Friday, 26 October 2012

Time to put the Climate Emergency back on the national and global agenda

Earlier this week I chaired a joint meeting of Brent Campaign Against Climate Change and Brent Friends of the Earth to hear a talk from Phil Thornhill, National Coordinator of the Campaign Against Climate Change.

He spoke about the recent evidence on the reduction in the volume of the polar icecap and its consequences in terms of severe weather events. Governments continue to ignore the extent of the climate crisis with potential cataclysmic events occurring much earlier than climate scientists have previously forecast. He went on to suggest that NGOs, alongside politicians, were bound to a 'softly, softly' approach, that failed to confront the public with the stark reality that the world population face. The food crisis is already upon us and will worsen with potential global conflicts and large population movements.

Brian Orr, chair of Brent Green Party, who works with the Arctic Methane Emergency Group(AMEG) spoke passionately about the impact of methane gas release as the melt continues. His conclusion that geoengineering was required to meet the threat, because emissions reduction would not have a rapid enough impact to avert catastrophe, led to some heated exchanges about the risks.

This is AMEG's position LINK:
AMEG is confident that the crisis can still be averted successfully provided that immediate action is taken to cool the Arctic. This will inevitably involve a degree of intervention known as geoengineering as we have no other options to achieve the necessary rate and intensity of cooling required to stabilise the sea ice and buy time. AMEG therefore calls for urgent further research into technologies to help cool the Arctic and for tests and preparations to start without delay in order to be ready for rapid deployment of some of the more effective (and safe) techniques that are currently available for regional cooling of the Arctic. We must avert further collapse of sea ice and subsequent climate catastrophe. AMEG warns there is a real risk of further (and theoretically even nearly total) ice collapse by summer 2013.
AMEG stresses that to effectively reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change governments around the world must commit to a comprehensive plan of action and that geoengineering methods to cool the Arctic are now required on at least a temporary basis. AMEG repeats that it is also imperative for governments to act to immediately start reducing emissions dramatically.
Climate change has taken a backseat recently as attention focuses on the economic crisis and campaigners face an uphill battle in getting it back on the agenda.  The Campaign Against Climate Change stresses the urgency of the issue and calls for massive support for December 1st:
This year has seen the passing of an awesome milestone in the accelerating escalation of the climate crisis. It has now reached the stage where it is altering the planet's basic geography with the all too plainly visible vanishing of summertime arctic sea ice. The  "tipping points" we have heard so much about are no longer just a talking point for the distant future - we have every appearance of being in the process of hitting one right now.
Yet even as the world is poised on the brink of a tragedy of unimaginable scale, none of our leaders seems to be so much as blinking an eyelid in response. Worse than that humanity is engaged in a madcap suicidal dash to unearth  yet more of what caused the problem in the first place - fossil fuels. Even as some fossil fuels are becoming more expensive to extract new types - of often more carbon intensive - fossil fuel are being discovered and exploited.
We believe it's time to "get fracktious" about the criminal insanity of the way we are responding to probably the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.
Please join us on 1st December to bear witness to the gravity of the crisis that's unfolding..... see more about the imminent disappearance of summertime arctic ice here and here. Download our leaflet about it here.  See how the disproportionately rapid warming of the arctic is effecting the jet stream and causing extreme  weather events that are already disrupting agriculture and  forcing up food prices, hitting the world's most vulnerable hardest  - here.
We will also be targeting the insanity of the drive towards exploiting more - and new types of - fossil fuel. We will be acting in solidarity with the many local campaigns around the country resisting the expansion into this country of the risky and destructive pratcice of 'hydraulic fracturing' or "fracking" for previously un-tappable "shale gas". This is a major prop for George Osborne's new "dash for gas" which threatens to expand the exploitation of this fossil fuel in a way that would effectively blow the (inadequate but hard fought for) Climate Act out of the water (see here).

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