A punch in the gut and a hopeful vision for the future – Paul Behrens

Vandaag het gesprek met Paul Behrens.

Paul is an author and academic at Leiden University. His popular science book, The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Futures from the Frontiers of Climate Science describes humanity’s current trajectory and possible futures in paired chapters of pessimism and hope, on topics including the economy, energy, land and food.

Enjoy the insights of Paul.

Let’s get started…

In this conversation with Paul I learned:

  • The COPs are like a barometer, it is where the international community is.
  • Flying does not feel right anymore for Paul.
  • Politics is all about attention. Attention is grabbed by incumbent powers.
  • Politicians are just hearing about bio-mass, hydrogen, and carbon capture.
  • Biomass is a bad way of doing it. Hydrogen there is a role for it, but much smaller than we are being told. Capturing the carbon from the power plants is not good enough. There are better alternatives, mostly wind and solar.
  • Research shows that we have underestimated how much people are willing to change. We are too cynical about our neighbors. 
  • When a group of civilians from all walks of life got a presentation from scientists about the climate, they come up with policies far beyond what the politicians thought.
  • Some of the policies these people came up with were, banning SUVs, frequent flyer levies, and cuts in meat. Not something you see a politician propose, but the people want it. Citizen assemblies.
  • 1000 people die in the EU every day, early, from air pollution.
  • We can address 70+ percent of our issues with only a handful of technologies and behavior changes.
  • Solutions are wind, solar, transmission, insulating houses, plant-based diets, and changes in transportation.
  • If we would switch in the high-income nations to plant-based diets, we would save an area as large as the EU. We use about half of all habitable land for agriculture, and about 80% of that is for animal agriculture. We can revert that land back to natural cultivation. This would increase the capture of carbon.
  • Rewilding takes energy out of the storms and will reduce flooding, and nature improves mental health.
  • One wind turbine kills a bird once a year. One cat kills roughly 9 birds a year. Cars and buildings kill a magnitude more birds.
  • By acting you are building hope.
  • You need that punch in the gut for the sense of urgency.
  • You need a pessimist and hopeful view for a change.
  • We need more scientists that engage with emotions.
  • Paul is pessimistic about the buzzwords like the SDG and circular economy, it is a way to avoid things that actually make a difference.
  • Look where the impact and focus are for your company. What is the hit you want to take?
  • The SDGs are not an easy-to-remember common language with 150+ goals.
  • Would the SDG’s better when they were shorter and less mutually exclusive?
  • How we are consuming is the biggest impact.
  • There is going to be a lot of migration in the future.
  • We help these refugees over here, or we need to solve the issues over there.
  • Personal transformation for external change.

Meer over Paul Behrens:

Andere bronnen:

Video van het gesprek met Paul Behrens


Kijk hier https://youtu.be/w1KTiNGsOm0

Door Erno Hannink

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