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Contraction & Convergence: An urgent global imperative to tackle Climate Change

by Bhavani Prakash
 
Why have the past climate negotiations including the one at Copenhagen in December 2009 been inadequate to deal with the serious climate crisis facing the planet?  What is the model that allows for an equitable transition to a zero carbon future – probably the only model that will ensure climate justice and keep the planet from disastrous temperature rises? How can we urge the new UK government to embrace this model as ordinary citizens of the world – so that it benefits all developed AND developing nations? 
 
BBc wealth and ghg emissions

Image source: BBC News

With the worst of the financial crisis behind us, the engines of economic growth have begun to hum again. From a carbon emissions point of view, we have much cause for concern as there is a direct correlation between GDP and GHG emissions. (See diagram on the right).

We have not yet made that shift to where economic growth comes with low carbon emissions. On the contrary, we are causing climate change at a faster rate than we are mitigating it. How can we manage future emissions in a way that economies, human societies and ecosystems are not blown apart due to the growth paradigm [1] to which we as an economy driven world are addicted – of infinite growth in a planet of finite resources?

co2_widget_brundtland_600_graph

CO2 concentrations from CO2now.org Click here for larger image

The world is facing a serious climate crisis [2a], with ever increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Measured in parts per million (ppm), the current concentrations of CO2 as of April 2010 are 392 ppm. (See diagram on left based on figures released every month by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii).

We’re already past the safe limit of 350ppm[2b] – a level beyond which gives us an increasing probability of exceeding the overall 2 degree temperature rise [3]  as compared to global temperatures at the start of the industrial revolution when CO2 concentrations were about 280 ppm. The 2 degree temperature rise is the upper limit world leaders have committed to observing.

Just as we have a budget at home that we cannot exceed without negative consequences, we also now have a limited carbon budget [4], if overshot, will have catastrophic consequences – rising global temperatures, biodiversity and species loss impacting sustainability of ecosystems, melting polar glaciers and rising sea levels that may engender mass displacement of millions of people.[5]

We, as members of the public, have a moral responsibility to understand and engage in the climate change debate.  It is our responsibility to have a say, to demand a say,  in our children’s future – not only for the future of their education, finances and health, but critically for their ecological future on which everything else rests.

Important as they may be, we cannot leave the issue to politicians, businesses, NGOs and climate scientists alone, especially considering that various governments haven’t gone very far with the reduction of CO2 emissions since the Kyoto Protocol [6] that was signed in 1997.

Various climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  [7] (UNFCCC) including the recent one at Copenhagen in December 2009, the COP15 [8], have failed to arrive at a “fair, ambitious and binding” climate deal that defines a clear future path for reduction of emissions.

Although it was recognised during the negotiations that tackling climate change is important, there was less clarity on how to share the “burden.” Certainly, many developing countries felt there was injustice in why they were being asked to share the burden of the problem of solving climate change, when they had little to do with its creation. 

What is the most equitable model to combat climate change?

Per-Capita-CO2-Emissions-and-Per-Capita-GDP-2006

Credit: EarthTrendsDelivered.org (Click for larger image)

Every human being should have equal rights on this planet and that extends to the amount of carbon emissions he or she is allowed. Our current global average use per person is about 1.3 Metric Tonnes Carbon [MTC]   (Carbon emissions refer to carbon atoms which weigh less than the CO2 molecule, so divide the per capita CO2 emissions shown in the diagram on the right by a factor of 3.667 if you want to get to per capita MTC)

The use of the global atmosphere is very unequal, with richer countries taking the lion’s share. About 33% of the global population have carbon emissions greater than the world average of 1.3MTC, with 67% below it.

According to Global Carbon Project.org  From a historical perspective, developing countries with 80% of the world’s population still account for about 20% of the cumulative emissions since 1751; the poorest countries in the world, with 800 million people, have contributed less than 1% of these cumulative emissions.” 

For any climate deal to be successful, unequal future use of the air as a dump for carbon will never get majority support.  We have a better chance of avoiding disastrous climate change, if we reduce this world average to 0.9MTC by the next 20 years or so. All nations basically “converge” to this global average by around 2030.

Developed countries make steeper and swifter cuts or “contractions” to come down to the lower per capita average, while poorer nations which are below the average can increase their per capita emissions till all countries have converged to the same level.  After that, everyone transitions to null emissions.

This is the simple essence of the “Contraction & Convergence” (C&C) model put forth by the Global Commons Institute (GCI), a UK non-profit organisation set up in 1990 by Aubrey Meyer. C & C was proposed to the UNFCC in 1996, and though explicit mention of this model is not made often in the negotiations, it has been the underlying philosophy behind them since that time, the devil being in the details.

C & C is a simple, elegant and equitable carbon rationing framework for an international agreement on CO2 emissions.  To borrow from the GCI website:

‘Contraction’, refers to the ‘full-term event’ in which the future global total of greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions from human sources is shrunk over time in a measured way to near zero-emissions within a specified time-frame.   Each country starts with a certain entitlement level of CO2 emissions in line with present emission level.  Then the contraction is scheduled for each year until we get to compliance with the ‘objective’ of the UNFCCC – a safe and stable GHG concentration in the global atmopshere.

Having defined a global budget, the second step, ‘Convergence‘ refers to the full international sharing of the emissions contraction-event, where the ‘emissions-entitlements’ for all countries result from them converging on the declining global per capita average of emissions arising under the contraction rate chosen.  Each country is assigned annual allowances which starts for example from actuals in 2000 and converges to a common level of per-capita emissions in an agreed target year. While developed countries are receiving drastically reduced emissions entitlements, the emission entitlements of developing nations increase every year till we reach the date when they are all equal per capita. If they don’t use all their the entitlements, they can sell these to the rest of the world, and use it to fund their energy efficiency, green technology or adaptation investments.

This video clip from the climate change movie directed by Franny Armstrong, ”The Age of Stupid portrays the C & C concept in a simple manner:

 

C& C as a model provides clarity in terms of goals to achieve – the targets, the timeframe and the mechanism. It provides us the “shared language” to work together towards a workable solution to climate change.

It is an equitable model as in Aubrey Meyer’s words from the UNEP’s Climate Change Action Magazine 2008 (Pg 27)  [9]:

- Equity as collateral is the 100% entirety of the emissions contraction even necessary for concentration stability

- The social equity as the equal per person on the same 100%  throughout that event but softened by convergence

- The commercial equity is the shares pre-distributed this way sum to the same 100% and are tradable so as to accelerate the positive sum game for the emissions-free economy that must emerge if we are to prosper in the future. 

Integrated and implemented this way, we have a chance of accelerating the positive sum game for the emissions-free economy that must emerge if we are to prosper globally in the future. 

Climate Justice without Vengeance

C & C is a non-prescriptive model. It can calculate any rate of global emissions contraction required to meet UNFCCC goal for safe and stable concentrations of GHG in the atmosphere and any rate of convergence to equal per capita emissions entitlements within any rate of contraction, to satisfy the UNFCCC equity rationale.

C & C doesn’t impose on any nation or groups of nations what the rate of convergence should be;  it is a model that can be used as an underlying basis for nations to sit together and negotiate this rate.  By modelling various scenarios it shows what timeframe is acceptable, and what is dangerous if we delay convergence.

Unfortunately, this did not happen at the COP15 meeting at Copenhagen last year.

The “leaked” Danish texts at the summit were the cause of much furore, because developed nations were “prescribing” the convergence rate rather than using the C & C model as a basis of negotiation. The reductions in the text proposed : to achieve equal per capita emissions globally by 2050 within which developed countries must contract by 80%  with a global convergence of per capita emissions by that date, which might give a 50:50 odds of remaining within a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius.  [ GCI had expressed concerns about the odds and the rates applied and the prescriptive nature of the proposal as you can see in this animation here]

It then became a political blame game that Aubrey Meyer and Terry O’Connell explain in this Business Green article.

The Danish texts were met with angry protests from the G-77 nations and China on two fronts:

1. It froze per capita emissions 2:1 in favour of developed nations (i.e., developed nations needed to cut down to 2.67 tonnes of carbon, whereas developing nations could not emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon)

2. The lion’s share of what was left going to developed countries.

While the first point was not true (the convergence would have been towards equal per capita shares), there was validity in the second point. As shown in this CGI animation in the section on “Compare Rates of Convergence for Pre-Distribution of Tradeable Equity,”  earlier the rate of convergence, the more advantageous it is for developing nations.

For example, if the date of convergence is 2020 instead of 2050,  developing nations would get an extra 40GTC of carbon entitlements, that would come out of developed countries accounts. At £100/tonne, equity of  £4 Trillion can accrue to developing nations, which is in effect the “rent” paid for unused entitlements to use the atmosphere. 

It would then be fair to the developing countries to be compensated for what they are underutilising. They would be able to use these funds for many purposes:  green technology, adaptations, external debt and so on. This is Climate Justice.

Instead of acrimonious debate brought about by pulling out numbers from a hat, the idea is to have an organised and harmonious international negotiation with a framework like the C & C that brings all nations together under the required contraction event, for the rightful sharing of entitlements based on a mutally agreed convergence date. This is Climate Justice without Vengeance.

Why are Copenhagen targets simply not enough?

A recent report by the Potsdam Institute of Climate Change Research (PIK) and published in Nature[10]  has warned that Copenhagen targets will not slow down global warming [11].

* As part of the Copenhagen Accord, 76 countries (which between them are responsible for about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions) submitted pledges to limit their emissions by 2020.

* The US submitted a target  for a reduction of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. This equates to only 3% below 1990 levels, even though it is estimated that 25%-40% reductions are necessary in developed countries. China’s goals are basically a business-as-usual scenario, while the European Union’s targets are more towards a 20%-30% emissions cut. The only two countries that made pledges in line with the 2°C target are Japan and Norway.

* Global emissions in 2020 could actually end up being 20% higher than today. Many countries will raise annual emissions of greenhouse gases 10%-20% above the current levels, reaching a high of 47.9 to 53.6 Gt CO2 (gigatonnes of carbon dioxide) by 2020.

* Current pledges mean a greater than 50% chance that warming will exceed 3°C by 2100.  This would put the odds of global warming levels exceeding the 2°C limit by the end of this century at 50%.  However, if nations agree to halve emissions by 2050, there is still a 50% chance that warming will exceed 2°C and will almost certainly exceed 1.5°C

The sum and substance is that climate negotiations are nowhere near the kind of carbon emission reductions that will contain global temperature rise to within the safe 2°C target.

Another worrying factor as pointed out by GCI and incorporated in the C & C framework is the sink efficiency of oceans and forests –  or the ability of these ecosystems to go on absorbing extra human generated generated CO2.

So far the evidence as reported by the IPCC for the last 15 years, is that the Constant Airborne Fraction (CAF) [12] (or the fraction of anthropogenic carbon emissions that accumulates in the atmosphere) has been constant at around 50%, but now this is gradually increasing as sink efficiency decreases with rising temperature.

NG CO2 Bathtub Graphic

Carbon Bathtub: Click image for larger picture

Think of the atmosphere loosely as a bath tub – a tub with a tap running and a drain open. If we put in carbon at a faster rate than natural ecosystems can drain it out (roughly 50% of human induced CO2 emissions), then we get rising concentrations and a warmer world.  Cumulatively, oceans are increasingly saturated with old GHG absorptions causing increased acidification which causes carbon-consuming life-forms in the oceans to die-off. With this and with temperatures rising, oceans are not able to absorb as efficiently as before. So we need to rework our model to factor in the new and declining sink efficiency,  to make sure the tub doesn’t overflow.  

[The carbon tub analogy is illustrated in the diagram on the left as it appeared in the National Geographic magazine. It assumes a lower Constant Airborne Fraction of 44% which means 56% can be absorbed by our natural sinks. The IPCC studies [13](Pg 14-17) over 15 years show a CAF of 50% which means sinks can absorb only 50% and even that ability is declining]

As mentioned before, the level of CO2 in the tub is 392 parts per million (ppm) and rising by 2 or 3 ppm each year. To stop it at 450 ppm, a level many scientists consider dangerously high, John Sterman [14] MIT Sloan School of Management’s Director of Systems Dynamics Group, said  the world would have to cut emissions by around 80 percent by 2050.  A partner in ClimateInteractive.org, he helped create the C-ROADS climate policy simulation model and Climate Scoreboard  [15] that measure the long-term effects of various proposals for emissions reductions.

The C & C model proposes [16] similar targets, mentioning the maximum convergence date that is acceptable to stay within safe limits:

“to keep within 2 degrees (with a greater than 50:50 chance), a global contraction budget no more than 350- 400 GTC, with a minimum 80% cut all emissions globally by 2050 and negotiating a convergence to equal per capita shares (of 0.9 MTC) of this globally within one third of the timeline for contraction, i.e., no later than 2030.” 

Here is one example of the C & C model showing the scenario of per capita emissions converging to 0.9 MTC per person by 2030 and contraction of total emissions by 50% by 2050 and 90%  by 2100:
 

Contraction & Convergence Model: Global Commons Institute

Contraction & Convergence Model: Global Commons Institute

For a better understanding of the model, please view the various scenarios in the GCI animation” Climate Justice without Vengeancehere.  [17]

Separate Development is not Sustainable Development

Aubrey Meyer [18] is a British born musician turned climate campaigner. He co-founded the Global Commons Institute [19], a non-profit organisation for the protection of global commons [20]in 1990. The elegant C & C framework that he created was first proposed to the UNFCC in 1996. Having schooled in South Africa during the Apartheid era, he understood the injustices of the system.  As a climate change activist, he was quick to recognise the “global apartheid” of carbon emissions which favours the rich over poorer nations. In his model, are embedded notions of justice and equity, in a well defined, scientific and stuctured framework for charting the path of carbon emissions reduction – a structure that he likens to that of music.  He was nominated in 2008 by the UK All Parliamentary Group on Climate Change for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Guardian UK in 2008 named Aubrey Meyer among “the top 50 people who could save the planet“[21]   and earlier in 2005, New Statesman called him one of “10 people most likely to change the world.” [22]

Here’s a 11 minute video where Aubrey Meyer talks about C & C with contributions from Tim Smit (CEO, Eden Project, UK), Bill McGuire (Director, UCL Hazard Research Centre) and Dr. Rajendra Pachuari (IPCC chairman) and Lord Adair Turner (Lord Adair Turner (Chair, UK  Climate Change Committee)

What is the call to action? 

Here is a message from Aubrey Meyer: 

May 30th 2010

Please will you support and co-sign this letter from Colin Challen to Chris Huhne?   

Below is the text of a letter that is being sent soon to the Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, the UK’s new Liberal Democrat Minister of Energy and Climate Change.

The letter will be sent by Colin Challen, the former Chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change.

It appreciates the pro-Contraction-and-Convergence [C&C] record of Chris and his party and requests him to convene a public meeting to address the way ahead in terms of this “UNFCCC-compliant Global Climate Change Framework”.

Before sending it, Colin is circulating the letter widely with an open invitation to anyone in agreement with its message to become a co-signatory to it.

If you would like to be, please will you email your agreement along with your name, title and position to me asap at: -

aubrey[dot]meyer[at]btinternet[dot]com

With thanks

Aubrey Meyer

 

Here is the chance to lend your weight behind the C & C framework, by supporting this signature campaign to call the UK Government for a public meeting. Please send your email as above to Aubrey Meyer. If you have any comments or questions about the model or any related climate change issues, please do leave your note here at the end of this blog for him to answer or send him an email at aubrey[dot]meyer[at]btinternet[dot]com

Why should we in Asia or anywhere outside the UK support an initiative in the UK?

This is not an initiative for the UK. C & C is a just and workable solution meant for solving the climate change issue for the entire planet. Climate change is not a national, or regional issue, but a collective issue for all of humanity.  By supporting this letter right now, we are as world citizens telling the new UK government, that this is a solution that matters to all of us.  If the UK and other developed nations adopt this as a standard for negotiations, those in the developing world are likely to benefit most, as this is an equitable model to reduce carbon emissions. We are all looking for a win-win solution, and C & C is it. However to avoid dangerous climate change, we have to act now, act quickly and act together.

 As Dr. Rajendra Pachauri( IPCC Chairman) says in the video :

“ When one looks at the kinds of reductions that would be required globally, the only means for doing so is to ensure that there’s contraction and convergence, and I think there’s growing acceptance of this reality.

I don’t see how else we might be able to fit within the overall budget for emissions for the world as a whole by 2050. We need to start putting this principle into practice as early as possible, so that by the time we reach 2050, we’re not caught by surprise, we’re well on a track for every country in the world that would get us there.

On the matter of ‘historic responsibility’, there is no doubt that accelerating the rate of convergence relative to the rate of contraction is a way of answering that we really need to get agreement from Developed and Developing Countries to subscribe to this principle.”

Who supports C & C?

The GCI document called An International Conceptual Framework for Preventing Dangerous Climate Change  [9] quotes several international personalities in support of the C & C model. These include Heads of State from Europe, Asia (Dr. Manmohan Singh and 7 other leaders of the Indian subcontinent), environmentalists like Sir David Attenborough and Sir Johnathon Porrit, climate scientist James Lovelock, economists Partha Dasgupta and Paul Erlich among other people.

A Report [23]of a Joint Inquiry by Bangladesh Parliament’s All Party Group on Climate Change and Environment and the UK All Party Parliament Climate Change Group shows how C & C can bring the developed and developing world closer.   To quote from the report:

” We believe that this lack of clarity and shared purpose is the greatest barrier to success in the UNFCCC negotiations.  We wish to demonstrate in our joint approach that parliamentarians from our two countries can help resolve the burden sharing riddle. 

Bangladesh is a country which is most often quoted as being one of the first that will suffer badly from the impacts of climate change; the UK is a country which since the industrial revolution has contributed most to the problem – and which now professes political leadership on the subject. 

We believe that if we as Parliamentarians from these two countries can bridge the differences, and develop a shared understanding of our respective burdens and challenges, we could propose a model for both the developed and developing worlds.”

 

What can I do to help with the Climate Change issue?

We can’t create change without taking action. Share the seriousness of the climate change issue and the importance of the C& C model with your family, friends and colleagues, offline and online through social media. Write and talk to your ministers, and members of  parliament. Write to various magazines and forums.  We can make ourselves heard by voicing our opinions and concerns about our shared future and those of the coming generations. 

As Sterman says, “In the end, it comes down to public support. We have to change the way we use energy and support policies that will enable those changes to occur. Science is no longer the bottleneck to action. We need to focus on social and political change.” 

Thank you! 

Many thanks to Aubrey Meyer for his answers to my queries regarding the C & C model.

The links that have been used in this article: 

[1] EWTT: The Impossible Hamster: Limits to Economic Growth
[2a] Huffington Post: The Perfect Storm: Six Trends Converging on Collapse
[2b] James Hansen in the Huffington Post : Twenty Years Later : Tipping Points Near on Global Warming
[3] Real Climate: Hit the Brake hard  (Why 2 degrees as a threshold is important)
       Related : National Geographic Video: 2 Degrees Warmer  Also watch 3 Degrees Warmer4 Degrees Warmer, 5 Degrees Warmer and 6 Degrees Warmer
       Related:  EWTT: Impact of a Global Temperature rise of 4 Deg Celsius 
[4] New Scientist: Humanity’s Carbon Budget set at One Trillion Tonnes 
[5] EWTT: Climate Refugees
[6] Wikipedia : Kyoto Protocol
[7] Wikipedia: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
[8] Wikipedia: Copenhagen Accord
[9] Global Commons Institute GCI: An International Conceptual Framework for Preventing Dangerous Climate Change
[10] Nature: Copenhagen Accord pledges are paltry
[11] Cordis Europa : Copenhagen targets will not slow down global warming
[12] Skeptical Science:  Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic Co2 emissions increasing 
[13] Global Commons Institute : IPCC Studies showing Constant Airborne Fraction at 50%
[14] John Sterman   MIT Sloan Professor finds Copenhagen Climate Summit agreement inadequate to reach global goal for greenhouse gas emissions 
[15] EWTT: Climate Scoreboard
[16] Global Commons Institute C & C proposal : Second Memo from GCI to the UK House of Commons “Environmental Audit Committee”  
[17] Global Commons Institute C & C animation : C & C is Climate Justice without Vengeance  
[18] Global Commons Institute : CV_Aubrey Meyer
[19]Global Commons Institute Home Page
[20] Wikipedia: Global Commons
[21] Guardian UK : The top 50 people who could change the planet
[22] New Statesman: Ten people who could change the world
[23] Report of a Joint Inquiry by Bangladesh Parliament’s All Party Group on Climate Change and Environment and the UK All Party Parliament Climate Change Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on Jun 6 2010. Filed under Carbon Footprint, Climate Change, Government Policy, Green Activism, Green Economics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

10 Comments for “Contraction & Convergence: An urgent global imperative to tackle Climate Change”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eco Houses, ecowalkthetalk. ecowalkthetalk said: Contraction & Convergence: An urgent global imperative to tackle Climate Change http://bit.ly/bwCqnc [...]

  2. This is very well detailed for experts and lay people like me. I understand the issue more clearly now. Good Job done Bhavani.

  3. Thanks, Nina for writing in. That was my idea behind this blog…to demystify a lot of “climate change” talk for the general public..who really need to engage more actively in this issue…….I really hope it served the purpose. Also that in finding a solution, we need a numbers based model, firmly rooted in climate science, and which allows for a participatory process to decide the best timeframe within the maximum acceptable limit as determined by the model.

  4. Good stuff Bhavani, a solid piece indeed!

  5. [...] the universe and everything – Eco Walk The Talk: Contraction & Convergence: An urgent global imperative to tackle Climate Change [Thanks [...]

  6. [...] the universe and everything – Eco Walk The Talk: Contraction & Convergence: An urgent global imperative to tackle Climate Change [Thanks Bhavani] – Dee Kay Dot As Gee: So Long For Now: The Fire Fight Says Farewell – The boy who [...]

  7. Could it be that we need to make democracy, real democracy happen?

    Perhaps what we need, maybe all we need, is an adequately functioning democracy, but first ordinary people will have to liberate ourselves from the pernicious, widely shared and consensually validated thinking of a tiny minority in the human community who extol the virtue of greedmongering as good, as an activity to be valued most highly.

    Even an enlightened dictator is not a person in whom I could place much faith. We need for duly elected, common people who are chosen by a society to accept the responsibilities and fulfill the duties of leadership by meaningfully embracing democratic principles and eschewing greed, by not “selling out” to greedmongers.

    It appears to me that the most arrogant, foolhardy and avaricious, self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us rule the world in our time, and rule it absolutely. This situation is bold evidence of a corruption of democracy, not an example of the reasonable exercise of democratic principles and practices. These circumstances are not only a colossal insult to human beings with feet of clay, but also are a clear and present danger to global biodiversity, Earth’s environs, its limited resources and to a good enough future for the children.

    Democracy requires representatives who reject the entreaties and bribes of greedmongers as well as embrace principles and practices that promote long-term well being of ordinary people and not only the short-term desires and fantasies of masters of the universe.

  8. As we go towards COP-17 and the prospect of more interntional disagreement over climate change, C&C continues to attract support: –
    http://www.gci.org.uk/endorsements.html

  9. Russell Hopfenberg’s Science

    By Steve Salmony

    10 July, 2011
    Countercurrents.org

    For the past 10 years scientific research from Dr. Russell Hopfenberg has been everywhere avoided by many too many professionals with appropriate expertise in population science. Could someone with appropriate expertise kindly respond to the scientific evidence presented by Russ Hopfenberg? That is to ask, would someone with adequate expertise either report findings regarding extant hypotheses and evidence or else find a top rank colleague with appropriate expertise who will affirm or refute the research? Please note that I am not asking for inexpert opinion pieces of the kind I regularly present. We need something more and different now.

    Hopfenberg’s apparently unforeseen, unfortunately unwelcome and still unchallenged scientific finding regarding the relationship between food supply and human population numbers is being denied by the very experts upon whom the human community relies for guidance and direction. For a decade ‘the brightest and best’ have refused comment on what appears to be the best available science concerning the relationship between food availability and the size of the human population on Earth. Too many experts have ignored certain scientific evidence and failed to report their findings in professional journals, as would be expected. This failure has to be acknowledged and put behind us so that momentum can gather to move the human family in a new direction; so that we can begin making necessary changes toward sustainability.

    Until now what appears so obvious, almost rhetorical to many people, regarding the human population has been rarely acknowledged and seldom reported by experts who have unassumed responsibilities to science and unfulfilled duties to perform for humanity’s sake. Perspectives of many too many professional researchers regarding human population dynamics and overpopulation have not been shared widely and openly. Public discourse of science regarding so vital a topic as human overpopulation has been voided, as it were, into a black hole of silence. Experts in possession of scientific understanding have remained mute about what people see and, in so choosing, have refused to validate what is already alive in the world: vital knowledge of the human population.

    Scientists with expertise in many other fields of inquiry utterly depend on other top notch colleagues to present the best available scientific evidence in each field of study. That is to say, first class scientists who are not expert in matters related to population dynamics and human overpopulation, for example, are dependent upon similarly situated experts in fields of study related to population dynamics and overpopulation for reports of the best scientific evidence. Regrettably, professionals with appropriate expertise in population dynamics and human overpopulation have not been carefully examining and objectively reporting findings regarding certain scientific research from Hopfenberg on the human population. This most problematic situation has to be recognized, addressed and overcome.

    How are human beings to consciously, deliberately and ably respond to the global challenges posed to humanity by human overpopulation of the Earth if experts in population dynamics and overpopulation choose to pose as if they are willfully blind, hysterically deaf and electively mute in the face of scientific evidence? Responding to science with silence, as has been occurring for the past ten years, is woefully inadequate and could contribute to a forbidding result, one in which humankind inadvertently precipitates the ruination of the world as a fit place for children everywhere to inhabit. If the day ever comes when professionals come to regard the best available, uncontested science as meaningless or useless, then I will fear the worst for the children. I cannot see any justification or defense for continuing to consciously and willfully deny what could be true regarding the human population, as science discloses what is real to us.

    On our watch, the human family appears to be unknowingly precipitating a planetary emergency with potentially profound implications for the future of life as we know it on Earth. If a human-driven global emergency is in fact looming before us, it is incumbent upon those leaders inside and outside the community of scientists in my generation of elders to take the measure of the global ecological challenges that are so distinctly human-forced, so rampantly emergent and so rapidly convergent in our time. The extent to which the global predicament already visible on the horizon is derived directly from unbridled overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species, there can be no doubt that human beings can make such changes in our behavioral repertoire as can humanely alter the dangerous ‘trajectory’ of our current, soon to become patently unsustainable activities. Global threats to human well being and environmental health that are presently induced by humankind can certainly be acknowledged, ameliorated, eventually addressed and ultimately overcome by the family of humanity.

    Steve Salmony is a self-proclaimed global citizen, a psychologist and father of three grown children. Married 39 years ago. In 2001 Steve founded the AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population to raise consciousness of the colossal threat that the unbridled, near exponential growth of absolute global human population numbers poses for all great and small living things on Earth in our time. His quixotic campaign focuses upon the best available science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth, in order to save the planet as a place fit for habitation by children everywhere. He can be reached at SESALMONY@aol.com

  10. How could the perpetration of so pervasive a silence with respect to science of human population dynamics, as well as the widely shared consensually validated broadcasts of pseudoscience, ever have been accomplished during the last four decades? What is going on? I cannot help but ask the questions. How did this willful denial of what could be real occur on our watch? How have the ubiquitous broadcasts of false hopes and promises been maintained regarding a benign, soon to occur, and somehow automatic end to human population growth by 2050? Has delusional thinking and ideological idiocy been allowed to rule the world during our lifetime because many too many experts chose to remain mute regarding evidence of human population growth or, even worse, to act as censors of the best available scientific evidence? Are powerful and influential experts colluding with “the powers that be” to deny science?

    Why would leaders and followers in a single generation choose not to speak out loudly, clearly and often in a time when a paradise is being turned into an inferno? Can malignant narcissism, pathological arrogance, extreme foolishness and outrageous avarice of a tiny dishonest and immoral minority of the human family be at least partially responsible for such an intolerable situation? How else can such a thing as a colossal human-driven extinction event occur so fast, before our eyes, with ‘the brightest and best’, “the smartest guys in the room” leading the way? Are self-proclaimed masters of the universe in possession of critical decision-making authority at the top of the global political economy leading all of us down a primrose path, come what may? Are power and greed mongers shouting everywhere “greed is good” and acting on what they have proclaimed to be their ‘inalienable rights’ to perpetrate some unimaginable sort of global ecological wreckage without a word being spoken for 40 years. Perhaps we are witnessing not only the sixth extinction event, the first such event to be precipitated by a species, but also the sight of something unthinkable: silence killing the world.

    Leaders and followers alike in the family of humanity can do better, and I trust we will soon enough awaken in a determinative critical mass of human beings with feet of clay to the need for behavior change. Support in the form of silent consent of the adamant advocacy and relentless pursuit of a morally disengaged and patently unsustainable way of life — one of endless population growth and unbridled economic expansion — simply cannot be tolerated any longer.

    It is never too late to stand up and be counted or to do the right thing, I suppose.

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