Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rising tides

If Greenland's ice mass were to melt, sea levels would rise by 7m. Even if sea levels rose by 1m, imagine the effect on our coastline and those around the world.

"We fixed the voting problems in Florida." "How?" "Florida's gone, mate."

These were some of the snippets I heard in conversation with a group of eminent scientists that Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society and my employer, had convened in collaboration with the UN Foundation to prepare a report on confronting the impacts of climate change, or climate heating as it probably should be known. We were in NYC yesterday to present the report, Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable, to the United Nations and its new secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.

An exciting couple of days, but ones with salutary messages. The science on climate heating is precise enough now to tell us that we have to stop carbon and other emissions. Now. And if we continue as business as usual, we are literally, and figuratively, cooked. Humankind is largely responsible for what is happening, and the harm is accelerating. The impacts won't just be dangerous to human well-being, but catastrophic.

What was different about our report is that for the first time we offered to the international community a road map for mitigation, adaptation and sustainability. But there's no one silver bullet - an entire set of solutions has to come into play.

There are also win-win solutions - the report makes that clear.

Life offers many options. In this respect we only get two: we either get it right; or we don't.

Everyone needs to wake up and do their bit. Both as individuals and as a collective. The time to act is today. We're not talking a hundred years plus from now - the effect of climate heating will be felt even more within the next decade or two.

And I for one would like Florida's Everglades to still be around for later Everglade Challenges!

Photos: Katie and Kristen get a peak within the UN; the UN from the 10th floor of NYU's medical school - it was a chilly day!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Good post! I would only change the words, "the effect of climate heating WILL BE felt" to 'the effect of climate heating IS BEING felt'. Certainly my friends in Canada's arctic can show major changes to their climate right now. We in southern climes see a lessor effect, but as you point out, we will see it sooner than we think.