Will those responsible for global warming pay for the damage?

Image: Elyeser Szturm


Until the beginning of the 1920th century, activities related to land use were the biggest responsible for carbon emissions. From the XNUMXs onwards the balance tipped towards fossil fuels

Brazilian public opinion, like any other public opinion around the world, does not navigate turbulent waters – I mean: it does not go beyond sensory information and common sense.[1] Opinion leaders, especially those who see themselves as progressive, should have already correctly identified the origin of the ongoing atmospheric disorder.

I'm referring here to the speed at which atmospheric chemistry has changed over the last, say, 67 years.[2] In the same way that the tobacco industry has always been responsible for the increase in the incidence of cancer among smokers, those most responsible for global warming are the oil companies – large corporations that suck, dirty and kill, like Shell, Exxon, BP, Petrobras, etc.[3]

Yes, it is a fact that agribusiness also has a very significant negative impact. Proportionally, however, it is a much smaller impact and, in general, more localized. For example, the environmental degradation that is thriving today in Mato Grosso, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul and Goiás is led by agribusiness, especially soybean cultivation.[4]

However, the ecological problems that characterize these regions (soil erosion and loss, silting of water bodies, poisoning of streams and rivers and water waste) have a mainly local impact. The strength and scope of the impact become more relevant when activities begin to interfere with the composition or behavior of the atmosphere – through the emission of greenhouse gases. This is one of the reasons why the burning of fossil fuels is more worrying. There is, however, an additional factor: the difference in the amount of dirt injected into the atmosphere by the two activities.

The total CO2 emitted by land use (deforestation and maintenance of large herds) corresponds to just under a fifth of that emitted by the burning of fossil fuels, notably coal (generation of electricity in temperate countries) and oil (production of gasoline, diesel and kerosene to move motor vehicles and aircraft).

That balance changed almost a century ago. Until the beginning of the 1920th century, activities related to land use were the biggest responsible for carbon emissions of anthropogenic origin (C-Antro). From the XNUMXs onwards, however, the balance began to tip towards fossil fuels.

Currently, global C-Antro emissions correspond to an average annual value of 10,8 Gt (1 Gt – read gigaton – is equivalent to 1 billion or 1 × 109 tons). Of this total, 1,2 Gt comes from land use and 9,6 Gt comes from burning fossil fuels.

Which means that for every 1 t of C-Antro that is injected into the atmosphere through land use, the burning of fossil fuels injects 8 t.[5] In percentages, 83% of C-Antro is generated by burning fossil fuels, while 17% is generated by land use.

Given these numbers, it does not seem like an exaggeration to say that, in addition to the arms industry, another great enemy of humanity are the oil companies that operate around the world.


Why doesn't the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, instead of quibbling or prancing around like an entertainer addicted to plundering viewers' pockets, go to court to demand compensation for damages from corporations (Shell, Exxon, BP, Petrobras, etc.) that are promoting the climate disorder that we are now facing?

*Felipe APL Costa is a biologist and writer. Author, among other books by What is darwinism.


[1] See the article 'Sensory ecology and the human mind.

[2] See the article 'RS underwater: The problem is not in the clouds, it is in the anarchy of the markets and the omission of government officials.

[3] See the article 'Oil, steak, cigarettes or cinema: What is really taking us all to hell?

[4] See the article 'Deforestation: snack break?

[5] See the article 'An assessment of the global carbon cycle

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