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Pre-Paris Betrayal People’s Climate Marches

climate summit

We are badly running out of time to tackle climate change. It is now effectively too late to avoid a catastrophic plus 2 degrees C temperature rise but we are nevertheless obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

On Friday 27 November 60,000 people attended a massive pre-Paris People’s Climate March in the heart of Melbourne to send an urgent plea for action to the Paris Climate Change Conference. This was the biggest ever climate change rally in Melbourne. My partner and I attended with our associates and our huge banner for the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, this being one of 350 organizations supporting the People’s Climate March in Melbourne which was the first of numerous such massive pre-Paris marches to be held this weekend around the world (except in Paris where war criminal and climate criminal President Hollande has banned any climate march and put climate activists under house arrest),

We carried our huge Yarra Valley Climate Action Group banner and bold signs saying “300 ppm CO2” (climate scientists and biologists say that for a safe planet for all peoples and all species we must urgently return the atmospheric CO2 concentration to the pre-Industrial Revolution level of 300 parts per million CO2 from the present dangerous and damaging 400 ppm CO2).

The most powerful speech at the Melbourne People’s Climate March was given by an Indigenous man on the steps of Parliament House. After decrying the destruction of ecosystems, species and Indigenous communities (what scholars would call ecocide, speciescide and ethnocide or genocide, respectively), he spoke of the impending destruction of our Mother ( what scientists would call omnicide and terracide, or the destruction of the Biosphere) but with the perspective of 50,000 years of Indigenous culture, he optimistically dreamed out loud of how in a thousand years’ time people would tell the story of how humanity found itself at a fork in the road but fortunately rejected the path to destruction and chose the right path of preservation of the environment and life on earth.

Powerful signs included "OUR POWER SHOULDN'T COST THE EARTH" and a polar bear with the face of Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull on a small piece of floating ice.

The Paris Climate Change Conference aims for international consensus on actions to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees C, but has betrayed humanity before it even began. Thus science informs that the internationally-agreed 2 degree C temperature target is both catastrophic and inevitable (Google “Are we doomed” and “Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe”). Pre-conference national greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution reduction commitments to Paris imply a disastrous plus 2.7 degrees C temperature rise. Indeed the present circa plus 0.9 degree C temperature rise is already catastrophic for populations in low-lying island and megadelta locations.

This massive and deadly public deception has come about because of mainstream journalist, politician and academic lying by commission and lying by omission. As an indignant, 5-decade-career Australian scientist who is appalled by the worsening climate emergency, on 26 November I sent a Memo (below) about this massive deception to the ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia’s equivalent of the UK BBC) that has been copied to Australian media, MPs, and climate change activists. The Silence has been Deafening – indeed I encountered no reportage of the massive Melbourne Climate March on ABC TV News or ABC Radio National News.

Letter to ABC journalists

Dear ABC journalist, All of us but particularly young people and future generations will be betrayed by the forthcoming 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. I have sent a detailed memo (below) to the ABC that is a fact sheet re pre-Paris People’s Climate Marches against the War on Terra that is also a War on the Young and Future Generations and their fundamental human right to a decent life in an undegraded environment. This betrayal has been facilitated by malreportage by Mainstream media and by the taxpayer-funded ABC in particular. Yours sincerely, Dr. Gideon Polya [contact details]

Memo to ABC: fact sheet re pre-Paris People’s Climate Marches against War on Terra

Perhaps 200,000 people will attend the People’s Climate March in Melbourne, Australia (5.30pm, Friday 27 November, State Library) [in fact a record 60,000 people attended this climate change rally] impelled by the worsening climate emergency due to the climate criminal War on Terra. Similar climate marches will be held around Australia and the world on 27-29 November, just before the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. Listed below are crucial, Elephant in the Room, climate change realities which are nevertheless effectively ignored by Mainstream media and the taxpayer-funded ABC (Australia’s equivalent of the UK BBC):

1. Temperature rise target. The internationally-agreed 2 degree C temperature target is catastrophic and inevitable; international commitments to Paris imply plus 2.7C; the present circa plus 0.9C is already catastrophic for low-lying island and megadelta locations. The Paris Climate Change Conference has failed before it has started, but while it is too late to avoid a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise we must all do whatever we can to make the future less bad for our children and future generations.

2. Terminal carbon pollution budget. Direst estimates (involving methanogenic livestock impacts and a methane Global Warming Potential relative to CO2 of 105 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts considered) are that the world will exceed in 3 years its Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget of 600 Gt CO2-e that must not be exceeded for a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise; Australia’s huge Domestic plus Exported greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution means it exceeded its fair share of this Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget in 2011 and its huge Domestic GHG pollution means it exceeded its fair share in 2013. Australia’s minimum offer to the Paris Climate Change Conference of “26% off 2005 GHG pollution by 2030” is dishonest because it actually means that Australia’s expected Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution in 2030 will be 164% of that in 2005.

3. Carbon fuel burning-related deaths. 7 million people die from air pollution each year, this including 10,000 Australian deaths from pollutants from carbon fuel burning and 75,000 people dying from the burning of Australian coal exports. Translating the latest London (UK) pollution-related mortality data to urban Australia would indicate about 20,000 urban Australian deaths annually from air pollution involving fine carbon particulates and NO2.  

4. Carbon debt. Assuming a damage-related Carbon Price in USD of $200 per tonne CO2-e, the World has a Carbon Debt of $360 trillion that is increasing at $13 trillion per year, and Australia has a Carbon Debt of $7.5 trillion that is increasing at $400 billion per year and at $40,000 per head per year for under-30 year old Australians – climate injustice, climate inequity, intergenerational injustice, intergenerational inequity and unconscionable subsidies for deadly carbon fuel burning.

5. Climate change deaths & climate genocide. About 0.5 million people die from climate change annually in a world in which 17 million people die annually from deprivation. However the direst estimates of only 0.5 billion surviving unaddressed climate change this century translates to climate genocide of 10 billion people and an average of 100 million such deaths annually this century. As a world leader in annual per capita GHG pollution and climate change inaction, Australia is disproportionately contributing to worsening climate genocide in island states and megadelta states.

6. Safe atmospheric CO2 target 300 ppm CO2. Many climate scientists, biologists and science-informed climate activists demand that for a safe planet for all peoples and all species, we must rapidly return to the pre-Industrial Revolution atmospheric CO2 concentration of about 300 parts per million carbon dioxide (300 ppm CO2) from the present damaging and dangerous 400 ppm CO2 that is presently increasing at about 2.0-2.5 ppm CO2 per year. The cost of doing this via the cheapest route (generation of biochar or carbon from anaerobic pyrolysis of cellulosic biomass) is similar to the global carbon debt.

7. Methane bomb. Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4) which leaks and has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) relative to CO2 of 105 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts considered. A 2.6% gas leakage will have the same global warming effect as burning the remaining 97.6% to generate CO2. Leakage from fracking could reach circa 10%. Depending upon the degree of leakage, burning gas for power could be dirtier GHG-wise than burning coal. A coal-to-gas transition is disastrous. A re-assessment of the impact of methanogenic livestock production revised annual global GHG pollution upwards to 64 Gt CO2-e per year from a previous 42 Gt CO2-e per year, with livestock contributing over 51% of the higher figure. The 50 Gt CH4 predicted to be released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf in coming decades is equivalent to 50 billion tonnes CH4 x 105 tonnes CO2-equivalent/tonne CH4 = 5,250 tonnes CO2-e or about nine (9) times more than the world’s terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution budget of 600 Gt CO2-e. We are doomed unless we can stop this Arctic CH4 release. 

8. Required actions. There must be urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm CO2 via a rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as and about 4 times lower in actual true cost than obscenely-subsidized coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth. Renewable energy is vastly cheaper than the true cost of fossil fuel burning-based power and rapid implementation of 100% renewable energy by 2020 and rapid cessation of carbon pollution has been adopted by a variety of towns, cities, states, corporations and countries.

9. Overall nuclear cycle is dirty GHG-wise & food for biofuel has huge carbon debt. In a carbon economy the overall nuclear cycle - from digging up, transporting and processing uranium ore to disposing of radioactive waste and decommissioning power plants - generates CO2. When we necessarily have to shift to lower quality uranium ores the overall nuclear cycle CO2 production from a nuclear power station could be the same as from a gas-fired power station. Hugely increased efficiency of use of limited uranium reserves can be obtained using fast-breeder reactors but the resultant plutonium economy would be extraordinarily dangerous from plutonium chemical toxicity and nuclear weapons perspectives, with horrendous associated diminution of civil rights and human rights. The use of plant-derived sugar, starch or oil for generating biofuel requires expensive purification of ethanol or biodiesel can carry a huge carbon debt and is an obscene use of food for fuel in a world in which 2 billion already have insufficient food and food insecurity is increasing. Indeed meat from grain-fed livestock is an increasingly unacceptable option in a hungry world. A temperature increase of 1C can decrease subtropical wheat yield by 10%.

10. Carbon price and divestment from fossil fuels. As cogently stated by scientifically-trained Green Left Pope Francis in his 2015 Encyclical “Laudatum si’”, the human and environmental cost of burning fossil fuels must be “fully borne” by the polluters. Permitting fossil fuel exploiters to pollute the one common atmosphere and ocean of all peoples for free is climate criminal theft, and the consequent damage will have to be reversed by future generations (climate injustice, climate inequity, intergenerational injustice, intergenerational inequity). The true cost of coal burning for power taking environmental and human impacts into account can be 4 times greater than the present highly-subsidized market price. The cap-and-trade Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) approach has been condemned by numerous experts because it is empirically ineffective, is accordingly counterproductive, will enable dishonest market manipulation and is fraudulent in that it involves a government unilaterally selling licences to pollute the one common atmosphere and ocean of all countries. The anti-science, anti-environment, pro-coal, pro-gas, pro-fossil fuels Australian Coalition (COALition) Government’s Direct Action policy absurdly pays polluters to pollute less and is thus precisely akin to paying thieves to steal less. A “fully borne” Carbon Price has the corollary of divestment from exploitation of fossil fuel reserves that are now increasingly seen as stranded assets.

11. Climate criminality and Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Australia has 0.3% of the world’s population but its annual Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution is 3% of the world’s total GHG pollution. Currently about 0.5 million people die from climate change each year and 7 million die from air pollution. At some point, increasing climate genocide will elicit actions from affected countries, including Green Tariffs, Green Bans, International Court of Justice (ICJ) litigations, International Criminal Court (ICC ) prosecutions, and Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all those people, politicians, parties, companies, corporations, and countries disproportionately polluting the one common atmosphere and ocean of all people and thus disproportionately harming and threatening Humanity and the Biosphere with climate genocide, speciescide, ecocide, omnicide and terracide. The first actual climate genocides will be the adumbrated disappearance of Island States such as Kiribati and Tuvalu. Any species is unique and priceless but the species extinction rate is now 100-1,000 times greater than normal.

12. Personal responsibility and actions. What can decent people do in the War on Terra? What can you tell your grandchildren that you did in the War on Terra? Decent people can personally and collectively minimize their personal carbon footprint but must also (a) inform everyone they can; (b) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians, parties, companies, corporations, and countries disproportionately polluting the one common atmosphere and ocean of all people; and (c) vote for pro-environment, Green representatives – in Australia that means that they should vote 1 Green and put the COALition last. I suggest a three-fold ABC strategy involving (A) Accountability (holding the individual, corporate or national climate criminals responsible by intra-national and international sanctions, boycotts, civil actions and criminal prosecutions); (B) a Badge (e.g. wearing a Badge such as “300 ppm CO2”, the atmospheric CO2 target advocated by; and (C) a Credo (e.g. that of “There must be a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet and this requires a rapid reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to about 300 parts per million”.

Dr. Gideon Polya, Melbourne.

PS: For a version of this memo with detailed referencing documentation see “Memo to ABC: fact sheet re Pre-Paris People’s Climate Marches against War on Terra”, Gideon Polya Writing, 2015-11-26: .

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