Are We Doomed? Too Late To Save Earth?
Compiled By Gideon Polya
04 September, 2012
The World is facing a climate emergency due to global warming from man-derived greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is now 394 parts per million (ppm) and increasing at 2.4 ppm per year. Until recently the atmospheric CO2 concentration was in the range of 180-300 ppm for the last 800,000 years, fluctuations in this range giving rise to successive glacial and inter-glacial periods that imposed selection pressures upon evolving humanity. The average surface temperature is now +0.8C above that in 1900 and this has already been associated with major climate, weather and biological disruptions. Indeed the species extinction rate is now 100-1,000 timers greater than normal. .
Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson ( Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have recently estimated that only about 0.5 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming. Noting that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050 (UN Population Division) , these estimates translate to a Climate Genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including roughly twice the present population of particular mainly non-European groups, specifically 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. .
Collective, national responsibility for this already commenced Climate Genocide is in direct proportion to per capita national pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases (GHGs). Indeed, fundamental to any international agreement on national rights to pollute our common atmosphere and oceans should be the belief that “all men are created equal”. However reality is otherwise: “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), less than 3 (many African and Island countries), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included). .
Basically we know what the problem is (man-made GHG pollution) and how to solve it. Fundamentally, as enunciated by 300.org, we need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to about 300 ppm for a safe planet for all peoples and all species. .
To achieve 300 ppm CO2 we must achieve the following :
1. Change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying.
2. Urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists.
3. Rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth.
We understand the problem and have the technological solutions – the impending catastrophe simply does not have to happen. Are we going to be able to overcome the current political stasis and act before it is too late for Humanity and the Biosphere? Is it too late? Are we all doomed?
This article records the opinions of leading scientists and writers on this terminal question for Humanity.
. Dr Gideon Polya ,“Climate change course”, 2011 via Yarra valley Climate Action Group: http://yvcag.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html and
course ) and 300.org (see: http://300org.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html
and https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .
. “Climate Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ .
. 300.org: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/ .
. “Climate crisis facts and required actions”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: https://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-crisis-facts-required-actions .
ANALYSIS BY COUNTRY: Analysis by country of years left to zero emissions for 75% chance of avoiding 2C temperature rise
The 2009 Report of the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WBGU, Wissenshaftlicher Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen) was entitled “Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach” and crucially stated: “The budget of CO2 emissions still available worldwide could be derived from the 2 degree C guard rail. By the middle of the 21st century a maximum of approximately 750 Gt CO2 (billion metric tons) may be released into the Earth’s atmosphere if the guard rail is to be adhered to with a probability of 67%. If we raise the probability to 75%, the cumulative emissions within this period would even have to remain below 600 Gt CO2. In any case, only a small amount of CO2 may be emitted worldwide after 2050. Thus, the era of an economy driven by fossil fuels will definitely have to come to an end within the first half of this century” (see: WBGU (German Advisory Council of Climate Change), “ Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach”: http://www.wbgu.de/fileadmin/templates/dateien/veroeffentlichungen
Using country by country data for greenhouse gas emissions per capita (tonnes CO2-e per person per year) (see “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita ) one can readily determine for each country in the world how many years left to zero pollution.
The average world population in the period 2010 and 2050 will be 8.321 billion (see UN Population Division, 2010 Revision). Accordingly, the per capita share of this terminal CO2 pollution budget is less than 600 billion tonnes CO2/8.321 people = less than 72.1 tonnes CO2 per person.
Years to the required “fair shares” total cessation of GHG pollution at current rates of pollution = 72.1 tonnes CO2-e per person/ (tonnes CO2-e per person per year).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 5 years.
Belize (0.8 years), Qatar (1.3), Guyana (1.4), Malaysia (1.9), United Arab Emirates (2.0), Kuwait (2.4), Papua New Guinea (2.5), Brunei (2.8), Australia (2.8; 1.1 if including its huge GHG Exports), Antigua & Barbuda (2.8), Zambia (2.9), Canada (3.0), Bahrain (3.0), United States (3.1), Trinidad & Tobago (3.3), Luxembourg (3.4), Panama (3.7), New Zealand (3.7), Estonia (4.0), Botswana (4.1), Ireland (4.3), Saudi Arabia (4.4), Venezuela (4.6), Indonesia (4.8), Equatorial Guinea (5.0), Belgium (5.0).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 5-10 years.
Turkmenistan (5.1 years ), Singapore (5.1), Czech Republic (5.2), Liberia (5.2), Netherlands (5.3), Russia (5.3), Nicaragua (5.4), Finland (5.5), Oman (5.6), Palau (5.6), Brazil (5.6), Uruguay (5.7), Denmark (5.8). Germany (5.9), Mongolia (6.1), Israel (6.1), Nauru (6.2), Norway (6.3), South Korea (6.5), Kazakhstan (6.6), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (6.6), Libya (6.7), Greece (6.7), Japan (6.7), Myanmar (6.7), Taiwan (6.8), Cyprus (7.0), Slovenia (7.1), Cambodia (7.1), Austria (7.2), Iceland (7.2), Peru (7.3), Paraguay (7.3), Ukraine (7.4), Poland (7.5), South Africa (7.6), Argentina (7.8), Slovakia (7.8), Spain (7.8), Italy (7.8), Central African Republic (8.0), France (8.3), Suriname (8.4), Belarus (8.4), Gabon (8.6), Ecuador (8.8), Bolivia (8.9), Cameroon (9.5), Iran (9.5), Côte d’Ivoire (9.6), Sweden (9.6), Seychelles (9.7), Guatemala (9.7), Bulgaria (9.7), Serbia & Montenegro (9.7), Hungary (9.7), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (9.7), Uzbekistan (9.9), Portugal (10.0).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 10-20 years.
Switzerland (10.2 years), Azerbaijan (10.6), Angola (10.8), Bahamas (10.9), Benin (11.1), Zimbabwe (11.1), Laos (11.3), Mexico (11.3), Nepal (11.4), Colombia (11.4), Namibia (11.4), Chile (11.4), Malta (11.8), Congo, Republic (12.0), Madagascar (12.0), Croatia (12.2), Jamaica (12.2), Macedonia (12.4), Barbados (12.4), Latvia (12.6), Mauritania (12.9), Turkey (12.9), Romania (13.1), Lithuania (13.4), Costa Rica (13.4), Lebanon (13.6), North Korea (13.9), Thailand (14.1), Jordan (14.7), Honduras (15.3), Sudan (15.7), Bosnia & Herzegovina (16.0), Algeria (17.2), Iraq (17.2), Sierra Leone (17.2), Syria (18.0), China (18.5), Tunisia (19.5), Dominican Republic (20.6 years).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 20-30 years.
St Kitts & Nevis (21.8), Nigeria (21.8), Fiji (21.8), Guinea (22.5), Mauritius (22.5), Cuba (23.3), Togo (23.3), Vanuatu (24.0), Philippines (24.0), Malawi (24.0), Mali (24.9), Chad (24.9), Sri Lanka (25.8), Uganda (26.7), Dominica (26.7), St Lucia (26.7), Egypt (27.7), Niue (27.7), Ghana (27.7), Moldova (28.8), Grenada (28.8), El Salvador (30.0), Guinea-Bissau (30.0), Tanzania (30.0), Djibouti (30.0).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 30-50 years.
Pakistan (31.3 years), Samoa (31.3), Tonga (31.3), Morocco (32.8), Senegal (32.8), Albania (32.8), Georgia (32.8), Armenia (34.3), St Vincent & Grenadines (36.1), Kenya (36.1), Maldives (37.9), Kyrgyzstan (37.9), Burkina Faso (37.9), India (40.1), Cook Islands (40.1), Bhutan (42.4), Yemen (45.1), Tajikistan (45.1), Mozambique (45.1), Rwanda (45.1), Burundi (45.1), Lesotho (48.1), Swaziland (48.1).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within about 50-120 years.
Eritrea (51.5), Haiti (51.5), Solomon Islands (65.5), Vietnam (65.5), Cape Verde (65.5), Niger (65.5), Ethiopia (65.5), São Tomé and Príncipe (72.1), Afghanistan (80.1), The Gambia (80.1), Bangladesh (80.1), Comoros (103.0), Kiribati (120.2).
ANDERSON: Professor Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Professor Kevin Anderson is the Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, holds a joint chair in Energy and Climate Change at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester and School of Environmental Sciences at University of East Anglia, is an honorary lecturer in Environmental Management at the Manchester Business School, and is an adviser to the British Government on climate change (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Anderson_%28scientist%29 )
Professor Anderson, together with Dr Alice Bows wrote an extremely important paper describing 6-8% annual GHG emissions reductions needed for 450 ppm CO2-equivalent (CO2-e): “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://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/journal_papers/fulltext.pdf ; 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/ ).
Professor Kevin Anderson on how many will survive the century in a “terrifying prospect” (November 2009): “For humanity it's a matter of life or death. We will not make all human beings extinct as a few people with the right sort of resources may put themselves in the right parts of the world and survive. But I think it's extremely unlikely that we wouldn't have mass death at 4C. If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4C, 5C or 6C, you might have half a billion people surviving… The worst possible result at Copenhagen is a bad deal where the world leaders have to come home and say it's a good deal when its rubbish. That's the real danger – that they will feel under pressure to sign up to anything. That could lock us into something bad for the next ten years." .
. Professor Kevin Anderson quoted by Jenny Fyall, “Warming “will wipe out billions””, The Scotsman, 29 November 2009: http://news.scotsman.com/latestnews/Warming-will-39wipe-out-billions39.5867379.jp .
BIALEK: Professor Janusz W. Bialek, Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Durham, UK
Professor Janusz W. Bialek is Professor of Electrical Engineering, Chair of Electrical Power and Control, University of Durham, UK (see: http://www.newstatesman.com/perspectives-on-energy/2011/10/carbon-government-professor ).
Professor Janusz Bialek in interview about tackling climate change and answering the question “Are we all doomed?” (2011): “ The human race has survived all kinds of crises. Necessity is the mother of invention, and people will come through with new solutions. We are an infinitely inventive race. Engineering solutions and technical solutions are easy. Getting political consensus is the big challenge.” .
. Professor Janusz Bialek quoted in Samira Shackle, “ Q&A with Professor Jausz Bialek”, New Statesman, 17 October 2011: http://www.newstatesman.com/perspectives-on-energy/2011/10/carbon-government-professor .
Dr Fatih Birol (1958 Ankara, Turkey) is the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Director, Office of The Chief Economist, with overall responsibility for the organisation's economic analysis of energy and climate change policy. He oversees the annual World Energy Outlook series which is the flagship publication of the IEA and is recognized as an authoritative source for energy analysis and projections (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatih_Birol ) .
Dr Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency commenting on the IAE Report warning that if fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will 'lose for ever' the chance to avoid dangerous climate change (2011): "The door is closing. I am very worried – if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever… The shift away from nuclear worsens the situation." .
. Dr Fatih Birol quoted by Fiona Harvey, “World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns”, The Guardian, 9 Novemberr 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/09/fossil-fuel-infrastructure-climate-change .
COX: Dr Brian Cox and Dr Jeff Forshaw, UK physicists on Science & "Are we all doomed?"
Dr Brian Cox and Dr Jeff Forshaw are UK physicists who co-authored the book “The Quantum Universe” (see: http://www.newstatesman.com/scitech/2011/12/interview-science-cox-physics ).
Dr Brian Cox and Dr Jeff Forshaw interviewed by Helen Lewis-Hasteley for the UK New Statesman (8 December 2011):
HL-H: How much of a responsibility do you feel to be an advocate for science generally?
BC: A lot. I think the peer-review process is the best way we have of giving our best view on how nature works. There are no absolute truths in science. Take a so-called controversy such as climate change: the correct thing to say is that we make measurements of the climate, we look at the data, we model it and here are a range of predictions. While it's easy to point out the flaws, in general it's unarguable that science works. . . because we're not in fucking caves!
HL-H: What motivates climate sceptics and the rest?
BC: Carl Sagan pointed out that "Science challenges". And the natural human response from people who are educated, who have a title or position, is to assume their opinion is worth something. And science tells you that your opinion is worthless when confronted with the evidence. That's a difficult thing to learn. When you look back at the Greeks or Romans and think, "Why didn't they get science?", maybe it was that.
JF: As a theoretical physicist, most of my time is spent doing calculations that are wrong. It's a humbling exercise, a massive dose of humility.
HL-H: Are we all doomed?
JF: The only thing that will save us is fundamental physics, because we have to escape to a distant part of the universe.
BC: On the human timescale, the adoption of the scientific method - making rational decisions based on evidence - that's the important thing. Look at public policy, health policy, economics: there's a reluctance to be humble.” .
. Dr Brian Cox and Dr Jeff Forshaw interviewed by Helen Lewis-Hasteley for the UK New Statesman, “Science tells you that your opinion is worthless. That’s difficult”, UK New Statesman, 8 December 2011: http://www.newstatesman.com/scitech/2011/12/interview-science-cox-physics .
Dr Richard Dixon, Head of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Scotland, has a BSc and PhD in Astrophysics, and an MSc in Energy Systems and Environment Management from Glasgow Caledonian University. Before joining WWF Scotland, he worked for Community Service Volunteers and Strathclyde Regional Council, and was Head of Research at Friends of the Earth Scotland. During his eight years at the latter, he worked on issues as diverse as climate change and fish farming. He helped to treble the number of Scottish beaches officially recognised by the government and wrote the first comprehensive report on air pollution in Scotland (see: http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/press_centre/spokespeople/
Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, re the huge melting of Arctic sea ice and the need for action over man-made climate change (2012): “This is not unexpected but it is extremely bad news. These satellite images show what we are doing to the planet and while climate change has gone off the political agenda recently, things have got worse and governments and big business must do more to fix that… Polar ice shapes the weather systems in Scotland and the north-west of Europe, and sea ice loss is one reason why we’re getting colder summers and have had very cold winters in the last few years.”
Dr Richard Dixon quoted in Julia Horton, “Arctic sea ice will vanish within three years, says expert ”, Scotsman, 29 August 2012: http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/arctic-sea-ice-will-vanish-within-three-years-says-expert-1-2493681 .
James Hansen is a leading US climate scientist and heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He has held this position since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. He first warned the US Congress about the danger from man-made climate change over 20 years ago. He published “Storms of My Grandchildren” in 2009 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hansen ).
Dr James Hansen on being asked before the political December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference “Is there any real chance of averting the climate crisis? (2009): “Absolutely. It is possible – if we give politicians a cold, hard slap in the face. The fraudulence of the Copenhagen approach – "goals" for emission reductions, "offsets" that render ironclad goals almost meaningless, the ineffectual "cap-and-trade" mechanism – must be exposed. We must rebel against such politics as usual. Science reveals that climate is close to tipping points. It is a dead certainty that continued high emissions will create a chaotic dynamic situation for young people, with deteriorating climate conditions out of their control.Science also reveals what is needed to stabilise atmospheric composition and climate. Geophysical data on the carbon amounts in oil, gas and coal show that the problem is solvable, if we phase out global coal emissions within 20 years and prohibit emissions from unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands and oil shale. Such constraints on fossil fuels would cause carbon dioxide emissions to decline 60% by mid-century or even more if policies make it uneconomic to go after every last drop of oil. Improved forestry and agricultural practices could then bring atmospheric carbon dioxide back to 350 ppm (parts per million) or less, as required for a stable climate.Governments going to Copenhagen claim to have such goals for 2050, which they will achieve with the "cap-and-trade" mechanism. They are lying through their teeth.Unless they order Russia to leave its gas in the ground and Saudi Arabia to leave its oil in the ground (which nobody has proposed), they must phase out coal and prohibit unconventional fossil fuels.” .
. James Hansen, “Copenhagen summit: Is there any real chance of averting the climate crisis?” Observer/UK Guardian, , Sunday 29 November 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/29/copenhagen-summit-climate-change .
The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its own words: “The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973/4 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. While this continues to be a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations”. The IEA publishes an annual World Energy Outlook series (see: http://www.iea.org/about/index.asp ).
Press release by the IEA on the 2011 World Energy Outlook (WEO) report (2011): “Without a bold change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system, the International Energy Agency warned as it launched the 2011 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO). The agency's flagship publication, released today in London, said there is still time to act, but the window of opportunity is closing… The WEO presents a 450 Scenario, which traces an energy path consistent with meeting the globally agreed goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2°C. Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permitted to 2035 in the 450 Scenario are already locked-in by existing capital stock, including power stations, buildings and factories. Without further action by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place would generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.” .
. IEA, “The world is locking itself into an unsustainable energy future which would have far-reaching consequences, IEA warns in its latest World Energy Outlook”, IEA Press release, 9 November 2011: http://www.iea.org/pres/pressdetail.asp?PRESS_REL_ID=426 .
LIVELY: Penelope Lively: “Tampering with the physical world is what we do supremely well…. Finis”
Dame Penelope Margaret Lively, DBE, FRSL (born 17 March 1933) is a major UK author of fiction for both children and adults. Her novel “Moon Tiger” won the Booker Prize (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penelope_Lively ).
Penelope Lively’s heroine Claudia Hampton on the end of the World in the novel “Moon Tiger ()1987): “Tampering with the physical world is what we do supremely well. – in the end, perhaps, we shall achieve it definitively. Finis. And history will indeed come to an end”. .
. Penelope Lively, “Moon Tiger” (Penguin), Chapter 1, page 13.
LOVELOCK: Dr James Lovelock FRS, Gaia Hypothesis & atmospheric gas analysis
Dr James Lovelock, Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) is one of the UK’s and the World’s most eminent climate scientists. He is famous for his Gaia Hypothesis (mutually interacting physical world and biological feedbacks affecting atmosphere and climate) and for his invention of the electron capture detector which ultimately assisted in discoveries about the persistence of CFCs and their role in stratospheric ozone depletion (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lovelock ).
Dr James Lovelock re very few surviving this century (June 2009) : “If we can keep civilization alive through this century perhaps there is a chance that our descendants will one day serve Gaia and assist her in the fine-tuned self-regulation of the climate and composition of our planet. We have enjoyed 12,000 years of climate peace since the last shift from a glacial age to an interglacial one. Before long, we may face planet-wide devastation worse even than unrestricted nuclear war between superpowers. The climate war could kill nearly all of us and leave the few survivors living a Stone Age existence. But in several places in the world, including the U.K., we have a chance of surviving and even of living well. For that to be possible, we have to make our lifeboats seaworthy now.” .
Dr James Lovelock, quoted by interviewer (November 2007): “By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth's population will be culled from today's 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with most of the survivors living in the far latitudes -- Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the Arctic Basin.” .
Dr James Lovelock re fewer than 1 billion surviving this century and in answer to the New Scientist interviewer question “Do you think that we will survive”( January 2009): “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. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It's happening again. I don't think humans react fast enough or are clever enough to handle what's coming up. Kyoto was 11 years ago. Virtually nothing's been done except endless talk and meetings.” .
. James Lovelock, “Climate war could kill nearly all of us, leaving survivors on the Stone Age”, Guardian, 29 June 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/29/climate-war-lovelock .
. Jeff Goodell, “The Prophet of climate change”, Rolling Stone, 1 November 2007: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/16956300/the_prophet_of_climate_change_james_lovelock .
. Gaia Vince, “One last chance to save mankind”, New Scientist, 23 January 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html?full=true
Tariel Mórrígan is the Principal Research Associate, Global Climate Change, Human Security and Democracy, Global & International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA: http://globalchangewatch.weebly.com/ .
Tariel Mórrígan on need to get back to 300 ppm CO2 (2010 ): “ Limiting the atmospheric CO2 concentration to no greater than 350 ppm might prevent committed global warming to no more than 2.4oC in the long term, after the temporary delay by climate and ocean thermal inertia reach their peak potenttial climate forcing (i.e. warming) , Stabilization at or below 350 ppm CO2-eq provides a 93% probability of staying below 2oC above pre-industrial values (IPCC, 2007c ; Meinshausen, 2006). Thjerefore a CO2 target as low as 300 ppm may be necessary to stabilize to prevent a dangerous warming of 2oC. Global average temperatures may stabilize within a likely range of 0.6-1.4oC above pre-industrial values at or below 350 ppm CO2-eq (300 ppm CO2) (IPCC, 2007c ; Meinshausen, 2006).” .
Synopsis of “Peak energy, climate change, and the collapse of global civilization. The current oil crisis” by Tariel Morrigan (2010): “This report is a synthesis of the current state of knowledge on energy resources and global climate and environmental change. The findings clearly indicate that the convergence of peak energy resources and dangerous anthropogenic climate and environmental change will likely have a disastrous impact in the near- and long-term on the quantity and quality of human life on the planet… The findings suggest:
>> Global conventional oil production likely peaked around 2005 – 2011.
>> Peak global production of coal, natural gas, and uranium resources will likely occur by 2020 – 2030, if not sooner.
>> Energy resource shortages post-peak oil will likely cause a systemic collapse of global industrialized civilization in the near-term as the abundant fossil fuel energy resources used to develop and support industrialized economies become increasingly scarce.
>> Current trends in land, soil, water, and biodiversity loss and degradation, combined with potential climate change impacts, ocean acidification, a mass extinction event, and energy scarcity will significantly limit the human carrying capacity of the Earth.” .
. Tariel Mórrígan, “Target atmospheric greenhouse gas concetrations. Why hunaity shoulkd aim for 350 ppm CO2-e”: http://www.global.ucsb.edu/climateproject/papers/pdf/Morrigan_
. Synopsis of Tariel Mórrígan, “Peak energy, climate change, and the collapse of global civilization. The current oil crisis”, University of California, Santa Barbara (2010): http://www.global.ucsb.edu/climateproject/papers/index.html# .
Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, FRS (born 23 June 1942 in York) is a British cosmologist, astronomer and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. He was President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Rees,_Baron_Rees_of_Ludlow ).
Martin Rees on the question “Are we all doomed? (2011): “The threat of global nuclear annihilation involving tens of thousands of bombs has been in abeyance since the end of the cold war. But, in future decades, a global political realignment could lead to a stand-off between new superpowers which could be handled less well or less luckily than the Cuban crisis was. In the meantime, there is more risk than ever that smaller nuclear arsenals will be used in a regional context, or even by terrorists. But other threats loom larger. Devastation could arise insidiously rather than suddenly, through unsustainable pressure on energy supplies, food, water and other natural resources. The world's population is projected to reach nine billion by 2050. The bigger the population becomes, the greater these pressures will be - especially if the developing world narrows the gap between itself and the developed world in its per-capita consumption… Humankind's collective footprint is growing. It may irreversibly degrade our environment as our numbers grow and we each consume more. Advanced technology threatens us with other vulnerabilities… There seems to be no scientific impediment to achieving a sustainable world beyond 2050, in which the developing countries have narrowed the gap with the developed and all people benefit from further advances that could have as great and benign an impact on society as information technology. But the intractable politics and sociology - the gap between what could be and what really happens - engender pessimism." .
. Martin Rees, “Are we all doomed?”, New Statesman, 9 June 2011: http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2011/06/world-planet-rees-future .
Maria Josephina Arnoldina van der Hoeven (born 13 September 1949) is a Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party and has been the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency since 1 September 2011 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_van_der_Hoeven ).
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven commenting on the IEA 2011 World Energy Outlook (WEO) report (2011): "Growth, prosperity and rising population will inevitably push up energy needs over the coming decades. But we cannot continue to rely on insecure and environmentally unsustainable uses of energy. Governments need to introduce stronger measures to drive investment in efficient and low-carbon technologies. The Fukushima nuclear accident, the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa and a sharp rebound in energy demand in 2010 which pushed CO2 emissions to a record high, highlight the urgency and the scale of the challenge." .
. Maria van der Hoeven quoted in IEA, “The world is locking itself into an unsustainable energy future which would have far-reaching consequences, IEA warns in its latest World Energy Outlook”, IEA Press release, 9 November 2011: http://www.iea.org/press/pressdetail.asp?PRESS_REL_ID=426 .
Peter Wadhams is professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, UK. He is best known for his work on sea ice and for his early warnings in 1990 about the thinning of Arctic summer sea ice. Professor Wadhams is the president of the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean Commission on Sea Ice and Co-ordinator for the International Programme for Antarctic Buoys (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Wadhams ).
Professor Peter Wadhams on the recortd loss of Arctic sea ice and the impending loss of all Arctic summer sea ice by 2015 (2012): “The entire ice cover is now on the point of collapse. The extra open water already created by the retreating ice allows bigger waves to be generated by storms, which are sweeping away the surviving ice. It is truly the case that it will be all gone by 2015. The consequences are enormous and represent a huge boost to global warming.” .
Professor Peter Wadhams quoted in Julia Horton, “Arctic sea ice will vanish within three years, says expert ”, Scotsman, 29 August 2012: http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/arctic-sea-ice-will-vanish-within-three-years-says-expert-1-2493681 .
The 2009 Report of the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WBGU, Wissenshaftlicher Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen) was entitled “Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach” and crucially stated: “The budget of CO2 emissions still available worldwide could be derived from the 2 degree C guard rail. By the middle of the 21st century a maximum of approximately 750 Gt CO2 (billion metric tons) may be released into the Earth’s atmosphere if the guard rail is to be adhered to with a probability of 67%. If we raise the probability to 75%, the cumulative emissions within this period would even have to remain below 600 Gt CO2. In any case, only a small amount of CO2 may be emitted worldwide after 2050. Thus, the era of an economy driven by fossil fuels will definitely have to come to an end within the first half of this century” (see WBGU, “Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach”).
The consequences of this declaration of less than 600 Gt CO2 in emissions for a 75% chance of avoiding 2 degree C temperature rise are profound. Thus, would you board a plane if it had a 25% chance of crashing? Further, the average world population in the period 2010 and 2050 will be 8.321 billion (see UN Population Division, 2010 Revision). Accordingly the per capita share of this terminal CO2 pollution budget is less than 600 billion tonnes CO2/8.321 people = less than 72.1 tonnes CO2 per person.
Using data for the annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) (including land use change) for every country in the world in 2000 (see “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita”, Wikipedia) one can determine how many years left at current rates of GHG pollution (in units of CO2-e or CO2-equivalent i.e. taking other GHGs into account) before a given country uses up its “share”. Thus for Australia 72.1 tonnes CO2-e per person / 25.9 tonnes CO2- per person per year in 2000 = 2.8 years left, based on the 2000 data. Note that this analysis does not take into account historical pollution of the atmosphere.
In 2009 Australia’s population was 22.0 million, Australia ‘s GHG pollution was 600 Mt CO2-e (CO2 equivalent i.e. taking into account other greenhouse gases such as methane, CH4, and nitrous oxide, N2O). 600 Mt per year/ 22.0 million people = 27.3 t CO2-e per person per year and at that rate of GHG pollution Australia would use up its 2010-2050 “share” in 72.1 t CO2-e per person/ 27.3 t CO2-e per person per year = 2.6 years.
However in 2009 Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution (in Mt CO2-e) was 600 (Domestic) + 784 (coal exports) + 31 (LNG exports) = 1,415 Mt CO2-e, this giving Australia an annual per capita Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution in 2009 of 1,415 Mt CO2-e per year/ 22.0 million people = 64.3 tonnes CO2-e per person per year, this being 64.3/0.9 = 71.4 times greater than the annual per capita of Bangladesh (0.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year). Based on its 2009 Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution rate, Australia will take 72.1 Mt CO2-e per person/ 64.3 t CO2-e per person per year = 1.1 years in the period 2010-2050 to use up its “fair share” of the terminal 600 Gt CO2-e carbon pollution budget i.e. Australia has ALREADY used up its “share” of the terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution budget.
Of course there is no way that Australia will meet its “all men are created equal” global obligations and cease polluting after having already in July 2011 achieved its “fair share” of the terminal 600 Gt CO2 global GHG pollution “budget”. Australia is fundamentally committed to coal and gas use and exports. Thus about 92% of Australia ‘s electricity derives from fossil fuel combustion, Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter and Australia is a major liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter. The only major change adumbrated by the Gillard Labor Government is a coal to gas transition for electric power generation, this ignoring the reality that this will mean a doubling of greenhouse gas generation from the electricity sector because methane (CH4) is 85% of natural gas, leaks at about 3.3% and is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas on a 20 year timeframe and taking aerosol impacts into account.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) has projected that Australia’s black coal exports will increase at an average rate of 2.6% per year over the next 20 years and that liquid natural gas (LNG) exports will increase at 9% per year over the same period (see “Invest in Australia”). Further, it is estimated that Australian exports of dried brown coal will reach 20 Mt by 2020, this corresponding to about 59 Mt CO2-e after combustion.
Accordingly, by 2020 and based on Liberal-National Party Coalition Opposition and Labor Government (aka Lib-Lab) promises of “5% off Domestic GHG pollution by 2020” and ABARE projections (see ABARE, “Australian energy: national and state projections to 2029-30”), Australian Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution will be 621 Mt CO2-e (Domestic) (Australian Government, Treasury, “Strong Growth, Low Pollution. Modelling a Carbon Price”, 2011) + 1.326 x 784 =1,039 Mt CO2-e (coal exports) + 2.580 x 31 = 80 Mt CO2-e (LNG exports) + 59 Mt CO2-e (brown coal exports) = 1,799 Mt CO2-e i.e. 127% of that in 2009 (see “Analysis: Australian Labor Government Carbon Price-ETS scheme fails & entrenches climate change inaction”, Bellaciao, 16 July 2010).
Thus Australian policy flies in the face of science and “all men are created equal” which show that Australia has ALREADY used up it share of the 2010-2050 terminal GHG pollution budget. Instead Australia officially projects to INCREASE its annual pollution by 2020 by about 27% over that in 2009. How does Australia ‘s refusal to DECREASE its disproportionate GHG pollution compare with the conduct of other countries? Set out below is the time (at 2000 pollution rates) for every country in the World to use up its “fair share” of the World’s 600 Gt CO2 terminal GHG pollution budget.
Years to the required “fair shares” total cessation of GHG pollution at current rates of pollution = 72.1 tonnes CO2-e per person/ (tonnes CO2-e per person per year). The annual per capita GHG pollution for each country in 2000 with the land use contribution included (tonnes CO2-e per person per year) was used (the available data for Uruguay was the 2005 per capita data without the land use contribution included). It should be noted that fossil fuel use, livestock production and deforestation variously contribute to annual per capita GHG pollution. Of course if you can access more up-to-date data (e.g. the example of Australia) and then you can use it to determine an updated time for zero emissions. Note that this analysis does not take into account historical industrial pollution of the atmosphere (73% due to European countries) (see 2008 Letter of Dr James Hansen, NASA GISS, to PM Kevin Rudd of Australia).
I must reiterate that there is no way that Australia will meet its global “fair shares” obligations because it is fundamentally committed to oil use and to coal and gas use and exports. Thus about 92% of Australia’s electricity derives from fossil fuel combustion, Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter and a major liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter. Both the major parties, the Liberal –National Party Coalition Opposition (the Libs) and the Labor Government (the Labs) (collectively known as the Lib-Labs) are committed to a derisory policy of 5% off 2000 Domestic GHG pollution by 2020 but with greed-driven growth of coal and LNG Exports (at 2.6% pa and 9% pa, respectively). Australia is committed to a greedy and inhumane course of climate exceptionalism, climate racism and climate injustice. Having ALREADY used up its share of the terminal 600 Gt CO2-e budget, climate criminal Australia is now greedily and disproportionately using up the quotas of other countries (climate racism), with serious global implications as set out below. .
Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson ( Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have recently estimated that only about 0.5 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming. Noting that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, these estimates translate to a Climate Genocide involving deaths of about 10 billion people this century, mostly non-Europeans, this including about 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. Already 18 million people die avoidably every year in Developing countries (minus China) due to deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease and man-made global warming is already clearly worsening this global avoidable mortality holocaust. However 10 billion avoidable deaths due to global warming this century will yield an average global annual avoidable death rate of 100 million per year (see “Climate Genocide”).
Where does your country come in this “years left until zero emissions” analysis? The World is badly running out of time. The World will have to take action against the more notorious climate criminal and climate racist countries such as Australia through Sanctions, Boycotts, Sporting Boycotts (as were successfully applied to Apartheid South Africa through exclusion from the Olympic Games and other events), Green Tariffs, International Court of Justice litigations and International Criminal Court prosecutions.
Dr Gideon Polya currently teaches science students at a major Australian university. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has recently published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007): http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/ bengalfamine_programme.html ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
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