You Can Help! Hand Out These Flyers to Idling Cars

Idle-Wise campaign: One small action by a single person does have enormous impact.  Alone, it is a symbol – an example to many others.  When multiplied over hundreds, thousands and millions, it can be world-changing.  One small action every person can take is to shut off their vehicle if idling for 10 seconds or more, and to urge others do the same.  Turning off your engine saves gas and money, as well as cutting down on CO2 and air pollution.  We no longer accept people littering or giving us their second hand cigarette smoke.  Vehicle idling has even more serious implications, so let’s shut off our idle engines and educate other people to do the same.

Humanity’s carbon budget set at one trillion tonnes

If emissions keep growing at the present rate, the carbon emissions budget for the 2 degrees target will run out in 2021.

Humanity’s carbon budget set at one trillion tonnes

No more than one-quarter: that’s the proportion of existing reserves of oil, gas and coal that we can burn if we are serious about keeping the planet from warming by 2°C or more.

These are the conclusions of the most comprehensive efforts yet to pin down just how much carbon dioxide can be emitted into the atmosphere.

If governments are to stick to their pledge to avoid “dangerous” global warming – which most politicians and many scientists take to be no more than 2°C – the models come up with roughly the same answer. Humans must not inject more than 1 trillion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere in total.

That, say teams led by Myles Allen of the University of Oxford and Malte Meinshausen of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, will give us a 50:50 chance of limiting global warming to 2°C.

To improve the chances that the planet remains this side of 2°C, Meinshausen’s study suggests we should emit no more than 750 billion tonnes of carbon in total. The risk of exceeding 2°C would then drop from 50% to 25%.

Halfway there

Industrial activity since the mid-18th century means we have already emitted 500 billion tonnes of carbon – half of the 1-trillion-tonne budget. “At some point in the last few years, we released the 500-billionth tonne of carbon,” says Allen. We can afford to dump only 250 billion tonnes more – or perhaps 500 billion tonnes, if we are willing to run the higher risk.

So how much longer have we got? Don’t let past emissions fool you, says Allen. “It took 250 years to burn the first 500 billion tonnes. On current trends we’ll burn the next 500 billion in less than 40 years.”

Busting the budget

That means that if we continue emitting carbon at the same rate as we are now, we will exhaust what Allen calls the trillion-tonne “carbon budget for the human race” by 2040. Anything that is emitted beyond that will commit the planet to more than 2°C of CO2-induced warming.

Meinshausen and colleagues calculate that we could exhaust the carbon budget within as little as 20 years. They also find that if we were to burn all the proven reserves of fossil fuels, this would inject nearly three times the carbon budget into the atmosphere.

To have a 75% chance of keeping to the 2°C target, “we can burn less than one-quarter of known economically recoverable fossil-fuel reserves between now and 2050”, says Bill Hare of the Potsdam institute. “This means that whilst a lot of the oil and natural gas can be burned, certainly not much at all of coals reserves can.”

None of these figures include “unconventional” fossil fuel reserves, such as tar sands.

Good effort, but try harder

Both papers show that, because CO2 takes so long to disappear from the atmosphere, governments need to aim for a global zero-carbon economy in the long run. This confirms results from earlier studies.

Regarding shorter-term goals, Meinshausen says that to have a good chance of staying below 2°C, global emissions must start falling after 2015. Achieving this will be no small feat: at present we emit between 1% and 3% more each year than we did the year before. That trend must be reversed within six years.

The researchers say that even the most ambitious climate plans tabled so far must be pushed further. The G8’s aim is that by 2050 we will have cut emissions to half their levels in 1990, but even that may not be enough. Depending on the timing, the cutbacks would have to be closer to 70% below 1990 levels, studies suggest.

Plea to Medical Profession | Our Moral Obligation | Dr. Lise Van Susteren

Our Moral Obligation

I am a doctor. A psychiatrist. Over the years I have heard many troubling stories about the human condition. I have worked with individuals who were “on the ledge” emotionally. I have worked with people who fantasize about killing people, and some who have. I have listened to people recount being tortured, abused. I have evaluated the psychological states of foreign leaders who threaten world security. I have heard the details about children who have died at the hands of people who were out of their minds with drugs or illness. People have died in my arms, dropped dead at my feet.

Nothing has prepared me for what I am currently hearing: scientists all over the world warning us about the threat of catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

As a member of several organizations that involve professionals working in the field of mental health, I am stunned that this threat to the health of the planet and the public is so underplayed by these organizations and their members. An official from one leading organization expressed regrets that she was unable to attend a recent forum wrestling with the psychological and mental health aspects of climate change and noted, “no one on the staff is interested.” The person she anointed in her place cancelled.

One of the missions of these associations is to relieve human suffering. As practitioners we help people to face reality. We chip away at their denial knowing it can be a cover for behaviors that destroy their lives. When they see the world more clearly, we urge them to take charge – warning of the dangers of being passive.

Scientists every day are telling us that climate change is happening far faster than anyone had predicted and that the magnitude of the problem is unfathomable. “We have an emergency,” warns NASA scientist James Hansen. “People don’t know that. Continued ignorance and denial could make tragic consequences unavoidable.”

Why are the organizations and their members, those most skilled at exposing the danger of denial and destructive behaviors, so silent about this crisis? Are they in denial themselves? Surely the science isn’t disputed. Surely we don’t believe that destroying life on our planet is “not our problem.”

Our canon of ethics says we have a duty to protect the public health and to participate in activities that contribute to it.

Where, then, are the journal articles, the committee reports, the mission statements, action plans, letters to the editor, presentations, etc that attest to the gravity of what we are hearing? Where are the recommendations that show how to break through denial and get people to change – quickly? Are we not the very organizations to seize upon warnings and confront the world before it is too late?

We see through resistance, excuses, faulty reasoning. We “get” urgency, we “get” life-long consequences. We see the anger, anxiety and depression caused by the mistakes and shortcomings of a previous generation. We know about trauma from repeated exposure to horrifying events. We are trained, indeed we are ethically bound, to respond to emergencies.

What are we waiting for?

We are already seeing wildfires, floods, sea level rise, storms, droughts, risks to our national security, and a mass extinction.

Lethal global overheating – strike the innocuous sounding “global warming” – is not something that may happen in the next century or even mid-century – it is happening now.

All of us, urgently and collectively, have a duty to warn our patients, co-workers, families, neighbors, friends. We have a duty to act – within our professional organizations, in our communities, offices and homes. Climate scientists are desperately trying to tell us to reduce our carbon emissions – to stop building new coal plants, to switch to clean renewable energy, to embrace energy efficiency – to “pay any price, bear any burden.”

Mental health professionals vigorously endorse requirements to report cases of child abuse. It is a legal obligation, but it is also a moral one.

Is it any less compelling a moral obligation, in the name of all children now and in the future, to report that we are on track to hand over a planet that may be destroyed for generations to come?

I respectfully request that we, as mental health professionals, make a unified stand in support of actions to reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change.

Canada’s greenhouse emissions soaring: UN report

1) Canada’s Report to the UN attached.  Canada has the worst record of any G-8 country and one of the worst of all countries who signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  Spain actually is even worse but it signed through the EU agreement.


2) Unfortunately the global picture is also very bad.  Global emissions are rising at least as fast as the most pessimistic IPCC scenario of 2000.  Since 2000 the increase is more than twice the 1990s, on a per annual basis.

Canada’s greenhouse emissions soaring: UN report

By Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service

Canada’s greenhouse emissions are back on a ‘significant’ growth trajectory despite bold promises from federal and provincial leaders to get serious about cutting discharges.

Canada’s greenhouse emissions are back on a “significant” growth trajectory despite bold promises from federal and provincial leaders to get serious about cutting discharges.

The latest greenhouse-gas inventory from Environment Canada shows that after a slight dip in 2004-2006, Canada’s total emissions took off again, thanks largely to Alberta’s oilsands, an increase in the number of vehicles on the road, and greater reliance on coal-fired electricity.

“Long-term growth remains significant,” says an Environment Canada summary report, showing the country’s emissions are 33.8 per cent above Canada’s Kyoto commitment.

The figures are based on the 2009 national inventory report that Environment Canada quietly filed last week with the United Nations to meet its international reporting obligations. The full 673-page inventory is available on the UN’s website and shows Canada has the dubious distinction of having its emissions climb more since 1990 than any other G8 nation.

Canada ranks “first among the G8 nations” for increasing emissions, the report notes, even though Canada had committed to cut them. It notes that while Canada’s emissions have soared, Germany chopped its emissions by 18 per cent between 1990 and 2006, and the United Kingdom slashed its by 15 per cent.

“We’re laggards and obstructionists,” said climatologist Andrew Weaver at the University of Victoria who, like many scientists and environmentalists, has been urging the Canadian government to cut emissions for years.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he is committed to fighting climate change, and his government two years ago launched Turning the Corner: An Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020.

Weaver and other critics see little hope of the country living up to the commitment, given the Harper government’s enthusiasm for the oilsands.

“They’re turning the corner all right, but they are turning the wrong way,” said Weaver, pointing to the renewed upward trend in Canada’s emissions.

This 2009 Environment Canada inventory covers 1990 to 2007, the most recent year that details on human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are available.

It says total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada in 2007 were 747 megatonnes, an increase of four per cent from 2006 levels. That means Canada’s emissions in 2007 were about 26 per cent above the 1990 total of 592 megatonnes, and 33.8 per cent above Canada’s Kyoto target, which committed the country to be below 1990 levels by now.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and are widely believed to help drive climate change. Massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, is released through the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

There was a dip in Canada’s emissions between 2004 and 2006, which Environment Canada says was due primarily to changes in electricity production and petroleum extraction activities. The weather also played a role, with warm winters in 2004 to 2006 curbing Canadians’ need for heating fuels.

But the overall trend is up, Environment Canada notes. “Between 1990 and 2007, large increases in oil and gas production — much of it for export — as well as a large increase in the number of motor vehicles and greater reliance on coal electricity generation, have resulted in a significant rise in emissions.”

Alberta is responsible for the biggest jump in emissions since 1990, but Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario also have seen emissions climb much more than other provinces, the report says.

While the country’s total emissions have soared since 1990, the report notes that Canadian homeowners have been doing their bit to cut emissions. “Residential emissions were essentially the same in 2007 as they were in 1990,” the report says, noting that improved energy standards and higher-efficiency furnaces and appliances have “served to reduce emissions.”

It is transportation and energy production that has driven emissions up, the report concludes. Between 1990 and 2007, emissions from energy industries such as the oilsands and transportation increased by about 143 million tonnes, or most of the overall increase of 155 million tonnes, the report says.

There has been a proliferation of light-duty trucks, the number of which increased 117 per cent since 1990, and a 94 per cent increase in the number of heavy-duty trucks on Canadian roads.

To avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, scientists and policy-makers say global carbon emissions must be slashed between 50 and 80 per cent by 2050. If nothing is done, they say the climate will change and there will be more extreme and unpredictable weather, Arctic ice will continue to melt and global sea levels will rise.

“In Canada, the impact of climate change may be felt in extreme weather events, the reduction of fresh water resources, increased risk and severity of forest fires and pest infestations, a reduction in Arctic ice and an acceleration of glacial melting,” the Environment Canada report says.

It’s time to clear the air | To cut carbon emissions, we must switch to renewable energy sources – and get polluting industries to foot the bill

It’s time to clear the air

To cut carbon emissions, we must switch to renewable energy sources – and get polluting industries to foot the bill

George Monbiot is correct in asserting that “If we behave as though it is too late, then our prophecy is bound to come true.” But it’s not, so let’s not.

I attended the Science Conference in Copenhagen last week, and, like many there I was dismayed by what I heard, but also heartened. As senior researcher to Colin Challen MP I have been listening to pronouncements of the “end of the world is nigh” variety at meetings and conferences for several years now, and continue to be amazed at the intellectual contortionism of our species in clinging to old, dirty technology rather than embracing the means of harnessing resources that are freely available all around us, such as wind and solar power. At these same meetings and conferences I often hear that the UK has the best “wind resource” in Europe – so why not take advantage of this? Instead we try to convince ourselves that we can carry on burning coal as long as we can “bury” the nasty side-effects underground? Haven’t we already realised that this is unsustainable for household waste, and have developed alternatives to “landfill”?

Ironically, it was in a session at Copenhagen on carbon capture and storage (CCS) that I saw positive possibilities for the future. It was not the presentation of a model (there were a lot of “models” at the conference) of risk of leakage of CO2 from a storage site in a former oil well, and the statement that there was no empirical evidence to offer because oil companies would not release such data that was heartening, as you can imagine. It was the presentation on “mineralisation” of CO2, ie, not treating CO2 emissions as “waste”, but as a potential resource, and converting the CO2 into something useful. It transpires that this is already happening in Finland, that a byproduct is iron, which is snapped up by a nearby steel plant, but which I am given to believe is also what the oceans need to counter acidification. The potential benefits of this process are many and various.

Apart from the aforementioned – far from a mere 3% per annum – dramatic, rapid decreases in CO2 emissions are achievable by switching to renewable sources of energy. Industrialists who have risen to this challenge report decreases in CO2 emissions in the order of 60-70% in the very short term – empirical data, not models. Not only good for the human species, but good for their company’s “bottom line”.

So, there are some reasons to be cheerful: the science conference warned us that we must take action, and also presented examples of ways to clean up the dirty act that some industries insist on continuing to follow. I am not suggesting that we allow these industries to think they can continue as usual, and offload the costs of their clean-up onto the taxpayer – we have already contributed massively to their financial success. Rather, such industries and their shareholders must be the ones who pay for cleaning the atmosphere they have sullied, and for the adaptation measures required by people around the globe whose lives are threatened by the consequences.

From Ricardo Navarro | GAIA’s Steering Committee member for Latin America

Dear Friends:

In addition to Neil’s report that some members of GAIA were in Poznan  and we held a session to denounce some of the false solutions to climate  change, such as waste incineration, I also want to share with you my  impressions about certain themes in the meeting.

The first impression that I have is that, among the political leaders  such as ministers or heads of environmental policy of the various  countries, there is no consciousness about the gravity of the climate  problem. They all know the problem exists but their reactions and  proposals do not reflect the gravity of the situation. For example, they  talk of reducing emissions 20% by the year 2020 and 50% by 2050. But the  IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that, in order to have a 50% probability of keeping global temperature rise to 2C (after which there would be true environmental catastrophes), we would have to stabilize the concentration of CO2 equivalent gases in the atmosphere below 450ppm. This implies that the concentration of CO2 itself would have to be below 360ppm; but in 2005, the concentration of CO2 had already reached 379ppm. In other words, we are already past the limit for a scenario where we have only a 50% probability of holding the temperature below dangerous levels, and even so we are not acting with the necessary urgency.

This goal that so many politicians mention, of not passing 2C seems to  be merely wishful thinking since we have already increased 0.8C; as one  British scientist said: “…we have to try to keep the temperature  increase to 2C but we also have to prepare for an increment of 4C…and of course if it rises by 4C most probably there will be a series of  feedback mechanisms such as the escape of methane from the permafrost of Siberia, the Canadian tundra and ocean clathrates, as well as the destruction of the Amazon and the melting of the glaciers, which will push the temperature rise above 5C, then to 6C and then… ?”

To see the gravity of the case, we only have to remember that less than
8 months ago there was a tropical cyclone in Burma that left more than  150,000 dead, the equivalent of 2 Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs together. And this is before the temperature has increased even 1C. I wonder, what will be these catastrophes that the IPCC speaks of if the temperature rises more than 2C? Millions of dead in one single climate event?

In spite of all this, the principal polluters (the countries of the
North) want to continue polluting, and in order to do so, they want to  give the Southern countries money for them to plant trees, capture the  methane from landfills or put up wind turbines. This they call carbon  trading, clean development mechanisms, joint implementation – they have plenty of creativity to continue inventing names when an intelligent and honest analysis of the problem demands an immediate halt to any  additional CO2 emissions. The problem is complicated because many  Southern countries agree with this approach, as it provides them with  funds.

On the other hand, although the historical responsibility for the  current problem lies with the industrialized countries, since they have  produced 70% of all greenhouse gases emitted since the start of the  industrial revolution (in spite of having only 17% of the global  population), the problem is that, in the last decade, the situation has  changed. Those countries called “developing countries” now emit more  than the “developed” countries. For example, China has passed the US as the world’s principal emitter of CO2.  This means that, in order to  solve the problem, the Southern countries must also embark on an  effective program of emissions reductions; this could be done if the  industrialized countries recognize their historical responsibility of  having caused the problem and provide the necessary capital and  technology to do so. Some estimates of the necessary investment run on the order of US$200 billion per year; but the industrialized world seems not to be prepared to to put in more than 10% of this amount at best; and, to make matters worse, they want the funds to be managed by the World Bank!

The final decisions will be taken in Copenhagen in one year, but  everything indicates that, if the decision makers of Northern and  Southern countries do not change their postures, we will soon face  climatic situations never before seen in the history of humanity. In the  face of this challenge, we in NGOs have a huge task to complete, at the  national and international levels.

Greetings to all, and may God and Mother Earth protect us.

Ricardo Navarro

Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

WMO Greenhouse gas bulletin
Courtesy of World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Originally published Nov. 2008


[Note: On the PDF above – Page 9.  We are actually at 288 PPMV and not 281 as the report states.  This is due to the fact their reference date is 2006 and now we are 2009.  A 7 point increase.]

The latest analysis of data from the WMO-GAW Global Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network, a comprehensive network of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), shows that the globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have reached new highs in 2007 with CO2 at 383.1 ppm, CH4 at 1789 ppb and N2O at 320.9 ppb. These values are higher than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 37%, 156% and 19%, respectively. Atmospheric growth rates in 2007 of CO2 and N2O are consistent with recent years. The mixing ratio of CH4 shows the largest increase since 1998. The NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) shows that from 1990 to 2007 the atmospheric radiative forcing by all long-lived greenhouse gases has increased by 24.2%. The combined radiative forcing by the most abundant ozone depleting substances, CFC-11 and CFC-12, exceeds that of N2O. They are decreasing very slowly as a result of emission reductions under the Montreal Protocol on Substances That
Deplete the Ozone Layer.

For Free Access to the full article click here (pdf Format)