It's time. In just 10 days the leaders of the G8 and the five other most polluting countries in the world meet in Germany. These 13 men and women will decide the fate of the world's climate. The stakes couldn't be higher.
Over 100,000 of us joined to put the climate crisis at the top of the agenda for this summit -- and we won. We learned that global public opinion has power. But as the US and others dig in, we need an outcry like never before. For this meeting to produce not just hot air but real action, we need to deliver the largest climate petition in history by June 6th. So add your voice today, click here:
This is an issue that concerns everyone on earth. If each of us signs and gets just 4 other friends to join us, we could raise a million voices together before it’s too late. So after you’ve signed, please forward this email to anyone who could help -- they too can add their support at this link:
Ben, Galit, Ricken, Graziela, Iain, Paul, Hannah and all at Avaaz
PS: Between them, the G8+5 countries at this summit produce over 70% of global warming emissions. For more background on the climate science, the politics and the summit, visit our climate blog.
Our call to world leaders: ”Climate change is the greatest threat facing our world today - and we are almost out of time to stop it. You must tackle this problem now, decisively and together. Start working toward a new global agreement this year. Set binding global targets for emissions to avert catastrophic climate change. Take bold action immediately - and we will join our efforts with yours.”
Take Part in April 14 National Day of Action on Climate Change
The Organic Consumers Association's Planting Peace Campaign invites you to join the No War No Warming Coalition on April 14th when we go out with Step It Up to call on Congress to cut carbon 80% by 2050.
The US military, the single largest consumer of petroleum, and the war on Iraq, a country with massive oil reserves, are obvious targets for actions against global warming. The first thing Congress needs to do to reduce carbon emissions is to set a timetable for the withdrawal of the US military--and US oil companies--from Iraq.
For t hose of us whoâ€™ve been working for years to bring our troops home from Iraq, these are crucial weeks â€¦ now that both the U.S. House and Senate have passed legislation for withdrawal of combat troops by varying dates in 2008. We in the antiwar movement brought this aboutâ€”including our friends in the Congressional Progressive Caucus and coalitions like United for Peace & Justice.
But we canâ€™t relax. Both the House and Senate versions of the Iraq Supplemental Funding bill are flawed. The â€œdeadlinesï¿½? are to far off (a non-binding March 31, 2008 in the Senate; September 1, 2008, in the House) and far too softâ€”allowing thousands of U. S. troops to stay in Iraq for vaguely-defined â€œtrainingï¿½? and â€œanti-terrorismï¿½? missions. And they allocate yet another $100 billion toward the occupation.
The good news is that President Bush and the Republicans stand exposed as having no strategy except â€œstay the courseï¿½? and â€œthe situation in Iraq is imp roving.ï¿½? Bush gas repeatedly threatened to veto any bill with even weak time-lines. This puts him in conflict with the American public, which wants all troops home within a year, according to polls.
Letâ€™s force Bushâ€™s hand. Donâ€™t let Democrats in the House and Senate weaken the Supplemental further behind closed doors.
The Senate and House will be appointing a conference committee to write a compromise Iraq supplemental billâ€”which could be voted on as early as April 16. The antiwar movement must insist that what comes out of the conference committee is a compromise between what the House and Senate Passed, not a compromise with what Bush wants.
Our overriding demandâ€”in line with public sentiment expressed in Novemberâ€™s election and recent pollingâ€”remains that Congress should push for fully-funded, complete withdrawal within a year. Anything short of that is already a compromise. Thereâ€™s no room for further compromise with Bush!
T hatâ€™s our message to Congress, in public protests and in letters-to-the-editor. If Congress doesnâ€™t retreat and the President vetoes the bill, people will see that â€œBushâ€™s Veto Pen Kills Troops.ï¿½? Most Iraqis want U.S. troops out of their country; U.S. military force is no solution in Iraq.
Join Us in Action â€“ Organize a No War, No Warming Action at a Gas Station on April 14th!
On April 14th, tens of thousands of Americans will gather all across the country at meaningful, iconic places to call for action on climate change. The demand: Step it up Congress! Cut carbon 80% by 2050! We urge peace and justice groups to join this day of protest. Send the message â€œFight Climate Change, Not Wars for Oilï¿½? by organizing a protest at a local gas station. What better location to send a message about war, oil and the consequences of oil addiction than a gas station?
Here are a few action ideas:
â€¢ Stage a die-in at the p umps â€¢ Put up crosses or cardboard tombstones with the names of the dead â€¢ Lock yourself to a pump â€¢ Call Congress and the President from the gas station â€¢ Leaflet motorists â€¢ Ride bicycles around the gas station chanting â€œBikes not bombs!ï¿½? â€¢ Put up signs â€¢ Chalk the driveways â€¢ Stage a mock blood and oil spills (oil: molasses and water; blood: thinned tomato paste) â€¢ March from a gas station to a nearby recruiting station or vice-versa â€¢ March from a gas station to a Congresspersonâ€™s home or office
There are already over 1,200 protests planned for April 14th. Letâ€™s get the peace and justice movement involved in this great day of action!
No War No Warming can provide you with posters you can download and use at your protests, e ducational flyers you can hand out to passersby, and a template press release you can use to get local media coverage. Just let us know youâ€™re organizing an action by posting event details to http://www.NoWarNoWarming.org or emailing your protest information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Thursday, the environment ministers from the G8, the world's biggest contributors to climate change, will be meeting in Germany. The outcome of this meeting is crucial to world's response to global warming.
Avaaz.org has been invited to attend this meeting to present our climate change petition. A strong voice for action could help set the agenda for the G8. To help seize this opportunity, click below:
The G8 is a summit of world leaders from the "Group of 8" largest economies. Together, these countries account for 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions--the gasses that cause climate change. The full G8 summit is coming in June, but the agenda and outcome of this type of high-profile event is usually set far in advance--at meetings like the one this Thursday.
This year, the president of the G8 is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, is in charge of the ministers meeting Thursday. And at 4 pm on March 15th, we have a personal meeting with Mr. Gabriel to present our petition for binding emissions targets to stop catastrophic climate change.
Merkel has indicated an interest in making climate change a top priority. With a significant global petition, we can make the case that the world is ready for aggressive leadership on climate change--and pave the way for truly historic commitments at the G8 summit this June.
It's a rare opportunity to have a global impact. Add your voice to the petition now:
50,000 people from 131 countries have already demanded action. Our goal is to reach 100,000. Please sign the petition, forward this email to friends and family, and post the link on your blog--we only have a few days to make this statement count.
If we add our voices together, now, 2007 can become the year we took the first step to save the world.
Ricken, David, Iain, Lee-Sean, Galit, Graziela, and the rest of the Avaaz.org team
With the election of a new Congress come new opportunities to plan a better way forward on the issues we all care about.
That's why Co-op America is mailing our recent "Climate Solutions" issue of the Co-op America Quarterly to each new and returning member of the 110th Congress. In it, we explore the climate pollution generated by several economic sectors, and propose economic solutions based on the work of Princeton University's Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) -- a plan designed at the speed and scale necessary to curb the climate crisis.
The CMI scientists propose reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by dividing this huge task into smaller, doable segments – or "wedges" – of equal size. They propose 15 wedges, of which we only need to achieve seven to make a difference to the climate.
Co-op America used our own green filters on the CMI analysis, screening out measures that are too dangerous, costly, and slow (like nuclear power plants and "clean" coal), while beefing up those that are safe and cost-effective (like energy efficiency and renewables).
The resulting plan offers 12 "wedges" (listed below) that each would reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons per year by 2054. What's more, the plan is safe, clean, cost-effective, doable with today's technologies, and ambitious enough to meet the climate challenge.
Other steps require real action now from our elected officials, car companies, power companies, and other decision-makers to create real change.
If you have a blog or a personal Web site, post Co-op America's 12 Steps to Curbing Climate Change and help us spread the word. Send a copy of this e-mail to your state, local, and national representatives, and to your friends and family.
Send our complete 12-Steps editorial to your local newspaper for reprinting, or contact us for copies of our "Climate Solutions" Quarterly to share with friends, family, and elected officials.
Here's to real climate solutions,
Alisa Gravitz Executive Director Co-op America
Each of these steps would reduce carbon emissions by at least 1 billion tons per year by 2054. Implementing at least seven of them brings us to the scale necessary to meet the climate challenge, but we have to start now, and move quickly. We have a ten-year window in which we need to be well on the way to achieving these steps.
The good news is that we have the technology and know-how to accomplish all of these steps right now. The best news is that we don't just save the climate with these steps. They bring us real energy security, more jobs, a cleaner environment, real progress on the war against poverty, and a safer world. Let's get started today.
1. Increase fuel economy for the world's 2 billion cars from an average of 30 mpg to 60 mpg. (Current US averages are a woeful 22 mpg.)
2. Cut back on driving. Decrease car travel for 2 billion 30-mpg cars from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year, through increased use of mass transit, telecommuting, and walking and biking.
3. Increase energy efficiency by one-quarter in existing buildings and appliances. Move to zero-emissions plans for new buildings.
4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero, and double the rate of new tree plantings.
5. Stop soil erosion. Apply "conservation tillage" techniques to cropland at 10 times the current usage. Encourage local, organic agriculture.
6. Increase wind power. Add 3 million 1-megawatt windmills, 75 times the current capacity.
7. Push hard for solar power. Add 3,000 gigawatt-peak solar photovoltaic units, 1,000 times current capacity.
8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from an average of 32 percent efficiency to 60 percent, and shut down plants that don't meet the standard. No net new coal plants; for new plants built, an equal number should close.
9. Replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal with natural gas, a four-fold increase in natural gas usage over current levels — a short-term step until zero-emissions renewable technologies can replace natural gas. 10. Sequester carbon dioxide at existing coal plants. Sequestration involves storing carbon dioxide underground, an unproven technology that may, nonetheless, be better than nothing.
11. Develop zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.
12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement for fossil fuel until better carbon-free technologies are developed — but only biofuels made from waste, and made without displacing farmland and rainforests.
Since coming into office in 2001, George W. Bush, his administration, and his supporters (mainly ideological religious groups and corporate powers) have waged an unprecedented attack on science. Broadly speaking, these attacks have focused on debunking scientific conclusions relating to evolution, health care (i.e., stem cell research), and perhaps most strikingly, the environment. It is in the realm of the environment that the administration’s policies will have the most lasting damage. A plethora of articles have documented the Bush administration’s systemic weakening of important environmental policies and even their agencies, the stacking of commissions with people directly from the business world hell bent on the bottom line, and the silencing of our nation’s top scientists.
The sum total of Bush’s policies is the speeding up of climate change. For many, it is somewhat difficult to understand how extreme the reversal of environmental policy is, primarily because a lot of people do not have even a basic grasp of the scientific principles that should guide our environmental policies. Several respected authorities on climate change, including former Vice President Al Gore, and conservationist Tim Flannery, whose book, "The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth", is reviewed here, have published works that hope to explain what climate change is all about.
Ironically, Flannery’s book reads almost like an apocalyptic prophecy. "[Human] health, water, and food security are now under threat from the modest amount of climate change that has already occurred," writes Flannery. "If humans pursue a business-as-usual course for the first half of this century, I believe the collapse of civilization due to climate change becomes inevitable." However, Flannery’s doomsday scenario is carefully backed up by several decades of brilliant scientific research, rather than the New Testament. For that reason, his end-of-the-world prediction deserves to be treated seriously.
Flannery centers his book on the major chemical changes that have been taking place throughout the earth’s "aerial ocean" over the last several decades. In the troposphere, the lowest level of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" (gases that trap heat, including water), is getting hotter, and also expanding. It is this change that has led to some of the bizarre weather patterns the earth has experienced over the last few years (although the book was written prior to Katrina and the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia, there is no doubt he would have included these two disasters in this discussion). Above the troposphere lies the stratosphere, which functions as a giant filter, ensuring that ultraviolet light (UV), which is extremely harmful to living organisms (it’s a known carcinogen, for one), is converted to harmless heat. The main agent in this filter is ozone, which, due to another set of gases, chloroflorocarbons (CFCs) has been greatly depleted. "As a result of the hole [CFCs] punched in the ozone layer, people living south of 40 degrees are experiencing a spectacular rise in the incidence of skin cancer…microscopic single-celled plants that form the base of the ocean’s food chain are severely affected by it…Indeed, anything that spawns in the open is at risk."
A good deal of "The Weather Makers" focuses on the "ozone hole," both as a way of explaining complex scientific concepts, and as a working model of how the nations of the world can address the major issue of the growing concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. CFCs were "invented"—there is no known example of these molecules existing naturally—in 1928, "and were found to be very useful for refrigeration, in making Styrofoam, as propellants in spray cans, and in air-conditioning units." It took almost 50 years for a new generation of scientists to link CFCs to ozone depletion, and nearly a decade for governments to take serious action. By 1992, "the world’s governments pledged to phase out the offending chemicals" in the Montreal Protocal. According to Flannery, "scientists are optimistic that in fifty years’ time the ozone layer will be returned to its former strength."
This is a stunning achievement, one, unfortunately, that current world powers do not seem willing to replicate by tackling the issue of carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon is perhaps the single most important element to life on earth. Besides serving as the backbone of all living organisms, it is also the primary form of energy storage. In chemistry, energy is stored in the bonds between atoms. When a bond is broken, energy is released as heat. Heat can either be harnessed for other uses, or, it can simply warm its surroundings. Plants, especially growing ones, have the unique ability to take in carbon dioxide and convert it into sugars (fundamental for growth) and oxygen (fundamental for growth of animals). When any living thing dies, it breaks down into its fundamental building blocks, one of which is carbon.
Flannery explains to his readers that over time, this carbon, rather than being released into the atmosphere, has been stored in carbon "sinks," either at the bottom of the ocean, or deep in the earth’s crust. These sinks make life on earth possible; Should even a fraction of all the carbon stored in these sinks be released into the atmosphere (in some sort of gaseous form), the earth’s temperature would increase to the point of dramatically changing the earth’s ecosystem, and swallow up all of the available oxygen in the atmosphere, effectively cooking and smothering the entire animal kingdom.
Suffocation of all earth’s inhabitants is thankfully not around the corner, but global warming is certainly already here. Since the industrial revolution, mankind has harnessed the power stored in these carbon sinks, primarily in the forms of natural gas, oil, and coal. By taking massive amounts of carbon stored safely below the earth's surface (be it land or ocean), and using it for a multitude of energy purposes, we have unleashed an unprecedented amount of carbon into the earth's atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. "Prior to 1800, there were about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere…Today, the figures are 380 parts per million, or around 869 gigatons." Already, animal species living in the arctic, including polar bears and harp seals, have lost huge swaths of territory due to melting ice, and at least one species of tropical animal, the golden toad has gone into extinction due to climate change. (Flannery, a zoologist by training, often turns to the animal kingdom for evidence, which both provides compelling evidence of global warming, as well as for an interesting narrative).
Flannery believes that international actors have the ability to lessen carbon dioxide emissions, similar to the success in controlling CFC production. He strongly endorses the "Kyoto Protocol," the international agreement that has the promise to reduce emissions. The heart of this protocol is carbon emissions trading, which works the following way:
"A regulator imposes a permit requirement for the pollutant and restricts the number of permits available. Permits are then given away on a proportional basis to polluters or are auctioned off. Emitters who bear a high cost in reducing their pollution will then buy permits from those who can make the transition more easily. Benefits of the system include its transparency and the ease of administration, the market-based price signal it sends, the opportunities for new jobs and products it creates, and the lowered cost of reducing pollutants."
The United States, notably, has signed, but not ratified the protocol, claiming that it would damage the US economy, since developing countries were given more "shares" of carbon. This makes sense; since these countries are developing, they need more energy, and more time to get into compliance.
Flannery spends considerable time debunking assertions that regulating carbon dioxide will have negative impacts on the economy. Powerful business interests loudly objected to CFC regulation, but since those same businesses are finding that after an initial investment in safer alternatives, profit has actually increased. This hardly matters to many in the energy sector, which is "full of established, cashed-up businesses that use their influence to combat concern about climate change, to destroy emerging challengers, and to oppose moves toward greater energy efficiency." Flannery focuses his accusations at corporations based out of the US and Australia (of which he is a citizen), and elegantly summarizes their pseudo-scientific propaganda aimed at discrediting evidence of climate change. One such example is the Global Climate Coalition, which, before disbanding in 2000, donated over 60 million dollars to anti-environmental politicians, and spent even more on propaganda, meant to "cast doubt on the theory of global warming" (its own words).
Thankfully, Flannery does not simply provide an overview of the science and a history of failure. The last quarter of his book is a survey of many of the solutions offered to counter climate change. Some scientist-engineers have proposed grandiose solutions that, rather than change mankind’s dependence on carbon based energy, would lessen the damage caused by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Flannery sees little use in most of these quixotic plans, "which are neither as straightforward nor as cost effective as industry would like." Instead, he focuses on alternative energy sources, nuclear power, and what seems to be his favorite, energy derived from turbines, a highly reliable and cost efficient means of harnessing energy. None of the solutions Flannery proposes are radical or out of reach; Brazil, a "developing country" has largely switched to ethanol derived from sugar cane as an alternative to natural gas.
For Flannery, the solution (although this is a misnomer—much of man-made climate change is somewhat irreversible) is an international agreement adopting reductions of carbon emissions by 70% by 2050, which in turn would stimulate even more growth in alternative energy sources. Flannery’s blend of skepticism and optimism, scientific theory and historical precedent, offer an incredibly compelling argument of what the civilizations of the world must do to maintain an earth in balance.
Don’t want to wait for political leaders to call the shots? Here are some recommendations from Flannery:
*call your energy provider and ask if you can switch to a green power option, such as wind energy.
*use solar power to at least supplement heating of water, one of the biggest household uses of energy.
*if you can, replace any old air conditioners, refrigerators, and heating appliances with more energy efficient ones.
*get rid of your SUV, and drive a hybrid, or some other small car.
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