Fourteen Days to Seal History’s Judgement on this Generation

Published today by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages, the editorial 14 Days to Seal History’s Judgement on This Generation, is a call for action from world leaders on climate change:

Today 56newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action,  climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear.

Read moreFourteen Days to Seal History’s Judgement on this Generation

Climate skeptics Have Heyday with Hacked Emails

Climate change deniers are getting a lot of press out of hacked emails from East Anglia University’s Climate Research Unit last week.  They claim that the leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists to suppress evidence that global warming isn’t really occurring.

The timing of the illegal email hacking is very interesting, coming as it does days before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Most of us won’t read the 13 years worth of emails that have been released, but there are several of the emails in particular that the skeptics are jumping on as “proof” of this world-wide conspiracy of scientists.  To read more details, check this link or this one, or to read the emails themselves click here.

As anyone who has ever written an email will know, publicized and taken out of context, we all have emails that could damage our professional and/or private reputation.  Although the emails do not provide any scientific evidence that would counter the scientific consensus that human emissions are altering the climate system, because they suggest the appearance of impropriety in the scientific process, they may be politically damaging. This is ironic, because the deniers have been subverting and distorting the scientific and public debate on this issue for years. As James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore write in “Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming”, the story of denying man-made climate change is

..a story of deceit, of poisoning public judgement- of an anti-democratic attack on our political structures and a strategic undermining of the journalist watchdogs who keep our social institutions honest.

The perilous situation that we are in is too important to let the deniers sidetrack us at this point.  As Greg Craven asks in “What’s the Worst That Could Happen: A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate” : What is the wisest thing to do, given the risks and consequences of this question?

In other words, what mistake would you rather risk, the possible harm to the economy that the skeptics warn us about, or the possible global disaster and upheaval that scientists warn us about? What is the more acceptable risk – the risk of not taking action or the risk of taking action?

To take action now, check out the 10:10 Campaign,which is encouraging citizens to show governments by example and cut their personal emissions by 10% in 2010.  Read more here and here about this UK initiative that is going global!

Breaking news – Obama to Travel to Copenhagen

12 days until the UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen, and momentum seems to be growing.

The breaking news on the Huffington Post this morning is that the White House will be announcing that President Obama is going to attend.  At least 65 other heads of state will also be at the Copenhagen table, although two big players, China and India, have not yet responded to the formal invitation sent out last week by the Danish government. Back in September, the first leader to commit to attending was Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  He asserted that it was heads of governments who would be able to negotiate and strike a deal.  With more and more heads of state following his lead, the chance that a fair, ambitious, and binding deal may be reached increases, although it is by no means guaranteed. To read more analysis of the gaining momentum, check out “Copenhagen talks ready for take off: 5, 4, 3…” on Grist.org.

The activist organization Avaaz.org is raising funds to send more negotiators from small, low-lying island states that are most affected by climate change.  The bigger, wealthier, more polluting nations can afford to send large numbers of  negotiators to Copenhagen.  However, for people living in small, low-lying island states, a fair, ambitious and binding global climate treaty is necessary for their countries’ very survival, but they often have trouble sending even one or two negotiators to UN climate summits. As a result, Avaaz.org is spearheading a campaign to help negotiators from smaller, climate-vulnerable nations attend.  Their website states:

At the Copenhagen talks in December, we can’t afford for voices of moral authority to go unheard.

If each of us chips in, we can help with airfare, food, and housing to help negotiators press for bold action — and for advocates to amplify their voices:

Click here to donate to “Their Voices Must be Heard” campaign now!

Global Survival, Not Suicide, Pact urged by President of Maldives

With world leaders backing away from reaching a legally binding treating on climate change in Copenhagen next month, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives delivered a powerful message at the Climate Vulnerable Forum last week.

Here is an excerpt from his moving call to action:

“We gather in this hall today, as some of the most climate-vulnerable nations on Earth.

We are vulnerable because climate change threatens to hit us first; and hit us hardest.

And we are vulnerable because we have modest means with which to protect ourselves from the coming disaster.

We are a diverse group of countries.

But we share one common enemy.

For us, climate change is no distant or abstract threat; but a clear and present danger to our survival.

Climate change is melting the glaciers in Nepal.

It is causing flooding in Bangladesh.

It threatens to submerge the Maldives and Kiribati.

And in recent weeks, it has furthered drought in Tanzania, and typhoons in the Philippines.

We are the frontline states in the climate change battle.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Developing nations did not cause the climate crisis.

We are not responsible for the hundreds of years of carbon emissions, which are cooking the planet.

But the dangers climate change poses to our countries, means that this crisis can no longer be considered somebody else’s problem.

Carbon knows no boundaries.

Whether we like it or not, we are all in this fight together.”

President Nasheed goes on to say about Copenhagen:

“At the moment every country arrives at the negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible.  They never make commitments, unless someone else does first.”

“This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide.”

“We don’t want a global suicide pact.  And we will not sign a global suicide pact, in Copenhagen or anywhere.  So today, I invite some of the most vulnerable nations in the world, to join a global survival pact instead.”

To read the complete speech and sign a pact to stand with President Nasheed for the survival of all nations and peoples, go to the 350.org website. For more information about which nations are most vulnerable to climate change, and why, go the UK Government’s webpage “Act On Copenhagen”.


Climate Inaction Will Cost a Third of the World’s Wealth, Lord Stern predicts

We are in the middle of a recession that governments around the world have responded to by pouring hundreds of billions of our tax dollars into failing companies.  I’m not an economist, just a regular citizen who is amazed at what can happen when the political will is present.  That money appeared at the speed of light, because the cause seemed so pressing to those holding the government purse strings.  This must be extremely frustrating for someone like Stephen Lewis, the former UN special envoy to Africa, who for years has been calling on wealthy nations to live up to their financial commitments to fight AIDS in Africa.  And what Lewis was saying would save millions of lives was just a mere 5 to 8 billion dollars a year to ensure equal access to treatment for all.    This is chump change in light of the handouts that AIG, Goldman Sachs, et al,  have received in  the last months.

What does this have to do with climate change?  We are on the brink of global disaster, and still there is not the political will to turn this Titanic around before it hits that (rapidly melting) iceberg.   We , like that ill-fated ocean liner, are barreling full steam ahead, business as usual.  Apparently, most decision makers think fighting climate change  costs too much and is too painful to their country’s economy.  But that is false economic thinking. Former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern has estimated that to keep heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions below levels that would cause catastrophic climate change would cost up to two per cent of global GDP.  Lord Stern initially predicted that failure to act on climate change could cost from five to 20 per cent of global GDP, but recently revised that, saying the cost of inaction would be “50 per cent or more higher” than his previous highest estimate – meaning it could cost a third of the world’s wealth.

David Suzuki says it better than I can:

Let’s be clear. Resolving a global problem like climate change will cost money. But doing nothing will cost much more. The very survival of people, not to mention many other plants and animals that we share this small planet with, may well be at stake.

So, if you haven’t already contacted your Member of Parliament as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice, do so now.  Tell them it’s time to take decisive action on climate change at the UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen in December.  Urge the Conservative government to adopt the same level of coordinated response on climate change that was exhibited earlier this year at G20 negotiations on the economic downturn.

Once you’ve let your elected representatives know how important this issue is, you might want to take a page out of Lord Stern’s book as you plan your supper tonight.  He encourages people to go meatless as one of the best ways to combat climate change.  So, be green and skip the meat today.  And if you already are a vegetarian, and have written to your MP, pour yourself a cold one – or a glass of wine, if you prefer – and sit back and relax.  You’ve done your job of fighting climate change – at least for today!