Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.


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  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Crisis Is The World’s Biggest Worry – Survey
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Record New Energy Global Growth In 2020
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



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  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, April 17-18:
  • Time To Bring New Energy Home
  • The Return Of Big Solar
  • New Ways To Get At Geothermal

    Monday, June 29, 2009


    Researchers present newest update on climate change scienceResearchers present newest update on climate change science
    18 June 2009 (University of Copenhagen)

    The Synthesis Report from Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions at Copenhagen is based on the points of agreement from a scientific colloquium held in Copenhagen in March. It is the most current overview of relevant climate change research. It covers fundamental climate science, the impacts of a changing climate on society and environment, and the tools of and approaches to mitigation.

    The report synthesizes 16 talks and 58 parallel sessions given at the colloquium that included 80+ chairs and a host of top scientific presenters. Because it includes new research data produced since the last IPCC report, it was peer-reviewed by 3 levels of scientists multiple times.

    It is intentionally written and presented in a way that makes it accessible to the broadest possible audience in the hope of putting across its message to the citizens of the world. The message is simple: The question of global climate change and the human deleterious impact on it is beyond question and it is time to act.

    Notice a trend? (click to enlarge)

    The information is presented to expand understanding of how humans impact climate change, what the implications of failing to act are and what can and should be done to prevent them.

    The report presents 6 key messages: (1) Climatic Trends; (2) Social and environmenta l disruption; (3) Long-term strategy: Global Targets and Timetables; (4) Equity Dimensions; (5) Inaction is inexcusable; (6) Meeting the Challenge.

    (1) Climatic Trends. Greenhouse gas (GhG) accumulations and changes in climate are at the upper boundaries of all IPCC predictions. Key indicators (global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, global ocean temperature, Arctic sea ice extent, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events) are already moving beyond natural variability. If GhG spew is not reversed, the changes will accelerate. At some point, abrupt and irreversible shifts are increasingly likely.

    click to enlarge

    (2) Social and environmental disruption. Climate change will become dangerous when it causes disruptions in societies and ecosystems. Poor nations and communities, ecosystem services and biodiversity will go first. A global average temperature increase higher than 2 degrees C. will likely cause major societal and environmental disruptions indefinitely far into the future.

    (3) Long-term strategy: Global Targets and Timetables. Coordinated worldwide action is now necessary to mitigate the severest impacts. Weak 2020 GhG-cut targets may bring on the tipping point where doing something substantive by mid-century will be very difficult. Coordinated worldwide action must include a significant long-term price on GhG spew and serious policies that grow New Energy and Energy Efficiency.

    (4) Equity Dimensions. Impacts will differ. It is important for those who will not be severely, dangerously impacted to create a safety net for those who are. The poor and the most vulnerable must be protected or the potential for broader social disruption and heavier costs will grow. Acting to build a New Energy economy will, on the other hand, create a cascade of socioeconomic benefits and growth.

    click to enlarge

    (5) Inaction is inexcusable. The technology of mitigation is already available and will improve. Building New Energy and Energy Efficiency can transform society. The benefits will include (a) job growth in the sustainable energy sector, (b) reductions in the health, social, economic and environmental costs of climate change, (c) and the repair of ecosystems and ecosystem services.

    (6) Meeting the Challenge. To act, the world community must (a) beat back the inertia that blocks social and economic systems from changing; (b) build on the rising public clamor for government action; (c) stop the things that generate GhG spew and institutional subsidies to them; and (d) enable shifts from ineffective policies produced by weak and compromised institutions to innovative political, business and social leadership. The way to do this is to link climate change with broader sustainability habits of consumption and production, with human rights issues, with the growth of democratic action to generate shifts toward sustainability in the broadest and most meaningful sense.

    The report makes use of the concept of planetary boundaries developed through a 2008 Stockholm University symposium to (a) define what is sustainable, (b) characterize how close to the edge of unsustainability human society is at present and (3) to review how humans have acted in the past to transition to a more sustainable mode.

    The paper’s conclusion points to the crucial upcoming conference in Copenhagen as pivotal: “While no single meeting can transform our society to one living within the climate change boundary, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP15, to be held in December 2009, offers a unique and timely opportunity to start such a transformative journey. Many are hoping that if society is successful in meeting the
    climate change challenge, future generations will read in their history books that COP15 was where the journey really began.”

    click to enlarge

    It’s not just the overwhelming majority of the scientific community that accepts the evidence of global climate change and the causal relationship to human greenhouse gas-spewing activity, it’s the quality of the scientists with climate change-related expertise who accept the proposition that makes it so reasonably undeniable. Look at the authors of this report:

    Professor Katherine Richardson (Chair), Vice Dean of the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen; Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute, Australian National University; Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Visiting Professor at University of Oxford; Professor Joseph Alcamo, Chief Scientist (Designate) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Dr. Terry Barker, Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge; Professor Daniel M. Kammen, Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, Energy and Resources Group & Goldman School of Public Policy University of California – Berkeley; Professor Dr. Rik Leemans, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University; Professor Diana Liverman, Director of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; Professor Mohan Munasinghe, Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND), Sri Lanka; Dr. Balgis Osman-Elasha, Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources (HCENR), Sudan; Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, London School of Economics; Professor Ole Wæver, Political Science Department, University of Copenhagen

    click to enlarge

    Humans have inhabited Earth about 0.004% (200,000 years) of its 5 billion years. Only a fraction of the early human population endured the climate shifts in the first 188,000 years. Human population has only thrived since the climate stabilized about 12,000 years ago.

    The first huge adaptive shift came when hunter-gatherers became farmers.

    Thousands of years later, another shift occurred when humans formed societies to improve their lot. Government and trade evolved.

    Humans transitioned to industrial society to improve their lot when agricultural habits were inadequate to sustain their agricultural societies.

    click to enlarge

    Industrialization had some built-in problems, the most significant of which is now becoming apparent. Industrial spew is making society – not for the first time – unsustainable.

    It is time to transition again. It is time for a New Energy economy.

    This is nothing new. As recently as 1987, when science prescribed a change of habits to protect the ozone, a shift in industrial activity was initiated. That’s what humans, at their best, always do: Transition.

    The difference now is how truly huge, how imponderably huge, the risks, scales and uncertainties of global climate change are. It is not surprising that a big part of humanity, and far too many leaders, simply cannot grasp it.

    click to enlarge

    Given the enormity, the devastation, of failing to act, denial is a fairly reasonable response.

    On the other hand, the potential of reward for vision and innovation are equally enormous.

    The metal humans value above all others is gold. Gold’s most remarkable quality is its mutability, its ability to take many forms and yet always shine.

    Humans are like that. It is time for them to demonstrate their ability to take a new shape and shine.

    click to enlarge

    - From the Synthesis Report for Copenhagen: Past societies have reacted when they understood that their own activities were causing deleterious environmental change by controlling or modifying the offending activities. The scientific evidence has now become overwhelming that human activities, especially the combustion of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate in ways that threaten the well-being and continued development of human society. If humanity is to learn from history and to limit these threats, the time has come for stronger control of the human activities that are changing the fundamental conditions for life on Earth.

    click to enlarge

    - From the Synthesis Report for Copenhagen: The Earth is approximately five billion years old. Humans, however, have been on the planet for only 0.004% of that history; modern Homosapiens evolved around 200,000 years ago. Dramatic climate changes have occurred in the Earth’s long history. Early humans experienced, and a fraction of them survived, some of these dramatic climate events. However, only during the last 12,000 years, a period in which the Earth’s climate has been comparatively warm and stable, have humans really thrived.
    - From the Synthesis Report for Copenhagen: The scientific evidence today overwhelmingly indicates that allowing the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities to continue unchecked constitutes a significant threat to the well-being and continued development of contemporary society. The knowledge that human activities are influencing the climate gives contemporary society the responsibility to act. It necessitates redefinition of humanity’s relationship with the Earth and - for the sake of the well-being of society – it requires management of those human activities that interfere with the climate. To support development of effective responses, however, this knowledge should be widely disseminated outside of the scientific community. The purpose of this report is to communicate to a broad range of audiences the research community’s most up-to-date understanding of climate change, its implications, and the actions needed to deal with it effectively.

    click to enlarge

    - From the Synthesis Report for Copenhagen: Living within a challenging climate change boundary can often seem overwhelmingly difficult. There is no single treaty or technological “silver bullet” that will quickly and painlessly transform contemporary society. A transformation to a society living within the climate change boundary will take time and will require commitment from all levels and members of society. As a starting point, long-term targets for emission reductions are essential if society wishes to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels. Trajectories provide guideposts along the way to meeting the targets, but there are many possible pathways that humanity could follow which would allow it to remain within the overall climate change boundary.


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