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Climate Change: Will A Disaster Wake Us Up?

By John Scales Avery

19 July, 2014

In a 2011 interview in The Guardian, Sir David Attenborough was asked: “What will it take to wake people up about climate change?”. He replied “Disaster. It's a terrible thing to say, isn't it? And even disaster doesn't always do it. I mean, goodness me, there have been disasters in North America, with hurricanes, and one thing and another, and floods; and still a lot of people would deny it, and say it's nothing to do with climate change. Well it visibly has to do with climate change!”

The disasters continue: In recent weeks the drought has deepened in the southwestern part of the United States, and it has reached completely unprecedented severity. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/ The drought will have consequences, not only for the United States, but also for people throughout the world who are dependent on exports of grain grown in that region. The pumping of water from the Ogallala Aquifer has traditionally been used to supply irrigation water to the region, but over the years, the aquifer has been seriously overdrawn, and soon it will be useless.

Throughout the world, water shortages produced by a combination of climate change and falling water tables threaten the food security of large portions of the world's population. At the same time, in other regions, climate change will produce more and more disastrous floods. http://www.countercurrents.org/cc170714.htm

But are these disasters enough to wake us up to the grave dangers of runaway climate change? Or are we so addicted to the use of fossil fuels that we cannot give them up?

Is there a difference in the attitudes of ordinary people and those of corporate-controlled governments? It is certain that the fossil fuel giants are determined to convert their coal, oil and gas holdings into cash. But ordinary citizens are more responsible, as was shone by the massive popular demonstrations at COP 15 in 2009.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited heads of state and governments to a 2014 Climate Summit, which will take place in New York on 23 September, 2014. Many thousands of ordinary people plan to march in New York on that day, to show their concern for the future of our planet, and to demonstrate how much they desire to give future generations of humans, animals and plants a world in which survival will be possible.

In order to prevent a tipping point, after which human efforts to prevent drastic temperature increases will become ineffective, it may be necessary for ordinary people to replace their oligarchic governments with true democracies

John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm. He can be reached at avery.john.s@gmail.com



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