Climate Code Red

Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by: h-2

As the scientists scramble to adjust to the increasing rates of the politely termed ‘climate change’, more and more top scientists, you know, the ones who actually understand what they’re talking about, are growing increasingly concerned.

James Hanson, of NASA climate research fame (see his website for publications etc), recently had these words for the Australians.

Global climate is near critical tipping points that could lead to loss of all summer sea ice in the Arctic with detrimental effects on wildlife, initiation of ice sheet disintegration in West Antarctica and Greenland with progressive, unstoppable global sea level rise, shifting of climatic zones with extermination of many animal and plant species, reduction of freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people, and a more intense hydrologic cycle with stronger droughts and forest fires, but also heavier rains and floods, and stronger storms driven by latent heat, including tropical storms, tornados and thunderstorms.

Feasible actions now could still point the world onto a course that minimizes climate change. Coal clearly emerges as central to the climate problem from the facts summarized in the attached Fossil Fuel Facts. [See note below] Coal caused fully half of the fossil fuel increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air today, and on the long run coal has the potential to be an even greater source of CO2. Due to the dominant role of coal, solution to global warming must include phase-out of coal except for uses where the CO2 is captured and sequestered. Failing that, we cannot avoid large climate change, because a substantial fraction of the emitted CO2 will stay in the air more than 1000 years.

Yet there are plans for continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and construction of new coal-fired power plants around the world, including in Australia, plants that would have a lifetime of half a century or more. Your leadership in halting these plans could seed a transition that is needed to solve the global warming problem.

Some of the latest voices to join the fray are the guys beyond the recent Climate Code Red efforts. You can hear two long interviews with Philip Sutton of the Greenleap Strategic Institute and coauthor of a new report called Climate Code Red: the Case for a Sustainability Emergency.

Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here. You can either download the mp3, or stream it live from those pages.

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