Author profile picture

The report of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) not only reveals what is going wrong in terms of climate change, endangered animals, and our wildlife. The research also shows how things can be improved. Much to the delight of Auke.

Despite the recognition of Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, who declared that electric vehicles have the future, Auke refuses to take a back seat. “This just goes to show why I do what I do.” He opened a twitter thread with these words: “I’ll explain why this report makes me want to redouble my efforts to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles and renewable energy.”

“Look, everyone who follows me knows that I am fully committed to this. But it really isn’t the case that I want everyone to drive around electrically because I like those cars so much. Or I’m jumping with joy if everyone sticks solar panels on their roofs and windmills in their backyards because I think they look good. My main motivation is to prevent suffering. Everyone should have enough food and a roof over their heads. And if you are sick, you should be able to go to the doctor. That ought not to be too much to ask, because in principle there is plenty for everyone.”

Means to an end

In order to be able to do this, Auke believes we have to make sure that the earth will not heat up any further. Climate change is already causing parts of the world to become uninhabitable and people to flee. The quickest way to solve this problem is an accelerated transition to electric mobility and renewable energy. “They are a means to an end. People are not only suffering now, but a lot of biodiversity and nature are also being lost. Surely it should be possible to do things differently?”

Yesssss, we now know that every year we use up more raw materials than the earth can generate in a single year. The question is: what should we do about it?”

Auke talking about Earth Overshoot Day which fell on August 22 this year.

And that is exactly what this report reveals. It tells us how we can turn the tide. “I think that’s so cool. It’s very easy to publish a list of endangered animals or insects that are threatened with extinction.” Auke puts on a whiny voice: “Yessssss, we now know that every year we use up more raw materials than the earth can generate in a single year. Of course, when you’re standing on the sidelines, it’s very simple to say that things are all going wrong. There are already enough pessimistic reports and studies out there. So many, in fact, that some people believe there is nothing more we can do.”

Should we do anything at all in that case?

“I agree with them that we won’t solve this during a rainy Saturday afternoon. I am well aware of that, these are huge challenges that we are facing. But we have to stop moaning and get to work. Is that easy? No, not at all. But does that mean we shouldn’t go ahead and do it? Of course not! That’s why I’m so pleased with this report. WWF shows that by eating less meat and making better use of our farmland, we can turn the tide. We need to move towards more sustainable agriculture that depletes the soil to a much lesser degree. It also highlights that if we do our best to protect nature, natural ecosystems will recover. Let’s act on that!”

After all, this is actually the main reason why Auke is so concerned with sustainable energy and agriculture, electric mobility, and cultured meat. “At the moment, we as human beings are doing a lot of damage to nature. Rainforests are being burnt down for farmland. Entire ecosystems are being destroyed. Animals that end up on our plate suffer enormously. When I say that I want to prevent suffering, I am also talking about biodiversity and all animals. Reducing CO2 emissions and preventing global warming are important to me, but the deeper motive underlying this is to protect nature.”

Auke the tree hugger

He can’t help laughing when asked if he is ever worried about being dismissed as an ‘environmental freak’ when he makes these kinds of statements. “I may sound a bit like a tree hugger now. But think about it! We as humans cannot do without all the ecosystems that exist here on earth. We don’t realize that we literally need nature. In order to maintain those systems, we have got to do our best.”

A graphical representation of various scenarios that should turn the tide.

“I think this can best be done by abandoning the burning of fossil fuels and switching to green energy. Accelerating that is my mission. I’ve been busy with this for about six years and people are still listening to what I have to say. If they stop doing that, then I have a problem. But when I say things in order to give the energy transition a push in the right direction and people think I’m a freak for that reason? I couldn’t care less.”

The same graph, but with scenarios added.

Read all previous Electric Auke columns here.