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April 22, Earth Day: We Must Stop Climate Catastrophe

By Dr Gideon Polya

22 April, 2011

April 22 is  Earth Day. The following science-informed analysis summarizes the dire state of the Planet and what needs to be done to stop the horrendous global avoidable mortality holocaust killing 18 million people each year  and to deal with the worsening climate emergency  that threatens a climate genocide with a predicted 10 billion victims this century if man-made climate change is not urgently addressed.

1. The World's population is currently 6.9 billion and is estimated to reach 9.1 billion by 2050 (UN Population Division: http://esa.un.org/unpp/index.asp?panel=2 ).

2. In 2010/11 food utilization exceeded food production and in the last year the prices of  sugar, cereals and oils and fats have increased about 1.4-fold (see FAO, “World Food Situation”: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/wfs-home/en/ ).

3. Water-borne diseases kill about 1.8 million people each year, 1.1 billion people lack proper drinking water and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, with this including 1.1 billion people lacking access to any sanitation facilities.

4. About 0.9 billion people were malnourished in 2010 although there was plenty of food to feed them.

5. In 2010 about 18 million people died avoidably from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease in the Developing World (excluding China ).

6. In the period 1950-2005 it is estimated that avoidable deaths from deprivation totaled 1.3 billion (the World), 1.2 billion (the Non-European World) and 0.6 billion (the Muslim World).

7. In the period 1950-2005 it is estimated that under-5 infant deaths totaled 0.88 billion (the World), 0.85 billion (the Non-European World) and 0.4 billion (the Muslim World).

8. For a roughly even chance of avoiding a disastrous 2 degree C temperature rise the World must cease carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2020 (high per capita emitters like the US and Australia by 2020) ( Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, “Terra quasi-incognita: beyond the 2 degree C line”, < 4 Degrees & Beyond, International Climate Conference, 26-30 September 2009, Oxford University , UK : http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/4degrees/ppt/1-1schellnhuber.pdf ).

9. The species extinction rate is 100-1,000 times normal and associated with resource utilization and global warming.

10. The atmospheric CO2 concentration was 180-300 parts per million (ppm) for the last 0.8 million years but has jumped enormously in the  last half century to 392 ppm (currently increasing at 2.4 ppm per year). Biochar can draw down atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm (see “ Forest biomass-derived Biochar can profitably reduce global warming and bushfire risk”: https://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/forest-biomass-derived-biochar-can-profitably-reduce-global-warming-and-bushfire-risk ).

11. The World is already experiencing climatic disruption from  greenhouse gas-driven global warming e.g. polar region ice melting, glacier melting, increased fire, floods and storm intensity, sea level rise, and ecosystem damage.

12. Top climate scientists have estimated that only 0.5 billion people may survive unaddressed climate change this century, a climate genocide that will kill about 10 billion people.

13. Greed-based Business As Usual (BAU) means climate change inaction that is compounded by the biofuel food for fuel) and emissions trading perversions and a disastrously counterproductive  Gas Boom,  Gas Rush and coal to gas transition.

14. Methane (85% of natural gas) is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20 year time scale and taking aerosol impacts into account, this contra-indicating a coal to gas transition. Gas burning is dirtier GHG-wise than coal burning (see: “ Pro-gas Australian Labor Govt wants Coal to Gas transition by Carbon Tax - but Gas burning worse GHG-wise”: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article20701 ; Gideon Polya, “Detailed document exposing pro-gas Australia climate change inaction”, Countercurrents, 15 March 2011: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya150311.htm  .)

15. A World Bank re-assessment of the methane contribution  indicates that our GHG pollution is 50% bigger than hitherto though and that methanogenic livestock contribute over 50% of the higher figure (see   Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang. “Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are … cows, pigs and chickens?”, World Watch, November/December 2009: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf  ) .

16. Meat eating is a deadly luxury in a malnourished and warming world, diverting precious grain on a huge scale to the First World luxury of meat eating, increasing grain prices and increasing malnutrition and the threat of mass starvation .

What must we do to stop the continuing global avoidable mortality holocaust?

The continuing, horrendous global avoidable mortality is fundamentally due to violence, deprivation, disease and lying. We are one species confined to one planet and we revel in the richness of nature and human cultural diversity. The peace and cooperative community we commonly experience at the level of village, town, city and nation should apply internationally throughout Spaceship Earth. Intolerance of dishonesty, bigotry and violence, respect for human rights, international law and our common environment and commitment to truth, reason and a modestly decent life for everyone will end the global avoidable mortality holocaust and ensure that it will never be repeated.

More specifically, stopping the avoidable mortality holocaust involves peace, decent governance, high female literacy, good primary heath care, and a modest annual per capita income of at least circa $2,000 for all. Examples of things we can well do without (each worth about $1 trillion per year) to achieve a modest income for all include arms, tobacco, alcohol, junk food, and illicit drugs (see “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ).  

What  must we do to seriously tackle the worsening climate emergency?

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 for a safe planet  for all peoples and all species (see “300.org – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm  ).

3. Rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar thermal, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power and less than the true price of carbon-based power taking  environmental and human impacts into account) and to energy efficiency, renewable energy-powered public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar (charcoal) to soils or underground storage,  coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production  and population growth (see “Climate crisis facts and required actions”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: https://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-crisis-facts-required-actions ).

Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. Please tell everyone you can to help save Spaceship Earth.

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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