The Earth Armistice

| August 17, 2018 | Leave a Comment

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Author(s): Thomas Boudreau Ph.D.

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THE EARTH ARMISTICE:

ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL AS A FUNDAMENTAL THREAT TO LIFE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND SECURITY ON THE EARTH.

In order to address and reverse climate change, The Earth Armistice requires that all states, following the appropriate UN Security Council Resolution (UNSC),[1] to set aside from 10% to 20% of their current and projected defense budgets yearly, and invest these funds domestically as well as internationally to: cut carbon consumption to near zero; develop and deploy green technologies to rapidly transition from carbon based energy or technology to sustainable energy and technologies; use negative emissions to develop and deploy carbon sequestration (Earth-based on land or in oceans) or geo-engineering (aerosol or in the atmosphere) technologies,[2] as well as engage and support massive conservation and –in honor of  Wangari Maathai of Kenya– reforestation efforts on every inhabited continent in the world.[3]

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), “total world military expenditure rose to $1739 billion in 2017, a marginal increase of 1.1 per cent in real terms from 2016.” [4] In view of this massive expenditure for war, or preparations for war, states can redirect a certain percentage—to be negotiated in the UNSC—to be devoted to addressing effectively and ultimately reversing climate change as an integral new mission of UN member states’ defense establishments to the “common security” of each state and all peoples.[5]  Make no mistake about it—climate change if continued unabated and unchecked, is a possible extinction event for all or most of humanity.[6]

So, with climate change accelerating and devastating greater areas of the Earth, leading to, wildfires, flooding, extreme weather events as well as species extinction events,[7]  the time is ripe for the UNSC to pass the appropriate resolution calling for an “Earth Armistice” and devote from 10 to 20 percent of each member states’ defense budget to addressing effectively climate change. I the larger percentage of 20 % becomes mandatory, due to UNSC action, then this will release almost 250 billion dollars immediately to address and reverse climate change.  If this amount proves insufficient to the task of stopping and reversing climate change, then the UNSG can adjust the percentage to insure that effective action is finally achieved.

In particular, many of the permanent powers on the UN Security Council are planning nuclear weapons modernization programs in the next ten years, and committing over a trillion dollars to these efforts.[8]  As part of the Earth Armistice, all development, testing or deployment of new or “modernized” nuclear weapons, any related technical components as well as their delivery systems should cease immediately for the duration of the Armistice.  The Earth certainly doesn’t need one more nuclear weapon in the world.[9]

The immediate goal of the Earth Atmosphere—still humanly possible—would be to reduce CO2 gases in the global atmosphere to below 400 ppm.  The ultimate goal must be to reduce CO2 to 350 ppm, the figure that leading atmospheric scientists state is the necessary level in order for life to survive and flourish, promising sustainable development for all in the future.[10]

THE EARTH ARMISTICE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE PARIS AGREEMENT (2015)

Simply stated, there will be no further sustainable development without a sustainable global atmosphere that makes continuing progress in achievement critical development goals possible. Reversing climate change, collectively as well individually, to insure sustainable development for all is the greatest and most urgent challenge of our time.  In short, we have to insure a sustainable global atmosphere first in order to achieve sustainable development for all present and future peoples.  At the same time, green technologies can promote sustainable development by creating thousands of new jobs throughout the world. Yet, Time is rapidly running out so we have to take decisive and effective action NOW, building on the Paris Agreement’s call for capacity building, beginning with the developing states who, frankly, have the most to lose.

As the Paris Agreement (2015) clearly states, there is a “significant gap” between what was promised and what is needed, so that the current commitments made during COP 21 to cut carbon emissions are simply not enough to prevent increasing global temperatures and thus catastrophic climate change. Extreme weather events, increasing global temperatures and eroding shorelines indicate the effects of climate change are already occurring. In view of this, there is an urgent need to accelerate efforts in every forum available that can contribute to concrete and effective action that reverses the heating up of the Earth’s atmosphere as well as restores it to a sustainable level for life and development.

So the Paris Agreement, while absolutely necessary,  must not be the end but the beginning of enhanced and accelerated collective efforts to cut emissions, restore the atmosphere and insure a viable global environment for future generations.  In short, building on the work embodied in the Paris Agreement (2015), much more still needs be done, beginning with the legally BINDING Earth Armistice passed by the UN Security Council to insure life on this planet for present and future generations.

PROMOTIG GREEN TECHNOLOGIES: CREATING THOUSANDS OF JOBS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

An Earth Armistice that includes restoration efforts, broadly defined to include negative emissions and the needed research and development of Green Technologies, as well as subsequent implementation, can create thousands of jobs throughout the world.[11] China and Germany are already well advanced in developing appropriate green technologies but much more needs to be done. Specifically, we must begin to seriously experiment with, and deploy carbon sequestration methods and technologies to lower the Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.

Other potentially large scale carbon sequestration methods must be implemented as well. Untried ways to achieve the massive carbon of carbon should be as varied and innovative as the human imagination and following policy initiatives allow.  For instance, vastly expanded and added efforts must include, in memory and honor of Wangari Maathai, the continuous planting a billion trees per year on each of the inhabited mainland continents; there should also be massive and accelerated conservation efforts with energy or electricity as well as recycling, especially throughout the developed world where the waste is greatest.

Yet, TIME IS RUNNING OUT as the danger of irreversible climate change is rapidly growing; so we need to accelerate global climate consultations, continuous negotiations and lasting action. As a global organization, the UN can help mobilize the necessary research and development of policies, programs and technologies especially during these special sessions to accomplish greater efficiencies in all possible mitigation methods, including healthy carbon SUCH AS LARGE SCALE DEVELOPMENT AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE “Iron Hypothesis to pull CO2 out of the global atmosphere. [12] In short, every possible mitigation method or every Gandhian “experiment with Truth” must be tried until one or more mitigation method proves effective.  Only in this way can we hope to arrest climate change and eventually restore the global atmosphere for present and future generations.

 “EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH”: EACH STATE MUST DEVELOP ITS OWN PROTFOLIO OF MITIGATION METHODS THAT ACTUALLY WORK.

The great Gandhi’s  had a critical insight and idea that, when facing a crisis, a person must be willing to experiment with a variety of ways to seek the truth in action, and not simply be fixed on one way forward. He called this approach “Experiments with Truth.”[13] In fact, his method included learning even from his opponents, knowing that they contained part of the truth as well. He was never willing to throw away any possible avenue to greater insight, understanding and thus effectiveness.  This extraordinarily experimental and innovative mindset embodied by Gandhi’s life is exactly what is needed among the globe scientific community, policymakers and citizens as we confront the unparalleled crisis of climate change. Specifically, at this late date, we simply cannot rely upon one method alone, such as carbon cuts—as important as these are—to roll back climate change. In the spirit of Gandhi, each state—especially those that have contributed the most to the greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere–to develop a portfolio of mitigation methods that includes carbon cuts, carbon sequestration, and conservation, as well as intense Research and Design (R&D) efforts to develop new green technologies. The Earth scientists and policymakers need to begin to “experiment” with a whole host of mitigation methods on a potentially vast scale if we are going to succeed in reversing climate change, and thus survive.

FIRST STEPS: INITIATING THE EARTH ARMISTICE

The Earth Armistice can be initiated by either the member-states of the UN General Assembly passing a resolution calling on the UN Security Council[14] to consider and pass such a legally binding resolution, or for the NON-permanent members of the UN Security a Council to bring up the issue immediately for negotiations and a vote within Council proceedings.  Since climate change, if continued, will undoubtedly cause vast human migrations and resulting ethnic or actual inter-state wars, the issue is certainly related to the maintenance of international peace and security.[15]  So, the issue of an Earth’s Armistice is critical to prevent future conflicts and even wars and thus maintain international peace and security, an area that the UN General Assembly(UNGA) is empowered by the UN Charter to address as well.[16] Thus, the Earth Armistice can be originated in either the UNGA or the UN Security Council (UNSC), but it must be ultimately passed by the UNSG to become legally binding on all states.

The first few attempts to pass such a resolution may fail; but each attempt will educate the global public and policy elites that a very powerful way to address climate change now exists, and thus insure its passage. In short, the UN Security Council can decisively help to address climate change in in one vote.   So, in view of the great and growing danger caused by climate change, there is no time to lose; the UN Security Council must pass an Earth Armistice to begin the massive, sustained and global efforts to roll back climate change as a critical way to preserve peace, security and life itself on this planet.

But we are simply running out of time, so we must begin now or the growing wildfires, floods, extreme weather events and inexorable rise in global temperatures will soon degrade and then destroy our capacity to enact an Earth Armistice until it’s too late.  So, the UN diplomatic community needs to act NOW, and thus begin the historic efforts to protect all of life on this planet for present and future generations by recommending and then for the UN Security a Council adopting a legal binding Earth Armistice.


Respectfully submitted to the UN diplomatic community,

GLOBAL TRUST PROJECT

c/o Thomas Boudreau Ph.D.

Interdisciplinary Professor of Conflict Analysis

-Former Consultant to the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General,

(1982-1987)

Salisbury University

Salisbury Md.

 

          Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

 


Appendix: Ethical Consideration of using Negative Emissions

In passing an Earth Armistice that calls for the use of negative emissions, the rather obvious ethical rule of application is that such mitigation or sequestration technologies should not be deployed if the actual damage that they cause is greater than the growing danger and increasing devastating consequences of continuing, unabated global climate change. In short, there is now a cruel yet unavoidable calculus of cost-benefits calculations concerning the benefits and inevitable consequences of simply doing nothing, such as droughts, migrations and increasing extinction events. For instance, critics of carbon sequestration in the oceans often cite the unintended potential consequences of large scale deployment of technologies based on the Iron Hypothesis; yet, there is a massive and growing toxic orange algae bloom growing off the coast of California RIGHT NOW (2016) caused by increased temperatures and unabated climate change. This toxic bloom is causing a massive and growing kill-off of fish, the seabirds or mammals that rely upon them So, not doing anything—and thus allowing such unintended consequences to GROW, has to be calculated against the possible and still hypothetical unintended consequences of carbon sequestration methods.  In short, the deadly costs of doing nothing more are very steeply increasing; so, the time to adopt an Earth Armistice is now, or we may never again have such a promising opportunity to arrest and reverse climate change leading to the restoration of the Earth Atmosphere to livable levels for all living beings on this planet.[17]

 

[1] Charter of the United Nations, Chapter V, Article 25.

[2] The distinction between carbon sequestration and geo engineering technologies is made in: Boudreau  T. (2017). The Earth’s Atmosphere As A Global Trust: Establishing Proportionate State Responsibility To Maintain, Restore And Sustain The Global Atmosphere. Environmental and Earth Law Journal (EELJ), 7(1), 2.

[3] Maathai, W. (2010). Replenishing the earth: Spiritual values for healing ourselves and the world. Image.

[4]See:  https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2018/global-military-spending-remains-high-17-trillion

[5] The concept of “Common security” that goes beyond simply the nation state was pioneered by Willy Brandt and the Brundtland Report in the 1980s; see: Keeble, B. R. (1988). The Brundtland report:‘ Our common future’. Medicine and War, 4(1), 17-25. This report pioneered the link between human security and sustainable development.  See: Kates, R. W., Parris, T. M., & Leiserowitz, A. A. (2005). What is sustainable development? Goals, indicators, values, and practice. Environment(Washington DC), 47(3), 8-21. Also:  Dresner, S. (2012). The principles of sustainability. Routledge

[6] See, for instance, Gala Vince, A Looming Mass Extinction Caused By Humans, BBC (Nov. 1,

2012), http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121101-a-looming-mass-extinction; S.A.

Rogers, Human Beings Could Go Extinct Within 100 Years, Says Renowned Scientist,

MMN (Jun. 25, 2010, 12:53PM), http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climateweather/

stories/humans-could-go-extinct-within-100-years-says-renowned-scienti;

Clive Gamble et. al, Climate Change and Evolving Human Diversity in Europe During

the Last Glacial, 359 The Royal Society (2009) (discussing an evolutionary perspective

on human existence).

[7] Ibid.,  Also see: Boudreau, supra, note 2

[8]  Once again, SIPRI is an excellent source on this issue: see: https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2017/global-nuclear-weapons-modernization-remains-priority Also See: https://www.newsweek.com/us-russia-race-build-nuclear-weapons-they-actually-against-one-another-777137.  Or see:  Arms Control Associations projections in the US at: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/USNuclearModernization. Also see: Kristensen, H. M., & Norris, R. S. (2017). Russian nuclear forces, 2017. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73(2), 115-126.  Finally see: Goldstein, A. (2000). Deterrence and security in the 21st century: China, Britain, France, and the enduring legacy of the nuclear revolution. LIT Verlag Münster.

[9] See SIPRI, once again, at: https://www.sipri.org/research/armament-and-disarmament/disarmament-arms-control-and-non-proliferation/world-nuclear-forces

[10] Hansen, J., Sato, M., Kharecha, P., Beerling, D., Berner, R., Masson-Delmotte, V., … & Zachos, J. C. (2008). Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?. arXiv preprint arXiv:0804.1126.

[11] Boudreau, supra, note 2.  This section is largely from the article “The Earth Atmosphere as a Global Trust.”

[12] See the pioneering paper: Martin, J. H. (1990). Glacial‐interglacial CO2 change: The iron hypothesis. Paleoceanography, 5(1), 1-13.

[13] Gandhi, M. (1983). Autobiography: The story of my experiments with truth. Courier Corporation.

[14] UN Charter, Chapter IV, Art. 11, para 2 and 3.  Article 11, Para. 2 states: “The General Assembly may discuss any questions relating to the maintenance of international peace and security brought before it by any Member of the United Nations, or by the Security Council, or by a state which is not a Member of the United Nations in accordance with Article 35, paragraph 2, and, except as provided in Article 12, may make recommendations with regard to any such questions to the state or states concerned or to the Security Council or to both. Any such question on which action is necessary shall be referred to the Security Council by the General Assembly either before or after discussion

[15] This conclusion was raised by the groundbreaking work of Thomas Homer Dixon, then at the University of Toronto and his colleagues, back in the early 1990s.  See: Homer-Dixon, T. F. (1994). Environmental scarcities and violent conflict: evidence from cases. International security, 19(1), 5-40.and more recently: Homer-Dixon, T. F. (2010). Environment, scarcity, and violence. Princeton University Press.

[16] See supra, note 14.

[17] Quoted from “Earth Atmosphere as a Global Trust web page at: https://atmosphereasaglobaltrust.com/executive-summary-2/.  Also see: https://mahb.stanford.edu/library-item/atmosphere-global-trust/. Finally see ICCG, Venice Italy, at:  http://www.iccgov.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/55_The-Earth%E2%80%99s-atmosphere-as-a-global-trust pdf

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