Friday 13 June 2008
This joint statement is a 'call to arms' from some of the country's leading scientists, plus several commentators and politicians. The statement describes the urgent need for an effective response to global warming. It was written following the 2008 Manning Clark House Conference on Climate Change which concluded on Thursday June 12 in Canberra.
It has been approved by over 200 conference delegates, which included:
Prof Barry Brook, Prof Ian Enting, Prof Janette Lindesay, Prof Graeme Pearman, Dr Barrie Pittock, Prof Will Steffen;
Earth and prehistory scientists:
Dr Geoff Davies, Dr David Denham, Dr Andrew Glikson (conference convenor), Dr Simon Haberle, Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Dr Bradley Opdyke;
Senator Lyn Allison, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Senator Christine Milne, Barry Jones;
Health and population experts:
Prof Stephen Boyden, Dr Bryan Furnass (conference co-convenor), Prof Tony McMichael, Dr Sue Wareham;
Phillip Adams, Dr Paul Collins, Tony Kevin, Dierk von Behrens;
Below is the Joint statement and comments from two of the signatories:
Barry Jones is former Federal Science Minister. The conference was held in his honour
"Citizens have come together with scientists in Canberra to consider global warming. We are shocked by the urgency of the situation."
Professor Barry Brook is the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change and Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide:
"The Manning Clark House Conference: Imagining the Real Life on a Greenhouse Earth is quite unusual for a climate change conference - perhaps unique. This wasn't just scientists talking among themselves. It was climate scientists engaging directly with political leaders, environmental lawyers, health and population experts, humanists, clerics, poets and concerned members of the general public.
In other words, a representative cross-section of the views and perspectives of the wider community, who shared a common concern - the severity of the problem of global warming and the absolute urgency of the need to take action to avoid dangerous consequences. That is what makes this joint statement (approved at the conclusion of the meeting by the conference speakers and other participants) so powerful. When confronted with the immediacy of this issue and a realistic vision of possible futures under unmitigated carbon emissions, the consensus for a rapid societal response was overwhelming. There is no time to lose."
JOINT STATEMENT: Last call on Climate Change
A statement from the 2008 Manning Clark House Conference: "Imagining the Real Life on a Greenhouse Earth", 11-12 June, Australian National University, Canberra.
Global warming is accelerating. The Arctic summer sea ice is expected to melt entirely within the next five years, - decades earlier than predicted in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report.
Scientists judge the risks to humanity of dangerous global warming to be high. The Great Barrier Reef faces devastation. Extreme weather events, such as storm surges adding to rising sea levels and threatening coastal cities, will become increasingly frequent.
There is a real danger that we have reached or will soon reach critical tipping points and the future will be taken out of our hands. The melting Arctic sea ice could be the first such tipping point.
Beyond 2ºC of warming, seemingly inevitable unless greenhouse gas reduction targets are tightened, we risk huge human and societal costs and perhaps even the effective end of industrial civilisation. We need to cease our assault on our own life support system, and that of millions of species. Global warming is only one of many symptoms of that assault.
Peak oil, global warming and long term sustainability pressures all require that we reduce energy needs and switch to alternative energy sources. Many credible studies show that Australia can quickly and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and by increasing our investment in solar, wind and other renewable sources.
The need for action is extremely urgent and our window of opportunity for avoiding severe impacts is rapidly closing. Yet the obstacles to change are not technical or economic, they are political and social.
We know democratic societies have responded successfully to dire and immediate threats, as was demonstrated in World War II. This is a last call for an effective response to global warming.
[Approved by the delegates of the conference, 12 June 2008]