Newsletter #17 - August 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 #17 - For earlier ones see the archive.

The Crisis Coalition aims to raise awareness and to galvanise action.
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My comments are in italics.


"If there is no action before 2012, then that's too late. What we do in the next two or three years will determine our future." Comment by none less than the IPCC Chairman, Mr. Rajendra Pachauri


Rising temperatures bring their own CO2 – Peter Cox in New Scientist
Since further global warming is inevitable in the near future, global warming will be boosted about 50% above climate projections because they include only the effect of CO2 on temperature, and not temperature's effect on CO2 now stored in trees and oceans. Each 1°C of warming will by itself raise CO2 levels by an extra 40ppm.
See also (the original report) where it is argued that increased temperature will by itself increase the CO2 level that caused the increase in the first place. In other words, heat will of itself generate more greenhouse gasses and speed up the process – a feedback loop of astonishing importance.
If proved correct, this may be the most devastating report yet issued for our future, for as 2C is now inevitable the extra 80ppm would jump our over-populated planet into uncharted territory. For consequent emission of methane from Siberia see

Closer look shows southeast will see more scorchers – The Australian,25197,24068155-11949,00.html
Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney will blister in temperatures of more than 50C by 2050 as global warming reduces rainfall which reduces evaporation – and if there's less evaporation, the land surface becomes hotter without evaporative cooling.
How many of us will survive this sort of heat? It looks like melting is inevitable. Its time to put away the toys, boys, and start being serious about the survival of our children.

2007 Global Trends: Refugees, June 2008
Available information suggests that a total of 67 million people had been forcibly displaced at the end of 2007. The vast majority of these refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries with over 80% remaining within their region of origin. Interesting maps.

Wetlands could unleash "carbon bomb" – Reuters
The world's wetlands are threatened by development, dehydration and climate change. They could release a "carbon bomb" if they are destroyed, because wetlands contain 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases, one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere.
Once again we see the consequences of an expanding population seeking more and more space to grow food and build cities. This is at the expense of many areas that may be marginal for agriculture but are essential for the health of the planet.

Major food source threatened by climate change – New Scientist
Rice is one of the world's most important food sources. It helps feed about half the globe's people. But yields in many areas will drop as the globe warms in future years, already noted in some areas with reductions of up to 14%.
With population rushing to 9 billion, and most of these in Asia, the news is not good. Can we create a new species of rice that will not decline in higher temperatures? And if we can, would it be tested and distributed in time? This is one more serious problem.

World Ports Commit to Reduce Emissions
Fifty-five ports from around the world agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions and boost air quality. Under the direction of the International Association of Ports and Harbours, they will explore ways of addressing emissions, including work on developing carbon footprints and a global indexing system that can be used to reward clean ships and punish polluters.

Scrapped coal plant would have cost taxpayers at least $175 million a year - David Robinson
State Power Authority officials said that, even after intense efforts over 18 months, the proposed 680-megawatt power plant at the Huntley Station would have required annual subsidies of $175 to $250 million.
This tells us the real cost of ‘clean coal’ and sequestration. A project scrapped because the technology is not yet proven and because it would have added about 50% to the cost of electricity. Calls for clean coal are PR myths, and this example suggests it would only happen with massive subsidies. We have to keep it in the ground!

Greenland ice lakes drain at speed of Niagara Fall – New Scientist
Lakes on the surface of Greenland's ice sheet are draining through the kilometre-thick ice and roaring to the bedrock with a flow rate exceeding that of Niagara Falls. With further global warming such meltwater would increase and have a catastrophic effect on the ice sheet, lubricating its base and making it slide quickly into the ocean.
What is sad is that we still don’t know all we need to know about melting glaciers, and governments are letting things drift just in case its going to be OK. This is not really a sanguine policy, especially if you consider the Neils Bohr Institute report in Footprints #14.

NYC speeds transformation of yellow cabs to green – Reuters
New York City's yellow taxi fleet now will go green at the rate of 300 new hybrid cars a month. There are already more than 1,300 hybrid taxis in the city, and each one saves its drivers about $6,500 a year.

New California law allows cities to give loans for energy-saving improvements – LA Times,0,5610957.story
California enacted a law that allows cities and counties to make low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses to install solar panels, high-efficiency air conditioners and other energy-saving improvements. They pay back the loans over decades through property taxes.

Mideast Facing Choice between Crops and Water – Andrew Martin
Global food shortages have placed the Middle East and North Africa in a quandary, as they are forced to choose between growing more crops to feed an expanding population and preserving their already scant supply of water. For decades nations in this region have drained aquifers, sucked the salt from seawater and diverted the mighty Nile to make the deserts bloom. But those projects were so costly and used so much water that it remained far more practical to import food than to produce it. Today, some countries import 90% of their staples.
A long article, but as population grows, a harbinger of the future.

An ongoing swindle – George Monbiot
If any of you feel you need to understand the lies and myths being spread by Exxon and others against the evidence I collect here, be patient and read this article by a man I admire greatly, and who wrote the best detailed analysis of what we can do, called “Heat”. These lies are making money for the big boys, and putting the rest of us in jeopardy.