Monday, March 16, 2009

Even stronger consensus on climate change

From March 10-12, over 2,500 delegates from 80 countries came together in Denmark to discuss climate change at the International Scientific Congress Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decision. They have released their 6 Key Messages none of which are pretty.

They are as follows:

1. Climatic Trends: The IPCC "scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realized." According to John Church of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Greenland and Antarctica are rapidly losing ice, raising sea levels by as much as 3 mm a year since 1993 (see picture at right). The IPCC predicts 18 cm to 59 cm (7"-20") by 2100.

2. Social Disruption: "Societies are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities particularly at risk." (See the Tuvaluan climate refugees at right.)

3. Long Term Strategy: "Delay in initiating effective mitigation actions increases significantly the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation."

4. Equity Dimensions: This weds 2 & 3 together. "An effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and a common but differentiated mitigation strategy is needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable."

5. Inaction is Inexcusable: "There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches - economic, technological, behavioural, management - to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented to achieve the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to alter our energy economy now, including sustainable energy job growth, reductions in the health and economic costs of climate change, and the restoration of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services."

6. Meeting the Challenges: "To achieve the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge, we must overcome a number of significant constraints and seize critical opportunities. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; removing implicit and explicit subsidies; reducing the influence of vested interests that increase emissions and reduce resilience; enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society; and engaging society in the transition to norms and practices that foster sustainability."I think that this is a call to us. A very real call to step up and do more by both doing less as individual people - consuming less in general - and doing more as teachers now and in the future. I have done only the most cursory search but at this point they have no education recommendations that I can find. Schools are among the most robust institutions we have to work in and with to transform society. It seems likely that this is shaping up to be the greatest social justice issue ever in history because it is total. If you want a quick listen on the justice and ethical issues we face in this, I recommend this interview with James Garvey on Ethics Bites.

The full synthesis report for this convention will be released in June of this year. Before that, from 21-23 April 2009, Antalya, Turkey, the IPCC will meet. All of this is shaping up as the prelude to the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009 held in Copenhagen. Let's hope that we will see some leadership on education and schooling as well as in industry and government.

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