Scientists have a good understanding of what has changed earth’s climate in the past: Incoming solar radiation is the main climate driver. Its energy output increased about 0.1% from 1750 to 1950, increasing temperatures by 0.2°F (0.1°C) in the first part of the 20 th century. But since 1979, when we began taking measurements from space, the data show no long-term change in total solar energy, even though Earth has been warming. Repetitive cycles in Earth’s orbit that occur over tens of thousands of years can influence the angle and timing of sunlight. In the distant past, drifting continents make a big difference in climate over millions of years by changing ice caps at the poles and by altering ocean currents, which transport heat and cold throughout the ocean depths. Huge volcanic eruptions can cool Earth by injecting ash and tiny particles into the stratosphere. Changes in the concentration of greenhouse gases, which occur both naturally and as a result of human activities, also influence Earth’s climate.
While there are many substances that act as greenhouse gases, two of the most important are water and carbon dioxide, or CO2.
Increased warmth has also affected living things. For example, the Japanese keep very detailed records on the blossoming of their Tokyo cherry trees, so they know they are blooming 5 days earlier on average than they were 50 years ago. Also mosquitoes, birds, and insects are moving north in the Northern Hemisphere.
Earth is getting warmer by virtually every measure we know, and the temperature has been well above normal for more than 25 years. Although increases of 1.0-1.6°F (0.6-0.9°C) over the last century or so may not sound very threatening, remember that’s a global average. The warming is stronger over land than over oceans and in the higher latitudes than in the tropics.
Global average temperatures are expected to increase by about 2-13°F (1-7°C) by the end of the century. That may not sound like a lot, so what’s the big deal? The problem is that small changes in global average temperature can lead to really large changes in the environment. Let’s look at some of the expected changes.
[Image 1] This triangle can be divided into 8 wedges representing one billion tons each.
Transnational Youth Seminar 10-15 May 2010, Strasbourg Workshop on Climate Change Viewing Climate Change through a Justice & Peace lens in the light of the MDGs : what could / should be our commitment ?
Climate Change: basic issues or what is known from ‘ best available science ’ (IPCC)
Earth’s climate varies naturally – because of a variety of cosmological and geological processes.
Ecosystems and life in general have evolved within a narrow band of climatic-environmental conditions.
“ Climate change” refers to an additional , and relatively rapid , change induced by human actions .
GHG affect the climate system. Concentrations are increasing.
World average temperature has risen relatively fast over the past 30 years.
The additional change – of 2°C within a century? – will disrupt the foundations of life on earth.
20 15 1900 2100 2000 14 16 17 18 13 19 Average Global Temperature ( O C) Year 2050 1950 1860 This presents a rate-of-change problem for many natural systems/processes Band of historical climatic variability IPCC (2001) estimates a 1.4-5.8 o C increase Low High Central estimate = 2.5 o C
Climate change: a global social issue for people most at risk
« Failing to act will consign the poorest 40% of the world’s population – 2.6 billion people – to a grim future, further jeopardising their right to life, access to water and food, good health, decent housing and security. » (Council of Europe, Sept. 2009)
The poor in the world – with a small ecological footprint – who are least responsible for the current crisis, have least resilience and are least capable to respond or to adapt to the consequences of the crisis.
Eco-refugees + eco-migrants + victims of eco-conflicts (cf. Development and Climate Justice, CIDSE 2008).
Social dimensions of Climate Change >> Climate Justice
Climate change is as much a challenge for poverty reduction, equitable economic growth, sustainable development and responsible global governance as it is a global environmental issue.
It could undermine or reverse progress in reducing poverty and attaining the other Millennium Development Goals (by 2015), unraveling many of the development gains of recent decades. Cf. UN SG Report, 12 February 2010, nr. 37-38
It already threatens the livelihoods, health and well-being of millions of people, particulary the poorest, most vulnerable communities. What is ‘ eco-justice ’?
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 One Earth is available (The planet’s total bio-capacity = 1.0) Number of Earths used by humanity Based on Wackernagel et al, 2002 Number of Earths Ecological Foodprint 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
Pax Christi: a Faith-Based Network >> Eco-spirituality : based on biblical, theological and ethical considerations
Pope John Paul II: « Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith ». (World Peace Day, 1 Jan. 1990)
Pope Benedict XVI: «If you want to cultivate peace, protect Creation ». (WPD, 1 Jan. 2010) = Justice + Peace + Integrity of Creation .
Eco-ethics : equity + option for the most vulnerable + human rights + climate justice.
Climate Justice WCC Statement on eco-justice and ecological debt, Sept. 2009
Ecological debt refers to damage caused over time to ecosystems, places and peoples through production and consumption patterns; and the exploitation of ecosystems at the expense of the equitable rights of other countries, communities or individuals.
It is primarily the debt owed by industrialized countries in the North to countries of the South on account of historical and current resource plundering , environmental degradation and the disproportionate appropriation of ecological space to dump greenhouse gases (GHGs) and toxic wastes.
It is also the debt owed by current generations of humanity to future generations . It includes social damages such as the disintegration of indigenous and other communities.
It encompasses the recognition , repayment and restitution of ecological debt in various ways, including ways of compensation and reparation.
A cause for transitional justice: an International Environmental Tribunal in The Hague !
Global governance : politicians + corporate world + civil society.
Set goal of limiting global warming to a max. of 2°C over pre-industrial times (IPCC claim) + GHG/CO 2 emissions to be cut. But it failed to say how this would be achieved. [Kyoto: >> + 3,5°/4°C!! – IPCC: 30-40% by 2020 and the top end of 80-90% by 2050, based on 1990 levels; Kyoto: > 18%; EU: 20-20-20…].
One achievement : UN Green Climate Fund of 16,5 billion $ > 2012; 70 billion $ from 2020.
Accord in December 2010 (Mexico) or 2011 ?
Better no agreement then a bad one + hope: civil society & Churches awakening.
What next—what can we do? What next—what can we do? What next – what can we do?
The results of our « best available science » invite/urge us to prudential and cautious personal attitudes and structural decisions geared towards mitigation and adaptation!
ADVOCACY Calls for a post-2012 global Climate Change Agreement in line with MDGs
The recognition and protection of the right of people in developing countries to their sustainable development , with the prioritisation of vulnerable communities.
The provision by industrialised countries of sufficient, predictable, secure and accessible financing, technology sharing and capacity building to support and enable the mitigation and adaptation efforts of developing countries regarding global warming.
The limitation of global mean surface temperatures as far below a 2° Celsius increase as possible from pre-industrial levels. In recognition of their ecological debt industrialised countries must assume significant responsibility for making absolute reductions of GHG emissions . (IPCC: 30-40% by 2020 and the top end of 80-90% by 2050, based on 1990 levels.)
International Environmental Tribunal in The Hague.
The earth, our unique home! For God’s sake: take care of Creation. [email_address] -Thanks.