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Dr Gideon Polya
Dr Gideon Polya

Key Climate Emergency Facts and Actions Summary for 2009 Australian Climate Action Summit

The 2009 Australian Climate Action Summit of Climate Change Activists will be held in Canberra on the weekend before the first day of the 2009 Federal Parliament - Saturday 31st January – Monday 2nd February 2009.

According to the organizers: “Australia's Climate Action Summit will be two days of facilitated meetings and workshops. There will be an open public program for anyone to join, and a restricted program for people from climate change groups, who will create a strategic national climate campaign and form a national grassroots network. The weekend will be followed on the Monday by one day of dynamic training in climate campaigning skills for taking action, facilitating climate action groups, effective lobbying and more.â€

On Tuesday 3rd February, the first day of the 2009 Federal Parliament, there will be a demonstration at Parliament House and the grassroots climate network created at Australia’s Climate Action Summit will launch its national campaign at Parliament House.

According to the organizers “One year into the Rudd Government we still haven't seen strong action for a safe climate. Current policies doom the Great Barrier Reef to extinction. Time is running out. 2009 is a critical year for an international agreement on climate change, so join with thousands of other Australians in demanding urgent action from our Government! Come to the two-day Summit or join the human circle around Parliament Houseâ€.

CRUCIAL to effective action on the Climate Emergency is clearly INFORMING the public, politicians and climate activists about (a) Climate Emergency FACTS and (B) required Climate Emergency ACTIONS.

The following suggested SUMMARY of key Climate Emergency Facts and Actions for the Australian Climate Action Summit is a distillation of key concerns raised within the Australian Climate Emergency Network (CEN) since its inception in Melbourne, Australia in 2008. Authoritative documentation of the following assertions can be found in many detailed documents placed on the Web for public information by the Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group.

Climate Emergency Facts

1. Expert opinion on Climate Emergency. We must take very seriously the views of top climate scientists and top scientists in relation to the Climate Emergency – just as we would the views of top medical specialists in relation to a serious medical problem – and many are stating that the World is facing a Climate Emergency and Sustainability Emergency e.g. Dr James Hansen (Head, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies): “we face a climate emergency†; Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty “we are in real danger†; Professor David de Kretser AC: “There is no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest problem confronting mankind at this time and that it has reached the level of a state of emergencyâ€.

2. Expert opinion on climate position. According to Dr Hansen and 8 UK, French and US climate change scientist co-authors (2008):

“Paleoclimate data show that climate sensitivity is ~3 deg-C for doubled CO2 [carbon dioxide; atmospheric CO2 280 ppm pre-industrial], including only fast feedback processes. Equilibrium sensitivity, including slower surface albedo feedbacks, is ~6 deg-C for doubled CO2 for the range of climate states between glacial conditions and ice-free Antarctica. Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 450 +/- 100 ppm [parts per million], a level that will be exceeded within decades, barring prompt policy changes. If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that

3. Expert opinion on where climate is going. Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia):

“For some time now, climate scientists warned that melting of subpolar permafrost and warming of the Arctic Sea (up to 4 degrees C during 2005–2008 relative to the 1951–1980) are likely to result in the dissociation of methane hydrates and the release of this powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere (methane: 62 times the infrared warming effect of CO2 over 20 years and 21 times over 100 years) … The amount of carbon stored in Arctic sediments and permafrost is estimated as 500–2500 Gigaton Carbon (GtC), as compared with the world’s total fossil fuel reserves estimated as 5000 GtC. Compare with the 700 GtC of the atmosphere, which regulate CO2 levels in the range of 180–300 parts per million and land temperatures in a range of about – 50 to + 50 degrees C, which allowed the evolution of warm blooded mammals. The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added some 305 GtC to the atmosphere together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date, leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years (Ma) ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2–3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres. There is little evidence for an extinction at 3 Ma. However, by crossing above a CO2 level of 400 ppm the atmosphere is moving into uncharted territory. At this stage, enhanced methane leaks threaten climate events, such as the massive methane release and fauna extinction of 55 million years ago, which was marked by rise of CO2 to near-1000 ppmâ€.

4. Expert opinion about current and future biological consequences. With atmospheric CO2 at 387 ppm (versus 280 ppm pre-industrial and presently increasing at 2.5 ppm per year) and global average temperature 0.8 degree C above pre-industrial, the World is already seeing mass species extinction at rates 100-1,000 times that in the fossil record (see: nature.com and nationalgeographic.com); major ecosystems are being destroyed due to drought, deforestation, Arctic ice melting, tundra melting, glacier melting, and ocean warming and acidification (see IPCC); world coral reefs have already been severely damaged and will die above 450 ppm CO2 from ocean warming and acidification (see: sciencemag.org ; abc.net.au); ocean phytoplankton and the Greenland ice sheet go above 500 ppm CO2; (see Dr James Lovelock’s book “The Revenge of Gaiaâ€); already 16 million people die avoidably each year due to increasingly climate-impacted deprivation (see my books “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950â€: and “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainabilityâ€); and according to top UK climate scientist Dr James Lovelock FRS over 6 billion people will perish this century due to unaddressed anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Climate Emergency Actions

1. Our core values must be that we have no right to bargain away the lives of others – there must be a safe climate future for all people, all species, and all generations, NOW e.g. the survival of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is simply NOT negotiable.

2. Our core goals must be concurrent halt to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, removal of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to less than 350 ppm, and active cooling of the Earth (by re-afforestation, biochar addition to depleted soils).

3. Core scientific risk management methodology must be generally adopted – this successively involving (a) accurate data (with zero tolerance for lying), (B) scientific analysis (this involving the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses), and © systemic change and INFORMING (to rationally minimize risk with requisite urgency).

4. Cessation of fossil fuel burning must occur ASAP with concurrent rapid uptake of non-carbon renewable (solar, wind, wave) and geothermal energy systems, the best of which are now roughly equivalent in cost to the “market cost†of coal burning.

5. To accelerate cessation of fossil fuel burning, society must insist that the “true cost†of fossil fuel burning (4-5 times that of the “market costâ€; huge environmental cost and human avoidable morbidity and avoidable mortality) be identified, sourced and fully met by the perpetrators (the World may apply Sanctions against the worst climate criminal nations).

6. There must be immediate cessation of huge direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuel burning (currently $10 billion per annum in Australia, population 21 million).

7. Livestock contribute 18% of annual man-made greenhouse gas pollution globally. Methanogenic livestock must be rapidly phased out (e.g. by high conversion efficiency fish aquaculture, soy milk, plant-derived protein and fat).

8. Deforestation contributes about 20% of annual man-made greenhouse gas pollution globally but can be halved for a mere $20 billion per annum disincentive paid to the Third World (cheap solar cooking can also make a massive contribution).

9. Non-carbon public transport must rapidly replace carbon-based private transport, freeway-based systems and the genocidal Western “food for fuel†biofuel perversion.

10. Urgent population control is required coupled with major resource use efficiency and global equity (e.g. Australia’s annual per capita carbon pollution is about 10 times the global average) – all achievable with truth, reason and cultural change.

Australia is the World’s biggest coal exporter and is among the World’s worst greenhouse gas polluters (Australia’s annual per capita Domestic and Exported fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution is about 10 times that of the World and of China, about 40 times that of India and about 160 times that of Bangladesh; see ““Coal is King†Australia CO2 pollution Fact Sheetâ€) .

Paradoxically, while Australia is a world-leading carbon polluter, Australia is itself seriously threatened by climate change – the Great Barrier Reef is acutely threatened by ocean warming and acidification; the warming of the Indian Ocean is forcing water-bearing weather southwards, causing severe, sustained drought in the southern Australian states; the Northern Territory Kakadu wetlands and the huge and agriculturally vital Murray-Darling River system are severely threatened.

For a cogent analysis of this kind of greed-driven, denial-enabled, slow, collective suicide see Professor Jared Diamond’s seminal book “Collapse†about the collapse of civilizations (it includes a chapter on Australia).

The global Climate Emergency means that ALL countries need to act urgently on man-made greenhouse gas pollution to reduce atmospheric CO2 to below 350 ppm. Please use the above key Climate Emergency Facts and Actions Summary in YOUR advocacy in YOUR country.

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Here is my Letter to President Obama's Energy Transition Team: Dear Mr. Podesta, Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY! Modern Pyrolysis of biomass is a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration,10X Lower Methane & N2O soil emissions, and 3X Fertility Too. Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration, Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle. Charles Mann ("1491") in the Sept. National Geographic has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage. I think Biochar has climbed the pinnacle, the Combined English and other language circulation of NGM is nearly nine million monthly with more than fifty million readers monthly! We need to encourage more coverage now, to ride Mann's coattails to public critical mass. Please put this (soil) bug in your colleague's ears. These issues need to gain traction among all the various disciplines who have an iron in this fire. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/09/soil/mann-text I love the "MEGO" factor theme Mann built the story around. Lord... how I KNOW that reaction. I like his characterization concerning the pot shards found in Terra Preta soils; so filled with pottery - "It was as if the river's first inhabitants had thrown a huge, rowdy frat party, smashing every plate in sight, then buried the evidence." Biochar data base; http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=node I also have been trying to convince Michael Pollan ( NYT Food Columnist, Author ) to do a follow up story, with pleading emails to him Since the NGM cover reads "WHERE FOOD BEGINS" , I thought this would be right down his alley and focus more attention on Mann's work. I've admiried his ability since "Botany of Desire" to over come the "MEGO" factor (My Eyes Glaze Over) and make food & agriculture into page turners. It's what Mann hasn't covered that I thought should interest any writer as a follow up article and your transition team The Biochar provisions by Sen.Ken Salazar in the 07 & 08 farm bill, http://www.biochar-international.org/newinformationevents/newlegislation.html NASA's Dr. James Hansen Global warming solutions paper and letter to the G-8 conference, placing Biochar / Land management the central technology for carbon negative energy systems. http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0804/0804.1126.pdf The many new university programs & field studies, in temperate soils; Cornell, ISU, U of H, U of GA, Virginia Tech, New Zealand and Australia. Glomalin's role in soil tilth, fertility & basis for the soil food web in Terra Preta soils. The International Biochar Initiative Conference Sept 8 in New Castle; http://www.biochar-international.org/ibi2008conference/aboutibi2008conference.html Given the current "Crisis" atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all? This is a Nano technology for the soil that represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability. Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it. Michael Pollan is well briefed about Biochar technology, but did not include it in his "Farmer & Chief" article, but I'm sure Biochar will be his 8001th word to you. Erich 540 289 9750

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This is an interesting posting to me, an American. It's great to see how interested people in Australia are hoping to make a difference. You mention the Rudd administration... I fear that the new Obama administration in the US will make little difference in the overall level of pollution from the USA. He is proving to be more interested in the economy than anything else, which usually means that the environment gets exploited for the economy's sake... Read more of my thoughts at www.otecology.blogspot.com

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