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How To Save The Planet

By Gideon Polya

29 May, 2009

The World is acutely threatened by man-made global warming and many scientists now doubt that we can avoid further damaging temperature increases to over 2C above that in 1900. However resolute global action via an Accountability, Badge and Credo (ABC) protocol may yet save Man and the Biosphere.

In short, the Accountability, Badge and Credo (ABC) protocol involves (A) Accountability of greenhouse gas (GHG)-polluting climate criminals imposing GHG pollution on all peoples and species (e.g. by naming via an electronic Doomsday Book or virtual Doomsday Monument of bad and good guys; by using a Green Credentialling or Green Certification system to identify products, people, companies and countries we can support and those we must boycott; and by international and intra-national sanctions, boycotts, green tariffs, reparations demands, civil actions and criminal prosecutions); (B) a Badge that activists can wear with a simple core pictorial or word message (e.g. “Climate Emergency” or “Climate Emergency Network”) or a core numerical message (e.g. “300” or “350” to indicate the urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to about 300 parts per million (ppm) or to less than 350 ppm, respectively); and (C) a Credo or core statement of beliefs (e.g. “We believe in a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet and that this requires a rapid reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to about 300 parts per million”).

(A). Accountability.

Time is running out for dealing with the Climate Emergency. Indeed some scientists are saying privately - and some even publicly - that it is already too late to stop further seriously damaging climate change above that which is already occurring. And the stakes are huge because Dr James Lovelock FRS has estimated that fewer than 1 billion people will survive the 21st century due to unaddressed man-made global warming – this translating to about 10 billion avoidable human deaths, mainly in the Third World, due to what must be described as a worsening Climate Genocide. [1].

For a detailed and documented account of man-made global warming, the huge Climatic Disruption already being inflicted on the Planet and the looming Climate Genocide see the publicly-available lecture notes for my 2009 U3A course entitled “Global warming, climate emergency”. [2].

In an important and sobering paper published by the UK Royal Society in 2008, Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester) had the following dire conclusion:

“According to the analysis conducted in this paper, stabilizing at 450 ppmv [the current atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration in carbon dioxide equivalents (= CO2-e) 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”

– in other words, very likely “we are doomed” to catastrophic global warming. [3].

Accordingly, climate activists have to start getting really serious and adopting a “zero tolerance” approach to ecocide (destruction of ecosystems) and terracide (destruction of the biosphere of Planet Earth).

We can usefully turn to successful organized religion for a model. Thus Jesus Christ said “He who is not for me is against me” (The Holy Bible, Luke 11.23) – and we must adopt a similarly stringent basis for accountability in the destruction of ecosystems, species and peoples and in the looming prospect of the avoidable death of 10 billion fellow human beings this century.

This “zero tolerance” accountability approach has precedent in how we currently deal with life-threatening epidemics and pandemics. Thus “freedom of speech” means that people can hold bizarre personal opinions about influenza, HIV/AIDS and global warming that contradict overwhelming global medical and scientific consensus - but arguing against the sensible prescriptions of top experts can be seen as irresponsible, and violation of legislatively emplaced precautions (e.g. violating quarantine regulations or laws prohibiting HIV-infected persons from having unprotected sex) is illegal and potentially criminal.

Some suggestions as to how to approach Accountability are listed below.

1. Green Credentialling, Green Certification.

A technical precedent is that of the global “Green Certification” of the timber industry by the Forest Stewardship Council outlined by Professor Jared Diamond in his book “Collapse” (Chapter 15, “Big businesses and the environment: different conditions, different outcomes”, pp473-479) or the Australian medical Heart Foundation’s “tick” applied to healthy foods in supermarkets. An expert and credentialed Green Certification body can be set up that simply assesses individuals, companies, political parties, other organizations, states and countries and applies Green (Good), Black (Bad) and Orange (Intermediate) certification.

Thus people turning up to vote will simply inspect the “how to vote card” for the colored decal. Thus, in Australia the Greens would have a Green decal but the Opposition Liberal-National Party Coalition and Governing Labor Party candidates (collectively known as the Lib-Labs) would have Black decals because of their irresponsible support for fossil fuel burning; maverick Lib-Labs defying the pro-coal line of their parties could be rewarded by an “Orange” decal.

2. Electronic Doomsday Book and virtual Doomsday Monument.

The electronic Doomsday Book and virtual Doomsday Monument project would simply record the Green (Good), Black (Bad) and Orange (Intermediate) certification of individuals, companies, political parties, other organizations, states and countries in relation to the Climate Emergency.

This provides a dated, public record of public position in the War on the Planet and allows for behaviour modification. Thus if climate sceptic and climate criminal George W. Bush suddenly had a Damascene experience and turned Green in 2009 his entry could simply read “George W. Bush (Black; Orange 2009).

This is not a “blame and shame exercise”, rather it is an objective historical recording informed by the all-too-often horribly violated precautionary principle that “history ignored yields history repeated”. Nevertheless, if we are not successful in our ABC protocol to save the biosphere, then children and grandchildren will get to know how their familial forebears helped destroy their lives and their Planet.

3. International Reparations demands over AGW.

Major river pollution events by Australian mining companies in Europe, South East Asia and New Guinea have led to massive litigation. There is clearly ample legal precedent and a huge evidential basis for proportional reparations demands for the huge and mounting global damage due to atmospheric pollution and anthropogenic global warming (AGW; man-made global warming) (see [2]).

4. Intra-national Reparations demands.

A large number of people die annually from the effects of coal burning- and fossil fuel burning-derived pollutants from power generation.

Thus “annual coal-based electricity deaths” [“total annual fossil fuel-based electricity deaths”] from pollutants (carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, volatile organics and heavy metals, notably mercury) are 170,000 [283,000] (the World), 11,000 [13,000] (India), 47,000 [47,500] (China), 49,000 [72,000] (the US), 3,400 [6,900] (the UK), 4,900 [5,400] (Australia) and 2,700 [3,800](Canada) as compared to 110 [360] (heavily renewable energy-based New Zealand).

Indeed it from data such as this that it has been estimated that the “market price” of coal burning-based power is 4-5 times lower than the “true price” based on the costs of the environmental and human impacts. [4].

It is high time that individual and class actions were brought against coal- and fossil fuel-burning corporations and complicit Governments and Government Agencies for mortality, morbidity (adverse health) and other intra-national consequences of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

5. Sanctions, Boycotts and Green Tariffs.

Sanctions and Boycotts were successfully applied to racist Apartheid South Africa for denying one-man-one-vote to Africans, Indians and other non-Europeans – yet how much deadlier and evil is the worsening Climate Genocide that already impacts16 million non-European avoidable deaths annually and is set to kill 10 billion non-Europeans this century (see [2]).

Former UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir David King of Oxford University has stated (2008) : “If you (don't want) run-away climate change, you need to be at about 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 ... We're currently at 387 ppm CO2, going up at 2 per annum … If you include all greenhouse gases, we're at around 420 ppm CO2e …the challenge, to move from where we are now [Europe’s 11 tonnes of CO2e per person per year] to where the Indians are today [2.2], while growing the global economy at the same time”.

“Annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 2.2 (India), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge, world-leading Exported CO2 pollution is included). [5].

Grossly and disproportionately polluting countries such as climate criminal Australia that continue to flout expert scientific prescriptions and proscriptions must be subject to international Sanctions, Boycotts and Green Tariffs (tariffs properly costed and applied to disproportionately GHG polluting countries).

Decent, pro-Planet Australians would have little trouble supporting such Sanctions, Boycotts and Green Tariffs against climate criminal Australia in order to constrain Australian climate criminals and to help save Australia’s unique and iconic ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Murray-Darling River System that are already acutely threatened by man-made global warming.

6. Intra-national and international criminal prosecutions.

In addition to civil actions adumbrated above in sections 3 and 4 (International Reparations demands over AGW and Intra-national Reparations demands), there must be international and intra-national criminal prosecutions to bring climate criminal individuals, corporations, governments, officials and countries to justice. Indeed I have made a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over Australian complicity in ongoing Indigenous Genocides and worsening Climate Genocide.

Notably, in my Complaint to the ICC I made a special plea to Governments of Nations at Risk: “I understand that the International Criminal Court may be prepared to make initial investigations of formal complaints by individuals (such as this complaint) but will only act to the fullest extent of its remit in response to formal complaints by National Governments. Countries at major risk from sea level rises due to climate change include island nations in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific (some of which face total extinction) and countries with mega-deltas in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia (of which some face catastrophic loss of agriculture and massive population displacements). Such Nations will be receiving copies of this formal complaint and are urged to transmit formal complaints to the International Criminal Court”. [6].

B. Badge.

All the successful religions and –isms have had a Badge that their adherents wear by way of solidarity and of “bearing witness” to their beliefs. Thus the highly successful universalist religions have well-known Badges (Symbols, Signs) e.g. the Christians have the Cross, Islam has the Crescent Moon, and Buddhism has the Yin-Yang duality symbol. Major altruistic movements have identifying Signs e.g. Communism has the Hammer and Sickle, Peace has the Dove and Medicine has the Aesculapius symbol of a snake coiled around a staff.

I and my associates in the Australian Climate Emergency Network (CEN) wear a “Climate Emergency Network” badge. [7].

However other variants are conceivable e.g. “Climate Emergency” ; “300” (the atmospheric CO2 concentration in parts per million for a safe future); and “< 350” ( indicating the concentration below which we must reduce the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the “target” of the Bill McKibben-inspired organization in its international campaigning that is currently focussed on international actions on 24 October 2009). [8].

As Bill McKibben has pointed out, numerical signs such as “350” have the advantage that the Arabic-Hindu numerals are international and transcend language barriers. However Australian Climate Action Groups have overwhelmingly signed up to a goal informed by the latest science of 300 ppm CO2 as being the atmospheric CO2 concentration required to restore the Arctic Summer sea ice and hence ensure a safe climate future. [9].

C. Credo.

Universalist religions such as Christianity and Islam are based on the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran, respectively, but both religions have simpler minimum statements of core beliefs and believer obligations. Thus Catholics have the Nicaean Creed, that Catholic school children recite each day, and Muslims have the 5 Pillars of Wisdom that succinctly set out the fundamental beliefs and obligations of Muslims that are readily understood by ordinary Muslims around the World.

I would offer the following succinct credo for those wanting to save the Planet: “We believe in a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet and that this requires a rapid reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to about 300 parts per million”.

The Climate Emergency Network is a little more expansive: “We have no right to bargain away the lives of others. Our goal is a safe climate future for all people, all species, and all generations. The Global Community must concurrently halt man made greenhouse gas emissions, remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and actively cool the Earth”. [7]

Of course, implicit in this Credo is the “How” of achieving a rapid reduction of atmospheric CO2 concentration to a safe level of 300 parts per million. The Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group has produced a pamphlet “Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions” that summarizes required actions as detailed below. [10].

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.

Please send this Accountability, Badge and Credo (ABC) protocol to everyone you can.

[1]. Gaia Vince (2009), “One last chance to save mankind“, New Scientist, 23 January 2009.
[2]. Dr Gideon Polya, “Global warming, climate emergency”, U3A course notes, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, 2009).
[3]. Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, “Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Proc. Trans. Roy. Soc, A, 2008).
[4]. Gideon Polya, “How many people die from Carbon Burning and Climate Change each year?”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, 2009.
[5]. Dr Gideon Polya, “Pro-coal Australian Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) devalues Australian lives, threatens Biosphere and ignores Science”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, 2009: .
[6]. Dr Gideon Polya, “Formal complaint to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court re Australian Government involvement in Aboriginal Genocide, Iraqi Genocide, Afghan Genocide and Climate Genocide”, 2008:
[7]. Climate Emergency Network.
[10]. Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, “Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions”: Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, 2009.

Dr Gideon Polya, MWC News Chief political editor, published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003), and is currently writing a book on global mortality


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