Open letter to PM on Climate Change

Barry Brook on BraveNewClimate.com details an open letter from Dr Andrew Glikson (Earth and paleo-climate scientist at the ANU).  The post also makes some comments on the BOM’s detailed analysis of the 2009 southern Australian heatwave. Barry Brook quotes from a BOM colleague who has said:

Given that this was the hottest day on record on top of the driest start to a year on record on top of the longest driest drought on record on top of the hottest drought on record the implications are clear... 

It is clear to me that climate change is now becoming such a strong contributor to these hitherto unimaginable events that the language starts to change from one of “climate change increased the chances of an event” to “without climate change this event could not have occured”.

I repeat the letter here  (I assume that as it is an open letter I am free to publish it in full).

Dear Hon Kevin Rudd, MP, Prime Minister of Australia

A WARNING FROM THE PAST CLIMATE HISTORY OF EARTH

In his letter to you of 27 March, 2008, Professor James Hansen, leading US climate scientist and chief scientist of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Research wrote, among other:

Global climate is near critical tipping points that could lead to loss of all summer sea ice in the Arctic with detrimental effects on wildlife, initiation of ice sheet disintegration in West Antarctica and Greenland with progressive, unstoppable global sea level rise, shifting of climatic zones with extermination of many animal and plant species, reduction of freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people, and a more intense hydrologic cycle with stronger droughts and forest fires, but also heavier rains and floods, and stronger storms driven by latent heat, including tropical storms, tornados and thunderstorms

Since this letter was written new research demonstrates the Earth’s atmosphere is more vulnerable to the rise in trace greenhouse gases, which regulate its temperatures, than we wish to believe, and that such rises in the past resulted in extreme shifts in the state of the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere, triggering mass extinction of species. Examples of some of these papers:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7176/full/nature06588.html

http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008EO490001.shtml

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1157707v1

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf

The new findings indicate that targets considered in the Garnaut Review, namely 450 ppm or 550 ppm CO2, can not be sustained. This is because carbon cycle feedbacks, including looming methane emissions, and the dynamics of ice/warming melt water interactions, threaten runaway warming leading toward tipping points, as occurred repeatedly in the past.

Current atmospheric CO2 levels (387 ppm) are already in the danger zone, while carbon gas emissions proceed at high rates (2.2 ppm in 2007; 1.8 ppm in 2008). It emerges that, unless simultaneous efforts are made to sharply cut carbon emissions and develop the technology for down-draw of atmospheric CO2, the future of our young and future generations looks grim.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets formed under atmospheric conditions at, or below, 450 parts per million, which continued emissions and feedbacks will reach within a couple of decades, leading to temperature increases above 2 degrees C, advanced ice melt and metres-scale sea level rise.

Large mammals can hardly exist on land on an ice-free Earth, nor can human civilization survive such conditions.

In the wake of your election commitment to evidence-based policies you were given a historic opportunity to lead the world by example in relation to what you have correctly described as the great moral challenge of our generation, through conversion of a coal-intensive highest per-capita carbon-emitting economy into an alternative energy-based system.

This could tilt the scales in an increasingly desperate global effort to avert what has been recently described by John Holdren, Obama’s new chief science advisor, as the global climate disruption.

Less than one year elapsed since Hansen’s letter was sent, and while isolated weather events are not necessarily related to climate change, a dangerous trend has developed consistent with projections of atmospheric science, relegating southern Australia to droughts and fire and the north to intense cyclones and floods.

Given the gravity of the matter, I suggest you consider to urgently convene a climate summit, where your government can listen to reports of severe climate disruption around the globe and in Australia, and to what the science says regarding future generations your government was entrusted to protect.

Honorable Prime Minister, as communicated by James Hansen, your leadership is required. I hope this will happen in the spirit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer .

Yours faithfully

(Dr) Andrew Glikson

Earth and paleo-climate scientist

Australian National University

9 February, 2009

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43 Responses

  1. It’s notable that Dr Glikson, at the end of his letter to Kevin Rudd, invokes “the spirit of Deitrich Bonhoeffer.” What does he mean by this?

    Is he implying that AGW belief is a religious pursuit? Or that scepticism is?

    Does he wish to see non-believers murdered, as was Bonhoeffer’s plan for Hitler?

    Or is he merely appealing to Kevin Rudd’s vanity – after all Bonhoeffer is the person Rudd named as “without doubt the man I most admire in the history of the 20th century”?

    (By the way, a bit of constructive criticism if I may. In my view this site is becoming quite cumbersome, and difficult to navigate, due to the length of some posts and comments. Without wanting to see strict rules apply to such an open forum, I would like to hear what others think.)

  2. If you read the transcript provided from the link in the last para, [I hope this will happen in the spirit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer], Rudd talks about Bonhoeffer and christianity being a ‘dead letter’ (whatever that is) unless followed up by action.

    Rudd…that Christian ethics are a dead letter unless they are translated into real concrete social action in pursuit of social justice. In other words, Bonhoeffer’s enduring principle is that Christianity is not a privatised, spiritualised affair meant for the interior places of the chapel, it’s very much an exterior thing. It is to be applied in concrete social circumstances to deal with the injustice of the age in which you happen to live.

    Rudd also, interestingly talks about his ‘coming out in public’ about religion following the emergence and influence of family first into politics and the Coalition’s courtship of the fundy right in Australia.

    Rudd…So I thought the time had come, given the Family First phenomenon, and on top of that the increasing evidence of the systematic organisation of right-wing Christianity in Australia by the forces of Liberals and Nationals, the people on our side of the show to start speaking out….

  3. “Rudd…So I thought the time had come, given the Family First phenomenon, and on top of that the increasing evidence of the systematic organisation of right-wing Christianity in Australia by the forces of Liberals and Nationals, the people on our side of the show to start speaking out….”

    That’s interesting. This is not a criticism of Rudd, actually I wholeheartedly agree with him, but does anyone remember what happened the last time they did?

  4. …but does anyone remember what happened the last time they did?

    Did what?

  5. The Christian people on the ALP side of the show spoke out……..they got thrown out of the ALP.

  6. The Christian people on the ALP side of the show spoke out……..they got thrown out of the ALP.

    You talking about Santamaria? Didn’t they leave in a huff ‘the commies are coming, rah,rah.’ Bob took his bat and ball and went off to start his own team, playing by his own rules.

  7. You should read up on that, KL. It’s widely acknowledged that Evatt had lost his marbles and expelled them.

  8. What are they going to do about the climate change which they keep blaming for all their problems?! Maybe if they were open to suggestions other than just from their own camp, this change to a climate conscious government may be valid. However, from what i have read –
    http://www.openforum.com.au/content/new-opportunities-carbon-economy – the gov is taking a one sided approach to the task, and not accepting other innovative technologies such as biochar, which has the potential to absorb 20% of Australia’s CO2 output a year.

  9. James

    The problem I have is that the current Christians in the Right Wing parties seem to live by a totally different Ten Commandments than I do.

    Years ago I agreed with the conservative parties and voted for them, even for John Howard, however IMHO they strayed to the ultra right wing views of evangalists and southern baptists ( who are extremely right wing).

  10. Shane, we’re talking about left wing Christians….

  11. …and I repeat:

    Domestic Homes

    a) Water tank (5000l)
    b) Solar Hot water System (3000l)
    c) Solar Power (min 1Kwh)
    d) Insulation

    Commercial

    a) As above, where possible, with much larger arrays (contrary to popular belief – solar panels etc have limitations with regard to space and orientation)

    b) Forget ETS – bring in tough laws requiring high emitters to invest a percentage of their profits to R&D or developement of alternative energies – the tax scaled to relate to the reduction of emissions.

    c) All other businesses generating a certain profit level taxed for alternative eneregy development. (The Commonwealth Bank profit up 9% in these times should be investigated – the same bank that was involved in the Storm Financial fiasco – pyramid selling in any form is illegal in Queensland!)

    c) Develop solar, geothermal, storage sytems and particularly systems that can be set up in the centre of Australia and gridded across the country.

    and yes ToSY the question of length of thread headers and posts has become an issue again – personally I haven’t got the time (nor the inclination) to read reams of documents and words….

  12. “Bob took his bat and ball and went off to start his own team, playing by his own rules.”

    Kittylitter – Bob was never a member, interestingly while Victoria and Queensland split, NSW didn’t.

    Hence NSW ALP always has a different flavour about it to some of the other states. Some of the characters in the NSW right would not have gone far in other states.

    As for Bob, who wouldn’t love to have their own personal political party, holding the balance of power?

  13. Thanks for that info James, and it’s a good job too that they were thrown out. If they weren’t expelled you would be seeing a vastly different version of ‘separation between church and state’ than exists now.

    Lost his marbles?

    The Great Labor Schism: A Retrospective

    Read 4th para.

    A great Australian, By Arthur Gietzelt

    The true story behind the outing of ‘The Movement’.

    …In this process, the hierarchy used the Catholic Social Studies Movement and other church bodies to enter the party-political arena, contrary to Vatican policy. By 1953 these Catholic groups were within an ace of capturing Australia’s oldest political party. It is clear they used the ‘communist bogey’ to achieve a much wider perspective…

  14. Shane, we’re talking about left wing Christians….

    Is Pell…left wing?
    He’s on record as a climate change denier, denier of human rights etc.

  15. James of North Melbourne, on February 11th, 2009 at 11:46 am Said:
    Shane, we’re talking about left wing Christians….

    As per KittyL: Rudd…that Christian ethics are a dead letter unless they are translated into real concrete social action in pursuit of social justice.

    For example, socialist Salvos?? I can’t find a link but didn’t Howard have a dig or several at charitable groups for pandering to the great unwashed.

    Hope that I’m on topic here.

  16. KL

    George Pell: Climate change sceptic, definitely. Denier of human rights? Please elaborate.

  17. kitty

    that link was very interesting and once again shows the tenticles of the catholic bishops (even acting outside vatican doctrine ) in an effort to mould a political party to their own leanings, even if their own leanins changed more times than we change our jocks.

  18. His responses to paedophilia and the other sexual abuses by the clergy.

  19. Min

    You do not know how happy we are that you are back with us!!!

  20. One of my favorites from Pell is that gay marriage would lead to ‘confusion’. From whom I always wondered? That heteros would become confused?

  21. For example, socialist Salvos?? I can’t find a link but didn’t Howard have a dig or several at charitable groups for pandering to the great unwashed.

    More than a dig, he threatened to de-fund them, which is why the NGO’s were very quiet during his reign.

  22. Min

    Welcome back and hope that everything can be as good as it can given the circumstances.

  23. I 2nd joni@12:38

  24. Thank you joni. I just needed a breather. I would just like to take the opportunity to thank one and all for their care and loving messages. To those who wrote privately, love and hugs and to those to wrote via the blog likewise (as joni would say) huggy squishes.

  25. His responses to paedophilia and the other sexual abuses by the clergy.

    Firstly, that doesn’t constitute Pell being a “denier of human rights“.

    Secondly, here, in his own defence, is a statement by Pell on the particular case you are – presumably – referring to, and on sexual misconduct in general.

  26. Min, you’re appearance reminded me of a General returning to Rome with much fanfare.

    The throng is excited.

    I might try the same oneday.

  27. Interesting links, Kittylitter. Suffice to say there are a multitude of books written on both sides and the debate rages 50 years later. We are hardly going to solve it here. It was interesting that Clyde Cameron, who engineered the expulsion for Evatt, admitted later that it had been a set up, and that Evatt’s behaviour was erratic, for want of a better word. Also interesting that the link from the “Evatt Foundation” describes the Communists as being prominent in some unions. The facts are that they held a majority of delegate positions in a majority of trade unions. The Movement was established, certainly, by the Catholic Church, the Industrial Groups were established by the ALP.

  28. I’m back.

    Was I missed?

  29. “Min, you’re appearance reminded me of a General returning to Rome with much fanfare.”

    A Roman triumph (triumphus, Old Latin triumpus, attested as the exclamation TRIVMPE in the Carmen Arvale; via Etruscan from the Greek θρίαμβος) was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publically celebrate the achievements of an army commander who had won great military successes, originally and traditionally, who had successfully completed a war. The triumphing general was called vir triumphalis (not triumphator, a modern coinage), and retained the right to be described as such for the rest of his life. The triumph was the greatest and most sought-after honour among the hereditary nobility that built and governed the Roman Empire, whose ethics were essentially those of an agriculturalist and militant ruling class.

    Qualifications for a triumph
    In order to receive a triumph, the dux must:

    Win a significant victory over a foreign enemy, killing at least 5,000 enemy troops, and earn the title imperator.
    Be an elected magistrate with the power of imperium, i.e. a dictator, consul, or a praetor.
    Bring the army home, signifying that the war was over and that the army was no longer needed. Of course this only applied to the Republican era when the army was a citizen army. By the imperial period, when the army was professional, the proper triumph was reserved for the emperor and his family. If a general was awarded a triumph by the emperor, he would march with a token number of his troops.

    (Wikipedia)

    Not sure Min qualifies…but welcome back anyway…:)

    N’

  30. Hope Rudd & co. heed these dire warnings & do a wee bit of compromising w/ the Greens & Mr. Xenophon. Be nice to think “the revolution” extended to energy & such.

    Useful thread joni…provided it doesn’t get bogged down in discussions about myth believers & supernatural things…those alien empires that have distorted our view of the universe & oversee us must get very bored w/ our primitive discussions…:)

    Just kidding…

    as always, good links kittlylitter.

    N’

  31. Thanks Nasking. I agree. In Imperial Rome I would more than likely be one of the peasants trailing along behind the troops…probably relegated to picking up the horses do-dos.

  32. “probably relegated to picking up the horses do-dos.”

    A superb job Min…the fertiliser-maker…highly practical…grow your own veges & no killing involved.

    I think they’d have my head on a spear…for general sh*t stirring.

    N’

  33. Shane (and double thanks). Re: shaneinqld, on February 11th, 2009 at 12:38 pm Said:
    kitty

    that link was very interesting and once again shows the tenticles of the catholic bishops..

    Can’t help myself. Is there a misprint above.

  34. I want to be a bit clear on this, and please excuse the historical generalisations. The “Religious Right” as often so described, and apparently most prevalent in NSW does have, or at least did have its opposite in the Labor Party. It was the Catholics. So when I refer to Rudd embracing the Christians “on his side of the show”, I assume that is generally to whom he is referring, and I applaud the invitation. I agree with Shane when he says that Christian talk ought to be backed with real social action, and it certainly is in many cases, and I think the chances of that lie more within the ALP than the Liberals. The problem will be when issues of a moral nature arise.

  35. G’day Min.

  36. Min

    ROFLMAO.

    Unfortunately no misprint I am more analytical and mathematical so don’t think of the ulterior motive until one of you point it out.

  37. James this most definitely faded with the rise and rise of one Mr Bob Santamaria. It’s worth a read about him: http://www.acl.org.au/national/browse.stw?article_id=16095

    My feeling is that the Labor Part went center re religion but that the Libs went right..so far right as to run off the road.

  38. Min, if what you mean is that the link between the ALP and traditional family, social values has faded, I agree. I doubt it had to do with Santamaria, though, and would suggest that the ALP cause has been hijacked by many ideological causes, the most recent being extreme environmental groups, who have infiltrated public thinking in much the same way as Communism attempted. Santamaria repeated often that his main gripe was unfettered Capitalism, and wrote often of the dangers of economic rationalism and losing our sovereignty to overseas nations. Turns out he was right, just as he was right about Communism, which reared its particularly head in the 1950s to become the more immediate, though not necessarily greater, threat.

  39. James, I doubt that Bob Santamaria represented traditional family social values. Hubby went to Our Lady’s of Perpetual Suckers in Burwood (it’s a joke).

    I just wish that the ALP had been hijacked by ‘extreme’ environmental causes, then we will be driving around in little environmental cars, eating environmental food and the Murray will flow again.

    Sadly..not so.

    To Santamaria..capitalism often meant the ungodly.

    With apologies, must choof as J is home shortly.

    ps..did you get my email. It’s from my home account and so you may not recognise me.

  40. Min, I know that he did.

  41. “we will be driving around in little environmental cars”

    Min, I’m hoping for something that floats & uses voice command…and has less impact than a bumper car if it hits something…I’d luv to lay back and blog comment on the way to the shops…or watch the latest offering from World Movies…

    one can dream…

    I’m wondering what happened to the vehicle designers/manufacturers who absorbed sci-fi novels, comics & TV shows. Do they ever get a look-in?

    I know bugger-all about vehicles these days…not having been to a car show since my uncle took me to one in the UK when I was a holidaying there as a teenager, and was put off by the haunting image of a race car crushed into the size of a sardine…and I grew tired of the onslaught of FUTURE-based shows that offered up designs & experimental models that never rolled off the assembly line in quantities cheap enuff to purchase.

    All I know is some dumb-arses in America crushed a whole bunch of electric cars before they caught on.

    And the vehicles we saw in The Jetsons & Star Wars seem as removed from our roaring muffler & Top Gear dominated world as worm holes are as another form of transport. Sigh.

    N’

  42. Looks like Swan’s thrown Garnaut under the bus:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25044722-601,00.html

  43. ‘Apocalyptic climate predictions’ mislead the public, say experts

    Experts at Britain’s top climate research centre have launched a blistering attack on scientific colleagues and journalists who exaggerate the effects of global warming.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/11/climate-change-misleading-claims

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