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Climate advocacy and the 2007 election

David Spratt, Carbon Equity
In a recent essay, The Australia Institute’s Clive Hamilton wrote that “Even three degrees [of global warming] is looking very hard to avoid” and that “If the scientists are right, the consequences of a three-degree increase in global temperature are almost too horrible to contemplate, but contemplate them we must” (1).

Some may interpret this as saying that three degrees should be considered as a policy target, but Hamilton has made clear his support for the two-degree target, in accord with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations and the European Union.
However, federal Labor in Australia, following Nicholas Stern, has unofficially adopted the three-degree target in a climate change policy devoid of specifics and a world away from what Australia would need to do if we are to pull our weight in a global effort to avoid climate calamity. How should climate activists respond? ..

And a response to Labor’s three-degree target? Should we say publicly, as Hansen does, that three degrees means the end of the planet as we know it, the loss of a fair proportion of the human population and most species? That Labor’s climate change policy is vague and empty, lacking politically-enforceable, meaningful targets and unsupportable by those who understand that monumental policy changes need to be in the next decade or it will simply be too late? That Labor is committed to supporting increased coal exports and the opening of new coal mines (12), has opposed the continuation of mandatory renewable energy targets in the Senate (13), will not end logging in old-growth, high-carbon-sink capacity forests, opposes a 2-degree target (14) and has no short-term emission targets?

Or are there sound tactical reasons to be quiet? The general climate advocacy position of the major green organisations seems to be that Howard must go (yes); Rudd will be significantly better (to date more faith than fact); nothing should be done to jeopardise getting rid of Howard (so criticism of Labor should be muted); access to Labor in power should not be jeopardised; and the policy platform put forward should be less than the science dictates because the truth is to too hard for the political parties and/or the general public to bear (or the fact that we are, in Hansen’s words, “on the precipice of climate system tipping points beyond which there is no redemption” is too much for some climate lobbyists to bear?).

So, for example, the Australian Conservation Foundation has decided to weld itself onto Labor, and is whispering quiet on Labor’s great climate policy shortcomings. There is a revolving door between the ACF and Labor’s front-bench offices, and the ACF conspicuously failed to sign off on the peak-green election manifesto “Turning Down the Heat” (15), or the web-centred thebigswitch campaign (16), instead provocatively launching a counter-site. ..
(8 Aug 2007)
This is a discussion paper written with reference to the approaching Australian federal election, but has relevance for climate campaigners everywhere.

Climate change called security issue like Cold War

Alister Doyle, Reuters
Climate change is the biggest security challenge since the Cold War but people have not woken up to the risks nor to easy solutions such as saving energy at home, experts said on Tuesday.

“We’re not yet collectively grasping the scale of what we need to do,” British climate change ambassador John Ashton told a seminar of 40 scientists and officials from 13 nations in Ny Alesund, Norway, about 1,200 km (750 miles) from the North Pole.

He said global warming should be recast as a security issue, such as war or terrorism, to help mobilize support for tougher global action to cut emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

“The Cold War was the last big problem the world faced on so many fronts — economic, political, industrial,” he said.

Other experts at the talks, in an Arctic scientific research base, also said there was too much focus on costs of cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, rather than on risks of rising seas, droughts or floods projected by U.N. studies.
(21 August 2007)

Blow Off the Arctic Ice Melting….Let’s Drill for More Oil

Don Beck, Portland Independent Media Center
The Arctic ice is melting at an accelerating pace, with this year already showing record retreat. There is still a month or so left of summer heating, but the record minimum ice melt has already been reached. “It is therefore almost certain that the previous 2005 record will be annihilated by the final 2007 annual minima closer to the end of this summer.”(1)

That means more area for oil development…..right?

Well, yea….if you care only about money and nothing about the climate.

The governments of Russia and Canada are moving to claim the Arctic Ocean in the hope of drilling fossil fuels. That is just what the Arctic does not need!

“But there is an even more dangerous aspect to the unfolding drama in the Arctic. While governments and oil giants are hoping the melting ice will allow them access to the world’s last treasure trove of oil and gas, climatologists are deeply worried about something else buried under the ice that, if unearthed, could wreak havoc on the biosphere, with dire consequences for human life.”(2)


Researchers in Russia are finding that vast areas of peat bog are melting in the presence of water which means it will release methane instead of CO2. Methane is 23 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2.

“Scientists calculate that thousands of tons of methane will be released from Arctic lakes as the permafrost thaws.A global tragedy of monumental proportions is unfolding at the top of the world, and the human race is all but oblivious to what’s happening.”(2) …
(16 August 2007)
Contributor Don Beck writes:
If you’re not up on the current warming science, this is necessary:
Why the IPCC report was so harsh

There have been some very important discoveries in just the past year that are showing the IPCC report to be too rosy. Things are starting to accelerate because of “positive feedbacks” such as the one described by the Russian researchers. They are positive only in the sense that they ‘add to’ or increase the green house gases and are extremely dangerous.

A good audio of George Monbiot speaking a few days ago in London’s climate camp is here. He is the second speaker at 15 minutes in. Please take a listen, it is very important that we understand how serious the situation is.