Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency. NEGATIVE CO2 Emissions needed NOW to Save Planet

Gideon Polya, “Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency. NEGATIVE CO2 Emissions needed NOW to Save Planet”, MWC News, submitted: 10 February 2008.

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an image of my huge painting “Terra”: .

Climate Sustainability Emergency. Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency. NEGATIVE CO2 Emissions needed NOW to Save Planet


Scientist concerns about man-made (anthropogenic) climate change through greenhouse gas pollution led to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and  the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) setting up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988 (see: )

The IPCC currently involves hundreds of scientists from around the world as authors, contributors and reviewers and issues regular, scientific consensus-based Assessment reports.  .

The first IPCC Assessment Report of 1990 led to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was opened for signature in the Rio de Janeiro Summit in 1992 (in  force in 1994) that provides the overall global policy framework for addressing the climate change.

The IPCC Second Assessment Report of 1995 provided key assessments for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 (the major polluters, Bush-ite Australia and the US under both Clinton and Bush, refused to sign but the new Rudd Labor Australian Government recently signed the  Kyoto Protocol as its first act in December 2007).

The Third Assessment Report of 2001 as well as Special and Methodology Reports provided further data for operations under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

The Fourth Assessment Report of 2007 and its Summary Report (see a Summary of the Summary: ) made even more dire predictions about global warming,  sea level rises and impact on human populations than its predecessors but listed these under various “scenarios”.

Unfortunately the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report was much too conservative, this being largely date to a “cut-off date” for consensus consideration of the latest data published in the scientific literature – the 2007 IPCC Report was accordingly several years out if date when it was published.

Thus data from 2 independent sources (see: “Recent CO2 rises exceed worst case scenarios”, New Scientist, 2007) reveal that ACTUAL rates of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission are the same or worse than in the worst case IPCC scenario A1F1 that, according to the 2007 IPCC Summary, will lead to catastrophic, long-term stabilization at (upper estimates) 790 ppm CO2, and a 6 degree centigrade higher temperature and 3.7 meter sea level rise relative to pre-industrial levels i.e. CO2 catastrophically at twice today’s level of 385 ppm , temperatures 4-5 degrees Centigrade above today’s and sea level 0.8-3.5 metres above today’s.

However it gets WORSE (see “Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency”: ).

The latest scientific findings are that the IPCC 2007 Report has greatly UNDER-estimated the rate of melting of Arctic Ice, including that of Greenland - water from melted ice is lubricating and speeding up the movement of glaciers to the sea; the so-called  “albedo flip” involving converting light-reflecting, white ice to light-absorbing, dark sea is dramatically speeding up loss of Arctic sea ice; and the consequent increase in temperature in the Arctic provides a positive feedback to increase sea ice  and Greenland ice sheet melting (for analysis and dramatic images of Arctic ice melting see: ) .

The latest scientific findings have dramatically superseded the 2007 IPCC Report warnings of severe problems in the developing world already and dire global consequences in future decades. The time frame has been dramatically reduced. Thus the top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen says that the “tipping point” for the melting of Arctic ice has ALREADY been reached at 385 ppm atmospheric CO2 and it is apparent that the PRESENT atmospheric CO2 is sufficient to completely remove summer-time Arctic sea ice (some scientists say this may be completely gone by 2013).  However most alarming is the potential instability of large ice sheets, especially those of West Antarctica and Greenland.

According to Dr Hansen, in calling for an immediate moratorium on coal power, QUOTE:   “If disintegration of these ice sheets passes their tipping points, dynamical collapse could proceed out of our control. If it melts completely, West Antarctica alone contains enough water to cause about 20 feet (6 meters) of sea-level rise. There are also tipping points in life systems. Today, as global temperature increases at a rate of about 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.36 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade, isotherms (a line of average temperature) are moving poleward at a rate of about 50-60 kilometers (35 miles) per decade. In response, some species are moving.” (see: ).

The December 2007  Bali Conference sought to define “CO2 pollution reduction targets” for the world but was effectively wrecked by the world’s worst per capita greenhouse polluters, neo-Bush-ite Australia, Bush-ite Canada and Bush US. However the science has – again – overtaken the variously dishonest, greedy, corrupt, blinkered and cowardly politicians and the selfish vested interests they serve against the interests of Humanity.  

The Climate Emergency means that the Bali-wrecking Australian, US and Canadian position of “no 2020 targets” is an insult to Humanity demanding immediate retraction.  According to top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen we need “negative CO2 emissions” NOW to reduce the earth’s atmospheric CO2 from a current DANGEROUS 385 ppm to a sustainable level of about 300-350 ppm, as reported recently by the BBC, QUOTE: “But Dr Hansen stressed that the point of no return had not been reached - that irreversible change had not taken place. He said that to get the Arctic ice to recover would require a reduction in CO2 concentrations down to about 300 or 350 ppmv. He believed this was possible, and called for greater energy efficiency and corrective pricing of carbon to allow cleaner technologies to compete and take over from fossil fuels.” (see: ).

The top UK climate scientist Professor James Lovelock FRS predicts acute danger to 6-9 billion people and over 6 billion deaths this century  (see: ; see also Lovelock, J. (2006), The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back – and How We Can Still Save Humanity (Allen Lane, London)).

ALREADY 16 million people die avoidably each year due to deprivation and deprivation exacerbated disease However a combination of climate change, decreased agricultural yields in  the tropics, peak oil and the US biofuel perversion and competition for global food by India and China have dramatically increased the global grain prices that have DOUBLED in the last year. This is ALREADY contributing to global avoidable mortality and raises the spectre of a massive, Third World re-run NOW of the man-made, “market forces” Bengal famine of 1943-1945 in British-ruled India  (6-7 million perished in Bengal and the neighbouring states of Assam, Orissa and Bihar as the price of rice doubled and then quadrupled under a merciless, racist British administration) (see “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ).

On Saturday February 9, 2008 I attended a Climate Convergence Conference  in Melbourne of about 200 people from a variety of Climate Action Groups, This Climate Conference involved a series of talks from activists, workshops, audience participation  (I wasn’t an official  speaker but got a good response from standing up and telling them all about the mounting Third World Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust due to rising food prices) and the launch of an excellent, must-read,  Friends of the Earth-sponsored book entitled “Climate Code Red – the Case for a Sustainability Emergency” by David Spratt (from Carbon Equity) and Philip Sutton (Greenleap Strategic Institute). The essence of “Climate Code Red” ( it can be downloaded: )  is that the World is facing a Climate Emergency and a Sustainability Emergency because we have passed crucial atmospheric CO2 “tipping points”, “Climate Code red” further declares that,  as demanded by Dr James Hansen, we need not “CO2 emissions reduction targets” or   “zero CO2 emissions”  but  NEGATIVE CO2 EMISSIONS to return the Planet to a safe, sustainable 300-350 ppm CO2.

At this Melbourne Climate Convergence meeting various activist groups decided to form a Climate Emergency Coalition to urgently spread the message and to lobby for a Declaration of a State of Emergency in Australia and the World to meet the Sustainability  Emergency. As Dr Hansen has said (see above), we urgently need a LOWERING of atmospheric CO2 to about 300-350 ppm and a major step NOW must be an immediate moratorium on coal power - we must keep fossil fuels in the ground to save Humanity and the Biosphere.