Climate Change

It’s crunch time…

Well, everyone, it’s crunch time.

Contrary to claims in the mainstream media, the UN has not called an emergency meeting to discuss the 5th report on the state of the science of Climate Change. The IPCC have said:

The IPCC will convene a plenary session to finalize the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, in line with its normal procedures, in Stockholm on 23-26 September 2013.

The session has been scheduled for several years and this timetable has been repeatedly publicized by the IPCC.

These claims have been made by people trying to discredit the work done by scientists around the globe who have been working on the science of Climate Change since 1988.

From WikiPedia:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body, set up at the request of member governments. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Its mission is to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects.

The IPCC have produced four reports so far with the fifth due for release later this month. Each report has built on the previous body of knowledge and each report has become more certain of the science and causes of the Climate Change we are seeing in the world today. Why I say above that it’s crunch time is that this fifth report is very likely to reinforce the previous reports’ message. We are now at a point where we have two choices as a species:

  • we can accept the science as known, knowing full well that the science, any science, is never 100% certain or
  • we can continue on with business as usual, with the science telling us that this path will lead to climate disruption.

Now, I’m not a climate scientist but I know enough about the scientific method to trust in it to inform my decisions. If I want to be informed about the best way to tackle a problem, I will go to the experts – in this case, climate scientists. 97% of scientists working in the field agree that we have a big problem which needs addressing now and that we are responsible for it. This is difficult for most of us to accept – we would rather believe that something as serious as Climate Change just wasn’t happening. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with belief. The facts are the facts, and the science is telling us we have only a small window available to us to redress the situation. The insurance industry is well aware of the risks inherent in Climate Change and Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer has stated:

It is one of the greatest risks facing mankind. In recent years, Munich Re has actively supported and advanced climate protection and adaptation to global warming.

This year for the first time in human history, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 reached 400ppm (parts per million). You may not think 400ppm is a lot and maybe it doesn’t seem so but here, in most jurisdictions in Australia, you are considered too inebriated to drive capably at 500ppm of alcohol (0.05%) in your blood. This level of CO2 is over 40% higher than that existing at the start of the industrial revolution.

I was recently in the audience at a gathering of young people who are passionate about doing something to address Climate Change and the speaker, Paul Gilding, said of the human race “we may be slow but we’re smart.” I truly hope he is right for currently we have come 25 years since deciding there was a need to establish the IPCC in the first place with very little to show for it. The science is becoming more certain every day. We take out insurance against the unlikely possibility of our homes catching fire, being burgled or having a car accident yet, when it comes to something as potentially damaging as Climate Change, we find it difficult to act.

The good news is that all the technologies we need to address this problem are already in our possession. We simply need to roll them out en masse. By doing so, they become cheaper as they become deployed and the sooner we start, the sooner we stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions – yes, even now, after 25 years of reports, they are continuing to rise! We can turn the tide on greenhouse gas emissions and deploy technologies that can power our world without causing environmental degradation.

So, whilst the IPCC has not called an emergency session to discuss this 5th report, do you really think we should wait until they do? Economist Sir Nicholas Stern has shown that, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention now is worth a pound of cure later on – these are words we should bear very much in mind. We are already committed to at least 2oC of warming with the 400ppm of CO2 already in the atmosphere. We need to get this concentration down to 350ppm as soon as possible and probably down to 300ppm after that. We need to act – we need to act now!

Now, I don’t mind if you claim these words as your own or wish to attribute them to me – all I ask is that you start talking about this most important of issues now. Please get the conversation going with as many people as you can manage. If you want a place to go for authoritative, referenced information, a good place to start would be – they have information there at various levels of understanding – I am sure you will find something there that will help convince you we need to act now. Thank you.

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