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Chapter One
The Perfect Storm
Introduction
• Extraordinary events happened on our planet lately.
• Last three summers the navigation between Atlantic and Pacific got much
easier.
• The earth’s heat is suggested to a lot of transformation.
• Earth is absorbing more heat than it is emitting.
• The ecological systems are also challenged.
• All these changes are going so fast that we do not even realize it.
• The Anthropocene is the name given to new geological epoch the earth is
entering.
• Our children will observe the world as a warming place.
• The food supplies and even the chemistry of the oceans will face
disruption.
• Every social class will be affected by this tremendous change.
Fiddling While the World Burns
• 1896- First identified by Svante Arrhenius
• 1988 (June 23) - James Hansen of NASA made clear to the government
the reality of the “greenhouse effect”
• 1992- U.N. Framework Convention of Climate Change, a non-legally
binding treaty aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations was
adopted in Rio de Janeiro.
• 1997- Kyoto Protocol, legally binding ‘addition to Convention, outlines
emission limits for industrialized nations
• 1997-2000- Fossil fuel interests opened the door for a debate against the
validity of climate change
Continued:
• U.S.(fossil fuel supporters) were the leaders in climate
change skepticism debate; U.S. position put it at odds
with the European Union
• Due to tension and G.W. Bush rejecting the Kyoto
Protocol, finalization of the Kyoto Protocol in The
Hague failed in 2000 and was ratified by Europe,
Russia, Japan and Canada
• Long term result, political rift that was created is
currently the largest obstacle between the North and
South
Storm Clouds Gather
• Last two decades China and U.S. mostly responsible for
emission of toxic gases in atmosphere.
• Tropical deforestation factor in polluting the
atmosphere. Forests absorb CO2 and in their absence;
results in more concentration in the air.
• Climate changes that result from this may be
irreversible for centuries.
• Dramatic changes; ie loss of arctic ice, will effect the
world’s poor population the most
• Political actions are crucial in preventing climate
changes
A New Political Climate
Political initiative to tackle the climate problem grows internationally.
Europe
European Nation committed to reducing its emissions to 20% below the 1990 level.
Australia
·
2007- Replaced Prime Minister with someone that would support the Kyoto Protocol.
United States
·
2008- 27 states adopted climate plans while others are seeking to develop their own
emission standards.
·
Governors from 18 states gather at Yale, in April, to proclaim their willingness to establish a
climate policy
27 major corporations (Alcoa, DOW Chemical, GM, Xerox;etc) announce their support
·
A New Political Climate; continued
India
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2008 (June)- Prime Minister released National action Plan on Climate Change that covers 8
areas of concentration:
Solar energy, energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water,sustaining the Himalayan
ecosystem, green India, sustainable agriculture and sustainable knowledge for climate
change.
China
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2007-Announced new climate plan
2008-Among many; introduced an energy efficient program that offers promotion of local
officials based upon their success in saving energy.
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Pitfall to global initiatives; overall, good ideas but beyond government and academics, the
average person has little to no knowledge of the process.
Ten Key Challenges
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Thinking Long Term
Climate change is a long range problem
The need for future responsibility is beyond individual lifespan
Change Starts Now
Innovation
Starting an effective climate pact will help ensure deployable
renewable energy
Minimize cost, Optimize Convenience
Emissions reductions are vast and mainly untapped
Ten Key Challenges
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Population
Reopen global dialogue about population growth
Women’s rights to have or not have children
The impact on vulnerable populations is a major issue in climate pact
Changing Lifestyles
The increased sizes of homes and cars has doubled U.S. greenhouse
emissions over other industrialized nations
The longer we wait to make change, the larger the sacrifices will be
Learning to live without oversized cars and houses is a sacrifice we must
be willing to make
Healing Land
Reverse carbon dioxide flow from destroyed forests
Create an effective “sink” out of the land to absorb emissions
Diminishing returns are possible over time
Ten Key Challenges
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Strong Intuitions
“Good Governance” is cliché’ until it is needed to survive
Climate is a global phenomenon
New institutions, new funds, public awakening is needed
Equity Imperative
CO2 Emissions are 5x’s higher in the U.S. compared to Mexico
20x’s higher from sub-saharan regions
Most countries already have large carbon footprints
Economic Stability
Balance needed in the realities of hunger, poverty, and disease
There are many challenges of switching from fossil fuels to
renewable fuels
Global prosperity should not be assumed pertaining to climate
agreements
Ten Key Challenges
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Political Stability
Major Wars and Terrorism should not distract from focusing
on the distant future
The focus on climate change can easily be ignored if nations
do not find ways to diffuse violence and terrorism
Political stability is not just needed within certain borders,
it is needed globally
Mobilizing for Change
Fear of climate change and political action have grown
Solving the climate problems will create the largest wave of
new industries and jobs the world has ever seen
November 2009, Copenhagen Summit is crucial