Newsletter #36 - July 2009 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.

For earlier Footprints visit the the archive.

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

Dear Friends

You may wonder why there has been no edition of Footprints since April. That’s a long time. The reason is that I dislike pushing the unwilling up the hill, and have been very aware that there has been a world-wide slide in news and public interest in global warming. The credit crunch took over, the deniers gained momentum funded by loads of cash, and now even those issues are sliding away to be replaced by easy-to-read nonsense. There will be a resurgence of awareness (of that I am certain), though we my have to wait for Gaia to present the impetus - as she will soon enough.

Let us not assume that the recent G8 decision to cut GHG emissions by 80% in 40 years has any relevance. Every country is planning to achieve this by hoisting a significant part of their pollution onto other countries by buying rights from overseas. But as every country seems to be planning this we have another Ponzy scheme, but this time with pollutants. You may like to read George Monbiot’s article.

It is time to act beyond our present agendas – it is time to really take a stand.
Suggest you start by logging onto

In the meantime here is a summary of our situation, though there is little to add to the information already contained in earlier newsletters:

The planet is changing faster than even pessimists of the earlier IPCC reports expected. A rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable is no longer a possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

a) global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected, and is reaching 450ppm CO2-equivalent at which a rise of more than 2°C cannot now be prevented,;
b) updated climate models indicate a rise of 5.2 °C by the end of the century, a temperature that would disrupt the agriculture on which life depends. Tropical climates will move a thousand kilometres closer to the poles, vast areas now used for agriculture will become arid, and everywhere deadly heat waves and violent cyclonic weather would become annual events.

c) some forests and soils are beginning to release their stores of CO2 rather then remaining a sink while logging increases apace;
d) the oceans are absorbing less C02 and both fish and coral are dying;
e) Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are collapsing faster;

f) rising temperature is melting arctic permafrost and releasing more methane into the atmosphere. You may like to look at the graphs on pages 3 and 13 in Jim Hansen’s report,

As Christine Milne stated, “The climate nightmare is real and happening now. We are destroying the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the snow caps. We are eroding our beaches, and our coastal cities will retreat before the rising seas. We are drying our food bowl, the Murray Darling, beyond repair, jeopardizing rural communities and our food security. The Himalayan glaciers, which feed all the major rivers of Asia — the Ganges and Brahmaputra, the Mekong, the Yellow and Yangtze — are melting away. Once they are gone, a third of the world’s people face a parched, hungry and violent future, threatening a refugee crisis beyond anything we’ve ever seen.”

Population growth creates more emissions. Between 1995 and 2005, Australian emissions increased 16% because there was an increase in both population and in individual consumption.

At nearly 7 billion people there are 470 people per square kilometre of arable land. The cost of rice has doubled and nations are now purchasing vast quantities of property in other nations to grow food and send it back home, leaving those nations (usually the poorest) with less for themselves.

This at a time when the oil on which all agriculture depends is running out:

In the past every period of sharp global warming has led to a long ice age. Whether we get hotter or colder, most of us will die and civilized life will disappear. We are facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, probably to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

A recent study sets out a grim vision of shortages and violence that “will cause civilisation to collapse”. vilisation-to-collapse-1742759.html

Paul Hawkin asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become spiritual; we would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television. Is this how it is with the news?

Do we have to wait for Gaia to give us a shove?

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