Imagining life on a greenhouse earth

What will life on earth be like if the severe greenhouse conditions predicted for the next few centuries come true? That’s the question addressed at a multi-disciplinary conference recently hosted by the University.

Imagining the Real:

Life on a Greenhouse Earth was a two-day conference organised by Manning Clark House in honour of Dr Barry Jones, one of the many speakers at the event. Over the course of its two days a wide range of climate scientists, politicians, environmental lawyers, health and population experts and earth and pre-history scientists analysed how we got to where we are and what the implications for life on earth will be from climate change.

The delegates released the following statement at the conference’s conclusion.

“Citizens have come together with scientists in Canberra to consider global warming. We are shocked by the urgency of the situation,” said former Federal Science Minister Barry Jones, in whose honour the conference was held.

Global warming is accelerating. The Arctic summer sea ice is expected to melt entirely within the next 5 years,­ decades earlier than predicted in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report.

Scientists judge the risks to humanity of dangerous global warming to be high. The loss of the Great Barrier Reef now seems likely. Extreme weather events, such as storm surges adding to rising sea levels and threatening coastal cities, will become more frequent.

There is a real danger that we have reached or will soon reach critical tipping points and the future will be taken out of our hands. The melting Arctic sea ice could be the first such tipping point.

Beyond 2ºC of warming, seemingly inevitable unless greenhouse gas reduction targets are tightened, we risk huge human and societal costs, and perhaps even the effective end of industrial civilisation. We need to cease our assault on our own life support system, and that of millions of species. Global warming is only one of many symptoms of that assault.

Peak oil, global warming and long term sustainability pressures all require that we reduce energy needs and switch to renewable energy sources. Many credible studies show that Australia can quickly and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and by increasing our investment in solar, wind and other renewable sources.

The need for action is extremely urgent and our window of opportunity for avoiding severe impacts is rapidly closing. Yet the obstacles to change are not technical or economic, they are political and social.

We know democratic societies have responded successfully to dire and immediate threats, as was demonstrated in World War II. This is a last call for an effective response to global warming.

See: http://news.anu.edu.au/?p=434














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