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Taking the "Monbiot challenge": The global emergency of climate change
Derrick O'Keefe, Znet
But perhaps the most important of the recent titles on this subject is George Monbiot’s Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning (Random House, 2006). Monbiot, a widely read columnist with the UK Guardian, delivers a clear and stark message: The industrialized world must cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by the year 2030; if this sort of drastic reduction is not made, world temperatures will rise to a point where “runaway climate change” will be beyond our ability to curtail, and unspeakable disintegration of human civilization inevitable.
In a special preface to the Canadian edition, Monbiot makes clear that with regards to climate change, this country’s government is among the worst rogue regimes in the world. This damning indictment applies to the former Liberal government as well, which saw emissions rise over its decade-plus in power.
...The remainder of Heat is a hardheaded sector-by-sector analysis of how a developed economy could be transformed to drastically reduce carbon emissions, while maintaining as high as possible a standard of living. Monbiot has more than done his homework, and his examination of all the pertinent technological questions is instructive, not to mention totally unsentimental, weighing the pros and cons of all energy alternatives, including nuclear power (which he ranks second to last, to coal from open-cast mines, as a potential energy source).
There is one consistent theme running throughout Heat that annoys. The author repeatedly directs his pitch in moral terms to an assumed comfortable middle class audience. This tends to imply an equality of responsibility for climate change to all readers, erasing enormous divisions of power, wealth and differences in degree of control over the political and economic system. In a nutshell, issues of class are obscured by this approach. So, for instance, Monbiot casts the social movement needed to confront climate change as one that must fight for “austerity.”
Surely it is more useful and accurate to describe the goal as social and environmental justice.
(17 Jan 2007)
A similar argument is made by at Gristmill.
Hawking warns: We must recognise the catastrophic dangers of climate change
Steve Connor, Independent
Climate change stands alongside the use of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats posed to the future of the world, the Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking has said.
Professor Hawking said that we stand on the precipice of a second nuclear age and a period of exceptional climate change, both of which could destroy the planet as we know it.
He was speaking at the Royal Society in London yesterday at a conference organised by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which has decided to move the minute hand of its "Doomsday Clock" forward to five minutes to midnight to reflect the increased dangers faced by the world.
(18 Jan 2007)
Related: Prophet of Doomsday: Stephen Hawking, Eco-Warrior. (UK Independent)
Global warming: the final verdict
Robin McKie, The Observer (UK)
A study by the world's leading experts says global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought
Global warming is destined to have a far more destructive and earlier impact than previously estimated, the most authoritative report yet produced on climate change will warn next week.
A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms - like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.
The impact will be catastrophic, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their devastated homelands, particularly in tropical, low-lying areas, while creating waves of immigrants whose movements will strain the economies of even the most affluent countries.
'The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role. Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document - that's what makes it so scary,' said one senior UK climate expert.
(21 Jan 2007)