Jeff Free Luers - new article on climate change
excerpt from entire article posted below by political prisoner Jeff Free Luers:
"The ability to alter the course of climate change lies in the hands of regular people. It is not an easy task by any means. Nevertheless, it is a task that humanity must begin to take; with or without our leaders... A free society is obligated to correct the wrongs of its government. If it cannot, then it is not free. If a people refuse to right the wrongs of their government, their endorsements make them equally culpable, and ultimately, they too will carry the burden of responsibility."
Climate Change: A People's Choice
By Jeff "Free" Luers, February 2006
This January, members of the Asia Pacific Partnership (AP6) on Clean Development and Climate met in Sydney, Australia. The purpose of the inaugural meeting was to discuss solutions to climate change in what organizers are calling a "compliment" to the Kyoto protocol.
The AP6 is made up of government and business representatives from China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the United States. Together, these six countries account for nearly half of the world's pollution and energy consumption.(1) The US alone contributes one quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.(2, 3) Interestingly, neither Australia nor the US have ratified the Kyoto protocol and refuse to participate.
The AP6 concluded their meeting with promises of voluntary participation in programs designed to reduce global emissions. No penalties were established for those who failed to reduce green house emissions.
Recent studies have concluded that human induced climate change is indeed a very real and visible threat.
Global climate change is reaching a tipping point in which the melting of arctic ice and permafrost becomes a self-sustaining cycle. As permafrost melts it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere accelerating climate change resulting in more arctic melt.
This theory, long predicted, is now happening. Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University and Judith Marquand at Oxford University warned in August 2005 that large expanses of Western Siberia have begun an unprecedented thaw. The area spans close to 400,000 square miles and is melting for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago. The thaw is releasing vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide.(4)
Last summer (2005) the arctic ice cap shrank to its smallest size in a century. Business interests have been quick to point out that this trend could create summertime shipping shortcuts between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
However, the melting ice cap is in part responsible for an accelerated rise in the world's sea level, threatening costal areas. The melting ice is also harming polar bears and other arctic species, destroying one of the earth's last wild habitats.(5)
Scientists said the melting appears to be becoming self-sustaining as open water absorbs solar heat that would otherwise be reflected back into space by white ice.(5)
The melting of icecaps and permafrost is cause for alarm. The trend is not limited to polar regions and is found in all glacial and snow packed regions on earth.
Most of North America and Asia, as well as parts of South America, are dependent on winter snow packs for water. In a warmer world, less precipitation falls as snow and melt occurs earlier in spring. However, even with no change in precipitation intensity, the shift in peak river runoff to winter and spring away from summer and fall, when personal and agriculture demand is highest, can lead to drought. Where storage capacity is not sufficient much of the water supply will be lost to the oceans.(6)
In 2000, the Accelerated Climate Prediction Initiative was launched to investigate the impacts of global warming on water supplies in the western US. Warming was found to significantly reduce snow pack and lead to substantial shift in seasonal stream flow. By 2050, spring stream flow maximums will come one month earlier. There is not enough storage capacity across most of the western US to handle the shift. For example, in the Columbia River system, by 2050 or earlier, a choice between summer and fall hydro power or spring and summer releases for salmon will have to be made.(6)
The study's results suggest an even worse problem in regions that rely on glacial melt water. Unlike snow pack, once the glaciers have melted they will not be replenished by winter storms. There will be no water supply to replace melted glaciers.
If current levels of climate change persist, these changes will lead to a severe reduction in dry season water availability in many regions on earth within the next few decades.(6, 7) Severe drought not only would impact human health but could lead to a social upheaval.
In 2003, a report compiled for the pentagon, "Imagining the Unthinkable" described how reduced global water supply caused by global warming could become a national security issue. The report went so far as to suggest that wars could be fought over the resource we now take for granted.
In the fall of 2005, the National Center for Atmospheric Research created a computer simulation of the earth's climate 251 million years ago. The study demonstrated how levels of CO2 interfered with oxygen circulation in the oceans and raised temperatures on land. The subsequent climate change would lead to the greatest mass extinction in history.(8)
The first comprehensive assessment of the effects of modern climate change was published in January, 2004. The report concluded that by 2050 more than one million species would be driven to extinction, an "extinction rate unheard of in modern times."(10) New evidence has been found that validates and confirms these findings.
A recent study published in Nature has proven a link between global warming and a mass extinction of frogs in South America. As the earth warms, many species are likely to go extinct because of changing disease dynamics. Many diseases are expected to spread or become more lethal.(12)
The frogs died when they became host to a parasitic fungus. The fungus, normally benign, became a lethal pathogen as temperatures changed. The changing weather patterns and change in climate created an environment ripe for the pathogen to spread and grow.
The study concluded that "global climate change is already causing the extinction of species... climate driven epidemics are an immediate threat to biodiversity."(12)
This finding is already being reproduced in other parts of the world. Climate change in arctic and sub-artic regions has altered the life cycle of parasitic worms of musk oxen. The worms can now complete their life cycle in one, instead of two years. The worms are now having a significant impact on the survival of musk oxen.(13)
In the mountain regions of the western US warmer climate conditions are also allowing the Mountain Pine Beetle to complete its life cycle in one, instead of two years. The beetles spread pine blister rust, as they become more abundant so too does the fungus, causing a serious impact on the health and number of pine trees.(13)
On April 28, 2005 the American Lung Association released its 2005 report on air quality in the US. The report documents how particle pollution (the same air pollution causes reduced snow fall and increased cloud cover causing warmer nights) poses a serious health risk to 152 million US citizens.
The report states that particle pollution takes months to years off a person's life, and can kill people with severe respiratory problems. Most at risk are children, seniors, diabetics and those with asthma and lung or heart diseases. (14)
President and CEO of the ALA, John Kirkwood has this to say, "Some of the largest producers of dirty air are big energy companies, who have worked with their friends in congress on legislation to change rules so they don't have to clean up their pollution."(14)
A few months later in July, 2005, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study of newborn baby blood samples. The samples came from 10 babies born in US hospitals between August and September, 2004.
The samples were tested for 413 industrial and chemical product chemicals. The babies averaged 200 contaminants in their blood including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides, and PFOA a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon. In all, 287 chemicals were found in the babies' blood, 209 of which have never before been detected in newborns.(15)
Study after study confirms the same result: Pollution is having a disastrous impact on the health of the planet and its inhabitants; whether it is melting ice caps, extinct frogs, or a baby contaminated by toxins before her first breath.
Solutions exist but they are not being implemented or enforced, despite public desire for action. Nor will they be as long as corporations have more rights and influence than the people.
The Independent (UK) recently reported that the Bush Administration attempted to gag James Hansen of NASA's leading climate experts. According to Hansen, the Administration is trying to censor him on his call for immediate cuts in green house gas emissions.
Hansen said, "Communicating with the public is essential because public concern is probably the only thing capable of overcoming the special interests that have obfuscated the topic."(16)
It is interesting to note that this story was not widely reported in US mainstream media.
The President of the United States refuses to even acknowledge the existence of global warming. Major industry and energy companies along with their government conspirators continue to use sleight of hand techniques, like the AP6. The use of greenwash is an increasing trend in a world of consumers concerned with the environment. But behind the green fašade governments continue to give corporations the green light to pollute.
These are not the people we can look to for change. We cannot put our future in their hands. This leaves us in a difficult position. If we cannot look to those who should have our best interests in mind, where can we turn?
The ability to alter the course of climate change lies in the hands of regular people. It is not an easy task by any means. Nevertheless, it is a task that humanity must begin to take; with or without our leaders.
The events in this essay and many others are happening now. They will impact the life of every human being on the planet from health problems to property loss to regional and even national economic collapse.
If things are to change every individual has to play a part. There are enough things people can do there is no excuse not to be involved.
It can be as simple as consistently writing letters and making phone calls to your representative, or changing your lifestyle to using more mass transit and buying local products. You can commit to riding a bike one day a week instead of using a vehicle. You can invest in alternative energies. Every little bit helps. Everyone has to start somewhere.
The more active can start their own garden or plant trees in their neighborhoods. You can hold a community meeting on local solutions to problems faced by climate change. You might even go so far as to organize a boycott of the biggest local polluter.
The adventurous can become radical and proactive in their approach; from the use of creative and media friendly acts of civil disobedience to other extralegal activities.
Throughout history their have been leaders who threatened the wellbeing of their people and the peace of the planet. Hitler's rise to power is an obvious example. One I choose for this reason: if the governments of France and England had challenged Hitler's early acts of aggression, the war may have been much shorter and millions of holocaust victims might still be alive.
It is part of the human experience to sometimes have to challenge our leaders for the good of all people. This is one of those times. The US government has seen fit to put profits and power before its people and the world. Every other industrialized nation (with the exception of Australia) and many developing nations have signed the Kyoto protocol. Many are actively pursuing emissions reduction. Though many are proceeding far too slow, they have shown an effort. The rest of the world has taken notice of the dangers posed by climate change. The US refuses to.
A free society is obligated to correct the wrongs of its government. If it cannot, then it is not free.
If a people refuse to right the wrongs of their government, their endorsements make them equally culpable, and ultimately, they too will carry the burden of responsibility.
1. Dennis, C., Promises to clean up industry fail to convince. Nature 439, 253 (2006)
2. Fisher, B., Costanza, R., Regional commitment to reducing emissions. Nature 438, 301-302 (2005)
3. Leahy, S., Climate talks survive US hassles. Asheville Global Report 361 (2005)
4. Earth Environment Service, Earth Week: Climate "tipping point". The Oregonian (August 24, 2005)
5. Revkin, A., Artic ice vanishing at quicker pace, report says. The Oregonian (September 29, 2005)
6. Barnett, T., Adam, J., Lettenmaier, D. Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions. Nature 438, 303-309 (2005)
7. Leahy, S., World stands at a Crossroads. Asheville Global Report 346 (2005)
8. Environmental News Service, Warming led to pre-historic extinction. Asheville Global Report 346 (2005)
9. Roach, J., By 2050 warming to doom million species, study says. National Geographic News (January 7, 2004)
10. Environmental News Service, Species disappearing 100 times faster than ever before. Asheville Global Report 315 (2005)
11. Parmesan, C., Galbraith, H., Observed Impacts of global climate change in the US (November 2004)
12. Pounds, J. et al. Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature 439, 161-167 (2006)
13. Blaustein, A., Dobson, A., Extinctions: A message from the frogs. Nature 439, 143-144 (2006)
14. Environmental News Service, Dirty air poses health risks for 152 million US citizens. Asheville Global Report 329 (2005)
15. Environmental News Service, Hundreds of toxins found in newborns. Asheville Global Report 340 (2005)
16. Buncombe, A., Bush tried to gag environmental expert. Independent UK reprint in Asheville Global Report 368 (2006)
for more information of Jeff Free Luers go to http://www.freefreenow.org
To make donations to his legal appeal, send a check or money order made out to Free's Defense Fund to PO Box 3 Eugene, OR 97440
address: Free's Defense Fund; PO Box 3; Eugene, OR 97440
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