Newsletter #16 - July 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 #16 - For earlier ones see the archive.

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Garnaut Climate Change Review – Ross Garnaut
The Review has been commissioned by Australia's Commonwealth, state and territory governments to examine the impacts, challenges and opportunities of climate change for Australia. The Final Report is due by 30 September 2008.
For the international community this is the most important report for an understanding of our situation since the later IPCC and Stern reports. He bit the basic issue when he wrote “there can be a low-emissions future for coal … that follows from Australia’s role as the world’s largest exporter of coal and the central place of coal in growth in emissions from Asian developing countries.”

Scientists warn that there may be no ice at North Pole this summer – Steve Connor    
It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year. Scientific report by Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, from The Independent. .
Can we hope that this might be the shock that gets the governments off their slow wagon and into being real leaders for the threatened human species of this earth?

Antarctic ice shelf 'hanging by a thread' - news service
A thin strip of ice, just 6 kilometres wide, is all that is holding back the collapse of a huge ice shelf in the Wilkins ice shelf. 16,000 square kilometres in area, it has been disintegrating fast David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey, believes it could be gone within weeks. "The ice shelf is hanging by a thread – we'll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be," and says the effects of warming now look irreversible.

Methane release from gas hydrates during the paleocene-eocene thermal maximum – Gerald Dickens (Rice University)
This formidable title is worth reading. Go straight to page 9 to 12 – this is why scientists are terrified of the clathrates on the ocean floor, as a small increase of ocean temperatures would start releasing the largest concentration of methane on the planet. This has happened before and added many degrees to whatever heat levelCO2e had already taken the earth to. At that time 90% of all living creatures were killed.

Has the world cooled since 1998? - Robert Fawcett
For any concerned with deniers assertions that the planet has actually cooled over the past decade, here is an in-depth study from the National Climate Centre that discusses the impact of the El Nino cycle. You will need to scroll through to the article on pages 141-48. Also discussed on

New Cars in California Must Display Global Warming Score – GreenBiz report
California is making it mandatory for cars to be labelled with global warming scores. The law goes into effect at the start of next year for all 2009 model cars with a global warming score, on a scale of one to 10.
California does it again – what a contrast between state laws and federa!. Here in NSW we suffer from the opposite!

Biofuels send food costs soaring: report - Aditya Chakrabortty
Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75%. This is far more than previously estimated. The damning, unpublished, World Bank assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far. The figure contradicts the US claim that biofuels contribute less than 3% to food price rises. The report was completed in April, but not published for political reasons.

The Dangers of Plastic Bags – National Geographic News
Food comes so often in plastic bags. Up to a trillion bags are consumed each year. It costs more to recycle a bag than to make it. This presentation shows where they go.

Global Food Crisis, Global Turning Point? - Jeffrey Allen
Occasionally, will put out an alert when many of the NGOs we work with are taking on a breaking issue. Over the past year, we've done this for the crisis in Kenya, Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, and the earthquake that struck Peru in August. But this week's alert on the growing global food crisis is perhaps the most worrying one we've ever sent.
There are indications that the causes of this crisis, which is now hitting every region of the world, are systemic, and that it may not subside without a concerted rethink of global economic and environmental systems.

Trawlermen cling on as oceans empty of fish – George Monbiot
The oil price now seems to be the only factor which offers a glimmer of hope to the world's marine ecosystems. No east Asian government was prepared to conserve the stocks of tuna; now one-third of the tuna boats in Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea will stay in dock for the next few months because they can't afford to sail. The unsustainable quotas set on the US Pacific seaboard won't be met this year, because the price of oil is rising faster than the price of fish. The indefinite strike called by Spanish fishermen is the best news European fisheries have had for years. They warn that their industry could collapse within a year. Hurray to that too.

Prepare for a barrage of heatwaves – CSIRO report July 2008-07-07
Australia is in for a tenfold increase in heat waves as climate change sends the mercury soaring. A report by the nation's top scientists has found exceptionally hot years - which used to occur once every 22 years - will occur every one or two years. Under the worst case scenario, every year would be exceptionally hot.
There will be a rush for sir conditioning plants in homes and factories, all using more power (and therefore coal) unless a condition of installation is that they are driven from solar panels.

Carbon captured but long way to go - Kim Powell
Carbon dioxide has been captured at a power station for the first time in Australia but it will take another 17 years before it's commercially viable, says the CSIRO.
Just do the figures: Coal produces 80%of all emissions. Emissions are increasing at 2+% per year. 17 years from now that will add almost 50% more pollution. So 3-4C will then be the inevitable temperature. And this assumes that every power station in the world will install this equipment immediately. CSIRO has shown that in real terms carbon capture is a myth. There is only one solution – leave coal where nature put it: in the ground!