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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.
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Saturday, 11 December 2010
What's next for our beleaguered climate?
Now that Cancun has followed on the heels of Copenhagen as possibly the most futile if not downright destructive gathering of governments the world has ever seen, I'm left to ponder the state of the climate and wonder just why we in North America are actually going backwards. Canada is ramping up development of the Tar Sands and actively working to prevent research into and public knowledge about the warming Arctic. Here in the US we've elected many folks who in most other countries would be considered insane, denying that we even have a problem. All around me the populace continues to hold on to the fantasy that we can and should go back to some idealized America of the 1950's with all of it's attendant ism's, optimism and racism included.
Meanwhile the peer reviewed and hard headed science moves on. The IPCC process while rigorous and useful on some level is 4 years out of date at the time publishing it's report, which makes it almost 8 years out of date now, and unfortunately this is what most governments are relying on in considering our future response to the very grave threats we face.
What most folks don't seem to understand is that the much touted 2ºC limit is not some "acceptable" level of warming, it means significant changes on our planet and to human civilization. It is, as David Wasdell says, a border between dangerous and extremely dangerous. And worse, there is no chance that we can hold ourselves to even that limit. The Royal Society of Britain has published peer reviewed papers recently, containing data from much more recent science (though still a year old due to the process of peer review to insure accuracy), that indicates that with the current sets of promises, even if we live up them, we are headed for a 4ºC rise at the very least! This signals catastrophic change in our environment.
How have we let the situation get to such an extreme? To draw once again from David Wasdell, think of it this way. If our population was addicted to heroin and it was running our civilization and the planet into the ground we would not let those most involved in profitting from that addiction set policy. That is the situation we are in, the energy companies, the transportation industry, the industrial agriculture companies, and the media industry that popularizes their products are in control and are doing everything in their power to stop change that is absolutely vital to our future on this earth. We have have handed them this power up to a point with our consumerist ways but they don't need our input anymore, they choose who gets elected, and then dictate policy as they have just done in Cancun.
Welcome to Planet Eaarth
You can hear an insightful and educational interview with Joe Romm of Climate Progress and Mr. Wasdell over on Radio Ecoshock and here in our Sustainable Living Audio player for a while as well. All the links following are taken from the Radio Ecoshock blog site.
You can hear Wasdell's lecture "Beyond the Tipping Point" here.
"Check out the Downloads and video, for talks at the "4 Degrees & Beyond" International Climate Conference 28-30 September 2009, Oxford UK."
"Pay special attention to this talk by Richard Betts, which includes (at 16 minute mark) the very points David Wasdell raises - that serious positive feedback loops are still left out of climate models (which leads to underestimates of the real possibilities). "
"THE ROYAL SOCIETY "FOUR DEGREES & BEYOND" THEME ISSUE
Joe Romm's introduction to these papers (and why they matter)."
"The Royal Society web page for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society "4 Degrees and Beyond" theme issue:
Some of the papers are now subscription only, having been offered to the public for a few days. Given the seriousness of crashing the Earth's climate system, and in the spirit of Wikileaks, I've posted all the papers here, as pdf files.
Editorial by David Garner
Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows
Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world
Niel H. A. Bowerman, David J. Frame, Chris Huntingford, Jason A. Lowe, and Myles R. Allen
Cumulative carbon emissions, emissions floors and short-term rates of warming: implications for policy
Richard A. Betts, Matthew Collins, Deborah L. Hemming, Chris D. Jones, Jason A. Lowe, and Michael G. Sanderson
When could global warming reach 4°C?
M. G. Sanderson, D. L. Hemming, and R. A. Betts
Regional temperature and precipitation changes under high-end (≥4°C) global warming
Fai Fung, Ana Lopez, and Mark New
Water availability in +2°C and +4°C worlds
Philip K. Thornton, Peter G. Jones, Polly J. Ericksen, and Andrew J. Challinor
Agriculture and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa in a 4°C+ world
Przemyslaw Zelazowski, Yadvinder Malhi, Chris Huntingford, Stephen Sitch, and Joshua B. Fisher
Changes in the potential distribution of humid tropical forests on a warmer planet
Robert J. Nicholls, Natasha Marinova, Jason A. Lowe, Sally Brown, Pier Vellinga, Diogo de Gusmão, Jochen Hinkel, and Richard S. J. Tol
Sea-level rise and its possible impacts given a ‘beyond 4°C world’ in the twenty-first century
Mark Stafford Smith, Lisa Horrocks, Alex Harvey, and Clive Hamilton
Rethinking adaptation for a 4°C world
Climate-induced population displacements in a 4 degree C + world
The role of interactions in a world implementing adaptation and mitigation solutions to climate change.
AND HERE IS WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DAVID WASDELL
David Wasdell Bio
David Wasdell video presentation, Tallberg Sweden 2008
David Wasdell videos
The Apollo-Gaia web site
Another important Wasdell paper, with the graphs and charts helpful for both his video at Talberg, and his Radio Ecoshock interview. "Runaway Climate Change, Boundary Conditions & Implications for Policy"." - Thanks to Alex Smith at Radio Ecoshock