Climate Change Emergency Letter 2011
MEMO to the PRESIDENT
of EVERY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Re: GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HEALTH EMERGENCY — Doctors Can Influence Climate Change Policy
We are today deciding the state and habitability of planet Earth for thousands of years. The prognosis is grave.
- Potentially catastrophic planetary changes are already happening, many decades ahead of computer projections.
- The UN negotiations for a new climate treaty are stalled — for a great many years if nothing changes.
- In the United States, political and public support for climate change is low.
- No institution is acknowledging that we are beyond dangerous interference with the climate system, or that we face the risk of planetary climate catastrophe.
- Only the medical profession has the capacity to now force serious (emergency) policymaking on climate change.
The UN 2010 Cancun climate conference continued the failure of the 2009 Copenhagen conference and no new UN treaty can be expected from the stalled negotiations for over 10 years and possibly for decades, according to Yvo de Boer and Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC Secretariat).
"The fact is that it's unreasonable to expect that there is going to be one large comprehensive agreement that will address all issues and will miraculously change the way that we've been doing things for a hundred years," said Figueres on 27 Sept 2010).
According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, that will mean global climate catastrophe, and the end of human civilization at the very least.
In 2008, top climate change expert James Hansen announced, "We really have reached a point of planetary emergency."
GLOBAL CLIMATE HEALTH EMERGENCY
How Can the Health Professions Offer an Expert Emergency Response to the Stalled UN Climate Treaty Negotiations?
Climate Action Network International
- Endorse the endangerment finding that greenhouse gas emissions are hazardous global (as well as regional) pollutants (US EPA, 2010).
- Endorse the Climate Action Network International October 2010 position for Cancun and connect with CAN.
- Support Professor John Holdren's "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" statement that he has held since 2006 (along with other leading climate change experts).
- Advise that the world must prepare for the worst ever global health catastrophe.
- Advise that today a state of global climate change population health emergency already exists due to now inevitable large increases beyond today's level of global warming, climate disruption, and ocean acidification and that a state of planetary emergency already exists (James Hansen, 2008).
Attached are the October 2010 recommendations of Climate Action Network (CAN) International, representing over 450 NGOs worldwide.
The good news is that this is the best CAN position to date in responding to the realities of the climate science. We suggest endorsing this position, which CAN submitted to the Cancun Climate Conference in 2010. Essentially, it recommends the following:
- 1.5ºC global average temperature increase limit
- over a 40% reduction in emissions from 1990 baseline (Annex 1 countries - developed nations) by 2020
- zero carbon emissions and plans for reaching zero carbon.
Very sensibly, CAN has dropped targets for 2050.
The one target, however, that is absolute (and absolutely necessary) is zero carbon emissions. See Only Zero Carbon for vital information on this crucial target.
As warned in the fine statement by 18 presidents of national medical associations in the pre-Copenhagen climate conference period, with no new UN treaty in sight, the worst ever "global health catastrophe" is now practically inevitable and must be prepared for.
The climate science makes it absolutely definite that (short of global efforts that cool the planet) today's global average temperature increase will more than double and that it will last for thousands of years. Ocean acidification is also committed to increase beyond its level today and to last for thousands of years.
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
- Today the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest in over 15 million years and "probably" 20 million years.
- The acidification of the oceans is the highest in over 20 million years.
- The atmospheric concentration of methane, a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, has increased 2 and a half times since industrialization and the concentration is now "spiking" due to additional methane being emitted from the warming planet as a carbon feedback.
- The Arctic summer sea ice continues on its steady downward trajectory, which will reduce its cooling influence on the Arctic, the northern hemisphere, and the whole globe.
Dangerous climate interference is being denied.
The huge contribution that the medical profession can make is a population health security position on "dangerous anthropogenic interference (DAI) with the climate system," which is the clear intention and key of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
A truly incredible situation continues to exist with respect to DAI. No nation or organization involved in the global climate change crisis has a position on DAI.
The medical profession is the best qualified to give a "value judgment" recommendation (which the scientists say they cannot make) that we are past dangerous climate interference. It would be fairly easy to quite rapidly develop a population health and survival position on dangerous interference with the climate system.
Obviously the world is now far beyond DAI and fortunately this has been acknowledged by long-standing climate change scientists such as James Hansen, John Holdren, Hans Schellnhuber, Bill Hare, and Andrew Glickson.
Incredibly, the multiple adverse impacts of global warming and climate disruption on agricultural food crops are not being treated as a top danger in climate change awareness, assessments and policymaking. Although the climate crop models are as yet poorly developed, recent published science leaves no question that with regard to food security we are beyond DAI and in extremely serious trouble. See Climate Change and Food Security for more vital information.
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