Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tighten the noose around coal

It's time to tighten the noose around coal and other finite fossil resource

Friday, January 9, 2009

Will Obama visit with the words of Martin Luther King Jr.?

Many great men and women have gone before him. They have left a legacy in history that has shaped our world. Our future shape; and that of a safe planet for our children, now hangs in the balance. From the introduction in ZERO Greenhouse Emissions - The Day the Lights Went Out - Our Future World www.strategicbookpublishing.com/ZEROGreenhouseEmissions.html comes the following excerpt:-

A few great men and women may start out being the power of one, but no single great man, no single great woman, from the start of history or into the future, will make a change without collective will.
We need collective will, collective effort, and collective vision, for our collective future. You and yours. Me and mine. Them and theirs.
End excerpt.

At this historic time of the election to the Presidency of the United States of America, we might hope that the 44th President; the first African American President to hold sway in the Oval Office, might revisit the words of another great American Statesman.

Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967 speaking in Los Angeles on the matter of the war in Vietnam had this to say:
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at flood: it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’”

These words 'Too late' now written in history must not become the epitaph left by us, to be uttered by our children. Unless we now collectively take action on climate change and accept our personal responsibility as part of the problem to become inspired to be a part of the solution, as self imperatives - too late will be our fate.

We have clear 20/20 hindsight on the mistakes made by past civilizations now consigned to history. We know with 20/20 foresight that the well trodden road (and the resultant pollution of our planet and ever rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere) we are on with the 'business and living as usual' model, adopted by the developed and fast developing nations, will soon leave the legacy of our past actions; although not done with malice aforethought, for our children to inherit.

Let us not 'cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage' ; let us collectively cry out and become the parade of concern for a safe future for our children and theirs. Let this parade be the one that our global politicians can walk in front of; and make the hard policy decisions necessary with a mandate from the common man.

Call on them to become the Statesman we need.

Before it is 'TOO LATE'

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Obama - Four years to fix it?

When I sat down to write 'ZERO Greenhouse Emissions - The Day the Lights Went Out - Our Future World' www.strategicbookpublishing.com/ZEROGreenhouseEmissions.html I posed many perplexing questions. This was one of them.

Politicians say that with 20/20 hindsight they might have made different choices, but the political system of four years in office does not provide them with the luxury of making decisions with 20/20 foresight beyond their current term of office.
They tell us how in developed countries reliant on the business as usual model that any disruption to economic growth will affect our standard of living. To preserve it they defend the growth of industry and massive subsidies provided to the world’s fossil fuel industry, still being subsidized with more than $210 billion annually.
They tell you how they were voted out of office, for policies you and I thought affected us and ours. They know with 20/20 foresight that the model adopted by the industrialized world is not infinitely sustainable and that it is destined for demise—but not in their term of office.
In any future for you and yours, me and mine, them and theirs, we don’t need politicians designed for demise. For the sake of human sustainability, we need statesmen with infinite wisdom.
End Excerpt;

As the world sits and waits for the arrival of the Obama era, Americans and many others pray that he will enact the change necessary to make him the Statesman of the 21st century.

He will face more challenges throughout his term of office. than possibly any other president. Many of his predecessors were greatly challenged. Roosevelt will go down in history in many eyes, as the greatest American Statesman. He faced his many challenges as opportunities. He changed history with action. He galvanised the American people, it's industries and at a war time pace, shifted American manufacturing industry from stagnation to what was needed in a time of war.
Obama faces a similar global war that will be fought against catastrophic climate change. The action needed, is to be, at war time pace.

As Roosevelt did, Obama could change similar industrial stagnation and financial crisis, with a concerted shift away from redundant industry to one that provides both jobs and direction to a new and greener America. But will he?

Could four years of God in the oval office do it?

We may ask, but he's busy playing golf!
"Which club are you using for the next shot?" asks St Peter. God slips him a sly grin. He knew the game was getting a bit tight with St Peter three strokes up at the end of the 17th. Taking out his number 1 wood for the par five 18th hole, St Peter hits it straight and true down the middle of the fairway. "Nice shot." admits God a little reluctantly. God limbers up and with the grin and a little frustration takes his best hit. A slice to the right, the ball hits a tree and lands in the rough. Out of the long grass, a rabbit picks up the ball, running with it onto the fairway. Down swoops an eagle picking up the rabbit in his talons. Flying down the fairway over the 18th hole the eagle drops the rabbit, the rabbit drops the ball and the ball drops cleanly into the hole. "Oh for Christ sake" says St Peter "It's only a bloody game!"

So as we wait the inauguration of president-elect Obama, we may ask if he wishes to be the Statesman of 21st century America, or will he be playing golf?

Could four years of God in the oval office fix the mess?

Will four years of Obama in the oval office fix the mess?

Let's not ask too much - but let us pray for Divine intervention.

Let us stick to the fairway of the change we need to see and be.

For you and yours. For me and mine. For them and theirs.

Will Obama look back with 20/20 hindsight four years from now; of which it is said we can be wise, and ask what could he have done? Or with 20/20 foresight on the four years ahead with the road we are on, do what has to be done?

Will he be wise?

Will he snatch victory from the hands of defeat?

Will he be the Statesman we need? We will see.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interview with an Activist

Yesterday December 16th I attended a rally to protest against the Australian Governments announcement that it would raise the white flag on climate change. Earlier I had sent the following open letter/email to the Prime Minister Mr. Kevin Rudd (I will not refer to him as the Hon. Kevin Rudd PM of Australia)

Prime Minister - You have missed your opportunity to be the Statesman we need on creating a safe future of our children and theirs. I am saddened that you continue with the decade of denial by the Liberals with what now seems to be continued protracted procrastination. We have 20/20 hindsight of which it is said we can be wise. We have 20/20 foresight on the future we face - on the path we are on. It appears you wish to fail to be wise.
Bob Williamson
Founder and Chair
Greenhouse Neutral Foundation
Author of ZERO Greenhouse Emissions - The Day the Lights Went Out - Our Future World Published by Strategic Book Publishing New York.

While standing with others gathered to register our joint protests, I took the opportunity to alert those there to the release of my book, reviewed as 'What they would rather YOU didn't know about Climate Change' It is a book to inspire in the common man the desire to become part of the solution on climate change as we are most certainly part of the problem.

At the end of the rally a young lady in her 20's came up to me. Introducing herself as Emma I was impressed with her passion to become involved. It was obvious to me that she was intelligent and motivated, but her question touched me; "I want to do something, but I don't know how and I'm not sure I could make a difference as a single person (voice)." 'How did you do it?"

I told her some of our journey, which is what I call, 'our overnight success that took us a decade'.

On reflection; there are many journeys such as ours, many activists like me and my family who are making a difference with the voice of one. They too could guide Emma and others like her to become instrumental in the changes we need to urgently achieve. They too could motivate others with their stories and they too could inspire the many Emma's out there with their words, actions and visions.

So here is my challenge;
Seek out these people; write their inspirational stories in 'An Interview With An Activist' series of blogs.

Help the many Emma's to become the power of one voice.

As I say in the book introduction:-

Feel no guilt for being part of the problem, but feel responsible and inspired to be part of a solution. A few great men and women may start out being the power of one, but no single great man, no single great woman, from the start of history or into the future, will make a change without collective will.

We need collective will, collective effort, and collective vision, for our collective future.

You and Yours. Me and Mine. Them and Theirs.

Are you such an inspirational activist with a story to tell and an Emma to guide?

If so get in touch for 'An Interview With An Activist'.

Bob Williamson

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pemafrost methane a ticking time bomb

Melting Arctic Ocean Raises Threat of ‘Methane Time Bomb’
Scientists have long believed that thawing permafrost in Arctic soils could release huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Now they are watching with increasing concern as methane begins to bubble up from the bottom of the fast-melting Arctic Ocean.
by Susan Q.Stranahan

For the past 15 years, scientists from Russia and other nations have ventured into the ice-bound and little-studied Arctic Ocean above Siberia to monitor the temperature and chemistry of the sea, including levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Their scientific cruises on the shallow continental shelf occurred as sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was rapidly melting and as northern Siberia was earning the distinction — along with the North American Arctic and the western Antarctic Peninsula —of warming faster than any place on Earth. Until 2003, concentrations of methane had remained relatively stable in the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere north of Siberia. But then they began to rise. This summer, scientists taking part in the six-week International Siberian Shelf Study discovered numerous areas, spread over thousands of square miles, where large quantities of methane — a gas with 20-times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide — rose from the once-frozen seabed floor. These “methane chimneys” sometimes contained concentrations of the gas 100 times higher than background levels and were so large that clouds of gas bubbles were detected "rising up through the water column," Orjan Gustafsson of the Department of Applied Environmental Science at Stockholm University and the co-leader of the expedition, said in an interview. There was no doubt, he said, that the methane was coming from sub-sea permafrost, indicating that the sea bottom might be melting and freeing up this potent greenhouse gas. Gustafsson said he makes no claims that the methane release “is necessarily driven by global warming.”

But a growing body of data showing that more methane is emanating from the rapidly thawing Arctic Ocean has caught the attention of many climate scientists. Could this be the beginning, they wonder, of the release of vast quantities of sub-sea Arctic methane long trapped by a permafrost layer that is starting to thaw? In recent years, climate scientists have been concerned about a so-called “methane time bomb” on land, which would be detonated when warming Arctic temperatures melt permafrost and cause frozen vegetation in peat bogs and other areas to decay, releasing methane and carbon dioxide.

Now come fears of a methane time bomb, part two, this one bursting from the sea floor of the shallow Arctic continental shelf. The Arctic sea floor contains a rich, decayed layer of vegetation from earlier eras when the continental shelf was not underwater. So little data is available from the Arctic Ocean that no scientists dare say with certainty whether the world is watching the fuse being lit on a marine methane time bomb. But researchers such as Natalia Shakhova —a visiting scientist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and a participant in some of the Siberian Shelf scientific cruises — are concerned that the undersea permafrost layer has become unstable and is leaking methane long locked in ice crystals, known as methane hydrates. One thing is certain: the shallow Siberian Shelf alone covers more than 1.5 million square kilometers (580,000 square miles), an area larger than France, Germany, and Spain combined
Now come fears of a methane time bomb, part two, this one bursting from the sea floor of the shallow Arctic continental shelf. Should its permafrost layer thaw, an amount of methane equal to 12 times the current level in the atmosphere could be released, according to Shakhova.

Such a release would cause “catastrophic global warming,” she recently wrote in Geophysical Research Abstracts. Among the many unanswered questions is how quickly — over years? centuries? — methane releases might occur. Said Gustafsson, “The conventional view is that the permafrost is holding these large methane reservoirs in place. That is a view that we need to rethink and revise.” What concerns some scientists is evidence from past geological eras that sudden releases of methane have triggered runaway cycles of climate upheaval. Martin Kennedy, a geologist at the University of California at Riverside and lead author of a paper published in Nature in June, speaks in near-doomsday terms, warning that rising methane emissions — from land and sea — threaten to radically destabilize the climate.

Ice core studies in Greenland and Antarctica have shown that Earth’s climate can change abruptly, more like flipping a switch than slowly turning a dial. “I’m very concerned that we’re near the threshold and we’re going to see the tipping point in 20 years,” Kennedy warns. Temperature increases in the Arctic of a just few degrees could unleash the huge storehouse of methane, which some have estimated would be comparable to burning all recoverable stocks of coal, oil, and natural gas. Kennedy’s Nature article bases his warnings on a long-ago event. Sediment samples gathered in south Australia led Kennedy’s

What concerns some scientists is evidence from past geological eras that sudden releases of methane have triggered runaway cycles of climate upheaval.team to theorize that a catastrophic era of global warming was triggered some 635 million years ago by a gradual — and then abrupt — release of methane from frozen soils, bringing an end to “Snowball Earth,” when the entire planet was encrusted in ice. He sees similarities in the mounting threats of thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost today. The question, he asks, is what will set the process in motion and when. “Do we have a substantial risk of crossing one of these thresholds?” he asked in an interview. “I would say yes. I have absolutely no doubt that at the current rate of [greenhouse gas emissions] we can cross a tipping point, and when that occurs it’s too late to do anything about it.”

As with much climate research, the science is complex and opinions can vary dramatically. David Lawrence of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, is concerned, but not alarmed. Lawrence was lead author of a paper in Geophysical Research Letters, also published in June, that documented the consequences of the record loss of Arctic sea ice in 2007. Based on climate models, Lawrence and his team theorized that during periods of rapid sea-ice loss, temperatures could increase as far as 900 miles inland, accelerating the rate of terrestrial permafrost thaw. From August to October of 2007, they reported, temperatures over land in the western Arctic rose more than 4° F above the 1978-2006 average.

“If you give it [the land] a pulse of warming like that it could lead to increased degradation of permafrost,” Lawrence said in an interview. “It’s not quite a runaway situation, but it does accelerate once it starts to thaw and accumulates heat.” Arctic soils hold nearly one-third of the world’s supply of carbon, remnants of an era when even the northern latitudes were covered with lush foliage and mammoths ranged over grassy steppes.

Scientists estimate that the Siberian tundra contains as much buried organic matter as the world’s tropical rain forests. Disappearing Arctic sea ice — summer ice extent was at its lowest level in recorded history in 2007 and almost hit that level in 2008 — also will warm the Arctic Ocean, since a dark, ice-free sea absorbs more solar radiation than a white, ice-covered one. In addition, warmer waters are pouring in from rivers in rapidly warming land regions of Alaska, Canada, and Russia, also increasing sea temperatures. Rising ocean and air temperatures mean not only the continuing disappearance of Arctic sea ice — many scientists now think the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer within two decades —

Scientists are unsure how rapidly the subsurface permafrost is thawing, or the exact causes. One possible cause could be geothermal heat seeping through fault zones. In any case, scientists agree that Arctic sub-sea permafrost — with a temperature of 29° F to 30° F— is closer to thawing than terrestrial permafrost, whose temperature can drop as low as 9.5° F.

At this point, scientists are stepping up their monitoring of the land and the sea in the Arctic, watching to see if either time bomb — terrestrial or marine — is showing signs of going off. So far, data are scarce and monitoring networks don’t exist. “That makes it very difficult to understand and evaluate the future,” Lawrence said. Although scientists know that methane has been released in the region’s water for eons, they are unsure if the new findings represent a short-term spike or long-term trend. Pending more research, Orjan Gustafsson shares Lawrence’s caution. When he was asked how close Earth may be to a tipping point of irreversible climate change, he replied: “Everyone would like to know the answer to that. I don’t think anyone can say.”

In early 2007 it was reported that the Arctic may be ice free in summer by 2100. In November 2008 Scientists reported they may have been out on the prediction, and that it may be ice free by 2011 to 2015. The additional regional solar absorbsion will contribute to permafrost melt adding to the risks of runaway methane release.
The open warming ocean may also contibute the methane clathrates presently traped as ice like crystals in cold Arctic coastal waters.

Is best available science keeping up?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You can say anything to anyone 'as long as you smile'!

Did You know you can say anything to anyone ''AS LONG AS YOU SMILE"

Excerpt from the book ZERO Greenhouse Emissions - The Day the Lights Went Out - Our Future World published by Strategic Book Publishing New York

Chapter 3 - A Certain Future

Through the fictional I can also question the illogical and ask you what you think. I can ask if you agree with the logic and ask what you would do about it. I can ask questions of our political leaders and of those behind the scenes in the halls of power. I can question the motives of lobbying groups and those with vested commercial interests to protect, question the inappropriate subsidies, tax breaks, and commercial deals put in place in the past world model, the “business as usual model” that in a rapidly changing world needs to be reassessed, scrapped, and redirected. In what follows both in fiction and in fact, I will challenge the motives of those who wield influence. I will question whether or not we should continue on the same path. Some may not like the challenges I make. Some may even take offense. To those people I offer the following.
I was once told “You can say anything to anyone—as long as you smile.” Try this out. Hop out of your chair, walk over to the nearest person to you, smile sweetly at them and call them the worst thing possible, in the worst language you can muster, smiling all the time you’re saying it. I bet they don’t take offense or get upset.
Some years ago during the hot Australian summer, a friend and I walked to a local pub frequented by bikers for a cool glass of beer. The sun was blazing. Parked on the veranda at the back of the pub in the shade was one of the most spectacular Harley Davidson motorcycles I had seen in a long time. There was not a speck of dust anywhere to be seen and the paint was a work of art. I drooled over it for several minutes before entering the bar.
There, slumped defiantly at the bar, was the obvious owner. In full club colors he was a menacing sight. Along with his rough appearance, his body language said “don’t mess with me; I’ll take your head off!” To test out the “You can say anything to anyone— as long as you smile” theory, much to the horror of the friend I had with me, I walked up to the biker and said: “Are you the bastard that owns the Harley parked on the veranda?” As he swung around to rip off my head, I smiled and said “It’s beautiful, one of the best I’ve ever seen, I have always wanted one!” During the next half hour or so over a glass of beer, he told me the full history of the bike and himself. He didn’t I’m sorry to say offer to let me take it for a spin. So within the fictional element, script and context, for all those who may for whatever reason take offense, just think of me asking the question while I’m smiling.

End excerpt

Try it out everyone; it's fun!!

Bob Williamson
Founder & Chair
Greenhouse Neutral Foundation