Submitted by: Sam Upton February 25, 2020
Article taken from The Page
Professor Mark Maslin, one of the world’s leading experts in global warming, explains the crucial role paper will play in mitigating climate change
How can the world reduce its carbon emissions?
The first thing is that governments need to empower both individuals and companies to become carbon neutral as quickly as possible, either through subsidies or support. Individuals also have a massive role because firstly, they can demand that companies operate in a particular way. The work that we’ve done shows that the size of the global green economy is over $8tr per year. That’s a huge incentive for companies to take on the green economy. Secondly, if you can gently incentivise people to do something then they always will. For example, if you made electric cars slightly cheaper than petrol or diesel cars then people would buy them. If you made sure that vegetable-based foods were cheaper in the supermarkets then people would happily move away from processed meats. It’s about gently pushing it.
What’s your view on the sustainability of print and paper?
Paper and cardboard are essential in our sustainable system. This is because when you look at the production of wood pulp, you can see that the companies that produce paper have to look after their resource, which of course is trees. Therefore, however many trees you cut down, you plant the same amount. So, there’s a real incentive to be sustainable, otherwise you run out of your major source of raw material.
How can the print industry play a larger role in helping the environment?
There needs to be more education about the positivity of paper and cardboard, and the industry needs to talk more about the issues with energy use, recycling and using the right materials. At an instinctive level, people understand that paper is a sustainable resource. It’s just that you get these silly emails that say, ‘Don’t print. Save the planet.’ And I’m thinking, ‘OK, but that email – how is it stored? Where is it stored? How long is it going to be stored for? How much carbon is that using?’. That’s something that I’m going to have to get a student to do a study on, working out the carbon footprint of an email.
Have you seen many studies about digital carbon use?
Yes, there was a study earlier this year, and the headline was that online pornography generates the same carbon footprint as Belgium. Online pornography is about a third of the social media, video and online carbon footprint. So, our obsession with Facebook, Twitter, all that, is three times the amount of emissions from the whole of Belgium. I’m looking at my Outlook account now and I’ve deleted around 33,000 emails, with another 17,000 that were in my junk folder, but they’re still stored somewhere. And that’s just me. That’s 50,000 per person, and when you start multiplying that up by the amount of people that use email then that’s a ridiculous amount of energy required to store them.
What can people do to help the climate?
The most important thing is to talk about it. We are facing the greatest challenge that humanity has ever faced, but it’s a taboo subject. We don’t want to talk about it, which is wrong. One of the big problems is that climate change has been politicised, as in it’s seen as either left wing or an environmental issue, when actually, there are solutions across the political spectrum. It’s about talking about it to everybody and trying to break down that view that if you feel it’s against your politics then you should deny it. Your reaction should be: ‘This is a real issue, how does my political viewpoint tell me to deal with it?’.
Read more like this: