sustainability turns red … code red?

I received alarming emails from Carbonequity and FoE today describing how a good many tipping points have been reached and that we are on the brink of a point of no return. On January 28th ClimateCodeRed will be published in Australia …

“Climate code red: the case for a sustainability emergency”. … will include responses from a wide range of climate activists and organisations as part of a conversation about how we can campaign for a very fast transition to a post-carbon, climate safe future.

(another nice carbon definer here – post-carbon )

Why is this relevant to a blog on built environment issues? Well…it can be argued that the failure global built environment sector (design, construction and buildings in use) to address and improve on energy performance, energy use, and energy loss is a highly significant contributor to the current situation. As building use energy inefficiently we put an increasing demand on energy production, largely a fossil fuel sourced energy that in itself adds to the problem.

A move from seeing sustainability as green to seeing it as red may start to focus our approach in a different way and just may force us to rethink – a colour paradigm switch !

Similar to Dave Hampton’s excellent think purple carbon – if carbon emissions were purple rather than invisible we would be living in a purple smog, with purple skies – and would have tackled sustainability a long time ago, in a much much more effective manner.

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and if you are still reading …those alarming points are:

While the world’s attention was on Bali in December 2007, a remarkable set of comments and predictions were made by Prof. James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science and other scientists at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Thursday, 13 December 2007.

Here is a summary of the main points:

* Climate tipping points have been passed. These include large ice sheet disintegration, significant sea level rises and species loss.

* These tipping points were passed when we exceeded 300-350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a point passed decades ago.

* The Arctic will soon be ice-free in the summer.

* There is already enough carbon in Earth’s atmosphere to lose Arctic sea ice cover and for massive ice sheets such as in Greenland to eventually melt away, and ensure that sea levels will rise several feet (meters) in coming decades.

* Climate zones such as the tropics and temperate regions will continue to shift, and the oceans will become more acidic, endangering much marine life.

* “We have passed that (Greenland) and some other tipping points in the way that I will define them,” Hansen said in an email. “We have not passed a point of no return. We can still roll things back in time — but it is going to require a quick turn in direction.”

* “We either begin to roll back not only the emissions [of carbon dioxide] but also the absolute amount in the atmosphere, or else we’re going to get big impacts.” “We should set a target of CO2” that’s low enough to avoid the point of no return. The CO2 tipping point for many parts of the climate is around 300 to 350 parts per million, Hansen estimated.
* “We have to figure out how to live without fossil fuels someday,” Hansen said. “Why not sooner?

* People must not only cut current carbon emissions but also remove some carbon that has collected in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution

(with thanks to Carbonequity)

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