Friday, June 24, 2011

Climate Disruption & Penultimate Bengali Holocaust through Sea Level Rise

Climate Disruption, Climate Emergency, Climate Genocide & Penultimate Bengali Holocaust through Sea Level Rise

Climate Disruption, Climate Emergency, Climate Genocide & Penultimate Bengali Holocaust through Sea Level Rise.

Mega-delta Bengal (Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal) is acutely threatened by man-made global warming (anthropogenic global warming, AGW) due to inundation due sea level rise (SLR) and storm surges from greatly more energetic hurricanes. I warned of this impending disaster a decade ago in a book entitled “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British history. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998; an updated 2008 has been published). The following review of the latest findings by top climate scientists concludes that Bangladesh - one of the world’s lowest annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) polluters - faces inundation from a circa 1 metre sea level rise this century that will submerge about 20% of Bangladesh, displacing tens of millions of people, and reducing its rice-farming land by 50 percent. Globally, a 1 metre SLR would create more than 100 million environmental refugees, notably from the inundation of mega-delta regions of countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia. Burma, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands, Brazil and the United States.

Deliberate, knowing, man-made GHG pollution by European countries in the full knowledge of the mass mortality consequences for vulnerable, non-polluting, non-European countries such as Bangladesh (10 billion non-Europeans are predicted to perish this century due to AGW) gives rise to the self-explanatory terms of climate racism, climate injustice, climate terror, climate terrorism, climate holocaust, climate genocide and climate justice. The following update about this impending latest Bengali Holocaust from man-made global warming is carefully documented with the very latest 2007-2009 data from authoritative sources.

Science is about the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses. Such scientific hypotheses can be about (a) present physical and biological realities (e.g. various greenhouse gas and other contributions or “forcings” toward global warming), (b) past events (e.g. sea levels 14,000 years Before Present or 3 million years BP) and (c) future events (e.g. global warming effects on sea level this century and beyond).

Scientific hypotheses about past, present and future sea levels are extremely important for humanity because such a high proportion of humanity live near the sea. According to Michael Le Page in the New Scientist: “While a mere 2 per cent of the world's land is less than 10 metres above the mid-tide sea level, it is home to 10 % of the world's population - 630 million and counting - and much valuable property and vital infrastructure. Without mega-engineering projects to protect them, a 5-metre rise would inundate large parts of many cities - including New York, London, Sydney, Vancouver, Mumbai and Tokyo - and leave surrounding areas vulnerable to storm surges. In Florida, Louisiana, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and elsewhere, whole regions and cities may vanish. China's economic powerhouse, Shanghai, has an average elevation of just 4 metres”. [1].

According to top US scientist Professor John Holdren (Harvard University, Director of the Woods Hole Research Centre, former chairperson of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and newly-appointed as President Obama’s chief science adviser) climate disruption from global warming is already happening around the world: “Melting land ice and thermal expansion of ocean water are raising sea level … 1993-2003 ~ 30mm=3.0 mm/yr; compare 1910-1990 = 1.5 +/- 0.5 mm/yr”. However sea level rise is but one parameter in an increasing burden of what Professor Holdren calls “climatic disruption” e.g. (1) the extraordinary post-industrial spikes in the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) concentration in the atmosphere (from 280 ppm to 397 ppm and from 750 ppb to 1800 ppb, respectively); (2) increase in global average surface temperature (0.8oC since 1890, noting that 90% of the extra heat has gone into the oceans and that the biggest surface temperature changes are in the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsular); (3) massive shrinking of glaciers (with the melting of Himalaya glaciers having serious implications for major river water flows in South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia); (4) weakening of the East Asia Monsoon (with northern drought and southern floods in China); (5) increasing permafrost thawing (with attendant CO2 and methane – 21 times worse as a greenhouse gas than CO2 on a 100 year basis release - and accelerated global warming); (6) “the incidence of floods is up almost everywhere”; (7) “wildfires in the Western USA have increased 4-fold in the last 30 years” (acres burnt in the 1960s and 1970s averaged about 0.5-1 million annually; acres burnt in the 21st century range from 2.5 -4.5 million); (8) over the last half century “total power released by tropical cyclones has increased [roughly doubled] along with sea surface temperature”; (9) “arctic sea ice is disappearing” (Arctic ice experts now say that all summer sea ice will be gone in 2015); and “under BAU [business as usual] much bigger disruption is coming” and “past IPCC assessments have underestimated the rate of growth of emissions” (indeed the actual CO2 emissions in GtC/yr [gigatonnes carbon per year = billions of tonnes of carbon per year] are well above the worst IPCC scenarios). [2, 3].

South Asia (2005 population 1.5 billion) is acutely threatened by global warming and the already evident “climate disruption” as set out by Professor John Holdren (President Obama’s chief scientific adviser), noting that, for example, Bangladesh has 2.4% of the world’s population but contributes only 0.1% of the world’s GHG emissions whereas the US with about 5% of the world’s population is responsible for 25% of global GHG emissions. The key environmental and economic threats to South Asia include (1) inundation and salinization of mega-delta coastal areas due to sea level rise; (2) exacerbation of coastal flooding by storm surges from more frequent and more energetic hurricanes; (3) increased river flooding (compounded by sea level rise in mega-delta coastal areas); (4) landslides (e.g. in Assam and due to flooding and compounded by deforestation); (5) changes in monsoon and other weather patterns variously resulting in drought and flooding ; (6) melting of Himalaya glaciers threatening water supply to major South Asian rivers; (7) increased temperature threatening increased heat stress to humans, animals and plants; (8) decreased agricultural production due to increased temperature, changes in weather patterns, river flooding, drought, coastal salinization, coastal inundation from sea level rises and storm surges; (9) health threats from flooding, disease spread, pollution from fossil fuel burning and forest fires and from potable water shortages; (10) mass starvation due to production deficit, legislatively mandated US and EU biofuel perversion and a globalized food market; (11) huge threat to remaining wild nature (notably to coral reefs due to increased ocean acidification and ocean warming); (12) increased conflict threats over climate refugees (climate change refugees) and decreased water supply. Many of these threats are being partly realized already. [4].

In relation to sea level rises all South Asian countries with mega-delta regions (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) are threatened already. Bangladesh is most acutely threatened because about half of the country is threatened with inundation due to river floods or sea level rise. The Maldives are threatened by coral reef destruction, sea level rise and storm surges (and indeed is reported to be investing in land in other countries). The World Development Movement provides the following sober assessments of the threat to Bangladesh : “”Severe floods with devastating effects on people’s livelihoods used to happen once every twenty years. They are now occurring every five t seven years, taking place in 1987, 1988, 1998 and 2004 … The increased flooding corresponds with what climate scientists predict will happen to Bangladesh as the world gets warmer. Higher sea temperatures will make cyclones more frequent and intense, rising sea levels will both flood low-lying land and slows the speed at which rivers can remove water from the land, and rainfall could increase by 10 to 15 percent by 2030. All of which will mean increased flooding across the country. Floods in 2004 were some of the severest in decades leaving 1,000 people dead and 30 million homeless.” [5].

The World Development Movement estimates that “Alongside yearly floods, rising sea-levels could be calamitous. A 45 cm sea level rise would reduce Bangladesh’s land area by 11 per cent and force 5.5 million people to migrate. A 100 cm rise would remove 20 per cent of the land area, causing 15 million people to migrate. And millions more people will be forced to live in flood endangered areas”. [5].

Moudud Ahmed (Minister for Law and Justice, Bangladesh): “The developing countries like Bangladesh are facing detrimental and hazaerdous sutitation due to unbridled emissions of industrialized countries”. Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK: “Lives in Bangladesh will be devastated through no fault of the people concerned. We are not causing the climate change that is killing our people. The average Bangladeshi produces 0.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum” [as compared (2004 values) to 10 by the UK, 18 by Canada, 19 by Australia (40 if you include Australia’s world-leading coal exports), and 20 by the US]. [5-6].

In 2000 Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution (tonnes CO2-e per person per year) was 44.2 versus 3.9 for the annual per capita GHG pollution by China. Based on US EIA data projections and Labor GHG pollution policy (and assuming population stasis at 21 million) Australia’s Domestic plus Exported CO2-e pollution will reach 59 in 2020 (15 times China’s 2000 annual per capita GHG pollution value) and 75.5 by 2050 (19 times China’s 2000 value of 3.9; 33 times Pakistan’s 2000 value of 2.3; 40 times India’s 2000 value of 1.9; and 84 times Bangladesh’s 2000 value of 0.9) [6, 7].

For what we can expect in terms of sea level rises this century - given the “business as usual” GHG pollution of the world - we must turn to top climate scientists, noting that the IPCC Report (2007) has clearly under-estimated the severity of the problem due to . non-linear increases in global warming due to “positive feedback” mechanisms. Thus such accelerating, positive feedback mechanisms include the “albedo flip” that involves converting light-reflecting ice and snow to light-absorbing dark sea water; the release from thawing tundra permafrost of methane which is 21 times worse than CO2 on a 100 year time frame; the lubrication of glacier movement to the sea by melt water; greatly decreased net absorption of CO2 by the Southern Ocean due to increased storms; and compounding effects of drought and fires on net CO2 sequestration by forests. [3].

Top US climate scientist Professor James Hansen (Head, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and adjunct professor, Columbia University) offered this assessment in 2007: “I find it almost inconceivable that "business as usual" climate change will not result in a rise in sea level measured in metres within a century … So why do I think a sea level rise of metres would be a near certainty if greenhouse gas emissions keep increasing? Because while the growth of great ice sheets takes millennia, the disintegration of ice sheets is a wet process that can proceed rapidly. Sea level is already rising at a moderate rate. In the past decade, it increased by 3 centimetres, about double the average rate during the preceding century. The rate of sea level rise over the 20th century was itself probably greater than the rate in the prior millennium, and this is due at least in part to human activity. About half of the increase is accounted for by thermal expansion of ocean water as a result of global warming. Melting mountain glaciers worldwide are responsible for several centimetres of the increase … As an example, let us say that ice sheet melting adds 1 centimetre to sea level for the decade 2005 to 2015, and that this doubles each decade until the West Antarctic ice sheet is largely depleted. This would yield a rise in sea level of more than 5 metres by 2095 … Of course, I cannot prove that my choice of a 10-year doubling time is accurate but I'd bet $1000 to a doughnut that it provides a far better estimate of the ice sheet's contribution to sea level rise than a linear response. In my opinion, if the world warms by 2 °C to 3 °C, such massive sea level rise is inevitable, and a substantial fraction of the rise would occur within a century. Business-as-usual global warming would almost surely send the planet beyond a tipping point, guaranteeing a disastrous degree of sea level rise … Indeed, the palaeoclimate record contains numerous examples of ice sheets yielding sea level rises of several metres per century when forcings were smaller than that of the business-as-usual scenario. For example, about 14,000 years ago, sea level rose approximately 20 metres in 400 years, or about 1 metre every 20 years … the Earth is gaining more heat than it is losing: currently 0.5 to 1 watts per square metre. This planetary energy imbalance is sufficient to melt ice corresponding to 1 metre of sea level rise per decade, if the extra energy were used entirely for that purpose - and the energy imbalance could double if emissions keep growing … The threat of large sea level change is a principal element in my argument that the global community must aim to restrict any further global warming to less than 1 °C above the temperature in 2000. This implies a CO2 limit of about 450 parts per million or less. Such scenarios require almost immediate changes to get energy and greenhouse gas emissions onto a fundamentally different path.” [8].

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” [noting that part of this sea level rise might occur over several centuries]. [9].

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research., Germany): "It is a compromise between ambition and feasibility. A rise of 2oC could avoid some of the big environmental disasters, but it is still only a compromise…It is a very sweeping argument, but nobody can say for sure that 330ppm is safe. Perhaps it will not matter whether we have 270ppm or 320ppm, but operating well outside the [historic] realm of carbon dioxide concentrations is risky as long as we have not fully understood the relevant feedback mechanisms" [280 ppm is the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration]. [10].

For the most recent estimations one turns to a report from the 2009 International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen at which estimates of over 1 metre rise in sea level were given. [11].

Thus Professor Stefan Rahmstorf ( Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany), 2009: "The sea-level rise may well exceed one meter [3.28 feet] by 2100 if we continue on our path of increasing emissions. Even for a low emission scenario, the best estimate is about one meter…With stiff reductions in 2050 you can end the temperature curve [rise] quite quickly, but there's not much you can do to the sea-level rise anymore. We are setting in motion processes that will lead to sea levels rising for centuries to come." [11].

Professor Konrad Steffen (Greenland researcher, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA), 2009: "The ice loss in Greenland shows an acceleration during the last decade. The upper range of sea-level rise by 2100 might be above one meter or more on a global average, with large regional differences depending where the source of ice loss occurs.” [11].

Dr John Church (Center for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia), 2009: "We could pass a threshold during the 21st century that can commit the world to meters of sea-level rise. Short-term emission goals are critical." [11].

Drs Pfeffer, Harper and O’Neal (Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA; Department of Geosciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT USA; and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA) : “On the basis of climate modeling and analogies with past conditions, the potential for multimeter increases in sea level by the end of the 21st century has been proposed. We consider glaciological conditions required for large sea-level rise to occur by 2100 and conclude that increases in excess of 2 meters are physically untenable. We find that a total sea-level rise of about 2 meters by 2100 could occur under physically possible glaciological conditions but only if all variables are quickly accelerated to extremely high limits. More plausible but still accelerated conditions lead to total sea-level rise by 2100 of about 0.8 meter. These roughly constrained scenarios provide a "most likely" starting point for refinements in sea-level forecasts that include ice flow dynamics… On the basis of calculations presented here, we suggest that an improved estimate of the range of SLR to 2100 including increased ice dynamics lies between 0.8 and 2.0 m.… these values give a context and starting point for refinements in SLR [sea level rise] forecasts on the basis of clearly defined assumptions and offer a more plausible range of estimates than those neglecting the dominant ice dynamics term”. [12].

A recent summary of the latest estimates of SLR states: “Needless to say, a sea level rise of one meter by 2100 would be an unmitigated catastrophe for the planet, even if sea levels didn’t keep rising several inches a decade for centuries, which they inevitably would. The first meter of SLR would flood 17% of Bangladesh displacing tens of millions of people, and reducing its rice-farming land by 50 percent. Globally, it would create more than 100 million environmental refugees and inundate over 13,000 square miles of this country [the US]. Southern Louisiana and South Florida would inevitably be abandoned, especially in the face of a steadily increasing number of killer super-hurricanes”. [13].

The inundation effect of sea level rise is exacerbated due to the impact of salinization on coastal agriculture (most notably in rich meg-a-dleta regions) and the effect of cyclones (hurricanes) that are increasing in intensity. [2, 3]. The latest scientific estimation of the increased ferocity of tropical storms is quoted below.

Drs Elsner, Kossin and Jagger (Department of Geography, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA [1 and 3] and Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA [2]), 2008: “Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger on average, with a 30-year trend that has been related to an increase in ocean temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere. Over the rest of the tropics, however, possible trends in tropical cyclone intensity are less obvious, owing to the unreliability and incompleteness of the observational record and to a restricted focus, in previous trend analyses, on changes in average intensity. Here we overcome these two limitations by examining trends in the upper quantiles of per-cyclone maximum wind speeds (that is, the maximum intensities that cyclones achieve during their lifetimes), estimated from homogeneous data derived from an archive of satellite records. We find significant upward trends for wind speed quantiles above the 70th percentile, with trends as high as 0.3 plusminus 0.09 m s-1 yr-1 (s.e.) for the strongest cyclones. We note separate upward trends in the estimated lifetime-maximum wind speeds of the very strongest tropical cyclones (99th percentile) over each ocean basin, with the largest increase at this quantile occurring over the North Atlantic, although not all basins show statistically significant increases. Our results are qualitatively consistent with the hypothesis that as the seas warm, the ocean has more energy to convert to tropical cyclone wind”. [14].

Given these sobering prognostications, how likely is it that the world will take appropriate action in a timely fashion? Some authoritative comments about the gulf between “what is needed” and the current “business as usual” are given below.

Vickie Pope (head of Climate Change Advice, Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office): “Even with large and early cuts in emissions, the indications are that temperatures are likely to rise to around 2 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. If action is delayed or not quick enough, there is a large risk of much bigger increases in temperature, with some severe impacts. In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5 °C by the end of the century… Today, plants, soils and oceans absorb about half of the carbon dioxide emitted by man’s activities, limiting rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide, slowing global warming. But as temperatures increase the rate of absorption is very likely to decrease, a process called the ‘carbon cycle effect’. At higher temperatures plant matter in the soil breaks down more quickly releasing carbon more quickly and amplifying any warming. In addition methane and carbon dioxide released from the thawing of permafrost will add to the warming. Hence the risks of dangerous climate change will not increase slowly as Greenhouse gases increase. Instead, the risks will multiply if we do not reduce emissions fast enough”. [15].

Urgent action is needed to stop the catastrophic 450 ppm CO2 (2oC temperature rise over the preindustrial) that will lead to the destruction of world’s coral reefs, increased damage to of ocean fisheries, forests, ecosystems and agriculture, and worsening global avoidable mortality from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease. Unfortunately it appears that present socio-political-economic arrangements in the world are unable to meet the challenge. Thus top UK climate scientists Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester) have recently estimated that an annual 6-8% decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is required to stabilize atmospheric CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent) at a still catastrophic 450 ppm (parts per million). Unfortunately, the best Obama and Brown can offer is 2% annual GHG pollution decrease and the current policies of huge per capita GHG polluter Australia mean an annual 2% increase in Australia’s Domestic and Exported GHG pollution (subject to recession effects). [16-18].

Indeed Anderson and Bows say their data argue for a radical change in national and global arrangements: “According to the analysis conducted in this paper, stabilizing at 450 ppmv [carbon dioxide equivalent = CO2-e, atmospheric concentration 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” [16-18].

George Monbiot (2008) in relation to “Is it too late?”: “Can we do it? Search me. Reviewing the new evidence, I have to admit that we might have left it too late. But there is another question I can answer more easily. Can we afford not to try? No we can’t.” [18]. Professor James Lovelock (2009) being interviews for New Scientist: [do we have time … carbon emissions control?] “Not a hope in hell. Most of the "green" stuff is verging on a gigantic scam. Carbon trading with its huge government subsidies, is just what finance and industry wanted. It's not going to do a damn thing about climate change, but it'll make a lot of money for a lot of people and postpone the moment of reckoning … [sequester carbon dioxide?] That is a waste of time. It's a crazy idea - and dangerous. It would take so long and use so much energy that it will not be done… [nuclear power] It is a way for the UK to solve its energy problems, but it is not a global cure for climate change. It is too late for emissions reduction measures… [so are we doomed?] There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste - which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering - into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast… Yes. The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won't do it…. [will we survive?] I'm an optimistic pessimist. I think it's wrong to assume we'll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 per cent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It's happening again.” [19].

For a detailed and carefully documented analysis of the potential contribution of biochar to reduction of atmospheric CO2 concentration (the “one last chance” according to Professor James Lovelock FRS) see the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group review entitled “Forest biomass-derived Biochar can profitably reduce global warming and bushfire risk”. [20].

A decade ago I published a huge and exhaustively referenced book entitled “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British history. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998). The simple thesis was “history ignored yields history repeated” with Bengal as an example. In 2 centuries of British rule Bengal suffered immense man-made famine disasters, beginning with the man-made Great Bengal Famine (1769-1770, 10 million dead) and terminating with the 1943-1945 Bengali Holocaust (the World War 2 man-made Bengal Famine in which 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death in British India for strategic reasons). However these atrocities have been largely deleted from history with the already-realized consequence of “history ignored yield history repeated”. I warned of a terminal Bengali catastrophe in the 21st century due to greenhouse gas pollution by profligate First World countries. I recently published an updated 2008 edition of this book after making a BBC broadcast on the subject (together with 1998 Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen, Harvard University, medical historian Dr Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Wellcome Institute, University College London, and other scholars). [21, 22].

As outlined in this review, this terminal Bengali Holocaust for the circa 250 million people of Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh) has already begun with devastating storms in the Bay of Bengal and the disappearance of Bengali islands (e.g. Lohachara Island, once home to 10,000 people).[23-25].

Already 16 million people die avoidably each year from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease (0.6 million in Bangladesh, 3.7 million in India and 0.9 million in Pakistan) but Professor Lovelock’s estimation of circa 10 billion excess deaths (mostly non-European) due to global warming by the end of the century lifts the average 21st century global annual death rate to an horrendous 10,000 million/100 years = 100 million per year. [19, 26].

Notwithstanding the well-founded pessimism of leading scientists (see above) there is some residual hope that this horrendous catastrophe can be averted by requisite vigorous action. The Yarra Valley Climate Action Group has placed a 1-sheet Statement of Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions on the Web which is reproduced below – please inform everyone you can. [27].

Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions

Just as we turn to top medical specialists for advice on life-threatening disease, so we turn to the opinions of top scientists and in particular top biological and climate scientists for Climate Change risk assessment and Climate Emergency Facts and requisite Actions as exampled below (for detailed documentation of everything below see the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group website: ).

Professor James Hansen (top US climate scientist, 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 (eminent medical scientist and Governor of Victoria, Australia) “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 emergency.”

Dr Andrew Glikson (palaeo-climate scientist, ANU): “The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has … 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.” Please inform everyone you can.

Major Climate Emergency Facts

1. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has increased to 387 parts per million (ppm) as compared to 280 ppm pre-industrial and is increasing at about 2.5 ppm per year with average global temperature about 0.8 degrees C above the pre-industrial.

2. Man-made global warming due to greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides is already associated with major ecosystem damage (Arctic, ocean, coral reefs), melting of glaciers and Arctic sea ice, sea level rise, methane release from melting tundra and positive feed-back effects accelerating GHG pollution and warming.

3. Consequences of atmospheric CO2 concentration increase and warming to current 387 ppm: major ecosystem damage; current species extinction rates are 100-1,000 times greater than previously; to over 400 ppm: “new territory” not seen for millions of years with acute dangers from positive feedbacks; to over 450 ppm: major damage and death to coral reefs and associated fisheries; to over 500 ppm: major loss of ocean phytoplankton, ocean life, cloud seeding, the Greenland ice sheet and densely populated global coastal regions due to massive sea level rises.

Climate Emergency Actions URGENTLY Required

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.

How can decent humanity get requisite timely action? I advocate a 3-fold plan involving a Badge (I wear a Climate Emergency Network badge wherever I go); a Credo (e.g. the above 1-sheet Statement of Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions); and Accountability: those climate criminals responsible for the looming Climate Genocide must be identified and brought to National and International account by voter and consumer education, Sanctions, Boycotts, Green Tariffs, Reparations Demands and national and international prosecutions.


[1]. Footnote to James Hansen (2007), Huge sea level rises are coming – unless we act now”, New Scientist, 2614, 26 July 2007: .

[2]. John Holdren (2008), “The Science of Climatic Disruption” (power point lecture): .

[3] Gideon Polya (2009), “Global warming, climate emergency” U3A course notes: .

[4]. Wikipedia “Global warming in India”: .

[5]. World Development Movement, “Sea change: flooding in Bangladesh”: .

[6]. Gideon Polya, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, “Australia’s “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020” endangers Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere”: .

[7]. Wikipedia, “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita”: ).

[8]. James Hansen (2007), Huge sea level rises are coming – unless we act now”, New Scientist, 2614, 26 July 2007: and “Climate catastrophe”: .

[9]. Dr Andrew Glikson, “The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Melt-down", Countercurrents : .

[10]. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber quoted by The Guardian (2008), “Rollback time to safeguard climate, expert warns”: .

[11]. Gelu Sulugiuc, Reuters, “Sea levels rising faster than expected: scientists”, 10 March 2009: .

[12]. W.T. Pfeffer, J.T. Harper and S. O’Neal, “Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21-st century sea-level rise”, Science 5 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5894, pp. 1340 – 1343, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159099: .

[13]. Climate Progress, “Stunning new sea level rise research, Part 1: “Most likely” 0.8-2.0 metres by 2100”: .

[14].James B. Elsner, James P. Kossin & Thomas H. Jagger “The increasing intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones”, Nature 455, 92-95 (4 September 2008), doi:10.1038/nature07234: .

[15]. Vickie Pope, “Met Office warn of “catastrophic” rise in temperature”, Times On-line, 19 December, 2008: .

[16]. Kevin Anderson & Alice Bows, “Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Proc. Trans. Roy. Soc, A, 2008: .

[17]. Gideon Polya, “Good and bad climate news”, Green Blog, 2009: .

[18]. George Monbiot, “One shot left”, (also published in the UK Guardian, 2008): .

[19]. Gaia Vince (2009), “One last chance to save mankind“, New Scientist, 23 January 2009: .

[20]. Gideon Polya (2009), “Forest biomass-derived Biochar can profitably reduce global warming and bushfire risk”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: .

[21]. Michael Portillo, Gideon Polya, Amartya Sen, Sanjoy Bhattacharya et al, Bengal Famine, BBC Radio 4 broadcast, 4 January, 2008: .

[22]. Gideon Polya, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British history. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998 & 2008): .

[23]. Wilkipedia, “Lohachara Island”: .

[24]. Geoffrey Lean, “Disappearing world: global warming claims tropical island”, The Independent, 24 December 2006: .

[25]. Johann Hari, ”Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century”, The Independent, 20 June 2008: .

[26]. Gideon Polya, ““Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” , G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: and .

[27]. Yarra Valley Climate Action Group 1-sheet Statement of Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions: .

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