Suffocating: back to school!

Eduard Schaepman
17 Oct 2019

Suffocating: back to school!

by Eduard Schaepman, on 17 Oct 2019

There they went again; yesterday the farmers drove to De Bilt and The Hague to protest against the nitrogen policy. It's a hot topic, and the debate is in full swing. But the whole discussion about nitrogen in the Netherlands is killing me: there are so many different reports that you can't see the wood for the trees anymore. One says this, the other says that: what is the truth? It's suffocating!


In any case, we are threatening to exceed our self-imposed standards, that's a fact. Whether these standards are realistic and actually contribute to a reduction in emissions, that's the question. Professor Kees de Lange says that it doesn’t really, and his words are very much on my mind. He indicates that nature has been changing for some 4.5 billion years now, and he has a point there. After all, 10-15 thousand years ago, when we were able to walk to Ireland, there were no farmers who operated on a large scale and emitted CO2 as there is today. Yet a lot has changed in the world...


The professor indicates that there is no relation at all between the CO2 content of the atmosphere and the temperature of the earth, and I'm a little shocked by that. How is it possible that we, the general public, are hearing this for the first time?  Surely it is too crazy for words that we all listen to politics and worry about all kinds of things, while we do not allow those who know the most about it to have their say. Aren’t we doing something wrong, when we exclude the clever minds, the professors and scientists who have researched this for years and really understand the subject from any debate?


Don't get me wrong: I really want to work for the climate, and that's why I participated in the Low Car Diet, but when we’re going to spend a bunch of money on sustainability, while we don’t even know if it has any impact at all, I’m not so sure anymore… Maybe it's time for a different tactic. The farmers will stay at home for a while and the representatives of the people will go back to school. Let them be taught by scientists and professors about the climate, so that they at least understand the policy themselves and can make it right.


Because it seems to me that there is something wrong with our policy at the moment, when we think that the farmers in the Netherlands have so much influence on the world's climate. Climate models indicate that if we cancel all 4.5 trillion flights a year until the year 2100, we can only go down by 0.054 degrees. And yet we are concerned about the CO2 emissions of our farmers...


What the future holds for our farmers, I do not know and do not dare to say. I just don't know enough about it, and what I thought I understood has been messed up. However, I still enjoy travelling as sustainably as possible, even if it's not for reducing CO2 emissions, then it's for reducing traffic jams (if those farmers stay at home).




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