What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Sheffield Star online post #2 - by Robb

As a volunteer for the South Yorkshire Energy Center I have been asked to contribute to one of our local Sheffield newspapers online edition, the Sheffield Star. Post #1 was in the way of introductions, this is post #2. I apologise to those of you who have seen some of this in my blog before but I think it bears repeating. I will include the rest of the posts a week or so after I submit them to the paper and they will begin to deal with personal action, efficiency, and rationale behind reducing energy use, primarily in the built environment.

“A Sustainable Life” - a column by C Robb Worthington of the South Yorkshire Energy Center.


Without an accurate understanding of the situation this generation faces it is very difficult to understand why we should take any action at all to address climate change, plan for peak oil, perhaps even to re-purpose our lives.

Many scientists, including Dr. James Hansen, the NASA scientist that the Bush administration tried so hard to muzzle, have reminded us that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports weren’t capable of giving us the most accurate and up to date picture of the state of our planet. Because of the process necessary to publish these reports the submission date for the science in the latest IPCC report was in 2005. Unfortunately, many if not most governmental efforts are based on the science from this report.

Recent science paints a much gloomier picture. For instance, Dr. Hansen predicts a sea level rise closer to 5 meters by 2100, not the modest 1 meter so often quoted, if trends continue and CO2 levels are not reduced by at least 80%. (UK Indymedia 2007) George Monbiot reckons greenhouse gas emission reductions need to approach 96% in the UK and 98% in the US if we are going to stabilize the situation. (Monbiot 2007)

Much climate science has taken place since the cutoff for the last IPCC report. Here are just a few tidbits.

Ocean science in 2007;
• the oceans are beginning to release stored CO2,
• the Atlantic ocean’s ability to absorb CO2 has dropped by half,
• sea levels are rising faster than predicted,
• there has been a 30% reduction in the flow of the Gulf Stream.

Positive feedback loops science in 2007;
• arctic lakes are releasing CO2 and methane,
• tundra is disappearing and permafrost is melting releasing stored CO2.

Co2 measurements from 2007;
• at it’s highest level in 650,000 years, rising much faster than previously thought.
Ice science from 2007;

• glaciers are melting 6 times faster than in the 80’s,

• many glaciers are advancing toward the sea much faster,

• Antarctica is warming fastest of any area on earth.

In 2007 11 of the past 12 years were the warmest on record. (IndyMedia 2007)

At the beginning of this article I said it was about the situation this generation faces. The generations that follow face an unknown situation, but it is a situation we will decide. We can choose to leave them with a planet with vastly reduced biodiversity, flooded coastal cities, water and food scarcity on a global scale, more resource wars; in short, nothing like the rich comfortable planet we inherited. Or we can choose to focus all our efforts to avoid that legacy. This is the situation we face.


UK Indymedia article by Don Beck 02/12/2007 “Un-Nerving Update to recent Climate Report” accessed online 28/06/08 http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/12/386936.html

Monbiot, George 04/12/2007 “What is Progress” at monbiot.com accessed online 28/06/08 http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/12/04/what-is-progress/

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