The EU pledge for fighting global warming US$10 billion is 0.5% of global entertainment and media spending, 0.7% of the US military expenditure for 2008 and 1.4% of the US banks bailout.
US$2 trillion: Global Entertainment & Media Spending by 2011
US$1.46 trillion: Global military expenditure at current prices for 2008, and has been rising in recent years
US$700 billion: Banks bailout
US$144 billion in 2011: Global gambling industry estimate up from the current $101.6 billion
US$210 to 665 $billion: Global cost of alcohol-related problems in 2002
US$141 billion in 2012: Global sports market
The shift in the state of the atmosphere is tracking into critical levels. An examination of the geological record indicates that, with the exception of major volcanic and asteroid impact events, which triggered mass extinctions of species, never has atmospheric CO2 risen at a rate as fast as at present: 2 parts per million/year, the earlier highest record being about 0.4 ppm/year about 55 million years ago (Zachos et al., 2008).
Early humans survived a rise of +3 degrees Celsius about 2.8 million years ago. Homo sapiens survived abrupt temperature rise of about +5 degrees C during the two last glacial terminations ~130 thousand and ~14-11 thousand years ago, in part through migration. The species H. sapiens will survive. It is less clear how civilizations, dependent on mountain snow-fed river systems which allow agricultural cultivation of river valleys and deltas, also prone to sea level rise, on extensive cultivation of marginal desert regions such as in Australia and Africa, on regular monsoons as in India and east Africa, and on coastal centers and port cities, can survive a global temperature rise of over 2 degrees C.
The mean global temperature rise of about 1.3 degrees C (0.8C + 0.5C masked by sulphur aerosols) since 1750, an order of magnitude faster than the mean temperature rise of 0.0004-0.00055 degrees C/year during the last glacial termination, is manifested by up to 3 to 4 degrees C rise over parts of the poles, triggering extensive ice melt, polar-ward migration of the climate zones by approximately 400 km southward in Australia, and sea level rise rates which rose from (1mm/year in the early 20th century to 3.7mm/year at present).
With a looming crisis, the greatest the biosphere experienced since the ejection of some 2000 billion tons of carbon as methane gas into atmosphere about 55 million years ago (Zachos et al., 2008), despite high expectations none of the non-binding targets discussed in Copenhagen gets even near what is needed if a meaningful attempt is to be made to avert runaway climate change.
With a maximum emission reduction targets of 30 percent by 2020 relative to 1990 suggested by the European Union, continuing carbon emissions on the scale of 4 or 5 billion tons/year will still raise the cumulative atmospheric CO2 budget by more than 1 ppm/year, in addition to CO2 and CH4 release from land clearing and livestock. This is quite apart from carbon cycle feedbacks and ice sheet melt albedo change feedbacks pushing temperatures upward.
Science reveals that climate is close to tipping points. It is a dead certainty that continued high emissions will create a chaotic dynamic situation for young people, with deteriorating climate conditions out of their control. Science also reveals what is needed to stabilize atmospheric composition and climate. Geophysical data on the carbon amounts in oil, gas and coal show that the problem is solvable, if we phase out global coal emissions within 20 years and prohibit emissions from unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands and oil shale. Such constraints on fossil fuels would cause carbon dioxide emissions to decline 60% by mid-century or even more if policies make it uneconomic to go after every last drop of oil. Improved forestry and agricultural practices could then bring atmospheric carbon dioxide back to 350 ppm (parts per million) or less, as required for a stable climate. Governments going to Copenhagen claim to have such goals for 2050, which they will achieve with the “cap-and-trade” mechanism. They are lying through their teeth. Unless they order Russia to leave its gas in the ground and Saudi Arabia to leave its oil in the ground (which nobody has proposed), they must phase out coal and prohibit unconventional fossil fuels. Instead, the United States signed an agreement with Canada for a pipeline to carry oil squeezed from tar sands. Australia is building port facilities for large increases in coal export. Coal-to-oil factories are being built. Coal-fired power plants are being constructed worldwide. Governments are stating emission goals that they know are lies – or, if we want to be generous, they do not understand the geophysics and are kidding themselves.
A massive denial campaign waged by a coalition of contrarians supported by fossil fuel interests is holding the world to ransom. These people include ex-lobbyists of tobacco companies who all as a sudden have become interested in climate science, medieval fundamentalists who regard climate change in terms of god’s will to purify the Earth, believers in human supremacy over nature, socially backward think tanks, some economists, an few engineers and ego-driven ex-professionals who appear to confuse the weather for the climate. Using some E-mails by scientists who desperately try to alert humanity to the looming climate catastrophe, the denialists tried to sabotage the UN Copenhagen conference. But the real sabotage has been perpetrated by political parties and governments which pay lip service to climate mitigation while advancing carbon reduction targets inconsistent with climate science and any meaningful attempts of defending the realm.
To prove his divine power Caligula waged war on Poseidon, God of the Sea, commanding his army to throw spears into the ocean. Lately humans, claiming mastery of nature, pour carbon into the atmosphere and acid into the oceans, changing the climate which allowed them to descend from the trees and the conditions which allowed their mammalian ancestors to flourish on the continents.
The atmosphere is not waiting for human decision.