WE HAVE LEFT THE SAFE ZONE Karl-Erik Paasonen - EAL/D Teacher
lack of action on climate change is putting people's lives at risk.
We are already experiencing increasing extremes of bushfires and floods. A recent ANU study showed that we could soon suffer through summers of 50°C. We must do something.
My purpose is to get you, as an AEU member, wanting to be involved in the AEU Climate Committee. I’ll do that in three stages. Firstly, I’ll talk through some of the science – the ‘Why should I be involved?’. I’ll be putting it to you that things are considerably worse than is widely understood. Secondly, I’ll talk about broad responses – movements, markets. In particular, that they are about thirty years behind where they need to be in order to make the necessary difference. Thirdly, I’ll make some suggestions regarding an AEU climate committee and you. The Science All of us have heard over the years a range of stuff regarding emissions, carbon dioxide and so on. But it can be hard to fit it all together into a single picture. When you do that, the picture is somewhat dire. A relatively
new scientific endeavour called Earth System Theory brings it all together into one diagram. It’s been known for over a century that carbon dioxide (CO2) has the effect of keeping heat in: in effect, it absorbs some of the frequencies of light. For the last million years or so, through several iceages, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has varied within a particular band. During the coldest parts of iceages, there were about 180 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere. During the periods between iceages, the amount went up to about 280 ppm, at times approaching 300. This was what our species evolved in. In particular, for the last 12 000 years, the ‘Holocene’- a long, steady interglacial - it has sat at 280 ppm with very little variation. This is the period when all neolithic cultures have developed, everything we call ‘civilisa-
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