29 April 2010

The People Have Agreed! (Sort Of)

Now that the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth is over, lots of versions of lots of agreements, declarations, and working group final statements are floating around. There is some angst amongst lots of participants that things are being left out, added in, moved around, or mistranslated. That's a shame, because a lot of good work was done at the conference by a lot of very committed people — and approved at the final plenaries — but I'm sure (hoping) there's nothing treacherous going on.

Here is the wording of the People's Agreement that seems to have come out of the Cochabamba conference. I want to post it here (under the keyword World People's Conference) so you'll always know where to find it, when necessary. I have changed one or two mistranslations from the Spanish, but otherwise, this is how it's gone out to the world.

A couple of important notes however:

Unfortunately, 2ºC is mentioned up front in the second sentence, but the point of this agreement is to limit global warming to 1ºC and to get concentrations of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) down to 300 ppm (paragraph 9).

It is misleading to imply (in paragraph 2) that we have to wait for +2ºC for world food production to be threatened. If we go above a 1ºC global average temperature increase (since the year 1900), food production in lower latitudes (many if not most developing nations) will decline. And if the Arctic summer sea ice disappears before we reach +2ºC, then agriculture in the northern hemisphere will be hit hard, as well.

Also, it's important to note that the figure for species losses doesn't explain that this is on top of species already at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and destruction, invasions of alien species, and trade in "exotic" species.

And finally, if you don't agree that or understand why capitalism has led us to the global climate change emergency, you'll want to put yourself in the shoes of all the indigenous peoples in the world who have lost their homelands because they contained "resources" that rich corporations wanted to exploit. Capitalism, though many will point to the rises in standard of living that occurred at the same time that capitalism really got going (not proving cause and effect), is practically always about exploitation — exploitation of the many (or of their land), for the sake of the few. It's now about people with money thinking their money is more important than other people's lives. Look at the extent to which governments will go to defend the rights of capitalists to continue exploiting and making more and more money. I have seen examples of compassionate capitalism, but they are very few, and they are the exception proving the rule.

With those caveats, please read on and see what came out of 30,000 people or more deliberating over four days in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia.

World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

April 22nd, Cochabamba, Bolivia


Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.

If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the "Copenhagen Accord" could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible. Between 20% and 30% of species would be in danger of disappearing. Large extensions of forest would be affected, droughts and floods would affect different regions of the planet, deserts would expand, and the melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas would worsen. Many island states would disappear, and Africa would suffer an increase in temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the production of food would diminish in the world, causing catastrophic impact on the survival of inhabitants from vast regions in the planet, and the number of people in the world suffering from hunger would increase dramatically, a figure that already exceeds 1.02 billion people.

The corporations and governments of the so-called "developed" countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.

We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution.

The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.

Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are. Capitalism requires a powerful military industry for its processes of accumulation and imposition of control over territories and natural resources, suppressing the resistance of the peoples. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings. We propose to the peoples of the world the recovery, revalorization, and strengthening of the knowledge, wisdom, and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, which are affirmed in the thought and practices of "Living Well," recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship. To face climate change, we must recognize Mother Earth as the source of life and forge a new system based on the principles of:

harmony and balance among all and with all things;

complementarity, solidarity, and equality;

collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all;

people in harmony with nature;

recognition of human beings for what they are, not what they own;

elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism and interventionism;

peace among the peoples and with Mother Earth;

The model we support is not a model of limitless and destructive development. All countries need to produce the goods and services necessary to satisfy the fundamental needs of their populations, but by no means can they continue to follow the path of development that has led the richest countries to have an ecological footprint five times bigger than what the planet is able to support. Currently, the regenerative capacity of the planet has been already exceeded by more than 30 percent. If this pace of over-exploitation of our Mother Earth continues, we will need two planets by the year 2030. In an interdependent system in which human beings are only one component, it is not possible to recognize rights only to the human part without provoking an imbalance in the system as a whole. To guarantee human rights and to restore harmony with nature, it is necessary to effectively recognize and apply the rights of Mother Earth. For this purpose, we propose the attached project for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth:

The right to live and to exist;

The right to be respected;

The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free of human alteration;

The right to maintain their identity and integrity as differentiated beings, self-regulated and interrelated;

The right to water as the source of life;

The right to clean air;

The right to comprehensive health;

The right to be free of contamination and pollution, free of toxic and radioactive waste;

The right to be free of alterations or modifications of its genetic structure in a manner that threatens its integrity or vital and healthy functioning;

The right to prompt and full restoration for violations to the rights acknowledged in this Declaration caused by human activities.

The "shared vision" seeks to stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gases to make effective the Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which states that "the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic inferences [should be "interference"] with the climate system." Our vision is based on the principle of historical common but differentiated responsibilities, to demand the developed countries to commit to quantifiable goals of emission reduction that will allow to return the concentrations of greenhouse gases to 300 ppm, therefore the increase in the average world temperature to a maximum of 1 degree Celsius.

Emphasizing the need for urgent action to achieve this vision, and with the support of peoples, movements and countries, developed countries should commit to ambitious targets for reducing emissions that permit the achievement of short-term objectives, while maintaining our vision in favor of balance in the Earth's climate system, in agreement with the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The "shared vision for long-term cooperative action" in climate change negotiations should not be reduced to defining the limit on temperature increases and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but must also incorporate in a balanced and integral manner measures regarding capacity building, production and consumption patterns, and other essential factors such as the acknowledging of the Rights of Mother Earth to establish harmony with nature.

Developed countries, as the main cause of climate change, in assuming their historical responsibility, must recognize and honor their climate debt in all of its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution to climate change. In this context, we demand that developed countries:

Restore to developing countries the atmospheric space that is occupied by their greenhouse gas emissions. This implies the decolonization of the atmosphere through the reduction and absorption of their emissions;

Assume the costs and technology transfer needs of developing countries arising from the loss of development opportunities due to living in a restricted atmospheric space;

Assume responsibility for the hundreds of millions of people that will be forced to migrate due to the climate change caused by these countries, and eliminate their restrictive immigration policies, offering migrants a decent life with full human rights guarantees in their countries;

Assume adaptation debt related to the impacts of climate change on developing countries by providing the means to prevent, minimize, and deal with damages arising from their excessive emissions;

Honor these debts as part of a broader debt to Mother Earth by adopting and implementing the United Nations Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

The focus must not be only on financial compensation, but also on restorative justice, understood as the restitution of integrity to our Mother Earth and all its beings. We deplore attempts by countries to annul the Kyoto Protocol, which is the sole legally binding instrument specific to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries.

We inform the world that, despite their obligation to reduce emissions, developed countries have increased their emissions by 11.2% in the period from 1990 to 2007.

During that same period, due to unbridled consumption, the United States of America has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 16.8%, reaching an average of 20 to 23 tons of CO2 per-person. This represents 9 times more than that of the average inhabitant of the "Third World," and 20 times more than that of the average inhabitant of Sub-Saharan Africa.

We categorically reject the illegitimate "Copenhagen Accord" that allows developed countries to offer insufficient reductions in greenhouse gases based in voluntary and individual commitments, violating the environmental integrity of Mother Earth and leading us toward an increase in global temperatures of around 4 degrees C.

The next Conference on Climate Change to be held at the end of 2010 in Mexico should approve an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017 under which developed countries must agree to significant domestic emissions reductions of at least 50% based on 1990 levels, excluding carbon markets or other offset mechanisms that mask the failure of actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

We require first of all the establishment of a goal for the group of developed countries to achieve the assignment of individual commitments for each developed country under the framework of complementary efforts among each one, maintaining in this way Kyoto Protocol as the route to emissions reductions.

The United States, as the only Annex 1 country on Earth that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has a significant responsibility toward all peoples of the world to ratify this document and commit itself to respecting and complying with emissions reduction targets on a scale appropriate to the total size of its economy.

We the peoples have the equal right to be protected from the adverse effects of climate change and reject the notion of adaptation to climate change as understood as a resignation to impacts provoked by the historical emissions of developed countries, which themselves must adapt their modes of life and consumption in the face of this global emergency. We see it as imperative to confront the adverse effects of climate change, and consider adaptation to be a process rather than an imposition, as well as a tool that can serve to help offset those effects, demonstrating that it is possible to achieve harmony with nature under a different model for living.

It is necessary to construct an Adaptation Fund exclusively for addressing climate change as part of a financial mechanism that is managed in a sovereign, transparent, and equitable manner for all States. This Fund should assess the impacts and costs of climate change in developing countries and needs deriving from these impacts, and monitor support on the part of developed countries. It should also include a mechanism for compensation for current and future damages, loss of opportunities due to extreme and gradual climactic events, and additional costs that could present themselves if our planet surpasses ecological thresholds, such as those impacts that present obstacles to "Living Well."

The "Copenhagen Accord" imposed on developing countries by a few States, beyond simply offering insufficient resources, attempts as well to divide and create confrontation between peoples and to extort developing countries by placing conditions on access to adaptation and mitigation resources. We also assert as unacceptable the attempt in processes of international negotiation to classify developing countries for their vulnerability to climate change, generating disputes, inequalities and segregation among them.

The immense challenge humanity faces of stopping global warming and cooling the planet can only be achieved through a profound shift in agricultural practices toward the sustainable model of production used by indigenous and rural farming peoples, as well as other ancestral models and practices that contribute to solving the problem of agriculture and food sovereignty. This is understood as the right of peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water, and food production, thereby guaranteeing, through forms of production that are in harmony with Mother Earth and appropriate to local cultural contexts, access to sufficient, varied and nutritious foods in complementarity with Mother Earth and deepening the autonomous (participatory, communal and shared) production of every nation and people.

Climate change is now producing profound impacts on agriculture and the ways of life of indigenous peoples and farmers throughout the world, and these impacts will worsen in the future. Agribusiness, through its social, economic, and cultural model of global capitalist production and its logic of producing food for the market and not to fulfill the right to proper nutrition, is one of the principal causes of climate change. Its technological, commercial, and political approach only serves to deepen the climate change crisis and increase hunger in the world. For this reason, we reject Free Trade Agreements and Association Agreements and all forms of the application of Intellectual Property Rights to life, current technological packages (agrochemicals, genetic modification) and those that offer false solutions (biofuels, geo-engineering, nanotechnology, etc.) that only exacerbate the current crisis.

We similarly denounce the way in which the capitalist model imposes mega-infrastructure projects and invades territories with extractive projects, water privatization, and militarized territories, expelling indigenous peoples from their lands, inhibiting food sovereignty and deepening socio-environmental crisis.

We demand recognition of the right of all peoples, living beings, and Mother Earth to have access to water, and we support the proposal of the Government of Bolivia to recognize water as a Fundamental Human Right.

The definition of forests used in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes plantations, is unacceptable. Monoculture plantations are not forests. Therefore, we require a definition for negotiation purposes that recognizes the native forests, jungles and the diverse ecosystems on Earth.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be fully recognized, implemented and integrated in climate change negotiations. The best strategy and action to avoid deforestation and degradation and protect native forests and jungles is to recognize and guarantee collective rights to lands and territories, especially considering that most of the forests are located within the territories of indigenous peoples and nations and other traditional communities.

We condemn market mechanisms such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and its versions + and + +, which are violating the sovereignty of peoples and their right to prior free and informed consent as well as the sovereignty of national States, the customs of Peoples, and the Rights of Nature.

Polluting countries have an obligation to carry out direct transfers of the economic and technological resources needed to pay for the restoration and maintenance of forests in favor of the peoples and indigenous ancestral organic structures. Compensation must be direct and in addition to the sources of funding promised by developed countries outside of the carbon market, and never serve as carbon offsets. We demand that countries stop actions on local forests based on market mechanisms and propose non-existent and conditional results. We call on governments to create a global program to restore native forests and jungles, managed and administered by the peoples, implementing forest seeds, fruit trees, and native flora. Governments should eliminate forest concessions and support the conservation of petroleum deposits in the ground and urgently stop the exploitation of hydrocarbons in forestlands.

We call upon States to recognize, respect and guarantee the effective implementation of international human rights standards and the rights of indigenous peoples, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples under ILO Convention 169, among other relevant instruments in the negotiations, policies and measures used to meet the challenges posed by climate change. In particular, we call upon States to give legal recognition to claims over territories, lands and natural resources to enable and strengthen our traditional ways of life and contribute effectively to solving climate change.

We demand the full and effective implementation of the right to consultation, participation and prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples in all negotiation processes, and in the design and implementation of measures related to climate change.

Environmental degradation and climate change are currently reaching critical levels, and one of the main consequences of this is domestic and international migration. According to projections, there were already about 25 million climate migrants by 1995. Current estimates are around 50 million, and projections suggest that between 200 million and 1 billion people will become displaced by situations resulting from climate change by the year 2050.

Developed countries should assume responsibility for climate migrants, welcoming them into their territories and recognizing their fundamental rights through the signing of international conventions that provide for the definition of climate migrant and require all States to abide by abide by determinations.

Establish an International Tribunal of Conscience to denounce, make visible, document, judge and punish violations of the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced persons within countries of origin, transit and destination, clearly identifying the responsibilities of States, companies and other agents.

Current funding directed toward developing countries for climate change and the proposal of the Copenhagen Accord are insignificant. In addition to Official Development Assistance and public sources, developed countries must commit to a new annual funding of at least 6% of GDP to tackle climate change in developing countries. This is viable considering that a similar amount is spent on national defense, and that 5 times more have been put forth to rescue failing banks and speculators, which raises serious questions about global priorities and political will. This funding should be direct and free of conditions, and should not interfere with the national sovereignty or self-determination of the most affected communities and groups.

In view of the inefficiency of the current mechanism, a new funding mechanism should be established at the 2010 Climate Change Conference in Mexico, functioning under the authority of the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and held accountable to it, with significant representation of developing countries, to ensure compliance with the funding commitments of Annex 1 countries.

It has been stated that developed countries significantly increased their emissions in the period from 1990 to 2007, despite having stated that the reduction would be substantially supported by market mechanisms.

The carbon market has become a lucrative business, commodifying our Mother Earth. It is therefore not an alternative to tackling climate change, as it loots and ravages the land, water, and even life itself.

The recent financial crisis has demonstrated that the market is incapable of regulating the financial system, which is fragile and uncertain due to speculation and the emergence of intermediary brokers. Therefore, it would be totally irresponsible to leave in their hands the care and protection of human existence and of our Mother Earth.

We consider inadmissible that current negotiations propose the creation of new mechanisms that extend and promote the carbon market, for existing mechanisms have not resolved the problem of climate change nor led to real and direct actions to reduce greenhouse gases. It is necessary to demand fulfillment of the commitments assumed by developed countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regarding development and technology transfer, and to reject the "technology showcase" proposed by developed countries that only markets technology. It is essential to establish guidelines in order to create a multilateral and multidisciplinary mechanism for participatory control, management, and evaluation of the exchange of technologies. These technologies must be useful, clean and socially sound. Likewise, it is fundamental to establish a fund for the financing and inventory of technologies that are appropriate and free of intellectual property rights. Patents, in particular, should move from the hands of private monopolies to the public domain in order to promote accessibility and low costs.

Knowledge is universal, and should for no reason be the object of private property or private use, nor should its application in the form of technology. Developed countries have a responsibility to share their technology with developing countries, to build research centers in developing countries for the creation of technologies and innovations, and defend and promote their development and application for "living well." The world must recover and re-learn ancestral principles and approaches from native peoples to stop the destruction of the planet, as well as promote ancestral practices, knowledge and spirituality to recuperate the capacity for "living well" in harmony with Mother Earth.

Considering the lack of political will on the part of developed countries to effectively comply with commitments and obligations assumed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and given the lack of a legal international organism to guard against and sanction climate and environmental crimes that violate the Rights of Mother Earth and humanity, we demand the creation of an International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal that has the legal capacity to prevent, judge and penalize States, industries and people that by commission or omission contaminate and provoke climate change, [and where?] Supporting States [can?] present claims at the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal against developed countries that fail to comply with commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol including commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

We urge peoples to propose and promote deep reform within the United Nations, so that all member States comply with the decisions of the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal.

The future of humanity is in danger, and we cannot allow a group of leaders from developed countries to decide for all countries as they tried unsuccessfully to do at the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. This decision concerns us all. Thus, it is essential to carry out a global referendum or popular consultation on climate change in which all are consulted regarding the following issues; the level of emission reductions on the part of developed countries and transnational corporations, financing to be offered by developed countries, the creation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal, the need for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and the need to change the current capitalist system. The process of a global referendum or popular consultation will depend on process of preparation that ensures the successful development of the same.

In order to coordinate our international action and implement the results of this "Accord of the Peoples," we call for the building of a Global People's Movement for Mother Earth, which should be based on the principles of complementarity and respect for the diversity of origin and visions among its members, constituting a broad and democratic space for coordination and joint worldwide actions.

To this end, we adopt the attached global plan of action so that in Mexico, the developed countries listed in Annex 1 respect the existing legal framework and reduce their greenhouse gases emissions by 50%, and that the different proposals contained in this Agreement are adopted.

Finally, we agree to undertake a Second World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2011 as part of this process of building the Global People's Movement for Mother Earth and reacting to the outcomes of the Climate Change Conference to be held at the end of this year in Cancun, Mexico.

(Photo courtesy of GCAP: Global Call to Action Against Poverty.)

26 April 2010

A Cautionary Tale: Debriefing the Bolivia Climate Conference

Well, the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth is now over and its success is being dissected by participants from all corners of the globe. I've been talking with fellow participants from North America, and have learned something important.

There is a climate change campaign that (to not name names) is named after a number between 349 and 351. If I understand correctly, this number was chosen because a climate scientist was asked how many parts per million of carbon dioxide could ensure our survival, and off the cuff he mentioned that number between 349 and 351.

Now, you remember that Upton Sinclair quote from An Inconvenient Truth? "It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it"? Well, there are lots of people now so tied into this campaign that promotes getting down to between 349 and 351 ppm that they cannot conceive of — and refused until the last minute here at this conference to support — setting an even lower target of 300 ppm, which is part of the official position of Bolivia.

Imagine coming all the way to Bolivia and not supporting Bolivia's position, which is the only one backed by the science and the only one presented to date that has any hope of safeguarding our future — and not wanting to publicly back it simply because your campaign is already in place. What a betrayal! What a lack of compassion for those who are going to be devastated first by climate catastrophe!

This admittedly highly successful social media campaign has become such a brand that its proponents are not willing to let it go. Are they willing to sell out future generations so that they don't have to use their imaginations and creativity to "rebrand" their brand and start calling for 300 ppm (or even pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide)?

It was a lesson for me in the importance of being open to what's right, instead of what's easy. Which I suppose is what our whole climate change fight is all about!

21 April 2010

Why the Bolivian 1ºC climate change position is the only one for the survival of the Global South and for the food security of the entire world

We are here in Bolivia at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. There are several of us from Canada representing Canadians for Action on Climate Change. Here is the English version of Dr. Peter Carter's paper on the importance of the Bolivian climate change position, the only position — put forward by any country — that has scientific and ethical integrity. Why the Bolivian government 1ºC climate change position is the only position for the survival of the Global South and for the food security of the entire world In 2007 the largest global environmental assessment by hundreds of scientists called the Fourth Global Environmental Assessment of the United Nations Environment Program was published. It stated that now global climate change threatens the "very survival of humanity." Only one national leader has said the same thing and that is Bolivia’s Evo Morales last December at the Copenhagen UN Climate Conference. The Bolivian climate change position:
  • The global average temperature increase of the surface of planet Earth must be limited to 1°C.
  • Therefore, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration must be limited (which means reduced) to 300 parts per million (ppm).
  • Industrialized nations must stop emitting carbon. This means a total redevelopment to convert to clean, perpetual and zero carbon energy for all people. What a wonderful idea!
  • The industrialized nations must extract "billions of tons" of carbon dioxide directly from the air. The fact is that climate change science has totally established that only zero carbon emissions, supplemented by the extraction of carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, can lead to the reduction of today’s catastrophically high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (390 ppm) and stop it from increasing further. This is the best kept secret of the industrialized nations, because it is a scientific fact that has been known for many years yet ignored.
The most important numbers in the world are 1°C and 0 carbon emissions. Without zero carbon emissions, no other numbers can happen, except higher and higher numbers, leading inevitably to climate catastrophe. (See OnlyZeroCarbon.org)
Why is the 1°C limit, which has been proposed only by the government of Bolivia, the only way the Global South can survive global climate change and essential for world food security? Isn’t northern hemisphere agriculture going to be fine?
Global warming and the disruption of the climate caused by greenhouse gas emissions will lead to declining production of the world’s grains. The powerful nations have given little attention to the effects of global climate change policy for agriculture and food security, on the absurd basis that their farmers will have to adapt to the changing climate. As any rural farmer knows, agricultural success depends on a stable climate, predictable seasons, and the absence of droughts, severe storms, floods, and plagues of weeds and insect pests. These and more are all changes that will predictably and increasingly happen under any continuing global warming and climate change, firstly in the most vulnerable Global South.
What do the agricultural / climate change computer model numbers say? This data is found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment (2007). For the Global South, the production of their main grains would decline starting at a 1°C increase of our planet’s surface temperature. Developing nations must have a 1°C global temperature limit for their survival. At a 2ºC global average temperature increase from 1900, the models project a 25% to 30% yield reduction for countries in the Global South!
Also at +1°C, world food production is "threatened" with decline (IPCC WG2 Technical Report) and so the entire world must have the 1°C temperature limit for climate safety and food security.
With a 2ºC increase, food production will decline in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the 2007 IPCC assessment noted that food decline in the northern hemisphere at 2ºC was stated in the 2001 IPCC assessment! (IPCC WG2 Technical Report)
It is therefore proven that all the people of the world must fight to reject the +2°C policy target and fight for the Bolivian +1ºC global temperature limit for food security. The people will be told by their governments (with the sole exception of the Bolivian government) and by many international organizations (who support the +2ºC limit) that +1ºC is impossible and not economically feasible. The people must respond that this is not true (the economics is fatally flawed), and even if it were true, it is no reason to still "aim" for +2ºC increase and to not even try for a limit of 1°C — and our survival.
(Dr. Peter Carter is a retired physician and environmental health research analyst from Canada.)

20 April 2010

More from the Climate Conference in Bolivia

Thought I would share the submission of my husband, Dr. Peter Carter, well and duly translated into Spanish! I will post the English version soon ... this conference is filled to the brim, and I have just stopped into a little internet cafe to post this.

Sólo el gobierno de Bolivia tiene los números correctos para que el Hemisferio Sur, y de hecho el mundo entero, sobreviva al cambio climático global
por Peter D. Carter, MD (Canadá)

Escribo desde la encantadora ciudad boliviana de Cochabamba que es la anfitriona para más de 10.000 personas en forma gratuita, para lo que será sin duda la mayor conferencia mundial sobre el cambio de clima. Llegué aqui con anticipación para acostumbrarme a la altura porque yo vivo a solo unos cuantos metros por encima del nivel del mar en Canadá.

Cochabamba y el gobierno de Bolivia son los anfitriones de más de 10.000 participantes a la conferencia, haciendo de esta ciertamente la más grande conferencia sobre cambio climático en todo el mundo. También es la más importante debido a la posición formal sobre cambio climático ante las Naciones Unidas del gobierno de Evo Morales y porque el tema en cuestión es la supervivencia de la humanidad.

En 2007 se publicó la mayor evaluación sobre el medio ambiente global redactada por cientos de científicos, llamada la Cuarta Evaluación Ambiental Global (GEO-4) del Programa Medio Ambiental de las Naciones Unidas. Esta publicación estableció que ahora el cambio climático global es una amenaza para la "propia supervivencia de la humanidad". Sólo un líder nacional ha declarado lo mismo y este fue Evo Morales de Bolivia el pasado mes de diciembre en la Conferencia Climática de la Naciones Unidas en Copenhagen.

La posición formal sobre cambio climático del gobierno boliviano es única entre los gobiernos del mundo e incluso entre las organizaciones internacionales. Esto se debe a que es singularmente honesta. Aunque se diseñó para proteger la supervivencia y los medios de vida de todos los bolivianos, ocurre que esta política es la única posición que coincide con la ciencia del cambio climático, sin ningún compromiso político o económico. Por lo tanto es la única posición que podría evitar la devastación a nivel mundial debido al cambio climático global. Tal como dijo el embajador boliviano Pablo Solón ante la ONU, el cambio climático global es el único tema en el cual no se puede ser flexible.

Cuál es esta posición única sobre el cambio climático del gobierno de Bolivia? Aquí está:

1. El aumento promedio global de la temperatura de la superficie del planeta Tierra debe estar limitado a 1°C y por lo tanto …

2. La concentración atmosférica de dióxido de carbono debe ser limitada (lo cual significa reducida) a 300 partes por millón (ppm).

3. Las naciones industrializadas deben dejar de emitir carbono. Esto significa una replanificación total para la conversión hacia una energía limpia, perpétua y de cero carbono para todos los pueblos. ¡Qué idea más maravillosa!

4. Las naciones industrializadas deben extraer "miles de millones de toneladas" de dióxido de carbono directamente del aire. El hecho es que la ciencia del cambio climático ha establecido totalmente que sólo las emisiones cero de carbono, complementadas por la extracción del dióxido de carbono directamente de la atmósfera, puede llevarnos a una reducción del actual catastrófico nivel de dióxido de carbono en la atmósfera (390 ppm) y evitar que aumente aún más. Este es el secreto mejor guardado de los países industrializados, porque es un hecho científico que se conoce desde hace muchos años y aún sigue siendo ignorado.

Ningún otro gobierno u organización internacional tiene una posición que incluya por lo menos uno de estos cuatro puntos.

¿Por qué es tan catastróficamente alta la concentración actual de dióxido de carbono (CO2)? La ciencia del cambio climático ha establecido que la concentración de CO2 en la atmósfera es la más alta de los últimos 15 millones de años y, tal como lo estableció la Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica de los Estados Unidos (NOAA) el año pasado, "probablemente es la más alta de los últimos 20 millones de años". NOAA dijo que la acidificación del océano debido a todo este carbono en la atmósfera es la más alta en 20 millones de años.

El veinte por ciento de todo el dióxido de carbono que ha sido emitido a la atmósfera se va a quedar ahí, calentando el planeta durante los próximos 1000 años. Por lo tanto los poderosos y ricos países industrializados no solo deberán de dejar de añadir más CO2 a la atmósfera, sino que tendrán que eliminar, como dice el Presidente Morales, los miles de millones de toneladas de dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera.

Las cifras más importantes para la humanidad son 1°C y 0 emisiones de carbono. Sin cero emisiones de carbono, no pueden surgir otros números, excepto números más y más altos que nos llevarán a una catástrofe climática.

Por qué el límite de 1°C, que ha sido propuesto sólo por el gobierno de Bolivia, es la única manera en que la humanidad puede sobrevivir al cambio climático global?

Una razón importante es la seguridad alimentaria. El calentamiento global y la alteración del clima causado por las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero conducirán a la disminución de la producción de granos del mundo. Las naciones poderosas le han prestado poca atención a los efectos del cambio climático global en la agricultura, sobre la base absurda de que sus agricultores tendrán que adaptarse a los cambios climáticos. Como cualquier campesino sabe, el éxito en la agricultura depende de un clima estable, épocas previsibles, y la ausencia de sequías, tormentas severas, inundaciones y plagas de malezas e insectos nocivos. Estos y otros más son los cambios que previsiblemente sucederán y cada vez más con el incremento continuo del calentamiento global y el cambio climático, especialmente en el muy vulnerable Hemisferio Sur.

Otra parte de la respuesta al 1°C se encuentra en lo que dicen los datos ignorados del modelo informatizado agrícola y de cambio climático. Estos datos se encuentran en el Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos del Cuarto Informe de Evaluación sobre Cambio Climático (2007). Para el hemisferio sur, la producción de sus principales granos se reduciría a partir de un aumento de 1°C de temperatura de la superficie de nuestro planeta. Las naciones en desarrollo deben tener como límite el aumento de 1°C de temperatura global para su supervivencia. ¡Con un aumento de 2°C de temperatura, los modelos proyectan una reducción entre el 25% al 30% del rendimiento para los países en el Hemisferio Sur!

También con un incremento de más de 1°C, la producción mundial de alimentos se verá "amenazada" con una reducción y es por esto que todo el mundo debe tener el límite de 1°C de temperatura para la seguridad climática y la seguridad alimentaria. Con un aumento de 2°C, la producción de alimentos se reducirá en el hemisferio norte. ¡En los hechos la evaluación de la IPCC del 2007 notó que la disminución de los alimentos al norte del Ecuador a 2°C fue establecida en la evaluación de la IPCC del 2001!

Por lo tanto, la verdad de la ciencia del cambio climático ha probado que los pueblos del mundo deben luchar para rechazar la meta de la politica de los +2°C y luchar por el límite que Bolivia propone, de un máximo de 1°C para el aumento de la temperatura global. Los gobiernos les dirán a sus pueblos (con la única excepción del gobierno de Bolivia) y también muchas organizaciones internacionales (que apoyan el límite de los +2°C) dirán que el 1°C es imposible y no es viable económicamente. El pueblo tiene que responder que esto no es cierto, e incluso si fuera cierto, que este no es motivo para seguir "apoyando" el objetivo de +2°C y que ni siquiera debemos intentar el límite de 1°C y la supervivencia.

Sólo existe un líder en el mundo hoy en día sobre el cambio climático mundial. Este líder es el presidente boliviano, Evo Morales.

El Dr. Peter Carter es un médico jubilado y analista de investigación en salud ambiental de Canadá.

17 April 2010

Our Children Deserve Compassion, Not a Cavalier Wait-and-See Attitude

As some of you know, I try hard to not read comments on climate change and climate science blogs and websites, but sometimes succumb. I'm glad I did this time, because something has finally become quite clear to me — and that is the uncompassionate "reasoning" that underlies the deniers' demand that they be allowed to not believe in the impacts of climate change.

Here's how one such person put it recently in response to an article on Grist called Tea Party supporters far less informed about climate change than general public:
The point you are missing is climate science is NOT a hard science when it comes to predicting the consequences of any warming. All of these predictions are extremely dependent on the economic assumptions made and there is no reason to believe that any of the scenarios used have any connection to what will actually happen.

My reference to the economic studies simply illustrates that it is wrong to claim that AGW will be catastrophe. It could be. We could have a pandemic or an asteroid strike too. But we cannot know and reasonable people can disagree and it is wrong to claim that people who reject the catastrophe meme are 'uninformed.'

Do you see why I keep calling for compassion? I haven't often said (or even implied) it, but I am saying that our culture relies too much on the head, on reason — and not enough on the heart. Indeed, people like this aren't even willing to use their eyes!

This fellow is right that some climate "science" isn't hard science. That's the modelling mainly (more math and statistics and mucking about with computers, it seems to me ;-) — which is constantly being shown to be underestimating what is going to happen, especially since much of what was predicted is already happening! For example, some of the climate change models don't include feedbacks or synergistic effects or even biological/ecological considerations. But the other science — the laws of physics that tell us the atmosphere will continue to warm as long as we're pumping greenhouse gases into it — that is hard science. We cannot escape the laws of the universe.

The precautionary principle therefore tells us to approach this uncertain certainty (it is NOT certain uncertainty), not with the cavalier "and an asteroid could strike us, too," but with "if there's any risk at all to our children and their future, we should be doing all we can to avoid this catastrophe."

Please, folks, let's keep the children in our hearts, and our hearts at the centre of all our deliberations on global climate change.

Disclaimer: I am not American, so I don't really understand the terms Tea Party and Tea Baggers. I used to have tea parties with my dolls when I was a girl, and my British husband could probably be called a tea bagger, he likes his tea so much. But I haven't followed US events well enough to explain these terms to those not familiar with them.

Lovely photo by Darren Minke.