is the root cause of all environmental evils. The use of confusing terms, like net-zero and decarbonization, fluctuate with other terms, which are misaligned but have created a war on carbon nonetheless. Into the bargain, the antidote to the carbon toxicity remains a constant thrust for a single electrified solution, an ill-considered resource swap, or the panacea depending on the conditioned view.


THE DIVISIVE FRAME OF MIND


Political pitting and identifying as well as taking on the either or frame of mind certainly is concerning and a significant contributing factor. Furthermore, division among ecosystems will not effectively function without interconnected cooperation -the human microbiome serves as a living example. [3] Modern day humans have been manipulated from natural cycles and rhythms, and other living entities including each other -despite that we all need enriching food, pure air and clean water to survive.


Claims have been made that we will need to establish social contracts if we want to get to net-zero as a country. [4] However, the communities, who understand and remain in harmonious relationship with the natural rhythms and cycles and who are critically effected, are most often not consulted, and if they are, it is typically after plans and investors have been secured. [5]


Additionally, contracts resulting in loss of lands and resources as well as human rights violations exacerbate the difficulties already faced by vulnerable indigenous communities. [5] This is readily evident with the line 3 and line 5 tarsands pipeline projects in northern midwest states, where waters and wild rice, the only native grain to the US, have been jeopardized. Supporting a distrust of suggested social contracts for the means of renewable energy is Thacker Pass advocates in the southwest, where lithium mining is proposed and leaves communities once again resisting land grabs and ecosystem destruction.


Multiple situations mirroring the aforementioned exist throughout the US and globally as we race to net-zero, to decarbonize. As a result, “cushioning the blow” with social contracts is not and has not been a cooperative solution thus far. [4] In an effort to do so, consideration of all entities is required to be a central theme of those contracts since all life forms are an essential part of the interconnected web of life.


UNDERSTANDING CARBON


Carbon is an invaluable resource, an indispensable tool, when its cycle and engineering are respectfully and insightfully understood and implemented. Additionally, a main source of the Earth’s capacity for regeneration is photosynthesis, which carbon dioxide is a crucial structure of. [2] Furthermore, soil carbon is the advocate, the champion, of healthy ecosystems and food and water security. [2] Carbon, the building block of life, does this by providing a source of nutrients through mineralization, helps to aggregate soil structure to provide resilience to physical degradation, increases microbial activity, increases water storage and availability to plants, and protects soil from erosion. [6] Simply put, carbon is the enriching food, pure air and clean water needed to survive.


The increased energy of the carbon cycle is the basis of how life flourishes on Earth. [7] As a result, out of truly interconnected collaborations will arise a variability of solutions, the antidotes -not antidote- for the carbon toxicity humans have disarticulated.


Correspondingly, if the contributing toxicity factors are fully acknowledged there is potential to be victorious over the “evil carbon” confusion. This approach will lay foundation for the discovery of various antidotes that are life enhancing and enforcing rather than limiting the abundance of possibilities. Antidotes such as these are considerate of people and planet, and will continue to result in profits for corporations and businesses, while at the same time vital ecosystems have the ability to thrive.

THE IMPORTANCE OF IT ALL


Witnessing the disconnect, misunderstanding and misrepresentation of carbon has been astonishing. The push and pull of hidden agendas and swaying arguments leaves humanity believing they have no choice but to comply, that or they are lured by irresistible attraction to a concept. The time is now to disengage from the hidden agendas and swaying arguments with the intention that people have the potential to successfully change reasons that support conclusions, demonstrate authentic identities, and invite everlasting cooperation.


The thought of a panacea to solve carbon toxicity, when a multitude of challenges are contributing factors, is limiting in itself. Subsequently, the validity of current situations will evoke an opportunity for people to objectively perceive and businesses to transition to profitable life enhancing operations rather than continue the affliction of extractive economies.

MINERALS & MINING


Of the minerals that are considered key for the energy transition, 97% of nickel, 89% of copper, 79% of lithium, and 68% of cobalt are within 35 miles of Native American reservations. [11] In this case, both local cultures and investors are at risk because of the set net-zero targets as well as administration’s plans for tribal nations. [11] Lithium-ion batteries, solar panels, wind turbines are all currently made from minerals that must be excavated or leached out of the ground or recovered from recycled materials. [12]


The annual demand for the white metal, which lithium is referred as, will reach 2.4 million tons by 2030 -that is four times higher than the current production forecasts. [11] Additionally, copper demand is estimated to rise as much as 350% by 2050. [13] As well there is potential to foresee a cobalt demand growth of five times more between 2020 and 2040, or 400-500% by 2050. [14] Certain raw materials for batteries come from a few countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has 71 percent of global cobalt reserves, and Chile where 58 percent of global lithium reserves may be found.[15][16]


Issues faced in these global locations resonate with the issues here in the US. Mineral extraction is water intensive and typically results in contamination of wetlands and water sources. In Chile’s Atacama Region, fragile ecosystems have been destroyed, access to clean drinking water has become a crisis, and ancient ways of life have been jeopardized. [17] While in the DRC, governance of the extractive resources has increased inequality, which is reflected in abhorrent working conditions and child labour. [18]


Given the expected electrified market growth, there are a couple of caveats to consider, like the generation of electricity required to power up will double and the production of thousands of Mack-truck size batteries to store that renewable energy will be required. [19] This equates to a continued loss of biodiversity, an increase in air pollution and a decrease in the freshwater supply. Circling back to carbon, enriching food, pure air and clean water will still be needed for our survival even at the perceived electrified net-zero.


Decarbonizing the human race and all life forms for the purpose of wealth building and to simply treat the symptoms and not the root problem(s) is short sighted and allows us to remain disconnected. Ponder this —as more land is recklessly consumed— possibly the increase in CO2 is because the earth is recognizing the need for more green growth. After all Mother Earth is a smart lady and the sustainer of us ALL —if we respect and live in reciprocity with her. As a result, the race to net-zero emissions needs to be looked at more carefully with new approaches —not necessarily new technology. Rather than limiting the “green” transition to one color, or antidote, striving for the rainbow provides the necessary biodiversity, which actually could be the panacea for our funds, nature and future generations. If wisely considered —the carbon cycle is our solution —as it is there that the antidotes to interconnectedness will be discovered.



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