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COP15: what does encroaching seas and melting of Arctic ice cap tell us?


By WcP.Tomorrows.H... - Posted on 19 December 2009

Former US vice-president Al Gore delivers a speech in the Bella center, Copenhagen.

How simple the question: do we have Planet B, or Earth C? Can we ask Nature to wait for our negotiation while CO2 are being pumped non-stop into our atmosphere; temperature goes higher, ice cap becomes thinner; sea level is rising and our land is shrinking? Lord Stern described the summit as the "most important gathering since the second world war, given what is at stake". Scientists say, "on climate, lost decade now leads to final chance, 'last' decade." "The decade of the 2000s will end as the warmest ever on global temperature charts. Warmer still lies ahead. Through 10 years of global boom and bust, of breakneck change around the planet, of terrorism, war and division, all people everywhere under that warming sun faced one threat together: the buildup of greenhouse gases, the rise in temperatures, the danger of a shifting climate, of drought, weather extremes and encroaching seas, of untold damage to the world humanity has created for itself over millennia." Al Gore is calling for "Humanity's Fateful Fight", "latest science on melting of Arctic ice cap, evidence "only reckless fools would ignore".

Kurihamari, India: Villagers row a boat carrying relief materials past submerged homes

(quote)

"I do not believe we can wait till next November or December."

Al Gore presented some hard home truths today, trying to prod the climate change summit towards a deal. The former US vice-president, though among friends, was unsparing. He turned up the pressure on President Barack Obama, calling on activists to press the White House and the Senate to pass a climate change law by the 30th anniversary of Earth day in late April. "Join me in asking president Obama and the US Senate to set a deadline of 22 April for final action in the US Senate," he said. "I do not believe we can wait till next November or December." He kept up the pace by calling for the international community to sign up to a fully fledged climate change treaty by July 2010 – and then announcing that Mexico was prepared to host a deal-making summit.

Gore was just as tough on activists who have embraced him as a hero, demanding they set aside their pride and their principles and embrace a deal – no matter how imperfect.
He said he recognized their frustration with the glacial pace of negotiations. He agreed that cap-and-trade schemes to cut carbon emissions were an imperfect solution – Gore confessed to favoring a carbon tax – but the current efforts for a deal were the best prospect of avoiding catastrophic climate change. And there was no trace of sympathy for opponents of action on climate change. Gore began with a brief run-through of the latest science on melting of the Arctic ice cap, evidence he said "only reckless fools would ignore".

climate change impact on Bangladesh

"I do not believe we can wait till next November or December."

"More is at stake in these negotiations than some seem to realize," said the lone figure on the low platform at the head of the giant meeting hall. "The future of human civilization is now threatened." In an intense and sometimes emotional speech, former Vice President Al Gore called on the nations at the Copenhagen climate summit to speed up their negotiation process by five months. Since a binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gases is not likely to come from this week's meeting, Gore suggested they make one in July 2010 in Mexico City. That meeting is currently scheduled for the end of next year. Participants in the Copenhagen meeting jammed the hall to hear Gore. They filled the seats and lined the walls, silent when he paused. "I have reason to believe the Mexican government would be willing to undertake the enormous amount of work that would be involved to move the date of the next meeting to the middle of the summer," said Gore. He also said it would be unwise to try to finalize binding carbon targets while distracted by America's midterm elections next November.

Protesters hold banners to demand for climate action in Sydney. Leaders will seek an ambitious mitigation outcome at Copenhagen to reduce the risks of global warming.

'Humanity's Fateful Fight'
Gore had been introduced by Yvo Dear, head of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change. "We might not be at this turning point in humanity's fateful fight against climate change were it not for this man," he said.

On climate, lost decade now leads to final chance, 'last' decade, scientists say by Charles J. Hanley who has covered climate issues for The Associated Press since the Kyoto conference of 1997.

As the decade neared its close, the U.N. gathered presidents and premiers of almost 100 nations for a "climate summit" to take united action, to sharply cut back the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told them they had "a powerful opportunity to get on the right side of history" at a year-ending climate conference in Copenhagen.

Once again, however, disunity might keep the world's nations on this side of making historic decisions. "Deep down, we know that you are not really listening," the Maldives' Mohamed Nasheed told fellow presidents at September's summit. Nasheed's tiny homeland, a sprinkling of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, will be one of the earliest victims of seas rising from heat expansion and melting glaciers. On remote islets of Papua New Guinea, on Pacific atolls, on bleak Arctic shores, other coastal peoples in the 2000s were already making plans, packing up, seeking shelter.

The warming seas were growing more acid, too, from absorbing carbon dioxide, the biggest greenhouse gas in an overloaded atmosphere. Together, warmer waters and acidity will kill coral reefs and imperil other marine life — from plankton at the bottom of the food chain, to starfish and crabs, mussels and sea urchins.

Over the decade's first nine years, global temperatures averaged 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees F) higher than the 1951-1980 average, NASA reported. And temperatures rose faster in the far north than anyplace else on Earth. The decade's final three summers melted Arctic sea ice more than ever before in modern times. Greenland's gargantuan ice cap was pouring 3 percent more meltwater into the sea each year. Every summer's thaw reached deeper into the Arctic permafrost, threatening to unlock vast amounts of methane, a global-warming gas.

Less ice meant less sunlight reflected, more heat absorbed by the Earth. More methane escaping the tundra meant more warming, more thawing, more methane released. At the bottom of the world, late in the decade, International Polar Year research found that Antarctica, too, was warming. Floating ice shelves fringing its coast weakened, some breaking away, allowing the glaciers behind them to push ice faster into the rising oceans.

Environmental campaigners in Dublin call on the Government to push for a meaningful deal at the forthcoming UN climate change summit in Copenhagen.

On six continents the glaciers retreated through the 2000s, shrinking future water sources for countless millions of Indians, Chinese, South Americans. The great lakes of Africa were shrinking, too, from higher temperatures, evaporation and drought. Across the temperate zones, flowers bloomed earlier, lakes froze later, bark beetles bored their destructive way northward through warmer forests. In the Arctic, surprised Eskimos spotted the red breasts of southern robins.

In the 2000s, all this was happening faster than anticipated, scientists said. So were other things: By late in the decade, global emissions of carbon dioxide matched the worst case among seven scenarios laid down in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N. scientific network formed to peer into climate's future. Almost 29 billion tons of the gas poured skyward annually — 23 percent higher than at the decade's start.

By year-end 2008, the 2000s already included eight of the 10 warmest years on record. By 2060, that trajectory could push temperatures a dangerous 4 degrees C (7 degrees F) or more higher than preindustrial levels, British scientists said.

6-year-old Daci holds a placard as she participates in ‘The Wave’ demonstration supporting action on climate change as the march begins through central London. Organized by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, the protest aims to highlight public concern ahead of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

Early in the decade, the president of the United States, the biggest emitter, blamed "incomplete" science for the U.S. stand against rolling back emissions, as other industrial nations were trying to do. As the decade wore on and emissions grew, American reasoning leaned more toward the economic.

By 2009, with a new president and Congress, Washington seemed ready to talk. But in the front ranks of climate research — where they scale the glaciers, drill into ocean sediments, monitor a changing Earth through a web of satellite eyes — scientists feared they were running out of time.

Before the turn of the last century, with slide rule, pencil and months of tedious calculation, Svante Arrhenius was the first to show that carbon dioxide would warm the planet — in 3,000 years. The brilliant Swede hadn't foreseen the 20th-century explosion in use of fossil fuels.

Today their supercomputers tell his scientific heirs a much more urgent story: To halt and reverse that explosion of emissions, to head off a planetary climate crisis, the 10 years that dawn this Jan. 1 will be the fateful years, the final chance, the last decade.

Left: sign of CO2 in the sky; right: Camp for Climate Action. Environmental protesters to camp for a second night in London's Trafalgar Square ahead of the Copenhagen summit on climate change.

Copenhagen summit is last chance to save the planet, Lord Stern

Without an international agreement to limit global warming, temperatures are likely to rise by 9F (5C) by the end of the century - triggering mass migration, warfare and world hunger, according to the report. But Lord Stern, who produced the report together with the London School of Economics and other leading academics, said it was still possible for the world to keep the temperature rise below 3.6F (2C) - but only if world leaders agree to cut global emissions at next week's UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

Lord Stern described the summit as the "most important gathering since the second world war, given what is at stake". The former World Bank economist's report on climate change in 2006 - known as The Stern Report - is regarded as the single most influential political document on climate change in Britain. However, Lord Stern admitted that even he had underestimated the risk of global warming in the past.

Halving the amount of carbon dioxide the world is currently pumping into the atmosphere through factories, transport and other emissions. Sharply decreasing annual emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by billion tonnes from about 47 billion tones. Lord Stern said that the world could achieve these targets if the rich countries reach their most ambitious targets. He said the European Union should agree to cut emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and the UK should cut greenhouse gases by more than 40 per cent over the same period. This would mean the "decarbonisation" of electricity by switching to nuclear or renewables, replacing petrol cars with electric vehicles and insulating all homes.

Turkish climate activits protest on International Day of Climate Action in Istanbul. World leaders could fail to reach a new climate deal at a UN summit in Copenhagen if rich countries refuse to financially help developing nations tackle climate change, government and NGO officials said at a development conference that wrapped up Saturday.

The former adviser to the UK Treasury has also advocated individuals "do their bit" by eating less meat, flying less and recycling more. Lord Stern said the developing world will also have to make cuts, as these countries will be responsible for most emissions in the future as countries like China grow.

Church leaders to join climate change protest

16 leaders of Christian Churches in the UK will be attending an ecumenical service in London 5 December’09 to urge political leaders meeting in Copenhagen to ‘Act Now To Stop Climate Change’. Among them will be Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury; Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster; Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, Head of the International Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Bishop John Rawsthorne of Hallam, Chair of CAFOD, Revd David Gamble, Chair of the Methodist Conference; Revd Pat Took, Chair, London Baptist Association; Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance; Colonel Brian Peddle, Chief Secretary for The Salvation Army UK and Republic of Ireland.

At least 3,000 Christians are expected to join them, carrying an array of colorful banners and dressed in blue. They will be traveling from their parishes around the country in special trains and coaches. After the service some church leaders and the congregation will join tens of thousands of people marching to form a blue wave around the Houses of Parliament. Churches on the march will be a key part of the growing movement for action on climate change. It is expected to be the UK’s biggest ever demonstration in support of action on climate change, ahead of the crucial UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

Some church leaders and heads of Christian agencies will be at the head of the main Stop Climate Chaos march. The keynote address at the morning service will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The churches are calling on the UK government to take a leading role in securing a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal in Copenhagen.

Flood crisis: A villager rows a boat past huts submerged in floodwaters in Bhakatpur, in the northern Indian state of Assam.

For Christians, tackling climate change is urgent for two major reasons. Firstly, it is a social justice issue since it is having immediate and devastating impacts on the world's poorest people, who are least responsible yet hardest hit. Secondly, humanity is charged by God with protecting and preserving the diversity and beauty of God's creation, which is depleted and threatened by climate change. Church leaders urge that the UK must commit to stringent reductions in carbon emissions and provide money for adaptation and clean development to help poor communities in their response to climate change.

The website of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is offering prayer resources for churches and individual Christians praying for bold and legally binding agreements at the Copenhagen Summit: www.ctbi.org.uk/climatechangeprayer

Churches internationally will be ringing their bells at 3pm local time on 13 December to coincide with the Copenhagen Summit. Westminster Cathedral is one of the churches doing this in Britain. For more information see: www.oikoumene.org/en/events-sections/countdown-to-climate-justice/bellri...

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of Henning Bagger / EPA, Care2, wallpaperbase.com, Reuters / Utpal Baruah, Julien Behal / PA Wire, AFP, PA, 24dash.com, france24.com, and Anupam Nath / AP

Original Source: The Guardian, ABC News, Los Angeles Times, The Telegraph, and Independent Catholic News

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