"What We Need to Do:"
We have reached a crisis point where we must not delay any further in cutting our emissions. If people are not worried - they should be. In the last 4 years Australia's emissions have continued to rise. Our emissions (other than from land clearing) have risen from 410 in 1990 to 560 in 2018 (approx. MtCO2e not including land clearing: LULUCF).
The world has not done much better with global CO2 rising from 355ppm in 1990 to 410ppm in 2018. We have seen the world burning of late with wildfire in America and Siberia where such is unknown, while bushfire here in our own Tasmania and heatwaves of unprecedented ferocity punctuate the need for urgent action.
We are heading for catastrophe with a temperature rise of more than 3C (5C is clearly possible if we do not make cuts now). If we allow this to happen the results will be catastrophic. Some experts are predicting increasing political instability and massive population movements with war amid a global struggle to survive. Many of the regions we currently call food bowls will turn to deserts. Imagine a strip around the equator where temperatures are too high for humans to be outside and crops cannot be grown.
A warming world represents a clear and present danger. What we have already done is driving ongoing warming that we are already committed to. The decisions we make now will affect the lives of our children for generations into the future. If we suddenly stopped global emissions tomorrow the temperature would continue to rise for several decades and then slowly fall back to a stable but still high condition over centuries to millennia. Our civilization has been developed based on a stable climate, not an increasingly heating one.
We all have a responsibility to work against this danger. We know we are causing this problem so we have the moral responsibility to do what we can to reduce our actions that are causing it.
It is simply not realistic to stop all emissions tomorrow. We should pick the easiest areas of activity where we can reduce our emissions rapidly with the least cost. These are electricity generation and transport which together represent 50% of Australia’s emissions (all greenhouse gases). We can quickly change the electricity sector with solar and wind now understood to be cheaper than all other sources (AEMO/CSIRO reports). A clean electricity system would facilitate the introduction of a fully electric vehicle fleet. Only our Government can drive these changes with appropriate policies. We also need to tackle industry, mining, agriculture, etc. There are plenty of plans that would guide good policy and a just transition for workers from redundant industries.
For every year we delay these rapid cuts, the task gets much harder. For each year that we delay, the social disruption will be greater. For each year, the loss and human suffering faced by the victims of bushfire, flood, economic disruption get worse. For every year, the suffering and loss for future generations looms larger. The task will become impossible in practical terms if we delay another 10 years. Technology will not prevent the drastic changes that will have already been built into the system.
A lot of damage has already been done to the environmental systems that support human society. The seriousness of the impacts requires that we all understand the need for change and avoid accepting defeat. We must fight for: action to cut emissions, for anticipation of the impacts and for the future of our children. Any action we can take to more rapidly draw down emissions individually, as a group or across the world will help.
Our political leaders have failed to act on the sure advice of science:- 30 years of IPCC reports urging action to rapidly cut emissions. As individuals, we can all make a difference by using our vote. Urge your politicians to take action. Support those who advocate immediate and strong action. 150,000 of our school children clearly demonstrated their concern at the School Strike 4 Climate held earlier this year - show your support for them.
With the election coming, a Climate Crisis Forum is being held:
13th May 2019, 6:30pm Uniting Church Gosford
Dr Mark Diesendorf will present on converting our electricity system to renewables and Richard Weller will give a run-down of the current pathways for cutting emissions as well as the urgency of the cuts required and the changes we need to Government policy.
The imperative to act is critical and cannot be left for another election cycle. Find out what the main party’s policies are and what your vote can do for the climate problem.