Reflecting While Mother Earth Burns

Reflecting While Mother Earth Burns.

March 23rd, 2010

The article A Necessary Reflection on the MEETING ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN BOLIVIA (http://accionyreaccion.com/?p=216) is not supportive of the Bolivian government’s Cochabamba conference initiative to move the international climate change agenda forward. Instead it casts doubt on the conference based on the Bolivian government’s energy development plans.

The first is discouraging when the world badly needs to see a possible way out of the current global climate change global dead end. By all accounts from all parties we are to expect nothing out of the Mexico COP at the end of this year. Are we to placidly accept that nothing can be done to head off global environmental meltdown from changing the climate?

The latter (doubt) is a strangely disingenuous reflection. Bolivia is one the poorest and most climate change vulnerable nations. It contributes 0.03% of global heating emissions. This is mainly from extremely rapid deforestation by logging, mining and energy corporations, including a huge carbon offsetting scam. The Bolivian government is now developing community based reforestation. Bolivia’s vital glaciers are literally disappearing before their eyes and Bolivia no doubt knows that the private water corporations will be seeing it as a great free enterprise opportunity promising their return to profit from Bolivia’s economic weakness.

Remember? Cochabamba and Bechtel. (If not check out Leasing the Rain. http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/bolivia/ )

The refusal of the industrialized nations to meet their clear commitments to supply all manner and means of resources to developing nations for their industrial development with the best non fossil fuel energies under the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has predictably led to the global tragedy of all developing nations going the fossil fuel route. The Bolivian climate conference seeks to find a way out of irrational continued fossil fuel industrial development based on the irrational perverse free market capitalist economic model, that is now so clearly a global suicide pact. Only the most climate change blind could fail to see this. The Stern Commission’s 2006 Review of the Economics of Climate found that global climate change is the greatest and most far reaching market failure ever. That is economic- speak that our economics is the cause of the looming global climate catastrophe- a catastrophe that in 2006 Sir Nicolas Stern said was almost beyond our grasp to prevent. Stern has attributed the disappointing Copenhagen result (non) on the arrogance of the rich nations.

The arrogant free market world leaders still believe the free- market, free -enterprise, free to pollute and destroy the planet neoclassical economic model is the best thing ever. And so we have the blind leading the blind, leading to us all to global climate catastrophe.

President Morales has rightly said that the disastrous outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference has moved the climate agenda backwards instead of forwards. There is no initiative, other than his, that is looking for a better way ahead that at least offers hope for our survival.

The reflection article fails to look at what really matters- the science. It does not reflect on the full and crucial truth of the climate change science. At the Copenhagen climate change conference, Bolivian president Evo Morales was the only national — and indeed the only leader of any organization — who stated a position that is consistent with the full scientific truth of climate change.

Our objective is to save humanity …

We are here to save Mother Earth.

Our objective is to reduce climate change to under 1C. Above this many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust.

Limiting warming to 1C would need an end to all emissions and billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide to be sucked from the air and stored.

President Morales Copenhagen Bolivia position

The Bolivian government says correctly that the survival of half of humanity, and indeed all humanity, is now threatened by global climate change. The Bolivian position on global climate change is unique. It is the only position, from any government or any organization, that tells the truth of what must be made to happen to prevent global climate catastrophe. The scientific organizations and the civil society NGOs have failed to tell the full truth of what is needed by adopting policy negotiating positions rather scientific positions to ensure global climate safety – for this and all future generations. They have been doing what President Morales said in Copenhagen must not be done in the case of global climate change — which is to compromise. Is the reason for this compromise one of fatally flawed economic expediency. If so, our institutions are putting the protection of the (free market) economy, that is destroying the planet, above the protection of the planet.

The position of the Bolivian government is a 1°C limit on global temperature increase, a 300 ppm limit on atmospheric carbon dioxide, and virtual zero carbon emissions with the extraction and securing of billions of tons of carbon from the air. The Bolivian position is based on preventing catastrophic impacts to small island states and to water and food security for those regions dependent on mountaintop glaciers, and avoiding an African climate holocaust.

This 1°C safety limit for the most vulnerable populations and the reasons for it are clear in the 2007 IPCC climate assessment. Incredibly none of the civil society NGOs at Copenhagen supported the Bolivian position. The reasons given for many years are that 1C is not scientifically, technically, economically or politically feasible. These are defeatist assumptions that ignore our moral obligation and self preservation imperative to try for 1C as hard as we can. Who knows what a united world, facing the truth and dedicated to the survival of humanity could achieve.

The science is clear that for climate safety and for avoiding the risk of dangerous climate interference, the global temperature increase must be limited to 1ºC which means an atmospheric CO2 limit of 300 ppm. The science is definite that the only way to stabilize the global temperature means we must get down to zero carbon emissions. The published science is agreed that as the best that can be done is virtual zero carbon emissions, virtual zero must be supplemented by so-called artificial carbon sinks or negative carbon emissions.

A climate science paper just published by Charles H. Greene, Cornell professor of Earth and atmospheric science finds that in addition to dramatic emissions reductions the world has to significantly expand research into geoengineering solutions that remove and sequester greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.

A 2009 review in the journal Nature, titled "Climate crunch: Sucking it up" (http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090429/full/4581094a.html), confirmed that there are several available methods for extracting carbon dioxide directly from the air. It also said that the only reason this is not being developed is economic — there is no money in it.

Yes, that means an indigenous leader of one of the worlds poorest nations is the only one who is trying to tell the world what the bottom line and one target that matters is to save us from global climate catastrophe and he is the only one who has proposed it to the UN. It is zero carbon.

A global temperature increase of anything over 1°C is catastrophically dangerous. Canadian climate change expert, Andrew Weaver, at a conference in Vancouver, confirmed the truth of the 2°C target, which is that it was never a scientifically based target, only a European Union policy compromise dating back to 1996. In fact, the EU has stated that 2°C is not safe and that it does not exclude runaway global warming, but, according to the EU, minimizes the risk of runaway. The IPCC 2007 climate assessment shows that food production in the vulnerable southern hemisphere regions is projected to decline from the global temperature increase of 1° C from 1900- and likely less in some regions.

Unexpectedly rapid changes happening in the Arctic and under a global temperature increase of 1° C put all of us in all regions in peril. With the meltdown of the Arctic summer sea ice the entire northern hemisphere will lose its air conditioner climate moderating influence with grave implications for regional water and food security. The loss of Arctic summer albedo is projected to accelerate the global temperature increase by 20%. We have Arctic methane emissions from thawing permafrost and melting sub sea frozen solid methane hydrates. Atmospheric methane, that also has already increased 2 1/2 times, has for the past few years been spiking i.e. suddenly increasing. This increase is due to carbon feedback emissions, which means this extra methane is coming from the warming planet.

The conventional wisdom (lack of) of the scientific organizations and the NGOs is to spare the public from reflecting on the full terrible truth of the catastrophic risks from the rapidly changing Arctic. President Morales may not know he is taking a courageous stand for us all.

All people in the world and especially those in the most climate change vulnerable regions have a right to know the full truth about the full risks being forced on them by continuing greenhouse gas emissions, with no plan to stop emissions . As the government of Bolivia is the only party taking a stand on this inconvenient truth and for changing the system that is changing the climate, the Bolivian People’s Climate Conference is a most important venture to be given every chance of success.

It is to be hoped that civil society organizations world wide will give strong support to the inspiring example of world leadership by President Morales and the Bolivian peoples’ climate change conference.

Peter Carter

~ by Cory Morningstar on March 23, 2010.

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