Planet Earth

Earth from Space, originally uploaded by …:::evri2:::….

Larger here.

Not exactly from the photosphere but it’s out there and I figured it was appropriate given what’s been going on today

And here’s a live version of Space Oddity by David Bowie to accompany the pic.

Al Gore, who has been a climate change campaigner since he ‘lost’ the US presidential election in 2000, has asked people to commit to a 7-point pledge:

• To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next 2 years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth.

• To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become carbon neutral.

• To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2.

• To work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school, place of worship, and means of transportation.

• To fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on oil and coal.

• To plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests.

• To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.

On one level, it seems like a totally unrealistic scheme. Nevertheless, most scientists would agree that this level of change is necessary if we are to stop the worst from happening.

The problem with natural systems is that they are not linear and predictable. Most scientists believe that there is a climatic tipping point beyond which we will witness step changes, as ‘positive feedback’ processes magnify outcomes dramatically. If we continue with business as usual, the current consensus is that we will reach this tipping point within 20-30 years. After that point it will be too late – once you open Pandora’s Box, you cannot put the lid back on. It’s hard to imagine the stakes being any higher or the timing any tighter.

Live Earth began with a message from the Aboriginal peoples of Australia:

In Africa, there is a proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We have to go far – quickly.

Here’s Gore’s Live Earth speech in full.

Below an excerpt from the highly influential Stern Review:

The scientific evidence on the causes and future paths of climate change is strengthening all the time. In particular, scientists are now able to attach probabilities to the temperature outcomes and impacts on the natural environment associated with different levels of stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Scientists also now understand much more about the potential for dynamic feedbacks that have, in previous times of climate change, strongly amplified the underlying physical processes.

The stocks of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and a number of gases that arise from industrial processes) are rising, as a result of human activity.

The current level or stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is equivalent to around 430 parts per million (ppm) CO2, compared with only 280ppm before the Industrial Revolution. These concentrations have already caused the world to warm by more than half a degree Celsius and will lead to at least a further half degree warming over the next few decades, because of the inertia in the climate system.

Even if the annual flow of emissions did not increase beyond today’s rate, the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would reach double pre-industrial levels by 2050 – that is 550ppm CO2e – and would continue growing thereafter. But the annual flow of emissions is accelerating, as fast-growing economies invest in high-carbon infrastructure and as demand for energy and transport increases around the world. The level of 550ppm CO2e could be reached as early as 2035. At this level there is at least a 77% chance – and perhaps up to a 99% chance, depending on the climate model used – of a global average temperature rise exceeding 2°C.

Of course, nobody knows for sure where the tipping point is in relation to temperature or greenhouse gas concentrations. But it’s like Russian Roulette – if you push your luck, sooner or later the inevitable will happen.

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