CLIMATE EMERGENCY: What Top World Scientific Experts Say

CLIMATE EMERGENCY: What Top World Scientific Experts Say

 

We are familiar with the notion of getting an expert second opinion when an expert medical specialist has diagnosed life threatening circumstances. However a second opinion that is a bit more optimistic simply decreases the perceived odds of death somewhat and the dire prediction remains. Leading world climate experts offer the EXPERT DIAGNOSIS that the World faces a life-threatening Climate Emergency requiring urgent action to STOP carbon pollution and indeed to REDUCE existing atmosphere greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. However inexpert, non-scientist politicians and corporate spokespersons with vested interests in fossil fuel burning and their inexpert climate sceptic supporters are merely expressing inexpert partisan opinions that would be seen as dishonest and dangerously irresponsible in the context of expert medical specialist diagnosis of life threatening circumstances.

Below are some recent, Web-documented, expert opinions of outstanding, world-leading climate change experts and other eminent scientific experts and top scientific organizations with expertise to make authoritative comments about the Climate Emergency and related matters. Links to articles about these outstanding persons are variously given for your convenience. Key quotes are in bold and are presented in a wider educative context. 1. Dr James Hansen  (top US climate scientist; Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; member of the prestigious  US National Academy of Sciences; 2007 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science; see: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/ ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hansen ; for 1880-present NASA GISS Global Temperature graphed data see: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/ and http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/ ): (a) With 8 UK, French and US climate change scientist co-authors (2008):  “Paleoclimate data show that climate sensitivity is ~3 deg-C for doubled CO2 [carbon dioxide; atmospheric CO2 280 ppm pre-industrial], including only fast feedback processes. Equilibrium sensitivity, including slower surface albedo feedbacks, is ~6 deg-C for doubled CO2 for the range of climate states between glacial conditions and ice-free Antarctica. Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 450 +/- 100 ppm [parts per million], a level that will be exceeded within decades, barring prompt policy changes. If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. The largest uncertainty in the target arises from possible changes of non-CO2 forcings. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects” (see: http://arxiv.org/abs/0804.1126 ). (b) In relation to the recent book “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” by David Spratt and Philip Sutton (Scribe, Melbourne, 2008; see: http://www.climatecodered.net/ ): “A compelling case … we face a climate emergency.

(c)  2007 (Hansen, J., Mki. Sato, P. Kharecha, G. Russell, D.W. Lea, and M. Siddall, 2007: Climate change and trace gases. Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A, 365, 1925-1954): “Paleoclimate data show that the Earth's climate is remarkably sensitive to global forcings. Positive feedbacks predominate. This allows the entire planet to be whipsawed between climate states. One feedback, the "albedo flip" property of water substance, provides a powerful trigger mechanism. A climate forcing that "flips" the albedo of a sufficient portion of an ice sheet can spark a cataclysm. Ice sheet and ocean inertia provides only moderate delay to ice sheet disintegration and a burst of added global warming. Recent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of our control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest human-made climate forcing, but other trace constituents are important. Only intense simultaneous efforts to slow CO2 emissions and reduce non-CO2 forcings can keep climate within or near the range of the past million years. The most important of the non-CO2 forcings is methane (CH4), as it causes the 2nd largest human-made GHG climate forcing and is the principal cause of increased tropospheric ozone (O3), which is the 3rd largest GHG forcing. Nitrous oxide (N2O) should also be a focus of climate mitigation efforts. Black carbon ("black soot") has a high global warming potential (~2000, 500, and 200 for 20, 100 and 500 years, respectively) and deserves greater attention. Some forcings are especially effective at high latitudes, so concerted efforts to reduce their emissions could still "save the Arctic", while also having major benefits for human health, agricultural productivity, and the global environment” (see: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2007/Hansen_etal_2.html ).

(d) 2008, in an address to the US National Press Club and a briefing to the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming Congressional Committee: “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term  consequences of business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature” (see: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TwentyYearsLater_20080623.pdf ).

(e) Dr James Hansen et al. (2008): “Stabilization of Arctic sea ice cover requires, to first approximation, restoration of planetary energy balance. Climate models driven by known forcings yield a present planetary energy imbalance of +0.5-1 W/m2. Observed heat increase in the upper 700 m of the ocean confirms the planetary energy imbalance, but observations of the entire ocean are needed for quantification. CO2 amount must be reduced to 325-355 ppm to increase outgoing flux 0.5-1 W/m2, if other forcings are unchanged. A further imbalance reduction, and thus CO2 ~300-325 ppm, may be needed to restore sea ice to its area of 25 years ago”

(see: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf ).

2. Dr Rajendra Pachauri (2008) (economist and environmental scientist; chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajendra_K._Pachauri ): “[The UN negotiations] must progress rapidly, otherwise I am afraid that not only future generations but even this generation will treat us as having been irresponsible…The EU has to lead. If the EU does not lead, I am afraid that any attempt to bring about change and to manage the problem of climate change will collapse…Today there is a high level of expectation. If the EU does not lead, you will not be able to bring the US on board, North America, on board. You will not be able to bring on board other countries in the world as well…we would have to stabilise the greenhouse-gas concentration at more or less the level at which we are today. But in order to do that [to limit the overall warming since pre-industrial times to 2 C (3.6 F)], we have a window of opportunity of only seven years because emissions will have to peak by 2015 and reduce after that. We cannot permit a longer delay…The very wise target that the EU had set of 2.0 C (3.6 F) may need to be looked at once more, because the impacts are turning out to be more serious than we had estimated earlier” (see: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jGxKw2XS4_IHH6Xc7RVAY02dkNBg ).

3. Dr Graeme Pearman (2008) (top Australian climate scientist; Chief of CSIRO Atmospheric Research in Australia from 1992 to 2002; world expert on increasing levels of CO2 and global warming): "This science tells us that the world's climate is changing and that the change is primarily because of an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities. We are changing the climate. Very recent science suggests that climate change may be happening faster than we expected and that we and other species on the planet are more vulnerable to change than we thought. This is now forcing serious consideration of rapid responses by all nations as we work to tackle this shared problem. Challenges in this quest include a general community lack of appreciation of the significance of what appears to be small shifts in global average temperature, incompleteness of the knowledge-base and the need to respond using risk management" (see: http://www.monash.edu.au/news/monashmemo/stories/20080326/climate-change.html ).

4. Professor David de Kretser, A.C., Governor of Victoria, Australia (2008) (eminent Australian medical scientist; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_de_Kretser ) in launching the book “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” by David Spratt and Philip Sutton (Scribe, Melbourne, 2008): “The book draws on a vast array of information to build a cogent and compelling case that we do have a genuine emergency on our hands if we are to limit the rise of greenhouse gas emissions to a level at which we can limit the degradation of our planet to manageable levels … There is no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest problem confronting mankind at this time and that it has reached the level of a state of emergency.” (see: http://www.scribepublications.com.au/book/climatecodered ).

5. Dr James Lovelock, (top UK climate scientist; Fellow of the Royal Society; proponent of the Gaia hypothesis; http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/ ;   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lovelock ),

(a) 2006: “In Chapter 1  I describe a simple model where the sensitive part of the Earth system is the ocean; as it warms, so the area of the sea that can support the growth of algae grows smaller as it is driven ever closer to the poles, until algal growth ceases. The discontinuity comes because algae in the ocean both pump down carbon dioxide [by photosynthesis] and produce clouds [through cloud-seeding dimethyl sulphide production]. (Algae floating in the ocean actively remove carbon dioxide from the air and use it for growth; we call the process “pumping down” to distinguish it from the passive and reversible removal of carbon dioxide as it dissolves in rain or sea water). The threshold for the failure of the algae is about 500 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, about the same as it is for Greenland’s unstoppable melting” (See: “The Revenge of Gaia”, Allen Lane, London; p51).

(b) 2007: “Most of the large climate models used to predict future climates still rely mainly on atmospheric physics, and this includes the models on which the IPCC report is based. The influence of the clouds and the ocean are incompletely included and that of the Earth's natural ecosystems hardly at all. Present day climate models are good at explaining past climates but seem unable to agree on the course of global heating beyond about 2050, by the end of the century predictions vary over a wide range. This stark view was reinforced in May this year by the publication by Rahmstorf and his colleagues ["Recent Climate Observations Compared to Projections", Science 4 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5825, p. 709] of high quality measurements of the rise in global mean temperature, sea level and CO2. These showed that even the gloomiest predictions of the IPCC were underestimating the severity of climate change now” (see:  http://www.jameslovelock.org/page24.html ).

(c) 2006: “When Malthus first warned of the overpopulation of the Earth in 1800, there were only one billion of us. He has been derided ever since, yet I think he was right. One billion is about the right number and I fear that we will reach it not by our own choice but by attrition” (see: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/james-lovelock-you-ask-the-questions-411765.html ; see also: http://machineslikeus.com/People/Lovelock_James.html ; http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/mar/15/desertification.ethicalliving and )

(d) 2008: “I hate academia. Most of the scientists who work there are not free men any more and they can't speak out. That's no way to do science” (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/mar/15/desertification.ethicalliving ).

(e) 2009, on biochar: "The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won't do it ... I'm an optimistic pessimist. I think it's wrong to assume we'll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 per cent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less"

(see New Scientist, January 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html  ).

6. Professor  David Pimentel (1998) (Professor of Ecology and Agricultural Science at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA): “At present, humans face serious malnutrition, land degradation, water pollution and shortages, and declining fossil energy resources. In addition, with related changes in the natural environment, many thousands of species are being lost forever. If the human population increases dramatically over the next several decades, as it is projected to do, the strains on these limited resources will grow as well. Some people are starting to ask just how many people the Earth can support if we want to cease degrading the environment and move to a sustainable solar energy system? There is no solid answer yet, but the best estimate is that Earth can support about 1 to 2 billion people with an American Standard of living, good health, nutrition, prosperity, personal dignity and freedom. This estimate suggests an optimal U.S. population of 100 to 200 million. To achieve this goal, humans must first stabilize their population and then gradually reduce their numbers to achieve a sustainable society in terms of both economics and environmental resources. With fair policies and realistic incentives, such a reduction in the human population can be achieved over the next century” (see: http://www.populationpress.org/essays/essay-pimentel.html ).

7. Dr Timothy Searchinger and colleagues (“Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change”, Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1238 – 1240: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1151861 ): “Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gases because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products.”

8. Dr Joseph Fargione and colleagues (“Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt”, Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1235 – 1238: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1152747 ): “Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuels are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels. In contrast, biofuels made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on degraded and abandoned agricultural lands planted with perennials incur little or no carbon debt and can offer immediate and sustained GHG advantages.”

9. Professors O. Hoegh-Guldberg, P. J. Mumby and colleagues (Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification, Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742 (see: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5857/1737  ): “Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2°C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems.  The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse.”

 

10. Dr Chris Thomas and numerous colleagues (Extinction risk from climate change, Nature 427, 145-148, 2004; see: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html ): “Climate change over the past approx30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction. Using projections of species' distributions for future climate scenarios, we assess extinction risks for sample regions that cover some 20% of the Earth's terrestrial surface. Exploring three approaches in which the estimated probability of extinction shows a power-law relationship with geographical range size, we predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15–37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be 'committed to extinction'. When the average of the three methods and two dispersal scenarios is taken, minimal climate-warming scenarios produce lower projections of species committed to extinction (approx18%) than mid-range (approx24%) and maximum-change (approx35%) scenarios. These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.”

11. Dr Cynthia Rosenzweig, Professor David D. Karoly and numerous other colleagues (2008) (Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change. Nature, 453, 353-357, 2008): “Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents” (see: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2008/Rosenzweig_etal_1.html ).

12. Dr Andrew Balmford and numerous colleagues (Science 9 August 2002, Economic Reasons for Conserving Wild Nature, Science Vol. 297, pp. 950 – 953): “On the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, it is timely to assess progress over the 10 years since its predecessor in Rio de Janeiro. Loss and degradation of remaining natural habitats has continued largely unabated. However, evidence has been accumulating that such systems generate marked economic benefits, which the available data suggest exceed those obtained from continued habitat conversion. We estimate that the overall benefit:cost ratio of an effective global program for the conservation of remaining wild nature is at least 100:1” (see: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5583/950 ).

13. Dr Phillip S. Levin,  Dr Donald A. Levin (2002) (Dr Donald A. Levin is Professor of Biology, University of Texas, Austin; his son Dr Phillip Levin is a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service): “The numbers are grim: Some 2,000 species of Pacific Island birds (about 15 percent of the world total) have gone extinct since human colonization. Roughly 20 of the 297 known mussel and clam species and 40 of about 950 fishes have perished in North America in the past century. On average, one extinction happens somewhere on earth every 20 minutes. Ecologists estimate that half of all living bird and mammal species will be gone within 200 or 300 years. Although crude and occasionally controversial, such statistics illustrate the extent of the current upheaval, which spans the globe and affects a broad array of plants and animals…The current losses are, however, exceptional. Rates of extinction appear now to be 100 to 1,000 times greater than background levels, qualifying the present as an era of “mass extinction”. The globe has experienced similar waves of destruction just five times in the past” (see: http://www.soc.duke.edu/~pmorgan/levin&levin.2002.the_real_biodiversity_crisis.html ).

14. Dr John Holdren (2008) (Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Director of the Woods Hole Research Center;  recent Chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science): “I don’t like the term “global warming,” because it’s misleading. It implies something that’s mainly about temperature, that’s gradual, and that’s uniform across the planet. And in fact, temperature is only one of the things that’s changing. It’s a sort of an index of the state of climate. The whole climate is changing: the winds, the ocean currents, the storm patterns, snow packs, snowmelt, flooding, droughts. Temperature is just a bit of it. It’s also highly non-uniform. The largest changes are occurring in the far north in the Arctic, in the Antarctic Peninsula in the far south. It is certainly not gradual, in the sense that it is rapid compared to the capacity of ecosystems to adjust. It’s rapid compared to the capacity of human systems to adjust… I think that most people, even most scientists, continue to underestimate how far down the path to climate catastrophe we’ve already traveled. We are committed, the United States and 190 other countries are committed, under the Framework Convention on Climate Change to avoid dangerous human interference in the climate system. And the fact is, it’s already too late to do that. We’re already experiencing dangerous interference. Floods, major floods, are up all over the world. Wildfires are up in almost every region of the world where wildfires have been a problem. Wildfires erupt fourfold in the last thirty years in the western United States” (see: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/7/3/global_disruption_more_accurately_describes_climate ).

15. Professor Tim Flannery (2008) (eminent Australian mammalogist,    palaeontologist and climate change activist; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Flannery ): “[inserting global dimming sulphur into the stratosphere] would change the colour of the sky. It's the last resort that we have, it's the last barrier to a climate collapse. We need to be ready to start doing it in perhaps five years time if we fail to achieve what we're trying to achieve…The consequences of doing that are unknown …The current burden of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is in fact more than sufficient to cause catastrophic climate change… Everything's going in the wrong direction at the moment, timelines are getting shorter, the amount of pollution in the atmosphere is growing…It's extremely urgent" (see: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23724412-2,00.html ).

16. The UK Royal Society (founded in 1660; “the Royal Society, the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth, is at the cutting edge of scientific progress”; the Royal Society is one of the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies and its members include the most outstanding British and Commonwealth scientists): “Climate change controversies: a simple guide. The Royal Society has produced this overview of the current state of scientific understanding of climate change to help non-experts better understand some of the debates in this complex area of science. This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of global warming. Instead, the Society - as the UK's national academy of science - responds here to eight key arguments that are currently in circulation by setting out, in simple terms, where the weight of scientific evidence lies” (see: http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=6229 ).

17. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007 (the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988; it has produced 4 successive Assessment Reports, the last being the Fourth in 2007: http://www.ipcc.ch/ ): “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level … Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” (see IPCC, 2007 Summary for Policymakers: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf ).

18. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2006 (founded in 1848, AAAS serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals; the AAAS journal Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million): “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.” (see: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2007/0218am_statement.shtml ).

19. US National Academy of Sciences (US PNAS) and 10 other national science academies, 2005 (the US PNAS is one of the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies and its members include the most outstanding US scientists): “The US National Academy of Sciences joined 10 other national science academies today in calling on world leaders, particularly those of the G-8 countries meeting next month in Scotland, to acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing, to address its causes, and to prepare for its consequences. Sufficient scientific understanding of climate change exists for all nations to identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to contribute to substantial and long-term reductions in net global greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The statement echoes the findings and recommendations of several previous reports by the US National Academies” (see: http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf ).

20. Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia’s premier scientific research organization), Climate Change in Australia Technical Report 2007: “The key findings of this report includes that by 2030, temperatures will rise by about 1 ºC over Australia – a little less in coastal areas, and a little more inland - later in the century, warming depends on the extent of greenhouse gas emissions. If emissions are low, warming of between 1 ºC and 2.5 ºC is likely by around 2070, with a best estimate of 1.8 ºC. Under a high emission scenario, the best estimate warming is 3.4 ºC, with a range of 2.2 ºC to 5 ºC”  (see: http://www.csiro.au/resources/ps3j6.html#2 ).

21. Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) in  “The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Melt-down" (see: : http://www.countercurrents.org/glikson101008.htm ): For some time now, climate scientists warned that melting of subpolar permafrost and warming of the Arctic Sea (up to 4 degrees C during 2005–2008 relative to the 1951–1980) are likely to result in the dissociation of methane hydrates and the release of this powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere (methane: 62 times the infrared warming effect of CO2 over 20 years and 21 times over 100 years) The amount of carbon stored in Arctic sediments and permafrost is estimated as 500–2500 Gigaton Carbon (GtC), as compared with the world’s total fossil fuel reserves estimated as 5000 GtC. Compare with the 700 GtC of the atmosphere, which regulate CO2 levels in the range of 180–300 parts per million and land temperatures in a range of about – 50 to + 50 degrees C, which allowed the evolution of warm blooded mammals. The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added some 305 GtC to the atmosphere together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date, leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years (Ma) ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2–3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres. There is little evidence for an extinction at 3 Ma. However, by crossing above a CO2 level of 400 ppm the atmosphere is moving into uncharted territory. At this stage, enhanced methane leaks threaten climate events, such as the massive methane release and fauna extinction of 55 million years ago, which was marked by rise of CO2 to near-1000 ppm.”

22. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research., Germany  (see: http://www.pik-potsdam.de/institute/director ) (2008): “"It is a compromise between ambition and feasibility. A rise of 2oC could avoid some of the big environmental disasters, but it is still only a compromise…It is a very sweeping argument, but nobody can say for sure that 330ppm is safe. Perhaps it will not matter whether we have 270ppm or 320ppm, but operating well outside the [historic] realm of carbon dioxide concentrations is risky as long as we have not fully understood the relevant feedback mechanisms" (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/15/climatechange.carbonemissions ) [280 ppm is the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration].

23. Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows (UK climate scientists, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester) have recently estimated that an annual 6-8% DECREASE in greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is required to stabilize atmospheric CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent) at a still catastrophic 450 ppm (parts per million). Unfortunately, the best Obama and Brown can offer is  2% annual GHG pollution DECREASE and the current policies of huge per capita GHG polluter Australia  mean, subject to transient recession effects)  an annual 2% INCREASE in Australia’s Domestic and Exported GHG pollution (subject to recession effects). 

Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows:According to the analysis conducted in this paper, stabilizing at 450 ppmv [carbon dioxide equivalent = CO2-e, atmospheric concentration measured in parts per million by volume] requires, at least, global energy related emissions to peak by 2015, rapidly decline at 6-8% per year between 2020 and 2040, and for full decarbonization sometime soon after 2050 …Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650 ppmv CO2-e  ... Ultimately, the latest scientific understanding of climate change allied with current emissions trends and a commitment to “limiting average global temperature increases to below 4oC above pre-industrial levels”, demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda, and the economic characterization of contemporary society” (see: Kevin Anderson & Alice Bows, “Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Proc. Trans. Roy. Soc, A, 2008: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/366/1882/3863.full Gideon Polya,  “Good and bad climate news”, Green Blog, 2009: http://www.green-blog.org/2009/01/13/good-and-bad-climate-news/ ; and George Monbiot, “One shot left”, Monbiot.com (also published in the UK  Guardian, 2008): http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/11/25/one-shot-left/ ).

24. Myles R. Allen, David J. Frame, Chris Huntingford, Chris D. Jones, Jason A. Lowe, Malte Meinshausen & Nicolai Meinshausen (2009): “Global efforts to mitigate climate change are guided by projections of future temperatures1. But the eventual equilibrium global mean temperature associated with a given stabilization level of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations remains uncertain, complicating the setting of stabilization targets to avoid potentially dangerous levels of global warming. Similar problems apply to the carbon cycle: observations currently provide only a weak constraint on the response to future emissions. Here we use ensemble simulations of simple climate-carbon-cycle models constrained by observations and projections from more comprehensive models to simulate the temperature response to a broad range of carbon dioxide emission pathways. We find that the peak warming caused by a given cumulative carbon dioxide emission is better constrained than the warming response to a stabilization scenario. Furthermore, the relationship between cumulative emissions and peak warming is remarkably insensitive to the emission pathway (timing of emissions or peak emission rate). Hence policy targets based on limiting cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide are likely to be more robust to scientific uncertainty than emission-rate or concentration targets. Total anthropogenic emissions of one trillion tonnes of carbon (3.67 trillion tonnes of CO2), about half of which has already been emitted since industrialization began, results in a most likely peak carbon-dioxide-induced warming of 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures, with a 5–95% confidence interval of 1.3–3.9°C.” (Myles R. Allen, David J. Frame, Chris Huntingford, Chris D. Jones, Jason A. Lowe, Malte Meinshausen & Nicolai Meinshausen, Nature 458, 1163-1166, 30 April 2009: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7242/abs/nature08019.html ).

25. Peter A. Stott (Met Office, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research (Reading Unit), Meteorology Building, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6BB, UK), D. A. Stone (Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK) & M. R. Allen (Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK) (2004) on the 2003 European heatwave: “The summer of 2003 was probably the hottest in Europe since at latest AD 1500, and unusually large numbers of heat-related deaths were reported in France, Germany and Italy. It is an ill-posed question whether the 2003 heatwave was caused, in a simple deterministic sense, by a modification of the external influences on climate—for example, increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—because almost any such weather event might have occurred by chance in an unmodified climate. However, it is possible to estimate by how much human activities may have increased the risk of the occurrence of such a heatwave. Here we use this conceptual framework to estimate the contribution of human-induced increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and other pollutants to the risk of the occurrence of unusually high mean summer temperatures throughout a large region of continental Europe. Using a threshold for mean summer temperature that was exceeded in 2003, but in no other year since the start of the instrumental record in 1851, we estimate it is very likely (confidence level >90%) that human influence has at least doubled the risk of a heatwave exceeding this threshold magnitude.” (P.A. Stott, D.A. Stone and M.R. Allen “Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003”,  Nature 432, 610-614 (2004): http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v432/n7017/full/nature03089.html .


CONTACT: Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG): mawj@bigpond.com ; Climate Emergency Network (CEN): http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/ .

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