A Cautionary Tale – Debriefing the Bolivia Climate Conference
25 April 2010
Well, the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth is now over and its success being dissected by participants from all corners of the globe. I’ve been talking with fellow participants from North America, and have learned something important.
There is a climate change campaign that (to not name names) is named after a number between 349 and 351. If I understand correctly, this number was chosen because a climate scientist was asked how many parts per million of carbon dioxide could ensure our survival, and off the cuff he mentioned that number between 349 and 351.
Now, you remember that Upton Sinclair quote from An Inconvenient Truth? “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it”? Well, there are lots of people now so tied into this campaign that promotes getting down to between 349 and 351 ppm that they cannot conceive of — and refused here at this conference to support — setting an even lower target of 300 ppm, which is part of the official position of Bolivia.
Imagine coming all the way to Bolivia and not supporting Bolivia’s position, which is the only one backed by the science and the only one presented to date that has any hope of safeguarding our future — and refusing to back it simply because your campaign is already in place. What a betrayal! What a lack of compassion for those who are going to be devastated first by climate catastrophe!
This admittedly highly successful social media campaign has become such a brand that its proponents are not willing to let it go. They are willing to sell out future generations so that they don’t have to use their imaginations and creativity to “rebrand” their brand and start calling for 300 ppm (or even pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide: 278 ppm).
It was a lesson for me in the importance of being open to what’s right, instead of what’s easy. Which I suppose is what our whole climate change fight is all about!
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21 April 2010
Why the Bolivian 1ºC climate change position is the only one for the survival of the Global South and for the food security of the entire world
We are here in Bolivia at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. There are several of us from Canada representing Canadians for Action on Climate Change. Here is the English version of Dr. Peter Carter’s paper on the importance of the Bolivian climate change position, the only position — put forward by any country — that has scientific and ethical integrity.
Why the Bolivian government 1ºC climate change position is the only position for the survival of the Global South and for the food security of the entire world
In 2007 the largest global environmental assessment by hundreds of scientists called the Fourth Global Environmental Assessment of the United Nations Environment Program was published. It stated that now global climate change threatens the “very survival of humanity.” Only one national leader has said the same thing and that is Bolivia’s Evo Morales last December at the Copenhagen UN Climate Conference.
The Bolivian climate change position:
- The global average temperature increase of the surface of planet Earth must be limited to 1°C.
- Therefore, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration must be limited (which means reduced) to 300 parts per million (ppm).
- Industrialized nations must stop emitting carbon. This means a total redevelopment to convert to clean, perpetual and zero carbon energy for all people. What a wonderful idea!
- The industrialized nations must extract “billions of tons” of carbon dioxide directly from the air. The fact is that climate change science has totally established that only zero carbon emissions, supplemented by the extraction of carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, can lead to the reduction of today’s catastrophically high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (390 ppm) and stop it from increasing further. This is the best kept secret of the industrialized nations, because it is a scientific fact that has been known for many years yet ignored.
The most important numbers in the world are 1°C and 0 carbon emissions. Without zero carbon emissions, no other numbers can happen, except higher and higher numbers, leading inevitably to climate catastrophe. (See OnlyZeroCarbon.org)
Why is the 1°C limit, which has been proposed only by the government of Bolivia, the only way the Global South can survive global climate change and essential for world food security? Isn’t northern hemisphere agriculture going to be fine?
Global warming and the disruption of the climate caused by greenhouse gas emissions will lead to declining production of the world’s grains. The powerful nations have given little attention to the effects of global climate change policy for agriculture and food security, on the absurd basis that their farmers will have to adapt to the changing climate. As any rural farmer knows, agricultural success depends on a stable climate, predictable seasons, and the absence of droughts, severe storms, floods, and plagues of weeds and insect pests. These and more are all changes that will predictably and increasingly happen under any continuing global warming and climate change, firstly in the most vulnerable Global South.
What do the agricultural / climate change computer model numbers say? This data is found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment (2007). For the Global South, the production of their main grains would decline starting at a 1°C increase of our planet’s surface temperature. Developing nations must have a 1°C global temperature limit for their survival. At a 2ºC global average temperature increase from 1900, the models project a 25% to 30% yield reduction for countries in the Global South!
Also at +1°C, world food production is “threatened” with decline (IPCC WG2 Technical Report) and so the entire world must have the 1°C temperature limit for climate safety and food security.
With a 2ºC increase, food production will decline in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the 2007 IPCC assessment noted that food decline in the northern hemisphere at 2ºC was stated in the 2001 IPCC assessment! (IPCC WG2 Technical Report)
It is therefore proven that all the people of the world must fight to reject the +2°C policy target and fight for the Bolivian +1ºC global temperature limit for food security. The people will be told by their governments (with the sole exception of the Bolivian government) and by many international organizations (who support the +2ºC limit) that +1ºC is impossible and not economically feasible. The people must respond that this is not true (the economics is fatally flawed), and even if it were true, it is no reason to still “aim” for +2ºC increase and to not even try for a limit of 1°C — and our survival.
(Dr. Peter Carter is a retired physician and environmental health research analyst from Canada.)
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