In 2005 the eminent climate scientist Dr. James Hansen said, “We are on the precipice of climate system tipping points beyond which there is no redemption.” Just a few years later, we are now crossing some of those tipping points. It’s time to stop talking. We must reduce now. Read the checklist. Download it, edit it, make it your own and distribute it.
Melting polar ice will soon disintegrate, raising oceans to threaten the existence of Miami, New York, Shanghai, Jakarta, Calcutta, Lagos, London and other cities. The polar bears are going to die. And 20 to 40% of animal species will be extinct by mid-century. The tropics are turning to desert. Monsoon rains will cease. There will be drought, famine, and millions of refugees. We could be among them. Hundreds of millions of lives will be at risk, quite possibly billions. Yes, billions.
We face these consequences not in 1,000 or 100 years, but in our lifetime. We face an emergency, the likes of which civilization has never seen. What is to be our legacy?
The tipping point for atmospheric CO2 concentration is approximately 350 parts per million (ppm). Past it we are on the road to catastrophe. It’s now 383ppm and rising 2ppm per year.
We need to take immediate action. We must halt the building of new coal and gas power plants that don’t capture the CO2 they produce, and require the conversion of all existing coal power plants to capture CO2. If the power plants cannot be converted, let’s shut them down.
There’s no “silver bullet” to fix the problem – we must also massively invest in clean energy sources, forest restoration, public transportation, and in building a carbon neutral society. We need to elect leaders who are serious about this emergency to every level of government and educate the ones who are not.
Let’s examine our own lives and make them as carbon free as possible. This checklist is a simple way to get started.
As the dynamic of climate change feeds on itself, shocks lie ahead. The previously benign Siberian soil, locked for ages in permafrost, is now melting, releasing greenhouse gases (GHG) that exceed the total output of U.S. manmade emissions.
The oceans – now absorbing 2 billion tons of CO2 annually – are becoming acidic dead zones. Eventually if they tip they’ll switch to being massive CO2 emitters, radically raising atmospheric temperature and sea levels.
While the challenges are enormous, let’s start with what we eat and how we live and work. Let’s begin by eliminating our personal carbon footprint.
Please read the lists. Think about it. Let’s all do what we can.
Feb 29, 2008 (edited 2009)