Monday, January 23, 2006


Un-BAU -- No more Business As Usual (BAU)

Why no more business as usual?

Because it seems like we can't afford it anymore.

We being those who are concerned about the future.

Compiled by Rael Bassan, Coordinator Chicagoland Urban Permaculture. 773-907-1465 raelearth (no spam at) yahoo (dot) com

Recent scientific findings have increased concerns about the growing likelihood of catastrophic global warming. As a consequence, a few groups are exploring assembling an October event for Chicagoans interested in synergizing responses to this threat and related problems.

Addition attention was drawn to the issue in January. James Lovelock: The Earth is about to catch a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years
Comments on the above include:
Environment in crisis: 'We are past the point of no return'
Why Gaia is Wreaking Revenge on our Abuse of the Environment
With anyone else, you would not really take it seriously: the proposition that because of climate change, human society as we know it on this planet may already be condemned, whatever we do.

These concerns are based on recent reports of additional unexpected positive feedbacks plus increased understanding of the past such a consequence of the disappearance of the sea ice: carbon dioxide catastrophe (could lead to) methane catastrophe (which could lead to) hydrogen sulfide catastrophe Earth ‘losing fight against global warming’ According to Dr Inez Fung of the University of California, Berkeley, The Earth is entering a climate space we’ve never seen before. No More Mr. Nice Guy. Climate change is pushing this easygoing enviro over the edge By Bill McKibben --- 12 Jan 2006...the environmental movement is reaching an important point of division, between those who truly get global warming, and those who don't.
By get, I mean understanding that the question is of transcending urgency, that it represents the one overarching global civilizational challenge that humans have ever faced. That it's as big as the Bomb. ...But in the real world, according to Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have at most 10 years to reverse this trend. Which means we have to do everything quickly -- hybrid cars and solar panels and compact light bulbs and local food and tree planting. And windmills, lots and lots of windmills, just like off the shores of Europe.
....this planet is rapidly becoming the worst of all possible worlds, a place that before my daughter dies may well see temperatures exceeding anything since before the dawn of primate evolution. A planet facing hundreds of millions of environmental refugees as a result of rising seas, with heat waves like the one that killed 35,000 in Europe becoming commonplace occurrences. I mean, we went through the usual hurricane alphabet this past year, and got all the way to the Greek letter Zeta.Why? Because even if we win every other battle, if we lose this one, it won't make any difference at all

Below is some additional web material with my comments.

You may have heard that:
Climate and Storms Break Records in 2005.

but probably not some of the more disturbing ones

Warmer seas will wipe out plankton, source of ocean life Independent, UK. 19 January 2006
...a new "positive feedback" mechanism that could result in more carbon dioxide ending up in the atmosphere to cause a runaway greenhouse effect.

Global Warming to Speed Up as Carbon Levels Show Sharp Rise The Independent UK, Sunday 15 January 2006. Scientists fear that warming is entering a new phase, and may accelerate further.

Climb-It Science An interview with swashbuckling climate scientist Lonnie Thompson
If a small increase in carbon dioxide boosts tropical temperatures even just a smidge, the tropical oceans will release more moisture, which in turn will increase temperatures worldwide via the enhanced greenhouse effect as water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas.

Some additional disturbing news reported earlier in the year is summarized in
New York Review of Books · January 12, 2006 The Coming Meltdown By Bill McKibben
...Arctic sea ice is melting fast. ..."the feeling is we are reaching a tipping point or threshold beyond which sea ice will not recover." That is particularly bad news because it creates a potent feedback effect:
—In the tundra of Siberia, other researchers report that permafrost has begun to melt rapidly, and, as it does, formerly frozen methane—which, like the more prevalent carbon dioxide, acts as a heat-trapping "greenhouse gas"—is escaping into the atmosphere. In some places last winter, the methane bubbled up so steadily that puddles of standing water couldn't freeze even in the depths of the Russian winter.
—British researchers, examining almost six thousand soil borings across the UK, found another feedback effect. Warmer temperatures (growing seasons now last eleven days longer at that latitude) meant that microbial activity had increased dramatically in the soil. This, in turn, meant that much of the carbon long stored in the soil was now being released into the atmosphere. The quantities were large enough to negate all the work that Britain had done to switch away from coal to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. "All the consequences of global warming will occur more rapidly," said Guy Kirk, chief scientist on the study. "That's the scary thing. The amount of time we have got to do something about it is smaller than we thought."

The above and other reports prompted the renowned climate scientist, James Lovelock, to issue his especially pessimistic prognosis last week. That view is based partially on his estimation of current cultural trajectories and inertia -- especially those of the United States, China and India. See Global warming: Is it too late to save our planet? The Scotsman, Tue 17 Jan 2006 which provides a summary and comments by other authorities.

A somewhat more optimistic evaluation is that of James Hansen, another prestigious climate researcher, who presents a number of alternatives to "business as usual" that could be effective if implemented soon enough.
Is There Still Time to Avoid "Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference" with Global Climate? Presentation by J. Hansen, given Dec. 6, 2005, at the American Geophysical Union
...I present multiple lines of evidence indicating that the Earth’s climate is nearing, but has not passed, a tipping point, beyond which it will be impossible to avoid climate change with far ranging undesirable consequences.
...The required actions make practical sense and have other benefits, but they will not happen without strong policy leadership and international cooperation. Action must be prompt, otherwise CO2-producing infrastructure that may be built within a decade will make it impractical to keep further global warming under 1°C.
... The public, if well-informed, has the ability to override the influence of special interests, and the public has shown that they feel a stewardship toward the Earth and all of its inhabitants....

><><><>< coll="la-headlines-world" style="font-weight: bold;">'Green' Measures Key to Earth's Future, Report Says Countries also need to start curtailing the use of fossil fuels to limit the effects of climate change, which could raise temperatures by 3.5 degrees by 2050 and increase sea levels by several inches, the report says. ...If major changes are not made ... curtailing the use of fossil fuels ...disasters ... collapse, From the January 20, 2006 Christian Science Monitor Forecast for Earth in 2050: It's not so gloomy But people must begin to manage its ecosystems to put the planet on a sustainable path, ...We have the tools we need" ...a five-volume coda to the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment,... ...By 2050, it estimates that the highly global approach - with liberal trade policies, and concerted efforts to reduce poverty, improve education and public health, yet respond reactively to environmental issues - could yield the lowest population growth and the highest economic growth. But the environmental scorecard would be mixed.

An emerging October event will help create public awareness of the urgency of immediately investing more in assuring a desirable future. “Business As Usual”, is no longer an option we can afford You can help the preparation process by attending the first meeting of the Climate Changes Preparation Meetup, Thursday, February 9, 6:15 PM. At downtown Chicago Starbucks, 180 N. LaSalle


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