September 24, 2014

Recent studies show that the need to halt global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions has never been more urgent, according to George Stone, MATC instructor of natural sciences and organizer of the annual Sustainability Summit hosted by MATC. The findings from these studies were a focal point at the United Nations Climate Summit held in New York City on Sept. 23, 2014.

Stone said that the worldwide summit was called by Ban Ki-Moon, UN secretary general, as a way of galvanizing leaders and framing the dialog for the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) planned for December 2015 in Paris. COP meetings have been held since the mid 1990s. All countries are expected reach agreement on a plan to fight global warming at the 2015 meeting.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at the Sept. 23 Climate Summit, forcefully saying that the primary polluters (the U.S., China and India) need to take the lead in changing the trajectory of the destruction of the planet. “We embrace our responsibility to combat it,” Obama said. “We will do our part. And we will help developing nations do theirs. But we can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every nation, developed and developing alike. Nobody gets a pass.”

Stone said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released data showing that the world’s temperature and sea levels are rising more rapidly than ever before. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report stated that in 2013, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased more than in any previous year, reaching a new high of 400 parts per million. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased 43 percent in the last two centuries, since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. This rate of change is 200 times faster than the natural rate of change.

 

George-Stone-Summit-2014

MATC’s George Stone

The latest projections show dire consequences for our planet by the end of the century, Stone said. The average temperature is expected to increase by 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit and the sea level is expected to rise 3-7 feet, drowning coastal areas.

The increase in temperature in the ocean and the accompanying increase in ocean acidity caused by excess carbon dioxide are creating havoc on the ocean’s ecosystem, especially coral and algae.

“The time that we had to do something about all of this has run out,” Stone said. “We have finally gotten to the point where something has to be done.”

Stone believes that the tide of public opinion is turning and people are increasingly recognizing the dangers of climate change, despite attempts to deny global warming by organizations who receive funding from producers of the fossil fuels which are creating the problem. On Sept. 21, more than 300,000 people demonstrated in the People’s Climate Change March in New York, in advance of the UN meeting. It was the largest number of people who ever demonstrated on behalf of the environment, Stone said.

“More and more people are realizing that action needs to be taken for the sake of our children and grandchildren,” said Stone. “Whether we are being affected by global warming is not a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of recognizing the significance of the problem which thousands of scientists have studied for decades, and addressing this urgent problem now.”

The 12th annual Sustainability Summit, hosted by MATC, will be held March 4-6, 2015. Visit http://www.sustainabilitysummit.us/ for preliminary details.

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