Sunday, September 6, 2009

Only One Decade

[Preliminary ramblings and portents of the Southern hemisphere Summer approaching.]

At our local seaside the sea level is rising and undermining the vegetation growing along the beach. Several lengths of concrete bicycle-way have been washed away by the rising water along with the wooden-slatted footpaths leading to favoured swimming areas. A light pole next to a bridge that crosses the Cam River (where this water-body meets the sea) has completely toppled. At high tide the salty spray rises up into the air about thirty feet and is now encroaching on the railway line that runs parallel to the shore. The shape of the beach has changed significantly.

All of these changes have happened very quickly; maybe in the last 9 months or so. The weather has also changed. This winter was Australia's hottest on record. Where I live, in North West Tasmania, the fourth wettest winter known has just passed. Winters in the last five years have been extraordinarily dry. Strange things happened in the garden and in the native forests these last two months. The manferns unfurled their fronds three months too early. Fruit trees and the blueberry bush flowered unexpectedly.

On mainland Australia the Murray River has dried up completely in some areas. Where water exists the river could more aptly be described as a creek. Level 4 water restrictions have been imposed in all towns along its meandering banks - in the 'wet' season. That means that the use of garden hoses is prohibited. Outdoor taps can only be used to fill buckets. The backyard vegetable gardens struggle to exist as native galahs and other birds converge on them for feed in an otherwise sparse landscape.

Three weeks ago the Premier of the Australian state of Victoria warned that next summer the fire season is going to be even worse than last February when 624 fires burnt out of control there and almost two hundred people lost their lives; thousands lost homes. The koala may soon be listed as endangered.

I feel very afraid.

Two months ago:

"...unless we quickly stabilise the earth’s atmosphere at 350 parts per million (ppm) or less, the subsequent increase in global warming will cause the complete loss of Arctic sea ice this decade. Carbon dioxide levels are now at 387ppm and rising every day. The rapid loss of Arctic sea ice (predicted by some scientists to be completely melted within four years; many others sometime this decade) will remove the reflective protection the ice currently affords us, and allow the unprecedented release of billions of tonnes of methane (much more powerful than carbon dioxide) from the permafrost beneath the ice, leading to a surge in global warming we will be powerless to halt. To avoid the near term possibility of runaway climate change we have to dramatically cut our emissions, possibly by as much as 100 per cent within a decade. Not only that; we must remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere because the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already exceeded a level considered safe. The science is telling us we have just one decade to turn this around. Otherwise we face chaotic weather events; the failure of major ecosystems; the destruction of communities as natural resources disappear and ultimately, the destruction of our species. [1]"

AND, this week:
"Not only is the Arctic serving as a warning, the warming there is accelerating global climate change"

"Instead of reflecting heat, the Arctic is absorbing it as the sea ice diminishes, thus speeding up global warming; "Methane, trapped in permafrost and on the sea bed, is escaping into the atmosphere."

"...increased melt from the Greenland ice-cap threatens to raise sea levels and alter the flow of the Gulf Stream, essential to keep Europe warm."

On the Economics of emissions reductions and global warming:
"... the real scaremongers are those who say we cannot afford climate action - that it will hold back economic growth; They are wrong. Climate change could spell widespread disaster [and] the price of failure in Copenhagen would be high not just for future generations, but for this generation." [2]

[1] There is only one moral, ethical approach to climate change
By Fiona Armstrong - posted Thursday, 25 June 2009

[2] UN Secretary General quoted this week at:
United Nations announcement of pending Climate Disaster by Karlin .....
Date: 3rd September 2009 5:42:34 PM

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