Abrupt and extreme climate crisis requires all-out emergency mobilization
This is a call for General Mobilization. We must respond with our utmost will power and intention to mitigate the existing extreme climate emergency crisis.
Well-informed local citizens have carefully looked into rapidly escalating climate changes caused by excessive burning of fossil fuels. These changes are further aggravated by a multitude of other human activities that have together destabilized global climate. Among these are over-consumption and over-population beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. Infinite growth on a finite planet is logically impossible.
Dozens of feedback loops have been identified. “Positive” feedback loops in the climate context are vicious cycles of self-activating trends towards the irreversible runaway greenhouse. Several are taking hold. For instance, scientists in the field observe releases of massive amounts of methane gas from thawing tundra with an impact already equal to the greenhouse gases from all cars and trucks. And these releases are accelerating! Increases of only 5 degrees F of ocean bottom tem- perature can trigger trillions of tons of methane clathrates (lattice works of sediment-encrusted methane crystals) that can vaporize explosively. Average temperatures at the poles have already increased that much or more.
Denial and further delay only serve to deepen the extreme emergency leading growing numbers of people to believe the runaway greenhouse has already been irretrievably launched. We believe that there is truth in these views. We are left with only a glimmer of hope.
We believe with all our hearts, minds, and spirits that we are in imminent and present danger of losing all of humanity and millions of other species in a general abrupt climate collapse. Because the feedback loops and associated tipping points are recent discoveries, scientists are racing to update understandings on how evolution/ creation is unraveling. It is not fully known and we cannot wait until it is. Responsible caution demands all-out action NOW! We were taught a life that is not sustainable. Now we must create one that is, hoping we are not already too late!
We trust that individuals, groups, organizations, and civil society will understand the gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves as we now therefore declare an all-out mobilization. This means that all persons of sound mind and their representatives must with great haste and purpose find relevant existing emergency plans, or finding none of adequate depth and scope, immediately set about to envi- sion, create, and implement them at all levels of society. This can happen through the formation of tens of thousands of small and large community based groups each preparing for the inevitable long emergency in their own ways. The unleashing of prodigious energies from larger economic forces, such as government, corporations or great mass movements must supplement people power.
Three years ago, Al Gore’s brilliant Inconvenient Truth film suggested we might still have ten years in which to create a sufficiently low carbon footprint. Since then the news from the poles has only been alarming. We will be very lucky if we turn out to have until 2015 to make changes that procrastinators say we have until 2050 to achieve.
To achieve that reduced carbon level we must eliminate all burning of fossil fuels on a crash emergency basis. We must also focus on sequestering the carbon already in the atmosphere. This is especially important now, because we can no longer count on the oceans to continue being the effective carbon sinks that they once were. Up until the recent acidification of the oceans, which inhibits plankton, coral and shellfish growth, these myriad life forms were the principle CO2 absorbers. Absent these absorbers, CO2 and temperatures will spike in the atmosphere.
We must convert all agriculture to organic and permaculture standards. Research has determined that these systems of agriculture will sequester vast quantities of already released greenhouse gasses into the topsoil. Simultaneously organic and permaculture agriculture will dramatically increase soil productivity. We can further reduce the need for artificial fertilizers by using green cover crops. Save the remaining rain forests, plant trillions of trees, and nurture them! Maximize all energy conservation. We must create incentives to reign in population and consumption to live within the carrying capacity of the earth. If we take all reasonable measures as if life depends on their timely completion with due diligence and luck we may be able to avoid the dreaded runaway green-house. Evolve or die! That is our choice.
The aforementioned carbon footprint bars are very high, but no higher than they absolutely need to be. They need to be met or exceeded in order to respond meaningfully to the extreme climate crisis. They are well within the capability of humanity to achieve under the banner of survival. But we absolutely need to act immediately before time inexorably runs out. Even an all-out effort will not guarantee success, yet we must do our utmost to mitigate the worst. Extreme dislocations and disruptions should be expected. The longer we wait to mitigate the ecocide, the more difficult it will be to accomplish the essential complex tasks.
Can we cope with these unprecedented challenges or do we forsake ourselves and future generations before we really try? With ingenuity, bravery and unrelenting perseverance let us bring out the best in our collective and individual selves. Let this be our Finest Hour!
Godspeed! Bless us all! Mobilize Now!
Joris is a member of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities and International Climate Emergency.
(Published in the 2009 edition of Sustainable Lehigh Valley)