The End of the World


The Ash Grove List The End of the World, in Two Parts

Hi. The Response to Tuesday’s Digest article “The Crisis at Fukushima’s Unit 4 Demands a Global Take-Over” has been strong; along the lines of a friend’s “Yikes!” People want to know what to do about it. Romi Elnagar, the woman who sent me the article also provided this answer:

Yes, there is a petition at Avaaz. Please pass this on, Ed. I’m delighted people are asking! I clicked it on and signed, taking maybe one minute to write my email address, country and zip code, and immediately saw my name and country at the top of a quickly rising list of sigs from around the world. I think I was in the 5,000 section. I urge you to do so after reading part 1 of the great interview below. Tomorrow, part 2 -Ed

As IPCC Warns of Climate Disaster, Will Scientific Consensus Spark Action on Global Warming? Guests: Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground. Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] is set to issue, Friday, it’s strongest warning yet that climate change is caused by humans and will cause more heat waves, droughts, and floods unless governments take action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The IPCC releases their report every six years. It incorporates the key findings from thousands of articles published in scientific journals. The IPCC began meeting earlier this week in Stockholm ahead of the report’s release. This is the IPCC Chairperson Rajendra Pachauri.

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: This working group one session will approve the summary of policymakers an acceptable report. This is happening at a time when the world is awaiting the outcome of this session with great expectation because of its obvious significance in respect of the current status of global negotiations, and the ongoing debate on actions to deal with the challenge of climate change. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The IPCC report is expected to conclude with at least 95% certainty that human activities have caused most of earth’s temperature rise since 1950, and will continue to do so in the future. That is up from a confidence level of 90% in 2007 report, the last or the assessment came out. Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute released a report this week by group of climate change skeptics called a Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change or NIPCC. The 1200 page report disputes the reality of man-made climate change.

AMY GOODMAN: For more Greenpeace International’s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo remains with us and we’re joined by Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology at The Weather Underground. On Friday, he’ll host the Weather Channel’s live coverage of the release of the IPCC’s report. He is joining us here in New York studio ahead of attending Climate Week in New York. Today he moderates a panel on innovative ways to combat climate change. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!. Jeff Masters, the significance of this report that is being released tomorrow.

JEFF MASTERS: It is huge because we only see one of these reports every six years, and it lays out a very authoritative and unarguable case, that climate change is happening, humans humans are mostly responsible, it’s going to accelerate and there are things we can do to slow down this sort of climate change upon us.

AMY GOODMAN: And this report of the nongovernmental panel, Heartland Institute?

JEFF MASTERS: It is what you’d expect from basically lobbyists who are working for the fossil fuel industry, whose profits are threatened by the scientific findings of the IPCC. You would expect this sort of blowback by the fossil fuel industry to dispute the science, to cast doubt, to play up some of the arguments against it, which really aren’t under dispute by scientists.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the conclusions are those, not just of the scientists, but also, isn’t there sovereign government involvement in the findings as well? Could you explain that for people who are not familiar with how the IPCC works.

JEFF MASTERS: The IPCC is kind of a unique hybrid because it is not just a scientific organization. All of its results have to be approved by government representatives. So, this week in Stockholm, the scientist have presented their information and each government — 195 in total — have to go line by line through the report and approve it. So, the politicians have a say in what is in the final report. As a result, the report is very conservative because everyone has to agree — it’s unanimous approval required.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeff, what needs to be done?

JEFF MASTERS: We have to do two things, we have to cut down our emissions of heat trapping gases like carbon dioxide and we have to adapt, we have to get prepared for the coming climate change storm as I call it. It is already here. We are already seeing the impacts, and we better get ready.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In terms of what has been leaked about it so far, some of the conclusions may be a little bit surprising. For instance, on the relationship between climate change and hurricanes and typhoons, what do they say they’re?

JEFF MASTERS: They have reduced their amount of certainty that we’ve already seen changes in intense hurricanes due to human causes. So, that reflects kind of the going scientific work that has been happening which is not sure. There is a lot of variability in hurricanes naturally; hard to tell if they are actually changing now due to a changing climate. So, that is one positive maybe we can take out of the report. We’re not sure we’re actually seeing an impact on hurricanes and typhoons.

AMY GOODMAN: How does Colorado fit into this picture — the thousand year flood? And then in India in June, something like 5700 people died in floods.

JEFF MASTERS: One thing we are pretty sure of is that climate change is already causing an increase in extreme rainfall events, particularly in North America. These are the type of events that we saw this year in Colorado and again in Asia. We have seen an increasing number of very heavy precipitation events, the kind that are most likely to cause some of the extreme floods we’ve seen in recent years.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to bring Kumi back into the conversation. You’re here for the United Nations General Assembly and obviously President Obama spoke this week at the General Assembly. Your assessment of what he did or didn’t say about climate change?

KUMI NAIDOO: He hardly mentioned climate change. The thing about it is, even the CIA and Pentagon in 2003 in a report that was present even to President Bush, which he chose to bury it as somebody who was in effect an agent of the fossil fuel industry. That report suggests in the coming decades, the biggest threat to peace, security and stability will not come from conventional threats of terrorism and so on, but will come from the impacts of climate change. So, if any head of state, any political leader is concerned about peace, security, and stability, then they should be using the platforms at the United Nations now to talk about the biggest urgency this planet has ever faced. We are talking already of serious impacts, particularly in the developing world. We are seeing lives being lost. Darfur, I would argue, as the Secretary General of the United Nations argue, the genocide in Darfur, was certainly intensified, and exacerbated as a result of climate impacts. Lake Chad, one of the largest inland seas in the world that neighbors Darfur has largely, to use the words of the Secretary General of the U.N., shrunk to the size of a pond. And then, the Sahara Desert is marching from Senegal to the Sudan southwards at the rate of one mile a year. So, water scarcity, land scarcity and together food scarcity was the trigger. So, when you see all that happening, when heads of state are talking about all these sort of interventions around chemical weapons, all of which are important, but the biggest threat to peace and security is coming already from climate change and it is going to intensify. In that sense, I was deeply disappointed that President Obama didn’t make that connection.

AMY GOODMAN: What could the U.S. be doing right now?

KUMI NAIDOO: The U.S. needs to recognize, firstly, that they are compromising their economic future because the U.S. needs to forget about the arms race, space race, and so on. The only race that is going to matter in terms of which countries and companies will be competitive in the future is those countries and companies that get as far ahead of the green race as possible. The U.S. needs to take leadership. The world is hungry for U.S. leadership in climate negotiations and —

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting, President Obama, in his speech, was making the case for how the U.S. is exceptional.

KUMI NAIDOO: Yes, and the thing about it is, that case, speaking beyond climate change now, is an approach by the U.S. of do as we tell you to do, do as we say, not as we do. Because, the U.S., if you take on torture, they are signatories to the anti-torture conventions, but we’ve got waterboarding, we’ve got Guantanamo, we’ve got extraordinary rendition. On respecting human rights and not violating peoples privacy without their knowledge — people around the world are saying things like, we had so much optimism in Obama. President Obama was saying, yes we can, yes we can, but with all of this NSA spying, maybe he was saying, yes we scan, yes we scan, yes we scan. ============================================================