Global Warming, Climate Emergency Course Notes
Global Warming, Climate Emergency Course given in 2009-2010 by Dr Gideon Polya for the Yarra Valley University of the Third Age (U3A) [downloading the detailed and documented course lecture notes is of course FREE so that even people on the other side of the Planet can do this updated course - accordingly please tell everyone you know in the interests of public education].
The presenter, Dr Gideon Polya, is a 4 decade career biochemist (biological chemist) who has been involved in university and other tertiary level teaching over the period 1972-2009 (teaching theory and laboratory courses to second year science students at La Tribe University, Melbourne, in 2009). His research career was initially concerned with energy transduction for ion transport and photosynthesis in plants and then expanded into signalling in plants, protein chemistry of plant bioactive proteins and the biochemical targets of plant bioactive compounds, this culminating in a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003).
In a shift of research interest he has recently published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://mwcnews.net/Gideon-Polya and http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contribution “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007): http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in global sustainability” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/bengalfamine_programme.html ).
The starting position and humane philosophy of the course is summarized in the 1-page “Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions” sheet, designed for wide dissemination to the public and placed on the Web (see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-emergency-facts-and-required-actions ) by the Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group together with numerous, carefully-researched and documented Climate Emergency Fact Sheets that represent a basic reference source for this course (see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/system/app/pages/sitemap/hierarchy ).
In short, in relation to man-made global warming, as stated by Australian Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty “We are in real danger”. According to top US climate scientist Professor James Hansen (Head, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York): “We are facing a Climate Emergency” due to man-made global warming from greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and we must urgently act to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from the present, dangerous 387 parts per million (ppm) to a safe and sustainable level of about 300 ppm.
A. Scientific method, statistics and rational risk management.
B. Introductory chemistry and biochemistry, the carbon cycle and greenhouse gases.
C. The Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency and the Science of Climatic disruption
D. Consequences of global warming, mass extinctions and the Great Barrier Reef.
E. Australia’s leading per capita GHG pollution, First World biofuel genocide and climate genocide.
F. Current economic renewable and geothermal energy sources.
G. Top scientists’ opinions and need to reduce atmospheric CO2 to about 300 ppm.
H. Acute global warming threat to older people and what older people must do for the Planet.
I. Reference list.
A. Scientific method, rational risk management and statistics.
1. Scientific method. Science involves the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses. Thus religious belief clearly helps many people and societies cope with life but it is not “scientific” in the sense that the core beliefs are not potentially falsifiable hypotheses that can be critically tested.
Conversely, anti-Science spin is the complete opposite of Science in that it involves the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan position. Thus spin-based climate sceptics say that because the average global temperature was lower in 2008 than in 2007 (selective use of the data) we must be heading for a new Ice Age. However inspection of the temperature data from NASA over the last 40 years (see: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/ )shows that there is a fluctuation of +/-0.1 degree Centigrade (0.1oC) and that global average temperature has steadily increased by about 0.6 oC over the last 40 years and by about 0.8 oC from 1890.
2. Rational Risk Management (RRM). Rational Risk Management (RRM) successively involves (a) getting accurate data, (b) scientific analysis (science involving the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses) and (c) systemic change, involving setting up systems such that when Nature or fallible humans inevitably cause a dangerous situation the system is better able to minimize risk.
Unfortunately all too prevalent “spin” and “politicized” responses in society pervert RRM by (a) lies, slies (spin-based untruths), censorship, intimidation, self-censorship, white-washing, (b) anti-science spin involving the use of selected asserted “facts” to support a partisan position, and (c) “blame and shame”, picking convenient culprits for public punishment, thereby inhibiting reportage (war being the ultimate expression of this perverted approach) (see: http://rationalriskmanagement.blogspot.com/ ).
3. Avoidable mortality. Excess death (avoidable mortality) and other measures of undesirable outcome (e.g. under-5 infant mortality) can be used to measure the success or otherwise of local, national or global policies. For a country in a given period, excess death (avoidable death, avoidable mortality, excess mortality, deaths that should not have happened) is the difference between the actual deaths in a country and the deaths expected for a peaceful, decently governed country with the same demographics (see: G. Polya, “Body Count” (see: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ and http://mwcnews.net/Gideon-Polya ).
Excess death must be considered in the mounting Climate Emergency. Global warming is mounting problem for “home alone” elderly e.g. 15,000 people died in the 2003 French heat wave because the elderly switch off their heat stress warning too early. Up to 35,000 people died Europe during the 2003 heat wave (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_wave ).
Already 16 million people die avoidably each year (about 2/3 being under-5 year old infants) due to deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease that is now increasingly impacted by global warming and biofuel-driven increased food price rises (see: “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://mwcnews.net/Gideon-Polya and http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ; http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html ).
According to Professor James Lovelock FRS some 10 billion may perish this century (see New Scientist Environment, 23 January 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html ). On this basis some 2 billion Indians may perish this century from this First World manufactured Climate Genocide (see: http://newshopper.sulekha.com/blogs/post/2009/01/first-world-climate-genocide-global-warming-to-kill.htm ).
4. Statistics Introduction
i. Introduction. In assessing Reality we can have a qualitative assessment (e.g. beauty, uniqueness) or quantitatively (how much how many).
In assessing the likelihood of something happening we can consider the actual frequency of occurrence e.g. by tossing coins, estimating theoretical probability of heads (50%, 0.5) and empirical probability (from experiment); we can do a “number of experiments” versus “% heads obtained” and from the resulting “normal distribution” (bell-shaped curve) data obtain the mean (average result from all the data), median (the middle outcome in a series of outcomes e.g. the median of 0, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7 and 8 is 4; the mean is 45/10 = 4.5), the standard deviation (SD, σ; 68% of observations fall within 1 SD of the mean i.e. between μ-σ and μ+ σ), and perform statistical tests (Chi squared test, student’s t-test, consider null hypotheses, probability statements, confidence limits).
We can quantitate some risks from empirical probabilities (i.e. from measurements of the actual incidence of such events in a given population in a given time e.g. annual probability of dying from shark attack, homicide, smoking, car accident, dying otherwise, or death from non-state “terrorism”; nuclear, greenhouse and poverty threats.
ii. Quantitating risk. We quantitatively predict outcomes by assessing the parameter “probability” (P, likelihood).
For “coin tossing” we can calculate that P(heads) = 0.5 = 50%.
We can also determine the “empirical probability” of “heads” by tossing enough coins and finding that in the end roughly 50% will be heads.
However if we perform a number of such experiments you will get different numbers of “% heads” in each experiment because coin tossing is a random process. We can plot the results of these experiments as a graph of Number of experiments versus % “heads” for the experiment .The resultant bell-shaped plot (with the mean value at the top of the bell) is called a “normal distribution” (other types of distributions are also found for other data sets).
We define the mean (μ) and the “standard deviation” (SD, σ). 68% of observations fall within 1 SD of the mean (i.e. between μ-σ and μ+ σ), 95% of observations fall between 2 SDs on either side of the mean and 99.7% of observations fall within 3 SDs either side of the mean.
iii. Statistical tests. We could, for example, collect data on “age of death” for cigarette smokers and non-smokers, plotting a graph of Number (n) versus Age at death (years) – we would end up with 2 bell-shaped curves with the one for the smokers being shifted to lower Age of Death values.
Statistical tests (Chi squared test, student’s t-test etc) can be applied to such data to determine (with the help of Statistical Tables) the Probability (P) that the difference between the 2 mean values of “age at death” for smokers and non-smokers is not simply due to chance e.g. we might find that P<0.05.
iv. Some risks and empirical probabilities
Here are some risk estimates expressed as “annual death rate” (%, percentage, how many out of a group of 100 Australians will die in a year) as determined from actual data and numerically the same as the Probability that an Australian will die within Australia from such a cause in a year: from Muslim-origin non-state terrorism , electrocution or shark attack (0.0001% = 1/1,000,000), from a family member or acquaintance (0.001% = 1/100,000), from a car accident (0.01% = 1/10,000), from smoking (0.1% = 1/1,000), from natural causes (0.7% = 1/143).
Here are some topical Australian statistics expressed as “annual death rate” = “annual probability of death in the group, expressed as a %”: 2.2% (Indigenous Australians), 2.4% (Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory), 0.4% (what it should be for a high birth rate community), 0.7% (White Australians), 2.5% (pre-drought Australian sheep), 2.5% (under-5 year old infants in Australian-Occupied Iraq), 6.3% (under-5 year old infants in Australian-occupied Afghanistan), 10% (Australian POWs of the Japanese in WW2) – shocking figures that are NOT reported in Mainstream media nor by politicians and which point to a major Risk Factor in our society, specifically that of entrenched Lying by Omission by Bush-ite and neo-Bush-ite Mainstream politicians and media.
Australian newspapers will give very precise probabilities each day in relation to horses or dogs winning races but will simply NOT report these crucial mortality statistics and death probabilities.
Scientists frequently express climate change predictions in a statistical fashion. Thus in a recent very important scientific paper 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 450 ppm (parts per million), a level at which there is still a 50% probability of exceeding an even more dangerous 2oC temperature increase over the pre-industrial. (Unfortunately, current Australian Federal Government policies mean an annual 2% increase in Australia’s Domestic and Exported GHG pollution) (see “Good and bad climate news”: http://www.green-blog.org/2009/01/13/good-and-bad-climate-news/ ). Yet we are told that atmospheric CO2 greater than 450 ppm and ocean warming and acidification means the death of the Great Barrier Reef. How do you respond to this probability estimate? To assist you: would you get on a plane if there were a 50% chance of it crashing – or for that matter if there were a 1%, 0.1% or even 0.01% chance of it crashing?
v. Quantitating nuclear, greenhouse & poverty threats. Dr John Holdren, former chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently identified nuclear weapons, global warming and poverty as the three most acute threats facing humanity (see: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2007/0216am_holdren_address.shtml ).
The empirical annual probability (P) of dying from a nuclear bomb (based on the period 1945-2007, noting that 200,000 people died in the 1945 Nagasaki and Hiroshima atomic bomb explosions and assuming an average post-war human population of about 4 billion) = 200,000/4,000,000,000 x 62 ≈ 10 -6 (i.e 1 in 1 million).
Since a nuclear bombing has not happened since 1945 we have a problem in trying to assess P(annual death from a nuclear bomb) for the post-war period. However we could assess it as less than the P(dying from lightning) i.e. 10-6 = 1/1,000,000 = 0.0001%. Hopefully it is much, much less than this but if a full nuclear exchange happens in the coming century the loss of life will be 6-9 billion people.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (2007) gave a 90% Probability of a greenhouse catastrophe that would kill 1 billion this century if not ameliorated. However Professor James Lovelock FRS recently gave estimates indicating that about 10 billion will die from unaddressed climate change this century.
The P for global poverty = 1.0 = 100% i.e. it is a palpable reality that currently causes 16 million avoidable deaths every year (roughly 10 million of under-5 year old infants) i.e. 16 million x 100 = 1,600 million = 1.6 billion over the coming century (assuming constancy of circumstances).
The Global avoidable mortality holocaust (16 million avoidable deaths each year, about 9.5 million of them those of under-5 year old children) is largely due to violence, deprivation, disease and LYING (that short-circuits Rational Risk Management). We will explore these three major threats later in this course and see how the world can be made safer for our children and grandchildren.
B. Introductory chemistry and biochemistry, the carbon cycle and greenhouse gases.
i. Some basic chemistry and physics. Atoms have tiny but high mass nuclei composed of positively-charged protons (p+), electrically neutral neutrons (n0) and surrounded by very low mass negatively charged electrons (e-) in orbitals (shells). There are stable and unstable nuclei; molecules are composed of more than one atom that bind together via “covalent bonds” involving the sharing of electrons; there are nuclear energy levels and electronic energy states; light absorption excites electrons to higher energy levels and fluorescence (with lower energy light) is emitted when the electrons become de-excited and fall back to lower energy levels.
Many elements (e.g. H, hydrogen, C, carbon, O, oxygen, N, nitrogen etc) can have isotopes having different numbers of neutrons but the same number of protons and electrons and hence essentially the same chemical behaviour e.g. 1H (hydrogen), 2H (deuterium), 3H (radioactive tritium), 12C (carbon), 13C, 14C (radioactive), 16O (oxygen), 18O (heavy oxygen). Some isotopes (e.g. 3H and 14C) are unstable (like too many eggs in one basket) and are called radionuclides, which decompose randomly but with a characteristic half-life (time for 50% of the radionuclide atoms and hence radioactivity to decay) and in the process yields radioactivity or high energy radioactive particles (e.g. electrons, e-, positrons e+, neutrons, n0, alpha particles or helium nuclei, He-4 nuclei = 2n + 2p) and high energy electromagnetic radiation (X-rays and gamma rays) that can ionize molecules (introduce electrical charges, + or -) that in turn causes chemical reactions that can be deleterious (e.g. damage to DNA, mutation, cancer, teratogenic effects).
As we have seen above, atoms are made up of a central nucleus (of high mass but taking up a minute amount of space) composed of large mass nucleons (positively charged protons, p+, and uncharged neutrons, n) surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged, very low mass electrons (e-). There are even more fundamental particles – thus protons and neutrons are composed of quarks held together by a strong force from gluon exchange between quarks. Thus a proton, p+, is composed of 2 up-quarks and 1 down-quark and a neutron, n, is composed on 2 down-quarks and 1 up-quark. There is a huge amount of “missing” dark matter in the Universe of unknown nature.
The simplest atom is that of hydrogen, H, or more specifically the H isotope 1H which has a tiny central nucleus containing 1 proton surrounded by an electron cloud:
1p+ + 1 e- = 1H. The nucleus is tiny but has most of the mass.
The chemical behaviour of atoms is determined by the electrons which occupy specific orbitals around the central nucleus. Thus H has a valency of 1 and can form a single bond by sharing its one electron with other atoms e.g. H* reacts with another H# to form the diatomic hydrogen molecule H2 in which electrons * and # are shared via a single bond: H*#H = H-H = H2 (conventionally H2).
Other elements have more protons and neutrons and the number of electrons equals the number of protons. Thus Helium (He-4) is composed of 2p+ + 2 n + 2 e- .
The mass of a proton is 1.007276 amu (atomic mass unit = u).
The mass of a neutron = 1.008665 amu
The mass of an electron is 0.000549 amu
1 amu = u = = 1.66 x 10-27 kg .
The various electron orbitals or shells can accommodate only specific maximum numbers of electrons and have various “quantized” energy levels – thus electrons within an orbital can be excited by absorption of light (photons) to higher energy levels and in the process of de-excitation energy is released as light (fluorescence).
The outer electrons of atoms can participate in forming bonds with other atoms e.g. single bonds X-Y (2 electrons shared), double bonds X=Y (4 electrons shared) and triple bonds X≡Y (6 electrons shared).
Thus hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N) and carbon (C ) have valencies of 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. Sulphur can have valencies of 2 and 4. Thus these elements can form the following molecules: molecular hydrogen H2 (H-H), diatomic oxygen O2 (O=O), carbon dioxide CO2 (O=C=O), ammonia NH3, nitrogen N2 (N≡N), methane CH4, nitrous oxide N2O, ethane (H3C-CH3), ethene (ethylene; H2C=CH2), acetylene (H-C≡C-H), hydrogen sulphide H2S (H-S-H), water, H2O (H-O-H) and sulphur dioxide SO2 (O=S=O).
Molecules or atoms lose electrons they become more positive and when they gain electrons become more negative – such entities are called ions and the process of producing such ions (e.g. by collision with radioactive particles) is called ionization.
ii. Greenhouse gases. When these molecules absorb light they become excited and the constituent atoms can vibrate along bonds or rotate about single bonds i.e. they warm up. CO2 in the atmosphere will absorb various wavelengths of light from the Sun or reflected or re-emitted from the Earth and it is this that is important in the so-called Greenhouse effect in global warming.
The major greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2, O=C=O), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O,
N≡N+-O- <-> -N=N+=O), water (H2O, H-O-H) and compounds such as CFCs (chloroflurocarbons) .
You are familiar with the heating up inside a car or an unshaded multi-window room. This effect was discovered by the 19th century UK chemist John Tyndall (after whom the prestigious University of Manchester Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is named) and was predicted to have major global consequences by the Swedish physical chemist Sven Arrhenius who suggested a warming of 5oC due to a doubling of atmospheric concentration (see Chapter 16, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability” by Gideon Polya: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ).
According to Dr James Hansen (top US climate scientist; Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) with 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 CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm” (see: http://arxiv.org/abs/0804.1126 ).
iii. Solid, liquid and gas phases of water. In aqueous solution (i.e. in water) H2O molecules can ionize readily to form the hydrogen ion H+ (a proton, p+) and a hydroxyl ion (OH-). More H+ makes a solution more acidic (lower pH) and more OH- makes the solution more alkaline (higher pH). Acids (e.g. the acetic acid in vinegar) more or less readily give up protons (H+) (making the solution more acidic) and bases (e.g. ammonia) more or less readily bind protons (thereby making the solution more alkaline). At neutral pH (pH 7) the concentration of H+ (denoted [H+]) equals the concentration of OH- (denoted [OH-]).
The various elements differ in electronegativity – thus in water, H2O, H-O-H, the electrons shared between the H atoms and the O atom (imagine these as electron clouds) are more closely associated with the more electronegative O atom so that the H atoms carry a small positive charge and the O atom carries a small negative charge. The result of this unequal sharing is that H-O-H is a polar molecule (Hδ+ -Oδ- -Hδ+ ) and can form weak, so-called hydrogen bonds between other molecules, including other H2O molecules, thus: H-O-Hδ+…Oδ-=X. Thus at temperatures below 0 degrees Centigrade (oC ) the Hydrogen Bonds are strong and water forms the solid ice; between 0 oC and 100 oC it is a liquid (the hydrogen bonding is much weaker and the association less ordered) and above 100 oC water (at standard pressure at sea level) is a gas.
iv. Biochemistry – the chemistry of life. Life on earth is liquid water-based and functions between 0 oC (freezing point) and 100 oC (boiling point of water at standard pressure). Biochemistry is the chemistry of life. We have already considered atomic structure, molecular structure and molecular polarity above. Life is a self-repairing, self-replicating, water-based system.
The minimum unit is the cell that is surrounded by a phospholipid bilayer cell membrane but which variously contains cellular organelles that are in turn surrounded by a phospholipid bilayer membrane. Prokaryotes do not have nuclei (organelles containing the DNA-based genes) and include aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and photosynthetic bacteria (no nuclei). Eukaryotes (fungi, higher plants and animals) have cells containing nuclei (containing DNA, the genes), mitochondria (evolutionary remnants of prokaryotic symbionts involved in aerobic metabolism and oxidative phosphorylation to store energy as ATP, the energy currency of all cells), endoplasmic reticulum (a tubular network involved in making, modifying and secreting proteins), lysosomes (involved in degrading macromolecules) and other organelles.
Higher plants also contain chloroplasts (involved in photosynthesis, the light-driven photolysis of water to yield a reduced coenzyme NADPH , photophosphorylation that uses light energy to make ATP, and the enzyme [protein catalyst] Rubisco [ribulose bisphosphate carboxlyase; catalyzes reaction of CO2 (C1 i.e. denoting 1 carbon atom) with ribulose-bis-phosphate (C5) to yield 2 molecules of 3-phosphoglyceric acid (3PGA, C3)] involved in the dark reactions of photosynthesis in which ATP and NADPH are used to reduce CO2 to ultimately yield glucose [Glc] and glucose polymers [(Glc)n] like soluble starch and water-insoluble cellulose.
The atmosphere of the earth was mostly methane (CH4) and nitrogen (N2) 4 billion years ago. However due to the operation of photosynthetic prokaryotes (blue-green algae, other photosynthetic bacteria) and thence photosynthetic Eukaryotes (higher plants) the earth’s atmosphere is now about 20% oxygen (O2) and 80% nitrogen (N2).
The light-driven so-called light reactions of photosynthesis:
2H20 -> 4H+ + O2 + 4e- (solar energy-driven photolysis of water).
2e- + ADP + Phosphate + NADP+ (oxidized coenzyme) + H+ -> via the photosynthetic electron transport chain and photophosphorylation -> ATP (energy currency of cell) + NADPH (reduced coenzyme).
CO2 (C1) + ribulose-bis-phosphate (C5) -> 2 3-phosphoglyeric acid (3-PGA) (C3) (catalyzed by Rubisco).
3-PGA molecules converted to glucose (Glc; C6) via the dark reactions of photosynthesis (the Calvin Cycle) in reactions involving use of ATP and NADPH with regeneration of some ribulose-bis-phosphate (C5) to permit continuation of CO2 fixation and reduction.
The overall reaction of photosynthesis is the reduction (adding of H atoms or electrons) to CO2 that is driven by solar energy:
Solar energy (G) + 6H2O + 6CO2 -> 6O2 + 6 CH2O (glucose, Glc = C6H12O6).
The Glc is converted by photosynthetic organisms to polymers of glucose i.e. (Glc)n (= Glc-Glc-Glc- Glc- etc) that are either water soluble (starch) or water insoluble (cellulose and related polymers that form wood) depending upon how the Glc monomers are joined to each other . Starch is readily broken down to the constitutent Glc molecules which are then oxidized (taking away electrons or H atoms or adding O atoms) by aerobic glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation:
6O2 + 6 CH2O (glucose, Glc = C6H12O6 ) -> 6H2O + 6CO2 + energy (G = free energy; stored in the high energy bond energy of ATP) by Glycolysis (in the cytosol), by the mitochondrial process of the Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle (energy saved through formation of reduced coenzymes XH2) and thence by electron transfer from XH2 via the Electron Transport Chain (ETC) to O2 (the terminal electron acceptor) that is coupled to formation of a H+ gradient across the mitochondrial membrane which is then used to make the high energy compound ATP (Oxidative Phosphorylation catalyzed by a spinning ATP synthetase ).
The ATP is then used for all the repair, replication, motility etc functions of cells (unicellular organisms) or collections of cells (multicellular organisms).
In short, in photosynthetic organisms: Solar energy (G) + H2O + CO2 -> O2 + CH2O (carbohydrate).
Aerobic metabolism by plant-eaters and plants: O2 + CH2O (carbohydrate) -> H2O + CO2 + energy (stored as ATP).
ATP is used for repair, replication, cellular functions (e.g. motility, signaling) and synthesis of other compounds such as RNA, DNA, proteins, metabolites and fats.
v. Biological origins of oil, gas and coal. The insoluble carbohydrate (e.g. cellulose) effectively traps CO2 in a relatively stable form of wood which is either above ground as trees, burnt (as in bush fires), degraded by fungal and bacterial action or slowly converted to Coal over hundreds of millions of years.
Fatty acids have been slowly converted to Oil over hundreds of millions of years.
Methane generated by anaerobic bacteria over hundreds of millions of years is present as natural gas underground and as sub-oceanic methane hydrates (clathrates of methane and water; see: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_hydrate ).
Figure 3 in the Appendix to Dr James Hansen’s 2008 letter to Australian PM Rudd (see: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf ) summarizes the estimated reserves (in Gt C or billions of tonnes of Carbon) of oil (270), natural gas (190), coal (1,240), sub-oceanic methane hydrates, shale oil and tar sands (more than 1,240).
In the period 1751-2006 the amount already used is estimated in GtC as 110 (oil), 60 (gas), 170 (coal) and 0 (methane hydrates, shale oil, and tar sands).
As indicated above, stored carbon laid down over hundreds of millions of years has been substantially released back into the atmosphere as CO2 by human activity in the last 2 centuries leading to a current atmospheric CO2 concentration of 387 parts per million (ppm) as compared to a pre-industrial level of 280 ppm. As Dr Hansen points out, it is particularly important to stop further burning of the massive remaining coal reserves.
Methane is a much worse greenhouse gas than CO2 (CH4 being 21 times worse than CO2 as a GHG averaged over 100 years) and a current fear is that release of methane from thawing tundra and sub-ocean methane hydrates in the Arctic (both already occurring) will produce positive feed-back effects involving accelerated global warming, more methane emissions and even more warming etc.
vi. Metabolism, membranes, organelles, biochemical compartmentation and homeostasis. Cell structure involves membranes, cytosol, nucleus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and other organelles. 90% of the cell is water and most of what remains are proteins (macromolecules composed of specific sequences of amino acids joined together), polynucleotides (the macromolecules DNA and RNA; mostly composed of specific, protein-encoding sequences of nucleotide monomers joined together) and lipids (fats such as phospholipids that make the phospholipid bilayer membranes and storage fats such as tri-, di- and monoglycerides and constituent fatty acids). Gene expression involves the transcription of the DNA of a gene encoding a protein → complementary messenger RNA → translation of messenger RNA on ribosomes → specific polypeptide → protein processing and folding → protein targeting (cytosol, organelle or export).
The constituent amino acids (20 encoded by the degenerate 64 Codon Genetic Code) differ in having polar (uncharged polar, basic or acidic) or hydrophobic (water repelling) groups – these determine the nature of each protein, each protein having a specific sequence of amino acids.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that the total energy of a closed system is constant. Thus unless we can cool down (e.g. by sweating and water absorbing heat when it evaporates) we will get hotter due to metabolic reactions. Similarly, the earth will simply get hotter and hotter from solar irradiation unless it reflects or re-radiates away incident solar energy (but GHGs absorb such radiation).
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the disorder of the universe (measured as entropy, S) inevitably increases. Thus we all get old and die; “heat won’t go from a colder to a hotter”etc.
The energy in a system that can be used to do work or drive chemical reactions is called the Gibbs Free Energy, G. Reactions can “go” if the change in free energy (ΔG) is negative (exergonic reactions, ΔG<0) , can’t go if ΔG is positive (endergonic reactions, ΔG>0) and we get equilibrium if ΔG=0. At constant pressure, ΔG is determined by the change in enthalpy (change in heat content , ΔH, e.g. from breaking chemical bonds) and the change in entropy (ΔS, e.g. from creating disorder) (ΔG = ΔH - TΔS where T = temperature).
However exergonic reactions (for which ΔG<0 ) won’t necessarily go because of an “activation energy barrier” ΔG act e.g. before the man can jump off the cliff (ΔG<0) he must first jump on top of the barrier (ΔG act ). Proteins called enzymes catalyze specific reactions - they speed up reactions by overcoming the ΔG act without changing the overall ΔG. Thus a piece of paper (cellulose) will take thousands of years to be oxidized to CO2 and H2O – however apply a spark (ΔG act ) and the piece of paper will be oxidized (react with oxygen or burn: nO2 + (CH2O)n -> nH2O + nCO2 + heat) in seconds.
Enzymes have evolved through mutation of the DNA-based genes that encode them and then natural selection operating upon the organisms containing the mutant genes. Improved survival to reproductive age of organisms containing the mutation ensures its selective transmission. Thus thermophilic bacteria that can live near 100oC contain enzymes that are relatively stable at this temperature. Conversely, humans have evolved to operate at a temperature range of about 36-40 oC - elevate ambient temperature to the point at which our physiological thermostat fails and we die.
Returning to the man on the cliff analogy, he can fall to his death (ΔG<0, ΔS>0 as he is irreversibly killed). Alternatively, he can descend by non-lethally coupling his descent (an exergonic reaction that releases free energy, ΔG<0) to the elevation of a load of bricks or another person (an endergonic reaction that requires an input of free energy, ΔG>0).
That is what happens in life with the endergonic (energy requiring) formation of glucose in photosynthesis by terrestrial plants and phytoplankton being driven by solar energy; the exergonic (free energy releasing) “slow burning” of glucose from plants by other organisms is coupled to the endergonic formation of the energy currency ATP; the subsequent exergonic hydrolysis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and phosphate is coupled to endergonic processes of chemical synthesis, repair, replication, motility etc.
Metabolism has an overall oxidation-reduction strategy, using ATP as “energy currency”. Solar energy drives photosynthesis yielding glucose (Glc) and starch that are ingested and “burned” by animals.
Catabolism is the oxidative breakdown to yield energy in the form of molecules of “energy-rich” ATP, the “energy currency” of cells.
The converse, anabolism, involves using ATP to make complex, big molecules like polysaccharides (e.g. starch and cellulose), DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids from small precursors.
The various metabolic processes are “compartmented” in various organelles to avoid “futile cycles” (i.e. making and breaking complex molecules simultaneously is futile). Hormonal control mechanisms also operate to ensure “homeostasis” or “balance”.
Thus anaerobic glycolysis operates in the cytosol (the internal “soup” of cells). In emergency situations (e.g. running for a bus or from a tiger) but is relatively inefficient: glucose → lactic acid [lactate; 2 ATP per Glucose, Glc].
Aerobic glycolysis is the norma, efficient oxidation of glucose yielding roughly 38 ATP per Glc oxidized; pyruvate → CO2 in Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle in Mitochondria [TCA cycle], yielding reduced coenzymes XH2 → electrons (e-) passed down electron transport chain (ETC) to electron-acceptor oxygen (O2) ,with energy conserved as a proton (p+, H+) gradient → H+ gradient used to make ATP via a rotating ATP synthase (F0F1) in the process called Oxidative Phosphorylation.
In the Pentose Phosphate Pathway excess Glc in a situation of Plenty is used to make reduced coenzyme NADPH for anabolism and the sugar ribose for polynucleotide (RNA and DNA synthesis).
Fatty acid synthesis occurs in the Cytsosol when there is excess ATP, NADPH and precursor acetyl-coenzyme A (deriving from glucose oxidation in times of Plenty) and conversely fatty oxidation occurs in the Mitchondria during Fasting (e.g. between meals, in bird migration or starvation).
Gluconeogenesis (by which amino acids and pyruvate can be used to make ATP when we are not feeding) and the Urea Cycle (enabling elimination of toxic ammonia NH3 as urea) involve both the cytosol and mitochondria,.
Control (balance, homeostasis) is vital through (1) mass action (the more reactant, the faster the reaction); (2) allosteric control (e.g. feed forward activation and feedback inhibition of key enzymes by small molecule precursors and products, respectively); (3) protein degradation versus protein synthesis; (4) hormonal signaling (e.g. the hormone Insulin rises in Plenty and promotes anabolism or making things during Plenty versus Glucagon which rises in Fasting and promotes catabolism); (5) cell division (more cells) versus apoptosis (programmed cell death); (6) fasting versus plenty, catabolism (breaking down to get energy in fasting circumstances) versus anabolism (building complex molecules using available energy plenty circumstances).
Enzymes are proteins and a key way of controlling rates of enzyme catalyzed reactions is by degrading specific enzymes (less enzyme) or turning on the synthesis of new enzyme (signal molecule switches gene on -> transcription of DNA -> a complementary messenger RNA -> used as a template to make the encoded protein).
Similar homeostatic mechanisms operate at the macroscopic physiological level. Thus in January 2009 Melbourne had successive daily maxima of 43.4, 44.3 and 45.1 degrees Centigrade (corresponding to 110.1, 111.7 and 113.2 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively). The temperature finally reached 45.1 degrees C on Friday 30 January — the first time temperatures had been above 43 degrees for three consecutive days since records began in 1855. The human physiological thermostat attempts to keep us at about 37 degrees C or about 98.6 F , the normal range being 97-100 F - which is why people struggled in Melbourne that week.
vii. Planetary homeostasis and the Gaia Hypothesis. Top climate scientist Dr James Lovelock FRS introduced the Gaia Hypothesis that stated that biological systems have exerted a feedback effect on the climatic régime during which they evolved.
His analogy was Daisy World in which white daisies reflected too much sunlight making the world cooler; however mutant black daisies absorbed more sunlight and competed more effectively with the white daisies, thus warming the world up.
However in his recent book “The Revenge of Gaia” Dr Lovelock describes how massive damage to inter-connected ecosystems is pushing the earth away from the pre-existing equilibrium and produces a tipping point when it is too late and the existing feedback mechanisms are insufficient to restore equilibrium (his scary analogy is that of a motor boat with failing engines above Niagara Falls – as one engine gradually fails the other can pick up the demand but when the total engine thrust cannot compensate for the current, the boat is doomed.
Similarly human bodies operate over a temperature range of 36-40 oC to maintain temperature around a thermostat “set point” of about 37 oC - but when temperature gets too high the system fails.
Positive feedbacks act to make things worse, to reinforce the undesirable trend. A major current threat is the so-called “albedo flip” in which due to exceptional warming in the Arctic light-reflecting white ice and snow is being replaced by black , light-absorbing ice-free sea, this causing temperatures to rise with more loss of albedo.
Similar positive feedback comes from methane release from melting Arctic sea bed and tundra permafrost (the released methane is 21 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over 100 years), yielding more temperature increase and thence more methane release.
Above 500 ppm CO2 there is massive loss of photosynthetic algae (phytoplankton) in the oceans with resultant less release of cloud-promoting dimethyl sulphide, less reflection of sunlight and accordingly further enhanced temperature.
C. The Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency and the Science of Climatic disruption
Professor John Holdren (Harvard, Director Woods Hole Research Center, former chair, AAAS) has given a cogent June 2008 power point-illustrated lecture “The Science of Climate Disruption” (see: http://www.usclimateaction.org/userfiles/JohnHoldren.pdf ) which is used here as a convenient, well-designed, well-illustrated and authoritative basis for the summary below with appropriate expansion, referencing and updating.
1. “Global warming” (e.g. anthropogenic global warming, AGW) is a misnomer because it implies a gradual and even possibly benign change – a more accurate term is “global climatic disruption” which is real, man-made, already harmful and growing more rapidly than expected.
2. The weather is what happens day to day in relation to temperature, precipitation etc ; climate is the pattern of weather. Global average temperature is one index of global climate.
3. Climate change threatens water, agriculture, health (e.g. heat waves and via disease geography changes e.g. Dengue, Hanta and malaria), property (storms, floods), coastal regions (hurricanes, storm surges, sea level rises e.g. Island States, Mega-delta States), engineered environments (e.g. Netherlands, New Orleans), biosphere and biodiversity (mass species extinction), net CO2 release from vegetation and non-linear, runaway climate change due to positive feedbacks. Mark Lynas (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Lynas ) in his book “Six degrees: our future on a hotter planet” (see “What will climate change do to our planet”: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1480669.ece ) discusses predicted consequences of increasing temperatures (add on about 0.5oC to his “ΔT above 1990 value” to get “ΔT above 1900 value”). See also David Spratt and Phillip Sutton “Climate Code Red, The case for emergency action”: http://www.climatecodered.net/ ; for review see: http://www.green-blog.org/2008/11/01/book-review-climate-code-red-the-case-for-emergency-action/ ).
4. Post-industrial warming of about 0.8oC ( rough graph summation: 1880-1910, flattish +/- 0.1 oC; 1910-1940, steady increase + 0.4 oC; 1940-1970, flattish, +/- 0.1 oC; 1970-2008, steady increase, + 0.5 oC. 14 hottest years since 1990 (see ACIA graphics: http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/pdfs/ACIAGraphics.pdf and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science graphs”: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/ ).
5. Human influences on temperature (forcings) 1750-2005 (watts/m2): CO2 (+ 1.7), other GHGs (CH4, N2O, CFCs) (+1.0), net ozone (troposphere up, stratosphere down) (+0.3), absorptive particles (soot) (+ 0.3), reflective particles (sulphate aerosols) (-0.7), increased reflectively from land use (-0.2). Natural sunlight changes (+0.1), Man-made warming GHG and soot influence 30 times greater than solar influence.
6. The huge human impact on atmospheric GHGs is revealed by a post-industrial GHG “spike” - atmospheric CO2 changes 10,000 BP (before present) to 1750: 260- 280 ppm versus 1750-2000: 280- 380 ppm and atmospheric CH4 changes from 10,000 BP to 1750: 600-750 ppb (parts per billion) versus 1750-2000: 750-1,800 ppb (measured from 14C decline since fossil CO2 – not exposed to solar gamma radiation - lacks 14C).
7. The human influence detailed in #5 above has been confirmed by state-of –the-art modelling that shows that such a model fed these forcings predicts the same temperatures as observed since 1880.
8. The 20-fold increase in world energy since 1850 came mostly from coal (1850-1950) and from oil and gas (1950-2000). However with substantial use of oil and gas reserves, use of the huge remaining coal reserves represents a major threat (see Figure 3, Dr Hansen’s Letter to PM Rudd: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf ).
9. Fossil fuels continue to dominate world energy supply as revealed by the following 2006 statistics of fossil fuel-derived energy (%) and fossil CO2 (MtC)/population (Millions) = tonnes (t) fossil CO2 per person per year: World ( 82%; 8060/6555 = 1.2), USA (88%; 1710/299 = 5.7), China (84%; 1640/1311 = 1.3); India (62%; 380/1122 = 0.3); Brazil (59%; 100/187 = 0.5; however ignoring biofuel and including up to 400 MtC/yr from deforestation we have 500/187 = 2.7); Australia (92%; 402/20.6 = 19.5 i.e.16 times the world average, 15 times that of China and 65 times that of India).
10. Notwithstanding the remarkable disparities in #9 above, gross fossil fuel CO2 emissions from developing countries are increasing markedly. However, if one considers 1751-2006 cumulative emissions we find US (27.5%), Russia (7.4%), Germany (6.6%), UK (6.0%), Japan (3.9%), Rest of Europe (18%), Canada, Australia (3.1%), Ships/Air (4%) [76.5%; 2005 population 1,228 million] versus China (8.2%), India (2.5%) and Rest of World (12.8%) [23.5%; 2005 population 5,222 million (see Fig. 4, Dr Hansen’s Letter to Australian PM Rudd: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf )].
11. Tropical deforestation is the second biggest driver of man-made CO2 pollution: of 510 MtC/yr in 1850 about 90% was from non-tropical regions but by 2000 100% of the 2,300 MtC/yr was from tropical America, Africa and Asia with non-tropical areas net re-afforesting to the tune of 100 MtC/yr. In 2006 World fossil CO2 pollution totalled 8,060 MtC/yr (see #9). Sir Nicholas Stern has argued for an international programme to combat deforestation, which contributes 15-20% of greenhouse gas emissions: "For $10-15bn (£4.8-7.2bn) per year, a programme could be constructed that could stop up to half the deforestation" (see “Stern: Climate change a “market failure”: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/nov/29/climatechange.carbonemissions ). According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector is responsible for 18% of GHG emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – more than transport and with CH4 a major component. It is also a major source of land and water degradation (see FAO 2006 report “Livestock’s Long Shadow Environmental issues and options”: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/A0701E/A0701E00.pdf ) .
12. Global heating is not uniform. Thus the biggest changes in temperature (ΔT) are in the far North (Arctic) and the Antarctic Peninsular as revealed by thermal imaging of the surface T in 2001-2005 versus 1951-1980 (average 0.53oC increase) (see J. Hansen et al., PNAS, 103: 14288-14293, 2006). The heating of the Antarctic is associated with the Wilkins ice shelf melting (see C. Brahic “Antarctic [Wilkins] ice shelf hanging by a thread: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13530-antarctic-ice-shelf-hanging-by-a-thread.html and http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn13530/dn13530-1_700.jpg ); the heating of the Arctic is associated with record loss of sea ice (see US NSIDC updates: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ ); according to Australia’s CSIRO the 2oC heating of the Indian Ocean is associated with drought in Southern Australia (see ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200705/s1937008.htm ).
13. Uneven global heating changes wind patterns. Thus in terms of mean wind speed and windy days the East Asian Monsoon has steadily weakened by about 20% since 1968, the observations matching model predictions from GHG-driven disruption.
14. Glaciers are shrinking all around the world as evidenced by the Muir Glacier, Alaska (1941 versus 2004) (J. Holdren lecture) and New Zealand’s largest glacier the Tasman Glacier (29 kilometers long in 1990 and now 22 kilometers long; see AP “Scientist: New Zealand’s biggest glacier shrinking fast”: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/04/24/asia/AS-GEN-New-Zealand-Melting-Glacier.php ) . Of major concern is glacial melting in the Himalaya plateau. Kehrwald, N. M., L. G. Thompson, Y. Tandong, E. Mosley-Thompson, U. Schotterer, V. Alfimov, J. Beer, J. Eikenberg, and M. E. Davis (2008), Mass loss on Himalayan glacier endangers water resources, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L22503, 2008, doi:10.1029/2008GL035556 (see: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008GL035556.shtml ) : “Ice cores drilled from glaciers around the world generally contain horizons with elevated levels of beta radioactivity including 36Cl and 3H associated with atmospheric thermonuclear bomb testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Ice cores collected in 2006 from Naimona'nyi Glacier in the Himalaya (Tibet) lack these distinctive marker horizons suggesting no net accumulation of mass (ice) since at least 1950. Naimona'nyi is the highest glacier (6050 masl) documented to be losing mass annually suggesting the possibility of similar mass loss on other high-elevation glaciers in low and mid-latitudes under a warmer Earth scenario. If climatic conditions dominating the mass balance of Naimona'nyi extend to other glaciers in the region, the implications for water resources could be serious as these glaciers feed the headwaters of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra Rivers that sustain one of the world's most populous regions.”
15. Permafrost is thawing in Alaska, Canada, Russia and Northern Western Europe. Of major concern is the release of CO2 and methane from thawing tundra and from huge sea bed methane hydrate deposits (CH4 being 21 times worse than CO2 as a GHG averaged over 100 years). Methane is now bubbling out of the Arctic sea bed due to melting of a sub-sea permafrost layer (see Steve Connor, The Independent, “Exclusive: the methane time bomb”: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/exclusive-the-methane-time-bomb-938932.html ). At high pressures, such as are found on the bottom of the ocean, methane forms a solid clathrate with water (methane hydrate). Release of methane from ocean methane hydrate has been suggested as a possible cause for rapid global warming in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum with attendant mass extinctions (PEMT, 55.8 million years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene-Eocene_Thermal_Maximum and G.R Dickens et al: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7176/full/nature06588.html and http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7176/fig_tab/nature06588_F2.html#figure-title ) and the Permian-Triassic extinction event, 251 million years ago (the Great Dying, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Dying and The Clathrate gun hypothesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrate_gun_hypothesis ).
16. Arctic summer sea ice is disappearing. For the latest images and analyses see the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ ). A December 2008 Arctic Sea Ice Conference was told that all Arctic summer sea ice will be gone in 6 years (see “Scientists say Arctic free of ice by 2015”: http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Canada/2008/12/13/7738376-sun.html ): “Scientists warn climate change is causing ice in the Canadian Arctic to melt so quickly, the region will have an ice-free season in six years. Following a 15-month expedition, scientists from Canada and 15 other countries warn an ice-free Arctic for part of the year will have a major impact on wildlife, Inuit communities and the entire northern ecosystem.”
17. Surface melting on Greenland is expanding and accelerating (see David Perlman, 2006, Commondreams “Greenland’s ice cap is melting at a frighteningly fast rate”: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0811-06.htm ). Complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet would raise sea levels by about 7 metres.
18. Changing climate, notably the weakening of the East Asia Monsoon, has caused less moisture flow from South to North, this resulting in more flooding in the South and drought in the North. China has a population of 1.3 billion people.
19. The incidence of major floods per decade (1950-2000) markedly increased in America, Europe, Africa and Asia but not in Oceania. However Fiji in 2009 has just experienced its worst floods ever (BBC, “Eyewitness; Fiji’s worst floods”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7830216.stm ).
20. Forest fires are being exacerbated by drought and elevated temperatures in America and Europe. The annual acres burned in the Western USA has now increased from about 0.5 million (1960-1980) to 2.5- 4.5 million (21st century).
21. The total power released by tropical hurricanes has roughly doubled along with sea surface temperatures (see Kerry Emmanuel, “Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the last 30 years”, Nature 436, 686-688 , 4 August 2005; doi:10.1038/nature03906: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v436/n7051/full/nature03906.html and http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v436/n7051/fig_tab/nature03906_ft.html ) .
22. Melting of land ice and thermal expansion of ocean water raised sea level by about 30 mm between 1993 and 2003. The sea level rise was 3 mm/yr (1993-2003) as compared to 1.5 mm/year (1910-1990). Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) in “The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Melt-down" (see: : http://www.countercurrents.org/glikson101008.htm ): “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 ppm.”
23. Predicted 2100 global surface warming above the 1900 level at various IPCC scenarios range up to 4.2oC (business as usual, BAU, A2 scenario). Unfortunately (as detailed in #24 below) current GHG emissions are well above the BAU scenario of A2 and the fossil fuel intensive scenario of A1F1. Dr Holdren points out that “ Last time T was 2oC above 1900 level was 130,000 yr BP ,with the sea level 4-6 m higher than today” and “Last time T was 3oC above 1900 level was ~ 30 million yr BP, with sea level 20-30 m higher than today.”
24. The current rates of emissions are much higher than the worst case scenarios of the IPCC (the BAU scenario of A2 and fossil fuel intensive scenario of A1F1). The actual annual increase in CO2 pollution in 2000-2006 was 3.3% as compared to the IPCC’s estimates of 1.8% for A2 and 2.4% for A1FA. The rate of species extinction is currently 100-1,000 times greater than in the fossil record, this indicating that present global warming (0.8 oC temperature increase over the pre-industrial) is unacceptably high. This tells us that (a) we are on track for catastrophic climate change and (b) the world is giving no indication that it going to change its ways. 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 450 ppm (parts per million), a level at which there is still a 50% probability of exceeding an even more dangerous 2oC temperature increase over the pre-industrial (see: K. Anderson & A, Bows “Reframing the climate challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A, 2008.: http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/journal_papers/fulltext.pdf ). Unfortunately, for example, current Australian Federal Government policies mean an essentially indefinite annual 2% increase in Australia’s Domestic and Exported GHG pollution. However the good news is that the best renewable and geothermal power is now competitive with fossil fuel-based power – the World may still be able to avoid catastrophic biosphere destruction through urgent requisite action (see “Good and bad climate news”: http://www.green-blog.org/2009/01/13/good-and-bad-climate-news/ ).
25. The rate of growth of the atmospheric CO2 concentration is growing (currently 387 ppm): 1970-1979: 1.3 ppm/y; 1980-1989: 1.6 ppm/y; 1990-1999: 1.5 ppm/y; 2000-2006: 1.9 ppm/y; it is currently about 2 ppm/y (see Mauna Loa Observatory data, US NOAA: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ ).
26. Consistent with #23-25, the temperature and sea-level rise have been at the high end of IPCC scenarios (S. Rahmstorff, J.E. Hansen et al, Science, Published Online February 1, 2007, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1136843, “Recent climate observations compared to projections”: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1136843v1 ).
27. 2003 Europe heat wave killed 35,000 in Europe and 15,000 in France. Man-made global warming has roughly doubled the current risk for the 2003 conditions (see Stott et al., “Human contribution to the European heat wave of 2003”, Nature 432, 610-614 (2 December 2004) : http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v432/n7017/abs/nature03089.html ). In January 2009 Melbourne experienced its hottest period on record (successive daily maxima of 43.4, 44.3 and 45.1 degrees Centigrade).
28. The areas of most severe predicted drought for 2071-2100 as compared to 1961-1990 are Central America, Brazil, Europe, Southern Africa, Central Asia, Australia and South East Asia, with drought also occurring in Siberia, Greenland, Antarctic and China (see #18) . In the case of Australia the present record drought in Southern Australia is associated with the warming of the Indian Ocean and a southward shift of rain-bearing weather patterns (see ABC “Study blames human activity for warming Indian Ocean”: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/05/30/1937256.htm ) . In addition Australia and the Pacific region are subject to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. According to the Australian Academy of Science: http://www.science.org.au/nova/028/028print.htm ) the Walker Circulation involves hot, moist air arising in the western Pacific and flowing at 10-15 k height eastwards and but at the earth’s surface there is east-to-west trade winds circulation. A breakdown of the Walker circulation typically occurs every 2 to 7 years, leading to ENSO events lasting between 1.5 and 2 years (see: http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/Students_Teachers/elnanim/elani.shtml ). The Southern Oscillation measures the difference in atmospheric pressure between Tahiti and Darwin. When the pressure is persistently low over the mid-Pacific, it is high over Australia and the Indian Ocean. A persistent below average atmospheric pressure in the mid-Pacific is associated with an El Niño, an eastward shift of the pattern, a warmer central to eastern sea, a cooler western sea and dry conditions [in Australia]. The opposite set of conditions to El Niño, known as La Niña, is frequently associated with cooler eastern sea, warmer western sea, heavy rains and flooding. When an El Niño event occurs, eastern Australia, parts of Asia and southern Africa may be plunged into severe drought, while parts of South America and the west coast of the USA may suffer unusually heavy rain and floods. There is some evidence for intensification of ENSO events associated with global warming (e.g. see “El Niño affected by global warming” : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071220133426.htm ).
29. Melting of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets would raise the sea level by up to 70 metres but this would probably take thousands of years. However rates of 2-5 m per century as possible. Mega-delta countries (notably India and Bangladesh) and Island States (notably Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean) are variously under threat from sea level rise, inundation, loss of agricultural land, salinization of underground water, more intensive hurricanes and storm surges. Thus, for example, mega-delta Bangladesh is under threat from rising sea level, increased storm effects and increased water carried by rivers from the warming Himalayan region (see: “Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century”: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bangladesh-is-set-to-disappear-under-the-waves-by-the-end-of-the-century--a-special-report-by-johann-hari-850938.html ). For my dire predictions about the global warming threat to Bangladesh made in the 1990s see “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) .
30. Agricultural productivity will decline, especially in tropical areas, due to increased temperature, drought, salinization and inundation (see: Rosenzweig, C. and Parry, M.L. (1994), Potential impact of climate change on world food supply, Nature vol. 367, 133-138.). Food supply is already compromised because of globalization (competition for food), fuel costs, global warming and the legislatively-mandated biofuel perversion (food for fuel in the US, UK, Brazil and EU) (see “Biofuel famine, biofuel genocide, meat & global food price crisis” : http://globalavoidablemortality.blogspot.com/2008/05/biofuel-famine-biofuel-genocide-meat.html and “Biofuel famine, biofuel genocide and the global food price crisis” “: http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html ).
However there are some major “Elephant in the room” issues not canvassed above as set out below.
31. “Elephant in the room” #1 is mass species extinction that is occurring at a rate variously estimated to be at 100-1,000 times that in the fossil record. 450 ppm CO2 may be unavoidable in a grossly insufficiently unresponsive world (see: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html ; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0107_040107_extinction.html ) yet coral reefs will die above 450 ppm atmospheric CO2 due to ocean warming and ocean acidification (see Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg : 2007, Science Show with Robyn Williams: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2007/2115399.htm ).
32. “Elephant in the room” #2 is ocean heat content that has increased by 10-15 x 1022 J since 1950 (for a Graph and a cogent discussion of ocean warming – where most of the global warming is going - see Professor Barry Brook: http://bravenewclimate.com/2008/11/23/what-bob-carter-and-andrew-bolt-fail-to-grasp/ ). Professor Brook: “Water stores an immense amount of heat compared with air. It takes more than 1000 times as much energy to heat a cubic metre of water by 1 degree Centigrade as it does the same volume of air. Since the 1960s, over 90% of the excess heat due to higher greenhouse gas levels has gone into the oceans, and just 3% into warming the atmosphere … The record warmth of 1998 was not due to a sudden spurt in global warming but to a very strong El Niño (see figure, right). In normal years, trade winds keep hot water piled up on the western side of the tropical Pacific. During an El Niño, the winds weaken and the hot water spreads out across the Pacific in a shallow layer, which increases heat transfer to the atmosphere. (During a La Niña, by contrast, as occurred during the early part of 2008, the process is reversed and upwelling cold water in the eastern Pacific soaks up heat from the atmosphere.) A temporary fall in the heat content of the oceans at this time may have been due to the extra strong El Niño …So, next time a climate sceptic turns to you and says ‘Global warming is nonsense ’cause the Earth hasn’t warmed in the last 10 years’, you can simply reply ‘Errr - why are you ignoring 97% of the problem?”.
33. “Elephant in the room” #3 is climate racism, biofuel genocide and climate genocide. Already 16 million people (2/3 under-5 year old infants) die avoidably each year from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease on Spaceship Earth with the First World in charge of the flight deck – but this is being impacted by global warming, drought and legislatively-mandated US, UK, and EU biofuel perversion (food for fuel driving up food prices) (see #30). However according to Professor James Lovelock FRS fewer than 1 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed man-made global warming i.e. about 10 billion people (mostly non-European) will perish due to First World profligacy (for details of mainly European profligacy see #9 and #10 above) (see New Scientist Environment, 23 January 2009, “One last chance to save mankind“: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html ). Yet this extraordinary ongoing climate racism, ongoing biofuel genocide and increasing climate genocide is resolutely ignored – just as the world ignores the 9-11 million violent and non-violent excess deaths associated (so far) with the Bush Wars (1990-2009) (see: G. Polya “9-11 excuse for US global genocide. The real 9-11 atrocity: millions dead (9-11 million) in Bush wars (1990-2009)”: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/25184/42/ ; G. Polya, “Climate Emergency, Exceptionalism & Ignoring Downunder. Letter to eminent Australians over Public Honesty”: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/25702/42/ ; G. Polya “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (see: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ and http://mwcnews.net/Gideon-Polya ).
34. “Elephant in the room” #4 is that it may be too late. Top UK climate scientists, Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, made the following shocking conclusions in a 2008 paper in the prestigious Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: “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” (see: K. Anderson & A, Bows “Reframing the climate challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A, 2008.: http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/journal_papers/fulltext.pdf ).
D. Consequences of global warming, mass extinctions and the Great Barrier Reef.
As outlined in C.3 above, climate change threatens water, agriculture, health (e.g. heat waves and via disease geography changes e.g. Dengue, Hanta and malaria), property (storms, floods), coastal regions (hurricanes, storm surges, sea level rises e.g. Island States, Mega-delta States), engineered environments (e.g. Netherlands, New Orleans), biosphere and biodiversity (mass species extinction), net CO2 release from vegetation and non-linear, runaway climate change due to positive feedbacks (se Chapter 16, G. Polya, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability”: (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ). Mark Lynas (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Lynas ) in his book “Six degrees: our future on a hotter planet” (see “What will climate change do to our planet”: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1480669.ece ) discusses predicted consequences of increasing temperatures (add on about 0.5oC to his “ΔT above 1990 value” to get “ΔT above 1900 value”).
The following estimates of atmospheric CO2 and ΔT above 1900 are based on the upper estimate of worst-case global surface warming versus time by the IPCC (2007) as reproduced by J. Holdren (see: http://www.usclimateaction.org/userfiles/JohnHoldren.pdf ) and assuming 2- 3 ppm/y CO2 increase.
At present (atmospheric CO2 at about 390 ppm ; ΔT 0.8oC above 1900; a further ΔT of about 1oC implicit through “thermal inertia”) we already have mass species extinctions at a 100-1,000 times greater rate than that indicated by the fossil record; permafrost melting and methane release is occurring; islands have already become uninhabitable (Carteret Islands, Papua New Guinea and Lohachara Island in India); salinization of Kiribati islands and other Pacific islands is occurring; more intense forest fires; heat waves (e.g. the 2003 heat wave that killed 35,000 people in Europe); worsening drought; doubled power of tropical hurricanes with repeated storm surge inundations in the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mexico); a major food crisis due to price rises (this involving a combination of globalization and rich nations outcompeting poor nations; global warming with drought and decreased production in particular areas; and the legislatively-mandated biofuel perversion in the US, UK and EU; see C.30); already 16 million people die avoidably each year (2/3 being under-5 year old infants) from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease – and this is increasingly being climate change-impacted (notably in Africa).
At 400 ppm CO2 (by about 2015, assuming 2 ppm CO2/y ) all of the Arctic summer sea ice will be gone (contributing to the “albedo flip” positive feedback to accelerate global warming); the events currently occurring will worsen; we are in “new territory” according to Dr Andrew Glikson (see “The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Melt-down" (see: : http://www.countercurrents.org/glikson101008.htm ): “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” i.e. the long-term equilibrium situation is dire.
450 ppm CO2 (by about 2030, assuming 3 ppm CO2/y, or earlier due to positive feedbacks; ΔT 2oC above 1900). Above 450 ppm CO2 there is intensification of conditions outlined above; major damage to coral reefs – including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef - which will be dying due to ocean warming and acidification above 450 ppm CO2; increasing damage to already stressed fisheries and agriculture; mass starvation.
500 ppm CO2 (by about 2045, assuming 3 ppm CO2/y, or earlier due to positive feedbacks; ΔT about 3oC above 1900). According to Professor James Lovelock (“The Revenge of Gaia”) above 500 ppm CO2 there is major loss of phytoplankton and phytoplankton-dependent life in the oceans; major loss of phytoplankton-derived dimethylsulphide (important for cloud formation); and major ice-melting due to exceeding the tipping point for loss of the Greenland ice sheet. Massive forest fires; stressed plants will be losing carbon rather than absorbing it; widening, phytoplankton-free, low oxygen “death zones” in the oceans; catastrophic starvation in Africa and South Asia.
600 ppm CO2 (by about 2080, assuming 3 ppm CO2/y, or earlier due to positive feedbacks; ΔT about 4oC above 1900). Death and burning of the Amazon rainforest; runaway thaw of permafrost making for unstoppable global warming; massive depopulation of huge coastal areas due to storms and inundation; catastrophic mass starvation and breakdown of human civilization as we know it. Current Mediterranean climate summer heat wave maxima (46oC in the city of Adelaide, Australia, January 2009) will now be circa 50 oC, requiring high technology survival for the privileged few; fewer than1 billion will remain alive.
Record species extinctions. At current levels of human impact NOW (e.g. 0.80C above pre-industrial, current 387 ppm CO2 ) we already have an animal extinction rate that is one thousand (1,000) times greater than that of the fossil record (see: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html ; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0107_040107_extinction.html ).
Death of coral and Great Barrier Reef. At above about 450 ppm CO2 (in about 2030) the world’s coral reefs – including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – will start dying because of ocean acidification as well as from bleaching due to photosynthetic symbiont expulsion from increased ocean temperature. Top coral scientists say the “tipping point” for world coral death is in the 450-500 ppm atmospheric CO2 zone (see: Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5857/1737 ; http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2007/2115399.htm ; http://www.exeter.ac.uk/cornwall/about_the_campus/latest_news/coral.shtml ; http://green-blog.org/tag/the-great-barrier-reef/ ; see: also the latest 2007 IPCC Synthesis Report: http://www.ipcc.ch/ and http://green-blog.org/2007/11/21/summary-of-the-summary-of-the-2007-ipcc-ar4-synthesis-report/ ) .
E. Australia’s leading per capita GHG pollution, First World biofuel genocide and climate genocide.
1. Australia is the world’s #1 Developed Nation CO2 polluter.
Consulting the US Energy Information Administration database (see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ) we obtain the following information on “annual per capita fossil fuel-derived carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution” in “tonnes (t) per person per year” for Australia and other major polluters (2004 data): 19.2 (for Australia; 40 if you include Australia’s coal exports), 19.7 (the US), 18.4 (Canada), 9.9 (Japan), 4.2 (the World), 3.6 (China), 1.0 ( India) and 0.25 (for Bangladesh).
2. Germanwatch index places Australia #54 in the list of the worst CO2 polluters (#56 being worst).
Of course “annual per capita fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution” is but one – albeit a very important – indicator of climate impact. The Germanwatch Climate Change Index 2008, a comparison of the 56 top CO2 emitting nations (see: http://www.germanwatch.org/ccpi.htm ), takes other parameters into account in ranking. In this ranking of 56 top CO2 emitting nations, Sweden and Germany are #1 and #2 for greenhouse responsibility, while shale-oil-rich Canada (a US ally), coal-rich Australia (a US ally), the USA and oil-rich Saudi Arabia (US-linked) rank #53, #54, #55 and #56, respectively (see: http://www.germanwatch.org/ccpi.htm ) .
3. In 2004 Australia (0.3% world population) gave 3% total fossil fuel CO2 pollution. Consulting the US Energy Information Administration database (see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ), in 2004 Australia (0.3% world’s population) yielded 1.4% of world’s fossil fuel-derived CO2 (3% including coal exports). The World’s 27,043 Mt fossil fuel-derived CO2 (2004) comprised 10,850 Mt (petroleum), 5602 Mt (gas), and 10,592 Mt (coal) with the Australia breakdown being 810 Mt (total), 117 Mt (petroleum), 52 Mt (gas), 217 Mt (coal, domestic), 424 Mt (coal exports).
4. Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter (30% total world coal exports).
From Australian Coal Association (see: http://www.australiancoal.com.au/exports.htm ) Australia maintained its position as the world's largest coal exporter with exports of 233 Mt in 2005-06 ($A24.5 billion) or 30% of the world total (777 Mt) (M, G, T = million, billion, trillion).
5. Australia produces about 6% of world hard coal (black coal).
From World Coal Institute (see:
http://www.worldcoal.org/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=188 ) total World: hard coal consumption 5339 Mt (2006); coal production 5370 Mt (2006); World brown coal 914 Mt ; Australia 309 Mt hard coal (5.8% of World production; used for thermal electricity and as coking coal for steel production).
From Australian Minerals Index (see:
http://www.australianminesatlas.gov.au/build/common/siteindex.jsp ) Australia produces about 6% of the world's saleable black coal and is ranked fourth after China (45%), US (19%) and India (8%).
6. Australia has 24% of World’s brown coal and produces 8% of World’s pa.
From Australian Minerals Index (see:
Australian brown coal production for 2005/06 was 67.7 Mt (valued at $849 million) - all was from Victoria and used to generate electricity. Australia has about 24% of World recoverable brown coal and is ranked first. However, Australia produces about 8% of the World's brown coal and is ranked fifth largest producer after Germany (22%), Russia (10%), USA (9%) and Greece (8%).
7. Australian coal reserves.
Australia has about 77 billion tonnes of coal resources
http://gc3.cqu.edu.au/modern-world/index.php . There are 909 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves worldwide (see: http://www.worldcoal.org/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=100 ). The price in 2006 was about US$100/t but is expected to reach US$300/t in 2008.
8. Coal to CO2 and coal to kWh conversions.
Carbon (C, atomic weight 12) to carbon dioxide (CO2, molecular weight 44 ) conversion involves a stoichiometry of 12 g C -> 44 g CO2 i.e. 1 g C to 3.7 g CO2. 1 g coal yields 1.85 g CO2. In a coal-fired power station 0.327 kg coal yields 1 kWh. (kilowatt hour).
9. Australia gets 77% of its electricity from coal, 92% from fossil fuels.
According ot the Australian Uranium Association (see: http://www.uic.com.au/nip37.htm ) electricity generation in Australia involves about 51 billion W (51 GW) capacity; the price varies during the day etc at about 4 c /kWh; in 2006 Australia's power stations produced 255 billion kilowatt hours (trillion Wh = TWh) of electricity; the energy source breakdown was 92.2% Carbon-based (black coal 54.8% , brown coal 21.9%, oil 1.3%, gas 14.2%, hydro 6.8%. and renewables 1%; 77% is coal-based electricity.
10. The true cost of coal energy is 4 times the market cost (Ontario Government study) – 4,860 Australians killed by coal annually @ $1.6 million each?
In Ontario (see: http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=8836) the cost/kWh jumped from $0.04 to $0.164 with environmental and human impacts added; pollution from coal plants producing 27 TWh/year (20% of supply) kill 668 people per year in Ontario (population 12.2 million) suggesting coal plants producing 77% of Australia's annual 255 TWh of electricity (see: http://www.uic.com.au/nip37.htm ) i.e. 0.77 x 255 = 196.4 TWh/year might kill about 196.4 TWh x 668/27 TWh = 4,859 people annually in Australia (population 21 million); in Australia 255 bn kWh x $0.04/kWh = $10.2 bn; 0.77 (coal-based) x $10.2 bn = $7.85 billion; $7.85 bn /4,859 deaths i.e. Australian electricity consumers pay for electricity @ $1.6 million per fellow Australian killed by coal.
11. Key estimates relating to Australian “annual per capita GHG pollution” and deriving from authoritative primary data provided by the US Energy Information Administration (see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ) and the UN Population Division (see: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ) and taking into account the OFFICIAL Australian 2020 targets of “5% reduction on 2000 Domestic GHG pollution by 2020” and “60% reduction on 2000 Domestic GHG pollution by 2050”..
Australia’s “annual LNG exports” (Mt CO2 produced): 21.8 (2000), 28.4 (2008), 38.2 (2020), 62.8 (2050).
Australia’s “annual coal exports) (Mt CO2 produced): 327.6 (2000), 474.3 (2008), 609.7 (2020), 1255.4 (2050).
Australia’s “annual Domestic GHG pollution) (Mt CO2-e produced) : 535.3 (2000), 627.2 (2008), 508.5 (2020), 267.7 (2050).
Australia’s “annual Domestic & Exported GHG pollution” (Mt CO2-e produced): 884.7 (2000), 1129.9 (2008), 1245.4 (2020), 1585.9 (2050).
Australia’s population (Millions): 19.1 (2000), 21.0 (2008), 23.4 (2020), 28.0 (2050).
Australia’s “annual per capita Domestic & Exported GHG pollution” (tonnes CO2-e per person per year): 46.3 (2000), 53.8 (2008), 53.2 (2020), 56.6 (2050).
Australia’s “annual Domestic & Exported GHG pollution as % of 2000 value”: 100% (2000), 128% (2008), 141% (2020), 179% (2050).
As indicated above, Australia needs to REDUCE its “annual per capita Domestic & Exported” GHG pollution” by 90% to bring it back to the World average – but, in stark contrast, is set to INCREASE this under its quite FALSELY labelled “GHG pollution reduction” policies.
According to Professor Andy Pitman (University of New South Wales, a top Australian climate scientist and a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) “The basic science says we need to try to keep CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere below 450 parts per million equivalent, which is the bundle of all the greenhouse gases” (see ABC report: http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:LaR4V48Pn7gJ:www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/printfriendly.pl%3Fhttp://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2306464.htm+abc+%22andy+pitman+%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=au ) .
12. Climate genocide. Top UK climate scientist Dr James Lovelock FRS (the Gaia hypothesis) (a) says that fewer than 1 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming; (b) says of carbon dioxide sequestration “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”; and (c) regards biochar as the last chance to save humanity and the biosphere: “There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal” (see New Scientist Environment, 23 January 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html ).
However the Rudd Labor Australian Government (a) is remorselessly committed to an indefinite 2% annual increase in Australian Domestic and Exported greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution (contrary to top expert UK advice that an annual 6-8% decrease in GHG pollution is urgently needed to avert an atmospheric CO2-e concentration of 450 ppm) and to Australia as the world’s biggest coal exporter and a World leader in annual per capita GHG pollution, threatening billions of impoverished non-Europeans with climate genocide; (b) is committed to carbon dioxide sequestration (as stated overseas recently by Her Excellency the Governor General); and (c) totally rejects biochar as a solution (as stated recently by Climate Minister Penny Wong).
The Australian Government’s falsely named “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme” has a highly flawed Emissions Trading System (ETS) as an INDIRECT mechanism of Government intervention in “the market” to supposedly get “the market” (the actual source of the Climate Emergency problem) to move to a solution. The Australian ETS is highly flawed Cap and Trade system and, in short, is based on a Cap that will destroy the Great Barrier Reef, ignores 2/3 of Australian GHG sources, obviates personal energy saving, and absurdly RETURNS a large part of the Government receipts for “licences to pollute” to the major polluters (for detailed critique see “Australian Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will INCREASE Carbon Pollution”: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/australian-carbon-pollution-reduction-scheme-will-increase-carbon-pollution ) .
F. Current economic renewable and geothermal energy sources.
CROSS-OVER POINT: the best renewable and geothermal power are now roughly the same “market price” as fossil fuel-based power and about 4-5 times the “true cost” (taking environmental and human costs into account).
As outlined in the Climate Emergency Fact Sheets of the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/Home ) and links provided by the Climate Emergency Network (see: http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/ ), man-made (anthropogenic) greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from fossil fuel burning, methanogenic livestock production, other agriculture (notably major crop-based biofuel generation) and deforestation have lifted the atmospheric GHG concentration to a dangerous level.
Thus according to top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; member of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences; 2007 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science): “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 CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. The largest uncertainty in the target arises from possible changes of non-CO2 forcings. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects” (see: http://arxiv.org/abs/0804.1126 ).
Leading Australian energy options expert Dr Mark Diesendorf (Department of Environmental Studies, University of New South Wales) has recently reviewed the situation for Australia in an article entitled “Greenhouse Solutions Need Effective Government Policies”: “The only energy technologies that are capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions substantially and rapidly are efficient energy use, natural gas [half as CO2 polluting as coal] and the lower-cost renewable energy sources. However, as oil prices escalate, the limited reserves of natural gas are coming under increasing demand for electricity generation, heat and transportation, and so gas is not a major or long-term part of the solution. Capturing CO2 emissions from coal burning is an unproven technological system, which could not make a significant contribution until the 2020s. Therefore, the main policy emphasis should be directed to the large-scale deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy” (see: http://www.politicsinthepub.org/AMWUmag_MD.pdf ).
In 2007 I published an assessment of the relative costs of power from a variety of sources (see: http://newmatilda.com/2007/08/08/how-numbers-stack ). A key observation was that a Canadian Ontario Government-commissioned study had found that the “true cost” of coal burning-based power (taking the human and environmental impact into account) was 4-5 times the “market price” (see: (see: http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=8836 ; http://newmatilda.com/2007/08/08/how-numbers-stack ; and http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/pollution-deaths-from-fossil-fuel-based-power-plants ). Already in 2007 it was apparent that the cost of power from all the lower-cost renewable energy systems (in cents per kilowatt hour) was LOWER than the “true cost” of coal burning-based power.
However, as documented below, it is NOW apparent that a crucial CROSS-OVER POINT has now been reached at which the cost of power from a range of lower-cost renewable sources is about the SAME as the “market price” of coal burning –based power.
In the analysis below the COST OF POWER (e.g. as measured in units such as US cents per kilowatt hour or US$ per megawatt hour) is given for a variety of non-carbon energy sources together with an estimate of the MAGNITUDE of the various renewable and/or non-carbon energy resources.
1. Wind Power. According to NOVA Science in the News (published by the prestigious Australian Academy of Science, 2008): “advances in wind power science and technology are reducing the cost of wind power to a point at which it is becoming competitive with many other energy sources (at about 8 Australian cents per kilowatt hour)” [i.e. 5.6 US cents per kilowatt hour [kWh] or US$56 per megawatt hour [MWh]) (see: http://www.science.org.au/nova/037/037key.htm ). According to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) the average cost of onshore wind power in the UK (2005) was 3.2 p/kWh [i.e. 5.2 US cents per kilowatt hour or US$52 per megawatt hour (MWh)] . According to the US Energy Information Administration the cost per unit of energy produced from wind was estimated in 2006 to be comparable to the cost of new generating capacity in the United States for coal and natural gas: wind cost was estimated at US$55.80 per MWh [megawatt hour], coal at US$53.10/MWh and natural gas at US$52.50/MWh (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power ).
According to a Stanford University study “global wind power generated at locations with mean annual wind speeds ≥ 6.9 m/s at 80 m is found to be ~72 TW (~54,000 Mtoe [million tons of oil equivalent] annually) for the year 2000. Even if only ~20% of this power could be captured, it could satisfy 100% of the world’s energy demand for all purposes (6995-10177 Mtoe) and over seven times the world’s electricity needs (1.6-1.8 TW)” (see: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/global_winds.html ).
There is huge potential for off-shore wind power. According to Research and Markets (May 2008; summarizing the Global Wind Power Report 2008): “Wind is the world’s fastest-growing energy source with an average annual growth rate of 29% over the last ten years. In 2007, the global wind power generating capacity crossed 94 gigawatts (GW). This represents a twelve-fold increase from a decade ago, when world wind-generating capacity stood at just over 7.6 gigawatts (GW). Being an emerging fuel source a decade ago, wind energy has grown rapidly into a mature and booming global industry. Further, the power generation costs of wind energy have fallen by 50%, moving closer to the cost of conventional energy sources. The future prospects of the global wind industry are very encouraging and it is estimated to grow by more than 70% over the next five years to reach 160 gigawatts (GW) by year 2012” (see: http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/a1c452/global_wind_power ).
2. Concentrated Solar Power with Energy Storage. The US solar energy company Ausra uses a form of Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) technology called Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology. In short, solar energy is collected and concentrated in a sophisticated way and used to generate steam to drive turbines and hence generate electricity. A key feature is that solar energy is stored, enabling Ausra CLFR plants to generate electricity 24 hours per day. An Ausra factory producing 700 megawatt (MW) of solar collectors annually opened in Nevada in 2008. Ausra is involved in joint construction of a 177 megawatt (MW) CLFR plant for California. According to Ausra (2008): “Ausra's innovations in collector design dramatically reduce the cost of solar thermal generation equipment and bring solar power to prices directly competitive with fossil fuel power. Using Ausra's current solar technologies, all U.S. electric power, day and night, can be generated using a land area smaller than 92 by 92 miles” (see: http://www.ausra.com/ ).
Solar energy hitting the Earth is roughly 10,000 times greater than the energy we consume globally (see: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2008/2170327.htm ; http://home.iprimus.com.au/nielsens/solen.html ; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_solarplastic.html ) . Global electricity production (2005) was 17,400 TWh (see US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.doe.gov/international/ ). Exciting new research developments on hydrogen fuel cells (at Monash University, Australia) and efficient electrolysis (at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) presage an efficient, solar energy-based, hydrogen fuel cell-run transportation system within a decade (see: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/86/i31/8631notw.html ; http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-08/mu-mtl081408.php ).
3. Wave power. The cost of wave power by the CETO system (a sea bed-fixed pump linked to a buoyant actuator) is about that of wind power. There are further big cost efficiencies if wave power is used for cogeneration of potable water. A Carnegie Corporation submission to an Australian Parliamentary Committee (2007) estimates that “CETO can offer zero-emission base-load electricity generation capacity at a cost comparable to existing wind power [i.e. about US$50 per MWh] and the capacity to provide potable water to major population centres using 100% clean energy” ( see: http://www.aph.gov.au/House/committee/isr/renewables/submissions/sub104.pdf ).
Further, this Submission states: “The World Energy Council has estimated that approximately 2 Terawatts (TW), about double current world electricity production, could be produced from oceans via wave power … It is estimated that 1 million gigawatt hours (GWh) of wave energy hits Australian shores annually, or more than four times Australian’s total annual electricity consumption of 210,000 gigawatt hours (2004 figures)” (see: http://www.aph.gov.au/House/committee/isr/renewables/submissions/sub104.pdf ).
4. Hydro power. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development (2002) various New Zealand hydroelectric power systems provided power for 4-10 NZ cents per kilowatt hour [2.4-5.9 US cents per kilowatt hour i.e. US$24-59 per megawatt hour] (see: http://www.med.govt.nz/templates/MultipageDocumentPage____15343.aspx ).
According to BNET (2007): “Hydro power currently accounts for approximately 20% of the world's electricity production, with about 650,000 MW (650 GW) installed and approximately 135,000 MW (135 GW) under construction or in the final planning stages … It is estimated that only about a quarter of the economically exploitable water resources has been developed to date” ( see: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_/ai_n27296291 ).
5. Geothermal power. According to Professor John Veevers (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia): “The [Australian hot rocks] geothermal resource extends over 1000 square kilometres … Modelled costs are 4 Australian cents per kilowatt hour, plus half to 1 cent for transmission to grid [4.5 Australian cents per kWh = 3.2 US cents per kWh or US$32 per MWh]. This compares with 3.5 cents for black coal, 4 cents for brown coal, 4.2 cents for gas, but all with uncosted emissions. Clean coal, the futuristic technology of coal gasification combined with CO2 sequestration or burial, yet to be demonstrated, comes in at 6.5 cents, and solar and wind power at 8 cents” see “The Innamincka hot fractured rock project” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics”, editor Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007; also see energy cost-related chapters in this book by Dr Gideon Polya “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality”, Dr Mark Diesendorf “A sustainable energy future for Australia”, and by Martin Mahy “Hydrogen Minibuses”).
According to the Report of an interdisciplinary panel of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) experts entitled “The Future of Geothermal Energy” (2006) : “EGS [Enhanced Geothermal Systems] is one of the few renewable energy resources that can provide continuous base-load power with minimal visual and other environmental impacts … The accessible geothermal resource, based on existing extractive technology, is large and contained in a continuum of grades ranging from today’s hydrothermal, convective systems through high- and mid-grade EGS resources located primarily in the western United Sates) to the very large, conduction-dominated contributions in the deep basement and sedimentary rock formations throughout the country. By evaluating an extensive database of bottom-hole temperature and regional geologic data (rock types, stress level, surface temperature etc), we have estimated that the total EGS resource has to be more than 13 million exajoules (EJ) [13 million EJ x 277.8 TWh/EJ = 3611.4 million TWh. Using reasonable assumptions regarding how heat would be used from stimulated EGS reservoirs, we also estimated the extractable portion to exceed 0.2 million EJ (0.2 million EJ x 277.8 TWh/EJ = 55.56 million TWh) ... With technological improvements, the economically extractable amount of useful energy could increase by a factor of 10 or more, thus making EGS sustainable for centuries” (see Cahpter1, p1-4: http://geothermal.inel.gov/publications/future_of_geothermal_energy.pdf ).
Nuclear power as a serious future option can be dismissed in this analysis because the overall nuclear power cycle (from mining to waste disposal) currently has a major CO2-polluting component (equivalent to that of a modern gas-fired power plant); the cost of nuclear power via the UK's newest Sizewell B plant is 15 Australian cents per kilowatt hour [10.5 US cents per kilowatt hour or US$105 per MWh; required high grade uranium ore is a very limited resource; and long-term safe storage of waste and security issues are unresolved. For a previous, 2007 analysis of these relative power cost issues see “Renewables. How the Numbers Stack Up” by Dr Gideon Polya: http://newmatilda.com/2007/08/08/how-numbers-stack .
Biofuel from land-based crops (notably canola, palm oil, sugar and corn) is highly CO2 polluting from mechanisms such as de-forestation and loss of soil carbon. Indeed the biofuel perversion that is legislatively mandated in the US, the UK and the EU is making a huge contribution to global food price rises that in turn are threatening the lives of “billions” of people according to UK Chief Scientific Advisor Professor John Beddington FRS (see “Global Food Crisis. US Biofuel & CO2 threaten billions”: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/21277/42/ ).
Summary. While the World has arguably already reached “peak oil” and uranium, gas and coal resources are limited (for details see Dr James Hansen’s Letter to the PPM of Australia: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080401_DearPrimeMinisterRudd.pdf ), the solar energy hitting the Earth is roughly 10,000 times greater than the energy that Man consumes globally (see: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2008/2170327.htm ). Geothermal resources are immense. Already developed and implemented geothermal power technologies and low-cost renewable energy technologies directly dependent on solar energy (concentrated solar thermal power) or indirectly dependent on solar energy (hydro, wind and wave power) have reached a CROSS-OVER POINT at which the cost of power in cents per kilowatt hour are COMMENSURATE with the current “market cost” of fossil fuel burning –based power. Further, the “true cost” of coal burning-based power (i.e. taking the environmental and human impact into account) is 4-5 times the “market cost”. Exciting new research developments at Monash University, Australia, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, presage the possibility of an efficient, solar energy-based, hydrogen fuel cell-run transportation system within a decade (see: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/86/i31/8631notw.html ; http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-08/mu-mtl081408.php ).
Former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore has recently (mid-2008) called for 100% renewable electric power with ten years: “Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years” (see: http://www.wecansolveit.org/pages/al_gore_a_generational_challenge_to_repower_america/ ). Carbon-free power is now technically and economically feasible at a “market cost” commensurate with the “market cost” of fossil fuel burning-based power.
The science, technology and economics thus indicate that the urgent need (enunciated by NASA’s Dr James Hansen and his colleagues) to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration from the current 387 ppm to no more than 350 ppm can be realized NOW with low-cost renewable energy and geothermal energy implementation coupled with cessation of fossil fuel burning and de-forestation, minimization of agricultural methanogenesis, massive re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to the world’s soils.
F. Top scientists’ opinions and need to reduce atmospheric CO2 to about 300 ppm.
We are familiar with the notion of getting an expert second opinion when an expert medical specialist has diagnosed life threatening circumstances. However a second opinion that is a bit more optimistic simply decreases the perceived odds of death somewhat and the dire prediction remains. Leading world climate experts offer the EXPERT DIAGNOSIS that the World faces a life-threatening Climate Emergency requiring urgent action to STOP carbon pollution and indeed to REDUCE existing atmosphere greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. However inexpert, non-scientist politicians and corporate spokespersons with vested interests in fossil fuel burning and their inexpert climate sceptic supporters are merely expressing inexpert partisan opinions that would be seen as dishonest and dangerously irresponsible in the context of expert medical specialist diagnosis of life threatening circumstances.
Below are some recent, Web-documented, expert opinions of outstanding, world-leading climate change experts and other eminent scientific experts and top scientific organizations with expertise to make authoritative comments about the Climate Emergency and related matters. Links to articles about these outstanding persons are variously given for your convenience. Key quotes are in bold and are presented in a wider educative context.
1. Dr James Hansen (top US climate scientist; Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; member of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences; 2007 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science; see: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/ ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hansen ; for 1880-present NASA GISS Global Temperature graphed data see: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/ and http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/ ):
(a) With 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 CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. The largest uncertainty in the target arises from possible changes of non-CO2 forcings. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects” (see: http://arxiv.org/abs/0804.1126 ).
(b) In relation to the recent book “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” by David Spratt and Philip Sutton (Scribe, Melbourne, 2008; see: http://www.climatecodered.net/ ): “A compelling case … we face a climate emergency.”
(c) 2007 (Hansen, J., Mki. Sato, P. Kharecha, G. Russell, D.W. Lea, and M. Siddall, 2007: Climate change and trace gases. Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A, 365, 1925-1954): “Paleoclimate data show that the Earth's climate is remarkably sensitive to global forcings. Positive feedbacks predominate. This allows the entire planet to be whipsawed between climate states. One feedback, the "albedo flip" property of water substance, provides a powerful trigger mechanism. A climate forcing that "flips" the albedo of a sufficient portion of an ice sheet can spark a cataclysm. Ice sheet and ocean inertia provides only moderate delay to ice sheet disintegration and a burst of added global warming. Recent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of our control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest human-made climate forcing, but other trace constituents are important. Only intense simultaneous efforts to slow CO2 emissions and reduce non-CO2 forcings can keep climate within or near the range of the past million years. The most important of the non-CO2 forcings is methane (CH4), as it causes the 2nd largest human-made GHG climate forcing and is the principal cause of increased tropospheric ozone (O3), which is the 3rd largest GHG forcing. Nitrous oxide (N2O) should also be a focus of climate mitigation efforts. Black carbon ("black soot") has a high global warming potential (~2000, 500, and 200 for 20, 100 and 500 years, respectively) and deserves greater attention. Some forcings are especially effective at high latitudes, so concerted efforts to reduce their emissions could still "save the Arctic", while also having major benefits for human health, agricultural productivity, and the global environment” (see: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2007/Hansen_etal_2.html ).
(d) 2008, in an address to the US National Press Club and a briefing to the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming Congressional Committee: “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature” (see: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TwentyYearsLater_20080623.pdf ).
(e) Dr James Hansen et al. (2008): “Stabilization of Arctic sea ice cover requires, to first approximation, restoration of planetary energy balance. Climate models driven by known forcings yield a present planetary energy imbalance of +0.5-1 W/m2. Observed heat increase in the upper 700 m of the ocean confirms the planetary energy imbalance, but observations of the entire ocean are needed for quantification. CO2 amount must be reduced to 325-355 ppm to increase outgoing flux 0.5-1 W/m2, if other forcings are unchanged. A further imbalance reduction, and thus CO2 ~300-325 ppm, may be needed to restore sea ice to its area of 25 years ago” (see: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf ).
2. Dr Rajendra Pachauri (2008) (economist and environmental scientist; chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajendra_K._Pachauri ): “[The UN negotiations] must progress rapidly, otherwise I am afraid that not only future generations but even this generation will treat us as having been irresponsible…The EU has to lead. If the EU does not lead, I am afraid that any attempt to bring about change and to manage the problem of climate change will collapse…Today there is a high level of expectation. If the EU does not lead, you will not be able to bring the US on board, North America, on board. You will not be able to bring on board other countries in the world as well…we would have to stabilise the greenhouse-gas concentration at more or less the level at which we are today. But in order to do that [to limit the overall warming since pre-industrial times to 2 C (3.6 F)], we have a window of opportunity of only seven years because emissions will have to peak by 2015 and reduce after that. We cannot permit a longer delay…The very wise target that the EU had set of 2.0 C (3.6 F) may need to be looked at once more, because the impacts are turning out to be more serious than we had estimated earlier” (see: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jGxKw2XS4_IHH6Xc7RVAY02dkNBg ).
3. Dr Graeme Pearman (2008) (top Australian climate scientist; Chief of CSIRO Atmospheric Research in Australia from 1992 to 2002; world expert on increasing levels of CO2 and global warming): "This science tells us that the world's climate is changing and that the change is primarily because of an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities. We are changing the climate. Very recent science suggests that climate change may be happening faster than we expected and that we and other species on the planet are more vulnerable to change than we thought. This is now forcing serious consideration of rapid responses by all nations as we work to tackle this shared problem. Challenges in this quest include a general community lack of appreciation of the significance of what appears to be small shifts in global average temperature, incompleteness of the knowledge-base and the need to respond using risk management" (see: http://www.monash.edu.au/news/monashmemo/stories/20080326/climate-change.html ).
4. Professor David de Kretser, A.C., Governor of Victoria, Australia (2008) (eminent Australian medical scientist; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_de_Kretser ) in launching the book “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” by David Spratt and Philip Sutton (Scribe, Melbourne, 2008): “The book draws on a vast array of information to build a cogent and compelling case that we do have a genuine emergency on our hands if we are to limit the rise of greenhouse gas emissions to a level at which we can limit the degradation of our planet to manageable levels … 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.” (see: http://www.scribepublications.com.au/book/climatecodered ).
(a) 2006: “In Chapter 1 I describe a simple model where the sensitive part of the Earth system is the ocean; as it warms, so the area of the sea that can support the growth of algae grows smaller as it is driven ever closer to the poles, until algal growth ceases. The discontinuity comes because algae in the ocean both pump down carbon dioxide [by photosynthesis] and produce clouds [through cloud-seeding dimethyl sulphide production]. (Algae floating in the ocean actively remove carbon dioxide from the air and use it for growth; we call the process “pumping down” to distinguish it from the passive and reversible removal of carbon dioxide as it dissolves in rain or sea water). The threshold for the failure of the algae is about 500 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, about the same as it is for Greenland’s unstoppable melting” (See: “The Revenge of Gaia”, Allen Lane, London; p51).
(b) 2007: “Most of the large climate models used to predict future climates still rely mainly on atmospheric physics, and this includes the models on which the IPCC report is based. The influence of the clouds and the ocean are incompletely included and that of the Earth's natural ecosystems hardly at all. Present day climate models are good at explaining past climates but seem unable to agree on the course of global heating beyond about 2050, by the end of the century predictions vary over a wide range. This stark view was reinforced in May this year by the publication by Rahmstorf and his colleagues ["Recent Climate Observations Compared to Projections", Science 4 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5825, p. 709] of high quality measurements of the rise in global mean temperature, sea level and CO2. These showed that even the gloomiest predictions of the IPCC were underestimating the severity of climate change now” (see: http://www.jameslovelock.org/page24.html ).
(c) 2006: “When Malthus first warned of the overpopulation of the Earth in 1800, there were only one billion of us. He has been derided ever since, yet I think he was right. One billion is about the right number and I fear that we will reach it not by our own choice but by attrition” (see: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/james-lovelock-you-ask-the-questions-411765.html ; see also: http://machineslikeus.com/People/Lovelock_James.html ; http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/mar/15/desertification.ethicalliving and )
(d) 2008: “I hate academia. Most of the scientists who work there are not free men any more and they can't speak out. That's no way to do science” (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/mar/15/desertification.ethicalliving ).
(e) 2009, on biochar: "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 ... 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" (see New Scientist, January 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html ).
6. Professor David Pimentel (1998) (Professor of Ecology and Agricultural Science at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA): “At present, humans face serious malnutrition, land degradation, water pollution and shortages, and declining fossil energy resources. In addition, with related changes in the natural environment, many thousands of species are being lost forever. If the human population increases dramatically over the next several decades, as it is projected to do, the strains on these limited resources will grow as well. Some people are starting to ask just how many people the Earth can support if we want to cease degrading the environment and move to a sustainable solar energy system? There is no solid answer yet, but the best estimate is that Earth can support about 1 to 2 billion people with an American Standard of living, good health, nutrition, prosperity, personal dignity and freedom. This estimate suggests an optimal U.S. population of 100 to 200 million. To achieve this goal, humans must first stabilize their population and then gradually reduce their numbers to achieve a sustainable society in terms of both economics and environmental resources. With fair policies and realistic incentives, such a reduction in the human population can be achieved over the next century” (see: http://www.populationpress.org/essays/essay-pimentel.html ).
7. Dr Timothy Searchinger and colleagues (“Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change”, Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1238 – 1240: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1151861 ): “Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gases because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products.”
8. Dr Joseph Fargione and colleagues (“Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt”, Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1235 – 1238: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1152747 ): “Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuels are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels. In contrast, biofuels made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on degraded and abandoned agricultural lands planted with perennials incur little or no carbon debt and can offer immediate and sustained GHG advantages.”
9. Professors O. Hoegh-Guldberg, P. J. Mumby and colleagues (Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification, Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742 (see: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5857/1737 ): “Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2°C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse.”
10. Dr Chris Thomas and numerous colleagues (Extinction risk from climate change, Nature 427, 145-148, 2004; see: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html ): “Climate change over the past 30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction. Using projections of species' distributions for future climate scenarios, we assess extinction risks for sample regions that cover some 20% of the Earth's terrestrial surface. Exploring three approaches in which the estimated probability of extinction shows a power-law relationship with geographical range size, we predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15–37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be 'committed to extinction'. When the average of the three methods and two dispersal scenarios is taken, minimal climate-warming scenarios produce lower projections of species committed to extinction (18%) than mid-range (24%) and maximum-change (35%) scenarios. These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.”
11. Dr Cynthia Rosenzweig, Professor David D. Karoly and numerous other colleagues (2008) (Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change. Nature, 453, 353-357, 2008): “Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents” (see: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2008/Rosenzweig_etal_1.html ).
12. Dr Andrew Balmford and numerous colleagues (Science 9 August 2002, Economic Reasons for Conserving Wild Nature, Science Vol. 297, pp. 950 – 953): “On the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, it is timely to assess progress over the 10 years since its predecessor in Rio de Janeiro. Loss and degradation of remaining natural habitats has continued largely unabated. However, evidence has been accumulating that such systems generate marked economic benefits, which the available data suggest exceed those obtained from continued habitat conversion. We estimate that the overall benefit:cost ratio of an effective global program for the conservation of remaining wild nature is at least 100:1” (see: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5583/950 ).
13. Dr Phillip S. Levin, Dr Donald A. Levin (2002) (Dr Donald A. Levin is Professor of Biology, University of Texas, Austin; his son Dr Phillip Levin is a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service): “The numbers are grim: Some 2,000 species of Pacific Island birds (about 15 percent of the world total) have gone extinct since human colonization. Roughly 20 of the 297 known mussel and clam species and 40 of about 950 fishes have perished in North America in the past century. On average, one extinction happens somewhere on earth every 20 minutes. Ecologists estimate that half of all living bird and mammal species will be gone within 200 or 300 years. Although crude and occasionally controversial, such statistics illustrate the extent of the current upheaval, which spans the globe and affects a broad array of plants and animals…The current losses are, however, exceptional. Rates of extinction appear now to be 100 to 1,000 times greater than background levels, qualifying the present as an era of “mass extinction”. The globe has experienced similar waves of destruction just five times in the past” (see: http://www.soc.duke.edu/~pmorgan/levin&levin.2002.the_real_biodiversity_crisis.html ).
14. Dr John Holdren (2008) (Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Director of the Woods Hole Research Center; recent Chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science): “I don’t like the term “global warming,” because it’s misleading. It implies something that’s mainly about temperature, that’s gradual, and that’s uniform across the planet. And in fact, temperature is only one of the things that’s changing. It’s a sort of an index of the state of climate. The whole climate is changing: the winds, the ocean currents, the storm patterns, snow packs, snowmelt, flooding, droughts. Temperature is just a bit of it. It’s also highly non-uniform. The largest changes are occurring in the far north in the Arctic, in the Antarctic Peninsula in the far south. It is certainly not gradual, in the sense that it is rapid compared to the capacity of ecosystems to adjust. It’s rapid compared to the capacity of human systems to adjust… I think that most people, even most scientists, continue to underestimate how far down the path to climate catastrophe we’ve already traveled. We are committed, the United States and 190 other countries are committed, under the Framework Convention on Climate Change to avoid dangerous human interference in the climate system. And the fact is, it’s already too late to do that. We’re already experiencing dangerous interference. Floods, major floods, are up all over the world. Wildfires are up in almost every region of the world where wildfires have been a problem. Wildfires erupt fourfold in the last thirty years in the western United States” (see: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/7/3/global_disruption_more_accurately_describes_climate ).
15. Professor Tim Flannery (2008) (eminent Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist and climate change activist; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Flannery ): “[inserting global dimming sulphur into the stratosphere] would change the colour of the sky. It's the last resort that we have, it's the last barrier to a climate collapse. We need to be ready to start doing it in perhaps five years time if we fail to achieve what we're trying to achieve…The consequences of doing that are unknown …The current burden of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is in fact more than sufficient to cause catastrophic climate change… Everything's going in the wrong direction at the moment, timelines are getting shorter, the amount of pollution in the atmosphere is growing…It's extremely urgent" (see: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23724412-2,00.html ).
16. The UK Royal Society (founded in 1660; “the Royal Society, the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth, is at the cutting edge of scientific progress”; the Royal Society is one of the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies and its members include the most outstanding British and Commonwealth scientists): “Climate change controversies: a simple guide. The Royal Society has produced this overview of the current state of scientific understanding of climate change to help non-experts better understand some of the debates in this complex area of science. This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of global warming. Instead, the Society - as the UK's national academy of science - responds here to eight key arguments that are currently in circulation by setting out, in simple terms, where the weight of scientific evidence lies” (see: http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=6229 ).
17. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007 (the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988; it has produced 4 successive Assessment Reports, the last being the Fourth in 2007: http://www.ipcc.ch/ ): “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level … Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” (see IPCC, 2007 Summary for Policymakers: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf ).
18. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2006 (founded in 1848, AAAS serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals; the AAAS journal Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million): “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.” (see: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2007/0218am_statement.shtml ).
19. US National Academy of Sciences (US PNAS) and 10 other national science academies, 2005 (the US NAS is one of the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies and its members include the most outstanding US scientists): “The US National Academy of Sciences joined 10 other national science academies today in calling on world leaders, particularly those of the G-8 countries meeting next month in Scotland, to acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing, to address its causes, and to prepare for its consequences. Sufficient scientific understanding of climate change exists for all nations to identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to contribute to substantial and long-term reductions in net global greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The statement echoes the findings and recommendations of several previous reports by the US National Academies” (see: http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf ).
20. Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia’s premier scientific research organization), Climate Change in Australia Technical Report 2007: “The key findings of this report includes that by 2030, temperatures will rise by about 1 ºC over Australia – a little less in coastal areas, and a little more inland - later in the century, warming depends on the extent of greenhouse gas emissions. If emissions are low, warming of between 1 ºC and 2.5 ºC is likely by around 2070, with a best estimate of 1.8 ºC. Under a high emission scenario, the best estimate warming is 3.4 ºC, with a range of 2.2 ºC to 5 ºC” (see: http://www.csiro.au/resources/ps3j6.html#2 ).
21. Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) in “The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Melt-down" (see: : http://www.countercurrents.org/glikson101008.htm ): “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 ppm.”
22. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research., Germany (see: http://www.pik-potsdam.de/institute/director ) (2008): “"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" (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/15/climatechange.carbonemissions ) [280 ppm is the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration].
23. Professor Peter Doherty (Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, 1995; Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1996; Australian of the Year, 1997.Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne; author “A Light History of Hot Air”, Melbourne University Publishing, 2007; see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Doherty ):
(a) 2007: “There are a whole lot of good ideas out there to try to deal with global warming. The journal Science had an issue earlier this year that explored 10 or so totally different technologies that are involved in producing clean energy or cleaning up carbon dioxide from coal-fired plants. What makes me sad is that we have been missing the boat in Australia and putting more emphasis on fossil fuels than on renewables where we have enormous potential. Until very recently, our Federal Government has made every wrong decision … Solar, wind and deep geothermal. There are all sorts of other possibilities. Generating hydrogen from algae. There is some carbon capture sequestration work which involves producing hydrogen from coal. There is also discussion of using algae to capture carbon. It is probably inevitable that there is more nuclear power in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m not totally convinced we need it in Australia. Germany has rejected nuclear power and gone for solar and Spain is putting a lot of effort into solar. Denmark has chosen wind power … Everything is about hot air. Political and in the atmosphere. We are in real danger. The recent CSIRO report suggests that temperatures could rise as much as five degrees by 2070. The ice is melting much more quickly than anyone expected. The Himalayas are melting very fast. We are now talking about the Arctic being ice-free by 2030” (see: http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/unarticleid_4775.html ).
(b) 2007 in “A Light History of Hot Air” (Melbourne University Publishing, 2007): “We are consuming the future and it’s up to us to develop and use renewable resources” (see: http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/unarticleid_4775.html ).
24. Professor Barry Brook (Director, Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, University of Adelaide): “Water stores an immense amount of heat compared with air. It takes more than 1000 times as much energy to heat a cubic metre of water by 1 degree Centigrade as it does the same volume of air. Since the 1960s, over 90% of the excess heat due to higher greenhouse gas levels has gone into the oceans, and just 3% into warming the atmosphere … The record warmth of 1998 was not due to a sudden spurt in global warming but to a very strong El Niño (see figure, right). In normal years, trade winds keep hot water piled up on the western side of the tropical Pacific. During an El Niño, the winds weaken and the hot water spreads out across the Pacific in a shallow layer, which increases heat transfer to the atmosphere. (During a La Niña, by contrast, as occurred during the early part of 2008, the process is reversed and upwelling cold water in the eastern Pacific soaks up heat from the atmosphere.) A temporary fall in the heat content of the oceans at this time may have been due to the extra strong El Niño …So, next time a climate sceptic turns to you and says ‘Global warming is nonsense ’cause the Earth hasn’t warmed in the last 10 years’, you can simply reply ‘Errr - why are you ignoring 97% of the problem?”(see: http://bravenewclimate.com/2008/11/23/what-bob-carter-and-andrew-bolt-fail-to-grasp/ ).
H. Acute global warming threat to older people and what older people must do for the Planet.
1. The World has already passed a key tipping point for Arctic ice melting and requisite “negative CO2 emissions” will impact all – According to top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen and colleagues, the world atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration at 385 ppm has already passed a key tipping point for the melting of Arctic sea ice, with serious implications for human mass mortality and mass species extinctions from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet melting, tundra melting, sea level rises and runaway global warming from potentially devastating “positive feedback” (worsening) effects (e.g. the “albedo flip” involving light-reflecting snow and ice replacement with light-absorbing dark water; melt water lubrication of glacier movement; release of greenhouse gases from melting tundra; burning of major tropical forests stopping CO2 sequestration and releasing CO2 ; warming-exacerbated storms limiting ocean CO2 absorption; global warming limiting phytoplankton productivity and hence diminishing CO2 sequestration and dimethyl sulphide production needed for “seeding” light-reflecting cloud formation). Dr Hansen and colleagues say that we must return atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of no more than 350 ppm through cessation of fossil fuel burning, replacement of the carbon economy with solar-based renewables and geothermal energy, decrease in atmospheric CO2 through re-afforestation and return of carbon to the soil as pyrolytically-generated biochar (see: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0804/0804.1126.pdf ; see also the latest 2007 IPCC Synthesis Report: http://www.ipcc.ch/ ).
2. Heat waves will differentially kill elderly people – In 2003 there was a heatwave in Europe that killed 35,000-50,000 in Europe and nearly 15,000 in France. Older people were differentially affected, the problems being that older people are frailer, more prone to heat stress and have diminished brain signalling of dehydration stress (see: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/elderlyheat.asp ; http://www.medindia.net/news/Brain-Malfunction-Explains-Dehydration-in-Elderly-31069-1.htm ; http://www.sfbr.org/pages/news_release_detail.php?id=15 ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_European_heat_wave ; http://www.usatoday.com/weather/news/2003-09-25-france-heat_x.htm ).
3. Retirement benefits require GDP growth, carbon-based growth is no longer possible but cheap, non-carbon energy alternatives are already developed – For people who are self-funded retirees on superannuation schemes or government pensions it is necessary for GDP growth to compensate for outlays and inflation. However, as briefly summarized in #1, the Climate Emergency requirement for urgent implementation of “negative CO2 emissions” means that the present carbon-based energy economy in which GDP is directly promotional to CO2 pollution has to STOP (for recent reviews of such already developed, low-cost, non-carbon renewable and geothermal energy technologies see items below and : http://www.newmatilda.com/node/2398?ArticleID=2398&CategoryID=213 ; http://mwcnews.net/content/view/18667/42/ ; http://www.coolearthsolar.com/ ; http://www.martinot.info/Martinot_et_al_AR32_prepub.pdf ).
4. The true cost of coal burning-based energy is 4-5 times the market cost (greater impact on investment-dependent retirees) - A study for the Ontario (Canada) Ministry of Energy has found that the “true cost” in cents/kWh of coal burning-based electricity with environmental and human impacts added is 4-5-fold greater than the “market cost”. This estimate makes all the latest renewable and geothermal energy provision technologies CHEAPER than the “true cost” of coal-based electricity. Investment-dependent retirees are differentially impacted (see: http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=8836 ; ).
5. Pollutants from fossil fuel-based electricity generation kill 0.3 million people annually world-wide (greater risk to older people) - Toxic pollutants are produced from fossil fuel-based electricity generation, notably carbon monoxide, particulates, sulphur dioxide, heavy metals (notably mercury, Hg), and volatile organics. Pollution from coal plants producing 27 TWh/year (20% of supply) kill 668 people per year in Ontario (population 12 million) suggesting coal plants producing 77% of Australia's annual 255 TWh of electricity (see: http://www.uic.com.au/nip37.htm ; i.e. 0.77 x 255 = 196.4 TWh/year) might kill about 196.4 TWh x 668/27 TWh = 4,859 people annually in Australia (population 21 million). “Annual coal-based electricity deaths” [“total annual fossil fuel-based electricity deaths”] are 170,000 [283,000] (the World), 11,000 [13,000] (India), 47,000 [47,500] (China), 49,000 [72,000] (the US), 3,400 [6,900] (the UK), 4,900 [5,400] (Australia) and 2,700 [3,800](Canada) as compared to 110  (heavily renewable-based New Zealand). There is a much greater life-time and old-age impact on older people (see: http://green-blog.org/2008/06/14/pollutants-from-coal-based-electricity-generation-kill-170000-people-annually/ ; http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=8836 ).
6. Already developed renewable and geothermal energy is CHEAPER than the “true cost” of coal-based electricity – Some 2007 figures in Australian cents/kWh for tradable electricity: 4 (coal “market cost”); 8 (likely coal-based under an ETS or emissions trading scheme); 16-20 (coal “true cost” taking environmental and human cost into account); 15 nuclear (via the UK's newest Sizewell B plant); 5 (geothermal); 8 (wind power); 15 (concentrated solar); 25-45 (standard silicon-based photovoltaics or PVs) (http://www.newmatilda.com/node/2398?ArticleID=2398&CategoryID=213 ). However sliver technology will reduce PV costs 3-fold (http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2006/1805365.htm ) and tidal and wave power are established local possibilities. CIGS non-silicon thin film (http://www.globalsolar.com/content/view/25/49/ ; http://www.thinfilmsblog.com/2007/12/157-efficient-thin-films-cigs-solar.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_indium_gallium_selenide ), thin balloon-based concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) (http://www.coolearthsolar.com/ ; http://www.businessweek.com/investing/green_business/archives/2008/05/rethinking_the.html ) and large-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) with efficient energy storage (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/04/14/solar_electric_thermal/ ; http://www.ausra.com/news/releases/080306.html ) are CURRENTLY approaching cost-competitiveness with the “market price” of coal-based power. Plus plug-in electric cars, local electricity plus usable heat generation, energy efficiency, vast energy solar resource …
7. Older people want to leave the world a better place (but see #1).
8. Older people must be acutely concerned over the fate of their children and grandchildren (see #1).
9. Older people have enjoyed the benefits of the profligate carbon economy and are obliged to “put back” (see #1).
10. Older people have the accumulated experience, money and time to make a difference – join with other like-minded people and help save the Planet: CONTACT: Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG): email@example.com ; Climate Emergency Network (CEN): http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/ .
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE the following 1-page Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions sheet to everyone you can (see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-emergency-facts-and-required-actions ).
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: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/Home ).
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.”
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.
I. Reference list.
ACIA climate change graphics: http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/pdfs/ACIAGraphics.pdf .
Professor Barry Brook’s “Brave New Climate” (see: http://bravenewclimate.com/ ) provides expert, critical, climate sceptic-debunking articles on climate change issues from one of Australia’s top climate scientists.
Climate Emergency Network (see: http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/ ) has many useful links.
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): http://www.ipcc.ch/ .
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science (GISS) analyses and graphs: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/ ).
New Scientist Environment (see: http://www.newscientist.com/section/environment ).
Planet Extinction: http://www.planetextinction.com/ .
Gideon Polya, Climate Emergency, Sustainability Emergency: http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/ .
Gideon Polya, “Rational risk management , science and denial”: http://rationalriskmanagement.blogspot.com/ .
Gideon Polya, “Global avoidable mortality”: http://globalavoidablemortality.blogspot.com/ .
US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) updates: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ .
US Energy Information Administration database: : http://www.eia.doe.gov/ .
Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/Home ) has placed a series of carefully researched and documented articles and Fact Sheets on the Web (see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/system/app/pages/sitemap/hierarchy ).
Green Blog (see: http://www.green-blog.org/ ) and MWC News (see: http://mwcnews.net/HomePage and http://mwcnews.net/Gideon-Polya ) provide well-researched analyses not usually found in the mainstream media.
Peter Doherty “A Light History of Hot Air” (Melbourne University Publishing, 2007).
Jared Diamond “Collapse” (Penguin, 2005).
James Lovelock “The Revenge of Gaia” (Allen Lane- Penguin, London, 2006).
Mark Lynas “Six degrees: our future on a hotter planet” (see “What will climate change do to our planet”: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1480669.ece ).
Gideon Polya "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003) [Chapter 2 is a succinct summary of Biochemistry].
Gideon Polya “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (Polya, 2007).
Gideon Polya “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainablity” (Polya, 2008).”
David Spratt & Phillip Sutton “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” (Scribe, Melbourne, 2008).
Key reviews and articles
K. Anderson & A, Bows “Reframing the climate challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A, 2008.: http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/journal_papers/fulltext.pdf ).
Barry Brook on Ocean warming: http://bravenewclimate.com/2008/11/23/what-bob-carter-and-andrew-bolt-fail-to-grasp/ ).
FAO 2006 report “Livestock’s Long Shadow Environmental issues and options”: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/A0701E/A0701E00.pdf ).
Andrew Glikson (2008), “Milestones in the evolution of the atmosphere with reference to climate change”, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 55, 125-139: http://www.zeroemissionnetwork.org/files/MILESTONES_19-6-07.pdf .
Andrew Glikson (2008) “The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Melt-down" (see: : http://www.countercurrents.org/glikson101008.htm ).
Andrew Glikson (2008), “21st century climate tipping points”, Oped News, 2008: http://www.opednews.com/articles/3/21st-century-climate-tippi-by-Andrew-Glikson-081121-208.html and http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/2008/11/andrew-glikson-21st-century-climate.html .
J. Hansen et al, “Climate change and trace gases”, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., 365, 1925-1954, 2007: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2007/2007_Hansen_etal_2.pdf .
James Hansen et al (2008), “Target atmospheric CO2: where should Humanity aim?”: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf .
Dr Hansen’s Letter to PM Rudd: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf
John Holdren, June 2008 power point-illustrated lecture “The Science of Climate Disruption” (see: http://www.usclimateaction.org/userfiles/JohnHoldren.pdf ).
IPCC Climate Change 2007, AR4 Synthesis report, Summary for policy makers: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf
Mauna Loa Observatory data, US NOAA: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ .
J. Lovelock interview, New Scientist Environment, 23 January 2009, “One last chance to save mankind“: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html ).
Gideon Polya (2007) “Formal complaint to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court reAustralian Government involvement in Aboriginal Genocide, Iraqi Genocide, Afghan Genocide and Climate Genocide”: http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html .
Gideon Polya (2007) “Renewables. How the Numbers Stack Up”, New Matilda: http://newmatilda.com/2007/08/08/how-numbers-stack .
Gideon Polya (2007) Climate criminals and climate genocide. Anglo-Celtia threatens final Bengali Holocaust”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/13576/26/ .
Gideon Polya (2007) “War on Terra, climate criminals. :Terra” painting”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/15671/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2007), “US nuclear, greenhouse and poverty threats. “Apocalypse Now” painting”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/17652/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2008) “Climate emergency, exceptionalism and ignoring Downunder. Letter to eminent Australians over public honesty”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/25702/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2008) “Clean energy world painting, NASA’s Dr Hansen pleads for Negative CO2 emissions”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/23119/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2008) “Global food crisis. US Biofuel and CO2 threaten world”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/21277/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2008) “Solar energy and the end of war. US balloon technology to slash solar energy cost 90% by 2010”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/18667/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2008) “HOPE: best renewables now cost the same as coal power. “One Day Pathétique” Symphony Painting”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/26137/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2008) “Ecocide, terracide and climate genocide. Huge GHG polluter Australia opts for national and global climate suicide”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/27313/42/
Gideon Polya (2008)“Biofuel famine, biofuel genocide, meat & global food price crisis” : http://globalavoidablemortality.blogspot.com/2008/05/biofuel-famine-biofuel-genocide-meat.html .
Gideon Polya (2008) “Biofuel famine, biofuel genocide and the global food price crisis” “: http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html ).
Gideon Polya (2009) “Good and bad climate news”: http://www.green-blog.org/2009/01/13/good-and-bad-climate-news/ ).
Gideon Polya (2009) “9-11 excuse for US global genocide. The real 9-11 atrocity: millions dead (9-11 million) in Bush wars (1990-2009)”, MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/25184/42/ .
Gideon Polya (2009) “First World climate genocide – global warming to kill 2 billion Indians this century”, Sulekha: http://gideon.sulekha.com/blog/post/2009/01/first-world-climate-genocide-global-warming-to-kill.htm .
S. Rahmstorf, J.E. Hansen et al, Science, Published Online February 1, 2007, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1136843, “Recent climate observations compared to projections”: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1136843v1 ).
S. Rahmstorf, J.E. Hansen et al, “Recent climate observations compared to projections”, Science express, 2008: http://usclimatenetwork.org/science-impacts/ipcc/general-ipcc-background/RahmstorfAnalysis.pdf .
Rosenzweig, C. and Parry, M.L. (1994), Potential impact of climate change on world food supply, Nature vol. 367, 133-138.
J.C. Zachos, G.R. Dickens & R.E. Zeebe (2008) “An early Cenozoic perspective on greenhouse warming and carbon-cycle dynamics”, Nature 451, January 17: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7176/full/nature06588.html and http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7176/fig_tab/nature06588_F2.html#figure-title .
Excellent Climate Change power point lectures.
The following excellent power point lectures on climate change are accessible via the links below.
Professor Barry Brook (Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia), “Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies” (2008), an outline of paleoclimate history, climatic disruption and mitigation and adaptation strategies [40 pages]: http://www.lga.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Professor_Barry_Brook_-_2008_Climate_Change_Summit_-_PowerPoint_Presentation.pdf .
Dr Andrew Glikson (Earth and paleoclimate scientist, School of Archaeology and Anthropology & Research School of Earth Science, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, Australia), "Human evolution and the atmosphere: return of the Pliocene?" (2008), illustrating the global temperature, methane and CO2 levels in the generally cooling period since the Pliocene (3 Mya, million years ago) during which time the genus Homo evolved to yield Homo sapiens (us) about 100,000 years ago. However, massive man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the industrial era (post-1750) has pushed atmospheric CO2 concentration outside the range of 180-300 ppm obtaining during the final evolution of Homo sapiens from his immediate precursors over the last 600,000 years [46 pages]: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/dr-andrew-glikson-human-evolution-and-the-atmosphere-return-to-the-pliocene .
Dr James Hansen (top US climate scientist; Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Adjunct Professor, Columbia University; member of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences; 2007 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science), “Global warming 20 years later: tipping points near” (2008) - address to National Press Club, and House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global warming, Washington DC – 44 page presentation: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TippingPointsNear_20080623.pdf .
Dr James Hansen (top US climate scientist; Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Adjunct Professor, Columbia University; member of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences; 2007 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science), “Climate threat to the planet. Implications for energy policy and intergenerational justice”, Bjerknes Lecture, American Biophysical Union, San Francisco, California, 17 December, 2008 – 39 page power point-illustrated lecture: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/ .
[For a series of other incisive writings by Dr James Hansen see: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/ , most notably Dr James Hansen, “Carbon Tax and 100% dividend vs. Tax and Trade”, Committee on Ways & Means, US House of Representatives, February 2009: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2009/20090226_WaysAndMeans.pdf ].
Professor John Holdren (Professor of Environmental Policy and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University; Director, Woods Hole Research Center; former president, American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS; President Barack Obama’s chief science adviser), “The Science of Climate Disruption” (2008) – a summary of the basis of man-made global warming and the climatic disruption that has already occurred – a 32 page presentation : http://www.usclimateaction.org/userfiles/JohnHoldren.pdf .
Dr Graeme Pearman (former CSIRO Climate director; GP Consulting; interim director, MSI; Monash University Sustainability Group), “Climate change: the evidence, science and current projections” (2008) [37 pages]: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/126569/graeme-pearman-monash-university-namoi-climate-change-forums.pdf .
Dr Peter Seligman (Bionic Ear engineer, Cochlear and Monash University, Melbourne, Australia), “Bang for Buck in CO2 abatement” (2008) discusses where you can invest your money most effectively to reduce your Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions; some of our favourite solutions do not bear up under his analysis [43 pages]: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/dr-peter-seligman-the-bang-for-buck-approach-to-co2-abatement .
David Spratt and Phillip Sutton, Climate Emergency Network, “A Safe Climate Future”, (2008), based on the book “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” by David Spratt and Phillip Sutton (Scribe, Melbourne, 2008: http://www.climatecodered.net/ ), a powerful summary of the latest climate science results by 2 leading non-scientist climate activists heavily informed by top climate scientists such as NASA’s Dr James Hansen who indeed endorsed “Climate Code Red” as “a compelling case … we face a climate emergency” [95 pages]: http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/images/stories/cen/ccr_pp.pdf .
LATEST KEY SCIENTIFIC SUMMARY: for the latest authoritative summary of the Climate Emergency see the Synthesis Report from the March 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (“Climate Change, Global risks, challenges & decisions”, Copenhagen 10-12 March, 2009, University of Copenhagen, Denmark) - it contains numerous tables and graphs summarizing the worsening climate disruption due to man-made global warming and concludes "inaction is inexcusable": http://lyceum.anu.edu.au/wp-content/blogs/3/uploads//Synthesis%20Report%20Web.pdf. A Summary of this Synthesis Report is available on the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group website here: