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944RE: WorldTransport Forum Re: Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst

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  • Ruben Nelson
    Dec 14, 2008

      Zvi, et al,


      I share the sense in the recent posts that as a species “we are in far more trouble than we know;” and that even those who are our opinion leaders, much less those who are led, carry on as if business as usual will work for yet another century.  They have not yet been startled by the facts that shout, “Life as you have known it is over.”


      I respond because your words touched me:  “What to do? I have no idea.” 


      I wish I could assure you that others do know how to answer Lenin’s question. “What is to be done?”  I cannot.  However, I have some hope that within five years we will see a project emerge that is focused on the urgent need to adapt whole civilizations to the emerging conditions of the 21st Century – a project that as with the Manhattan project in the 1940s is flooded with money and the very best researchers and practitioners on the planet.  The issue behind climate change has always been the need for the continuing adaptation of whole civilizations.  We have wasted 30 years by focusing so tightly on the symptoms without wondering about or inquiring into the underlying malady.  




      Ruben Nelson



      From: WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of zvileve
      Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 5:48 AM
      To: WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: WorldTransport Forum Re: Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst


      And this is coming from the UK , where at least some decision makers
      have their heads "above water." In North America (and many developing
      countries - at least the ones I am familiar with), it is sad to say
      but it seems that we all have our heads deep in the sand! There is no
      sense of 'imminent danger', no feeling that a complete and utter
      rethink of our relationship with this planet is necessary.

      Unless we get over our addiction to energy consumption, in all it's
      forms (not only transportation related), I fear that Keynes' dictum
      that "in the long run we're all dead" will become a self-fulfilling
      prophesy. What to do? I have no idea. Mankind has always proved itself
      highly adept at exploiting it's local environment, and now our "local
      environment" is the entire planet. For a start, we need to find a way
      to go on a serious *global* birth-control program.

      Happy days....


      --- In WorldTransport@ yahoogroups. com,

      On Behalf Of Robin Chase wrote:
      > On Behalf Of Robin Chase
      > Read the below and do what ever is in your power to effect the
      immediate and
      > difficult changes that need to happen in Washington to make us get
      with the
      > program: $5/gas starting Jan 21 plus a cap and trade program put in
      place as
      > quickly as we can.
      > Robin
      <http://www.guardian .co.uk/environme nt/2008/dec/ 09/poznan- copenhagen- global-
      > warming-targets- climate-change>
      > Tue, 09 Dec 2008
      > Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst
      > As ministers and officials gather in Poznan one year ahead of the
      > summit on global warming, the second part of a major series looks at the
      > crucial issue of targets
      > * David Adam
      > * The Guardian, Tuesday December 9 2008
      > At a high-level academic conference on global warming at Exeter
      > this summer, climate scientist Kevin Anderson stood before his expert
      > audience and contemplated a strange feeling. He wanted to be wrong.
      Many of
      > those in the room who knew what he was about to say felt the same. His
      > conclusions had already caused a stir in scientific and political
      > Even committed green campaigners said the implications left them
      > Anderson, an expert at the Tyndall Centre for
      > <http://www.guardian .co.uk/environme nt/climatechange>Climate Change
      > at Manchester University , was about to send the gloomiest dispatch
      yet from
      > the frontline of the war against climate change.
      > Despite the political rhetoric, the scientific warnings, the media
      > and the corporate promises, he would say,
      > <http://www..guardian .co.uk/environme nt/carbonemissio ns>carbon
      emissions were
      > soaring way out of control - far above even the bleak scenarios
      > by last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
      > (IPCC) and the Stern review. The battle against dangerous climate
      change had
      > been lost, and the world needed to prepare for things to get very,
      very bad.
      > "As an academic I wanted to be told that it was a very good piece of
      > and that the conclusions were sound," Anderson said. "But as a human
      being I
      > desperately wanted someone to point out a mistake, and to tell me we
      had got
      > it completely wrong."
      > Nobody did. The cream of the UK climate science community sat in stunned
      > silence as Anderson pointed out that carbon emissions since 2000
      have risen
      > much faster than anyone thought possible, driven mainly by the
      > economic boom in the developing world. So much extra pollution is being
      > pumped out, he said, that most of the climate targets debated by
      > and campaigners are fanciful at best, and "dangerously misguided" at
      > In the jargon used to count the steady accumulation of carbon
      dioxide in the
      > Earth's thin layer of atmosphere, he said it was "improbable" that
      > could now be restricted to 650 parts per million
      > (ppm).
      > The CO2 level is currently over 380ppm, up from 280ppm at the time
      of the
      > industrial revolution, and it rises by more than 2ppm each year. The
      > government's official position is that the world should aim to cap
      this rise
      > at 450ppm.
      > The science is fuzzy, but experts say that could offer an even-money
      > of limiting the eventual temperature rise above pre-industrial times
      to 2C,
      > which the EU defines as dangerous. (We have had 0.7C of that already
      and an
      > estimated extra 0.5C is guaranteed because of emissions to date.)
      > The graphs on the large screens behind Anderson 's head at Exeter told a
      > different story. Line after line, representing the fumes that belch from
      > chimneys, exhausts and jet engines, that should have bent in a rapid
      > towards the ground, were heading for the ceiling instead.
      > At 650ppm, the same fuzzy science says the world would face a
      > 4C average rise. And even that bleak future, Anderson said, could
      only be
      > achieved if rich countries adopted "draconian emission reductions
      within a
      > decade". Only an unprecedented "planned economic recession" might be
      > The current financial woes would not come close.
      > Lost cause
      > Anderson is not the only expert to voice concerns that current
      targets are
      > hopelessly optimistic. Many scientists, politicians and campaigners
      > privately admit that 2C is a lost cause. Ask for projections around the
      > dinner table after a few bottles of wine and more vote for 650ppm than
      > 450ppm as the more likely outcome.
      > Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Environment Department and a
      former head
      > of the IPCC, warned this year that the world needed to prepare for a
      > 4C rise, which would wipe out hundreds of species, bring extreme
      food and
      > water shortages in vulnerable countries and cause floods that would
      > hundreds of millions of people. Warming would be much more severe
      > the poles, which could accelerate melting of the Greenland and West
      > Antarctic ice sheets.
      > Watson said: "We must alert everybody that at the moment we're at
      the very
      > top end of the worst case [emissions] scenario. I think we should be
      > striving for 450 [ppm] but I think we should be prepared that 550
      [ppm] is a
      > more likely outcome." Hitting the 450ppm target, he said, would be
      > "unbelievably difficult".
      > A report for the Australian government this autumn suggested that the
      > 450ppm goal is so ambitious that it could wreck attempts to agree a new
      > global deal on global warming at Copenhagen next year. The report, from
      > economist Ross Garnaut and dubbed the Australian Stern review, says
      > must accept that a greater amount of warming is inevitable, or risk a
      > failure to agree that "would haunt humanity until the end of time".
      > It says developed nations including Britain , the US and Australia , would
      > have to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 5% each year over the next
      > to hit the 450ppm target. Britain 's Climate Change Act 2008, the most
      > ambitious legislation of its kind in the world, calls for reductions of
      > about 3% each year to 2050.
      > Garnaut, a professorial fellow in economics at Melbourne University ,
      > "Achieving the objective of 450ppm would require tighter constraints on
      > emissions than now seem likely in the period to 2020 ... The only
      > alternative would be to impose even tighter constraints on developing
      > countries from 2013, and that does not appear to be realistic at
      this time."
      > The report adds: "The awful arithmetic means that exclusively
      focusing on a
      > 450ppm outcome, at this moment, could end up providing another
      reason for
      > not reaching an international agreement to reduce emissions. In the
      > meantime, the cost of excessive focus on an unlikely goal could
      consign to
      > history any opportunity to lock in an agreement for stabilising at
      550ppm -
      > a more modest, but still difficult, international outcome. An effective
      > agreement around 550ppm would be vastly superior to continuation of
      > as usual."
      > Henry Derwent, former head of the UK 's international climate negotiating
      > team and now president of the International Emissions Trading
      > said a new climate treaty was unlikely to include a stabilisation goal -
      > either 450ppm or 550ppm.

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