If you have never signed a petition or endorsed a paper, now should be your first time. The paper that I think you should sign is a newly published ‘Message to world leaders’, which is already endorsed by 520 scientists in 44 countries. “Ultimate monetary costs for climate mitigation and adaptation grow substantially each year action is postponed,” they warn.
By Mik Aidt
First, I’d like you to listen to David Suzuki, the Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist:
In the style of the appeal to world leaders that Suzuki refers to, and which was endorsed by nobel laurates and 4,000 scientists in 1992 and 1993, a new 51-page ‘consensus statement’ has now been published with a message to world leaders and with information for policy makers, signed by scientists in 44 countries.
In ‘Scientific Concensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century: Information for Policy Makers’ the scientists warn that “global environmental harm is putting at risk the happiness and well-being of this and future generations.”
“Here are 520 scientists from throughout the world making a very strong statement, with as little waffling as possible, about Earth’s environmental problems, and we’re putting it in the hands of policy makers so they can understand and start formulating solutions,” said one of the signatories, Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, in the US.
Anthony Barnosky told Mongabay.com, one of the world’s most popular environmental science and conservation news sites, that while many scientists have been warning of global environmental destruction for decades, this particular statement is notable:
“This is not the first time scientists have alerted decision makers to these issues, but we are doing it now much more forcefully. There is a lot of new and alarming scientific insight about the environmental changes currently taking place and how this is profoundly affecting humanity. How we mitigate and manage these interacting environmental impacts will determine whether or not human quality of life declines over the next few decades.”
Now it is your turn
If you agree with the scientists that concerted efforts must begin immediately to halt climate disruption, extinctions, ecosystem degradation, environmental contamination, and to humanely stop human population growth and over-consumption where they now prevail, you can indicate this by endorsing their message to the world leaders.
By doing that, you state that “I agree that the best scientific evidence available indicates that if we do not take action to immediately reverse these dangerous environmental trends, our world and the world of our children will be substantially degraded with respect to what we have today.”
The timing is right — I don’t think you’ll get a second chance like this to be part of part a collective, global statement to world leaders about taking more serious action.
Home page: mahb.stanford.edu
Download the full consensus statement (PDF, 51 pages, 7 MB)
Extract from the statement
“Even best-case emissions scenarios (the IPCC B1 scenario) project that Earth will be hotter than the human species has ever seen by the year 2070, possibly sooner. Continuing current emission trends would, by the time today’s children grow up and have grandchildren (the year 2100), likely cause average global temperature to rise between 2.4 – 6.4°C, with the best estimate being 4°C. The last time average global temperature was 4°C hotter was some 14 million years ago.”
• Longer and more intense heat waves
• More frequent damaging storms
• Major damage to coastal cities as sea level rises.
• Water shortages in populous parts of the world.
• Local reduction of crop yields
• Economic losses, social strife and political unrest
• Spread of infectious disease.
• Pest expansions that cause severe ecological and economic losses
• Major damage to unique ecosystems
• Extinction of species. At least 20-40%
Avoiding the worst impacts of human-caused climate change will require reducing emissions of greenhouse gases substantially and quickly. For instance, in order to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 450 parts per million by the year 2050, which would give a 50% chance of holding global temperature rise to 2°C, emissions would have to be decreased 5.1% per year for the next 38 years. This rate of reduction has not been achieved in any year in the past six decades, which puts the magnitude and urgency of the task in perspective.
However, reducing emissions to requisite values over the next 50 years appears possible through coordinated innovation and deployment of new transportation and energy systems, which can be accomplished largely with existing technology. This will require rapid scaling-up of carbon-neutral energy production (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, hydrogen fuel-cells, nuclear, microbe-based biofuels) to replace energy production from fossil fuels.
In the transitional decades when fossil fuels will continue to be in widespread use, increased efficiency in energy use (better gas mileage for cars and trucks, more energyefficient buildings, etc.) will be necessary, as will phasing out coal-fired power plants in favor of lower-emissions facilities (natural gas).
While fossil fuels remain in use during the transitional period, carbon capture and storage (CCS) from major emitters like cement and steel plants will probably be necessary.
Scaling up carbon-neutral energy production fast enough will likely require legislation and government policies designed to stimulate the right kinds of innovations and realign the economic landscape for energy production.
Some effects of climate change already are underway (sea level rise, higher frequency of extreme weather, etc.). Plans to adapt to unavoidable climate changes will need to be developed and implemented for cities and public lands. Keeping agricultural areas productive will require changing the crops grown in some places, and ensuring seed stocks that are adapted to new climates.
Ultimate monetary costs for climate mitigation and adaptation grow substantially each year action is postponed.”
Related links and news clippings
“All of the impacts occurring at once will have an even more devastating synergy,” wrote Joe Romm, editor of Climate Progress and by Time Magazine named a ‘Hero of the Environment’ and ‘The Web’s most influential climate-change blogger’, on 27 May 2013, in a gloomy piece where he took time to paint the picture of what we are heading for.
“It is a world not merely of endless regional resource wars around the globe. It is a world with dozens of Syrias and Darfurs and Pakistani mega-floods, of countless environmental refugees — hundreds of millions in the second half of this century — all clamoring to occupy the parts of the developed world that aren’t flooded or desertified,” he wrote.
Broadcasters break their “climate silence”
Will this new appeal suffer the same fate as the other appeals from the previous decades? — like the one which David Suzuki was outraged about that no media at all bothered to mention back then.
Or has the time come public service media are standing up to their responsibility and making a difference — for instance by making this statement by 520 scientists into a news story in their primetime broadcasts — by telling you what it is this statement recommends that the international community should do — and by talking to those who stand behind the initiative?
In this field, I sense that we might see changes now. At least, it made news headlines recently in the enviromental media that the American radio-channel CBS now has “broken its climate silence” with a panel connecting climate change to extreme weather.
“Over the last few years, media outlets have been among the worst offenders maintaining virtual radio silence on how extreme weather patterns may be the result of manmade climate change. But CBS broke this so-called “climate silence” on Face the Nation Sunday, hosting a panel of meteorologists and climatologists to discuss the floods, droughts, and tornadoes that have plagued the country with increasing ferocity,” wrote Think Progress.
“Even as some studies suggest the potential for double-digit warming across the globe, the media has been stubbornly silent, treating climate change as an issue that is still up for political debate, instead of a scientific reality. Cullen summed up this problem well during the panel discussion, saying that addressing climate change is “the biggest procrastination problem in the sense that the longer you wait to fix it the tougher it gets to fix, so the sooner we start the better off we are.”
“Members of the panel also suggested some solutions. Kluger focused on “a slow transition to renewables, the increase in mileage standards for cars,” but warned that such measures were “sort of putting out the fringes of the wildfire that’s blazing. We have to get to the heart of it and begin shut it down.” Bernard took the less optimistic, but more realistic approach, suggesting that “we have to learn to live with the way climate is going and that means responsible development. We can’t keep building in the same places that maybe more prone to floods”.”
Petitions make an impression
In Denmark, the science news site Videnskab.dk published a long article under the headline, ‘Climate emergency call: DR and TV2 must radically change their coverage’ where the head of news of the two major television broadcasters in Denmark were interviewed.
“It is obvious that after a few years when the big story has been the financial crisis, the debt crisis in Europe and the impact of globalisation, the discussion about climate change is one of the global agendas we must raise again,” said Ulrik Haagerup, Head of News at DR, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
A petition asking the two public service channels to step up had over 1,100 people signing it within one month, which measured per capita is equivalent to the 72,000 Americans who signed a petition organised by The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Sierra Club and Media Matters for America, demanding that ABC, NBC and CBS provide more climate change coverage during their evening newscasts.
“There is no doubt that it is an important area to cover, and I think it’s exciting and interesting that [1,000 citizens] have come together and make a systematic effort, this makes quite an impression. And the idea of making constructive climate news is not bad. We will clearly consider this,” said Michael Dyrby, news director of TV2, to Videnskab.dk
Think Progress – 26 May 2013:
CBS Breaks Climate Silence With Panel Connecting Climate Change To Extreme Weather
By Annie-Rose Strasser
Videnskab.dk – 23 May 2013:
Klima-opråb: DR og TV 2 skal lægge stilen radikalt om (‘Climate emergency call: DR and TV2 must radically change their coverage’)
Danish researchers go into offensive against Danish tv channels: DR and TV2 must cover the climate development far more and better than they do today. “It is exceptionally important because climate change threatens our existence,” they say. By Thomas Hoffmann, journalist. 73 comments
League of Conservation Voters – 14 May 2013:
Coalition delivers 72,000 petitions to NBC, ABC, CBS demanding more climate change coverage
By Vanessa Kritzer
Huffington Post – 2 December 2012:
It’s Not OK
By Hunter Cutting,Consultant and writer
Think Progress – 17 October 2012:
Chris Hayes: Climate Silence In The Debate Is ‘Like Talking About Smoking And Not Talking About Cancer’
By Brad Johnson
Blog-post about the topic of media and climate change: Someone must take the lead
Inspirational: What journalists and editors could do
While you are at it, here’s a row of other petitions and pledges
Wide gap between the public awareness and expert consensus
The Skeptical Science survey finding 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming has drawn an incredible amount of media attention. Hundreds of media stories documented our survey and results. Lead author John Cook and I participated in a number of interviews to discuss the paper, including on Al Jazeera, CNN, and ABC. President Obama even Tweeted about our results to his 31 million followers.
The story has been so popular mainly because our results present a simple but critical message. There is a wide gap between the public awareness and the reality of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming.
The Guardian – 29 May 2013:
97% global warming consensus meets resistance from scientific denialism
The robust climate consensus faces resistance from conspiracy theories, cherry picking, and misrepresentations. By Dana Nuccitelli
Storing up the problems
“The argument is all about prices. Climate change will obviously bring costs in the future: that’s bad. Burning fossil fuels right now obviously has benefits right now: that’s good. But the essence of our problem is that we’re getting the benefits now by storing up the problems which will cost everyone in the future. That’s the very crux of the matter. (…)
Therefore what we want to do is have the emissions of CO2 burning where those benefits are greater than the future costs. And we don’t want to burn fossil fuels where the costs in the future will be greater than the benefits now. How can we do this? Simply by adding a carbon tax to fossil fuels.”
Forbes – 26 May 2013:
The Eighth Thrilling Fact About A Carbon Tax
“Carbon tax is a complete and total solution to climate change.” By Tim Worstall, Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London
“Life as we know it is, indeed, coming to an end”
“Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities—those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult—not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous.” (…)
“By avoiding the stark reality of our moment in history we don’t make ourselves safe, we undermine the potential of struggles for justice and sustainability.
As Baldwin put it so poignantly in a 1962 essay, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’
It’s time to get apocalyptic, or get out of the way.”
Yes! Magazine – 24 May 2013:
Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal
Feeling anxious about life in a broken economy on a strained planet? Turn despair into action. By Robert Jensen
Less than 50 months to act to save the planet
Prince Charles warned that the ‘survival of the species’ was in peril, as he spoke at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009. And in a keynote speech in Rio de Janeiro in 2009, he said that the need to tackle global warming is more urgent than ever before. Even in a global recession, the world must not lose sight of the ‘bigger picture’, he said, and warned that nations have ‘less than 100 months to act’ to save the planet from irreversible damage due to climate change.
Hm… That is now 50 months ago.
The Telegraph – 7 March 2009:
Prince Charles: 100 months to save the world
The Prince of Wales is to issue a stark warning that nations have ‘less than 100 months to act’ to save the planet from irreversible damage due to climate change. By Andrew Alderson
Not a single ‘terrarist’ will ever go to jail
“We have a word for the conscious slaughter of a racial or ethnic group: genocide. And one for the conscious destruction of aspects of the environment: ecocide. But we don’t have a word for the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on, the world as humanity had known it until, historically speaking, late last night. A possibility might be “terracide” from the Latin word for earth. It has the right ring, given its similarity to the commonplace danger word of our era: terrorist.
The truth is, whatever we call them, it’s time to talk bluntly about the terrarists of our world. Yes, I know, 9/11 was horrific. Almost 3,000 dead, massive towers down, apocalyptic scenes. And yes, when it comes to terror attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings weren’t pretty either. But in both cases, those who committed the acts paid for or will pay for their crimes.
In the case of the terrarists — and here I’m referring in particular to the men who run what may be the most profitable corporations on the planet, giant energy companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell — you’re the one who’s going to pay, especially your children and grandchildren. You can take one thing for granted: not a single terrarist will ever go to jail, and yet they certainly knew what they were doing.”
Mother Jones – 23 May 2013:
How to Make Staggering Amounts of Money and Ruin the Planet
The people running Exxon and BP are knowingly destroying the environment, and they’ll never go to jail for it. By Tom Engelhardt
Think Progress – 28 May 2013:
How Will ExxonMobil Adapt to Climate Change Crisis it Helped Create?
On May 9, carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the earth’s atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements began in 1958, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. Climate experts consider this to be the tipping point when unimaginable disastrous climate change is inevitable. By Jane Dale Owen
“We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate. The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film. HOME has been made for you: share it! And act for the planet.”
This film was published on YouTube on 12 May 2009.
Appeal for Sustainability and Scientific Ecology
As David Suzuki mentioned, there have alredy been numerous appeals from climate organisations and scientists. Like the ‘Heidelberg Appeal’ which was addressed to the chiefs of state and governments. It was first published on 1 June 1992 in the Wall Street Journal over the signatures of 46 prominent scientists and other intellectuals. Subsequently it was endorsed by around 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners.
Heidelberg Appeal to Heads of States and Governments
“We want to make our full contribution to the preservation of our common heritage, the Earth.
We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.
We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look towards the past, does not exist and has probably never existed since man’s first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity has always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse.
We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved. But we herewith demand that this stock-taking, monitoring and preservation be founded on scientific criteria and not on irrational pre-conceptions.
We stress that many essential human activities are carried out either by manipulating hazardous substances or in their proximity, and that progress and development have always involved increasing control over hostile forces, to the benefit of mankind. We therefore consider that scientific ecology is no more than an extension of this continual progress toward the improved life of future generations. We intend to assert science’s responsibility and duty towards society as a whole. We do however forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet’s destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data.
We draw everybody’s attention to the absolute necessity of helping poor countries attain a level of sustainable development which matches that of the rest of the planet, protecting them from troubles and dangers stemming from developed nations, and avoiding their entanglement in a web of unrealistic obligations which would compromise both their independence and their dignity.
The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry whose instruments, when adequately managed, are indispensable tools of a future shaped by Humanity, by itself and for itself, overcoming major problems like overpopulation, starvation and worldwide diseases.”
Heidelberg, April 14, 1992 (third revision)
Signed by 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners.