Newsletter #14 - June 2008 for the Crisis Coalition at


What is a Footprint?

Comparison of US and Australian ecological footprints with African. Every Australian puts 26.5 tons of CO2-e into the atmosphere every year, every American puts 23.6 tons and most Africans a lot less than 1 ton each.

FOOTPRINTS Newsletter #14 - For earlier ones see the archive.

The Crisis Coalition aims to raise awareness and to galvanise action.
For the latest information read this fully referenced report.

Two papers were issued from the conference I mentioned last time, “Living on a Greenhouse Earth”. They are the “Last Call” attached at the bottom of this letter, and the pdf on the program that may be obtained from

Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century - Johann Hari
Bangladesh, the most crowded nation on earth, is set to disappear under the waves by the end of this century – and we will be to blame. Johann Hari took a journey to see for himself how western profligacy and indifference have sealed the fate of 150 million people. He describes the spreading misery and destruction as the ocean claims their land

Australia pips US as world's fattest nation - AAP
There seems to be a direct correlation between obesity and global footprints. Australia, with the largest personal footprint in the world, has just become “the heavy-weight champions” over the United States.

Climate Change, National Security and ethics - John James
This is the core research on global warming, the proof that 2 degrees is inevitable, and the enormous ethical issues that are implied. These need to be discussed now if we are to make rational decisions rather than knee-jerk reactions.

Solar future brightens as oil soars – Ashley Seager
Soaring oil prices have led to such a boom for solar power that the industry could operate without subsidies in just a few years. At the recent solar industry trade fair in Munich, there was growing confidence that the holy grail known as "grid parity" - whereby electricity from the sun can be produced as cheaply as it can be bought from the grid - is now just a few years away.

China's Wind Power Industry: Blowing Past Expectations - Lou Schwartz & Ryan Hodum
At the end of 2007, China's installed base of wind power totalled just over 6 gigawatts (GW), making China the fifth largest producer of wind power, after Germany, the U.S., Spain and India. It is estimated that by 2010, the total installed capacity will reach 20 GW and that by 2020 China it will total 100 GW.

Mother Earth's Triple Whammy - John Feffer
Gas prices are above $4 a gallon; global food prices surged 39% last year; and an environmental disaster looms as carbon emissions continue to spiral upward. The global economy appears on the verge of a triple whammy from energy, agriculture, and climate-change. Right now you may be grumbling about the extra bucks you’re shelling out at the pump and the grocery store; but, unless policymakers begin to address all three of these trends as one major crisis, it could get a whole lot worse

Ice cores map dynamics of sudden climate changes – Neils Bohr Institute
New, extremely detailed data from investigations of ice cores from Greenland show that the ice age ended very suddenly. "We have analysed the transition from the last glacial till our present warm interglacial period, and the climatic shifts are happening so suddenly as if somebody had pushed a button"

Even The Antarctic Winter Cannot Protect Wilkins Ice Shelf – Science Daily 14-6-08
Wilkins Ice Shelf has experienced further break-up with an area of about 160 km² breaking off from in one day. This is a broad plate of floating ice on the Antarctic Peninsula.


Last Call on Climate Change

A statement from the 2008 Manning Clark House Conference: “Imagining the Real: Life on a Greenhouse Earth”, 11-12 June, Australian National University.

“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.

[Approved by the delegates of the conference, 12 June 2008]

Professor Barry Brook
Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change and Director of the Research
Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, University of Adelaide.
Ph: 0420 958 400; email:

Dr Geoff Davies
Senior Fellow and geophysicist, Australian National University. Author of
Economia: New Economic Systems to Empower People and Support the Living World
(ABC Books, 2004).
Ph: 02 6125 4517 (w); 02 6254 3768 (h); email:

Dr Andrew Glikson
Visiting Fellow, Research School of Earth Science and Planetary Science Institute, Australian National University.
Ph: 61 2 6125 0563

Sebastian Clark, President, Manning Clark House. Ph: 02 6295 9433;