climate treaty now

People of the World, Unite: Climate Treaty Now.

Month: April, 2012

Writing the Letter- Feedback from James Hansen

Back a few weeks ago when we were writing the draft petition, we sent it to James Hansen, NASA scientist who has emerged as the possibly most vocal scientist in the world working to address the climate change situation.

We ended up using the final draft of the petition that he sent back, but leaving out one crucial paragraph, below:

“We urge you to consider the carbon tax proposal put forth by Dr. James Hansen, a reasonable and effective strategy for limiting climate change gases and providing funds for stimulating the development of green energy.”

While we think this is an idea worth considering, we thought it would be best and most inclusive of the message to leave the door open to all options rather than recommending specific political and economic actions.

We are very interested in YOUR thoughts on how to get from here to 350.

Let us know! Petition is Now Live! Please sign!

Please  sign the petition at . There is no single more important work we can do in this lifetime. The future of the Earth itself is at stake!

Climate Change due to human causes is having a major effect on our ability to grow food, creating droughts and desertification, and making life more and more difficult for humans and other living beings on the planet. Join people around the world in letting world leaders know that we are worried about climate change and that we want our governments to work together to slow it down and reverse it.

Also, check out our Charter Signatories, individuals and organizations who have come together to help kick off this crucial grassroots effort:

What Causes Climate Change?

This summary of the issues by Brennan Jorgensen explains why we need to do something, NOW:

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the
atmosphere has increased 40% after remaining relatively static for hundreds of thousands of years. In fact right now, carbon dioxide levels at 390 ppm are at the highest ever recorded in at least 800,000 years according to air samples retrieved from polar ice cores.

Currently, human activities largely revolving around the combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, and other activities are emitting CO2 at over 135-times the natural volcanic background rate, according to the U.S. Geological Survey:

Why are carbon emissions such a concern?

Like other greenhouse gases such as water vapor and methane, these molecules have the property of absorbing long wave (heat) radiation that primarily comes from the sun.

When infrared radiation strikes molecules such as carbon dioxide and methane it causes the bonds to bend and vibrate. This is called the absorption of IR energy and the molecule gains kinetic energy.

This extra kinetic energy is then transmitted to other molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen that make up the bulk of the atmosphere and it causes a “greenhouse effect” or warming of the atmosphere. While the largest greenhouse gas, water vapor, has remained relatively constant over the last century both carbon dioxide and methane continue to rise at a rapid pace due to human activities.

What evidence is there that carbon emissions are causing the atmosphere to warm? Direct weather observation has been the most revealing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that all 11 years of the 21st century so far (2001–2011) rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year period of weather records even though the single largest source of radiative forcing, incoming solar radiation, has been declining from the sun over the last several decades;

“NASA researchers updated calculations of the Earth’s energy imbalance, which is the
difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by the Earth’s surface and the amount returned to space as heat. They found that despite unusually low solar activity from 2005 to 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy (half a watt more per square meter) than it returned to space during that time period.”

That the atmosphere traps half a watt (6/10th to be exact) more energy per square metermay not seem like much to worry about but really is a tremendous amount of heat. According to NASA researchers, it is the equivalent of releasing the energy of some 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs every day 365 days a year.

Imagine if a terrorist were found to be releasing the energy equivalent of 400,000 atomic bombs a day into the atmosphere? We would have global national security crises on a magnitude not seen since World War II.

To put this in another perspective, the last greatest episode of geological global warming called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) lasted 20,000 years and witnessed an estimated global temperature rise upwards of some 6 degrees Celsius during that time interval about 55 million years ago:

We are now emitting carbon emissions at 10 times the rate of the PETM episode, we are projected to ascend the temperature equivalent of a PETM in just one century which would be catastrophic for civilization in terms unacceptably extreme weather disasters.

Scientists and policy makers have already estimated that any global temperature increase approaching 2 degrees Celsius would be pushing civilization to the brink. This is why it is so important to reduce are carbon emissions now us and the safeguarding of future generations.