Newsletter #38 - August 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 our archive.

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

Dear Friends

In the past SIX Footprints I have reinterated since January, in one form or another, the growing peril and the probable outcome, knowing the irresponsability of our politicians and civic leaders. If you are in doubt or need to catch up, read these in the archive.

The proposal from the Crisis Coalition is for a National Risk Assessment Council to inform, educate and plan for our survival in an increasingly perilous future.


This analysis examines the reasons, and estimates a timetable.

We know the facts, but how to get them to people’s attention? The UN leader Ban Ki-moon has warned that many of the more distant scenarios are “happening now”.

The gaseous emissions of 7 billion people, their pets and their livestock, are responsible for 23 percent of all GH emissions. Add to this the emissions from growing and distributing their food, and we can see that just being alive without any other input creates almost half of all emissions.

Therefore there is nothing we can do to stop 5oC or more.

A National Risk Assessment Council is needed to prepare citizens for the changes that are coming. Then Australians may alter their private and commercial lives with some confidence that we may be able to preserve something of civilisation in at least one part of the world.

Perhaps, were we to break the process into small increments we may see it differently.

Lets assume that rising temperature follows a regular trajectory, and lets assume that there is a one-to-one correlation between temperature rise and its consequences. Such a regular trajectory is unlikely as the combination of growing C02-e, carbon and ice-melt feedbacks, solar cycles and stronger El Niño may join with extreme weather events and global tipping points to speed up this process.

Though we don’t understand many of the complexities, the simplicity of this calculation has a lot to recommend it.

With steady linear growth the earth will be heated to 1oC by 2012, and to 2oC by 2030.

Paleoclimatic evidence shows that for every 1oC rise we should expect a minimum 4-metre rise in sea levels.

We have just calculated that by 2030 the conditions will be in place to guarantee a minimal 8-metre sea level rise. With the usual inertial delays of thirty years or so built into the earth's system, and applying a regular trajectory for sea levels as we did with temperature, we could be looking at 50cm rise within a decade and a full metre during the next.

During this time large areas of agricultural land will be gradually flooded, in Egypt, Bangladesh, northern China and the Philippines. Florida, Boston and London will be badly affected, as will Melbourne and much of our coastline.

Food production will be lessened as the Himalayan glaciers melt, there will be a lot less to fish and land will be lost to drought and sea. In the same period global population will rise by one billion, most living in cities.

This is a recipe for catastrophe if we dont prepare.

We are fully aware of the refugee crisis that would follow such sea-level rise, and the likelihood that there wuld be war.

However we vary the parameters, this process shows we have run out of time and should prepare now for what cannot be prevented if we wish to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed and to which life on earth is adapted.

A National Risk Assessment Council is needed to prepare citizens for the changes that are coming.

It is needed now.


John James

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