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Climate Crisis Update: Nobel Winners Deliver Important Messages as the Bali Summit Opens
By Richard Power
Last month, the Nobel Committee wisely bestowed the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on Al Gore and the scientists of the UN's IPCC. Last week, on the eve of the Bali summit, which is perhaps humanity's last chance to get moving, both Nobel laureates delivered important messages; hopefully, the irresponsible currently occupying positions of responsibility will heed them --
For his part, Al Gore joined forces with Silicon Valley venture capitalists to forge ahead on the business front, offering to underwrite the development of green technologies: "I think the expertise that became concentrated here with the development of computing, chip technology, Internet technology and biotech ventures ... those skills turn out to be very applicable to the analysis and the development of early stage ventures in green tech and clean tech ... We are calling out to all the innovators and technologists and inventors to send us the best ideas they have," he said. San Francisco Chronicle, 11-13-07
As I know from my own personal experience, Silicon Valley changed the world once before, at lightening speed. Gore is betting it can do it again.
For their part, Rajendra Pachauri and the IPCCC issued the most damning and unequivocal statement yet: [Pachauri] said that since the panel began its work five years ago, scientists have recorded “much stronger trends in climate change,” like a recent melting of polar ice that had not been predicted. “That means you better start with intervention much earlier.”
How much earlier? The normally understated Pachauri warns:
“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” Climate Progess, 11-17-07
Here are excerpts from related news stories:
Following are findings of the U.N. climate panel in a 26-page summary about the risks of global warming issued in Valencia, Spain, on Saturday:
* OBSERVED CHANGES
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level."
* CAUSES OF CHANGE
"Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in ... greenhouse gas concentrations" from human activities.
Global total annual greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have risen by 70 percent since 1970. Concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, far exceed the natural range over the last 650,000 years.
* PROJECTED CLIMATE CHANGES
Temperatures are likely to rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 Celsius (2.0 and 11.5 Fahrenheit) and sea levels by between 18 cms and 59 cms (seven and 23 inches) this century.
Africa, the Arctic, small islands and Asian mega-deltas are likely to be especially affected by climate change. Sea level rise "would continue for centuries" because of the momentum of warming even if greenhouse gas levels are stabilised.
"Warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or irreversible". About 20-30 percent of species will be at increasing risk of extinction if future temperature rises exceed 1.5 to 2.5 Celsius.
* FIVE REASONS FOR CONCERN
-- Risks to unique and threatened systems, such as polar or high mountain ecosystems, coral reefs and small islands.
-- Risks of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.
-- Distribution of impacts -- the poor and the elderly are likely to be hit hardest, and countries near the equator, mostly the poor in Africa and Asia, generally face greater risks such as of desertification or floods.
-- Overall impacts -- there is evidence since 2001 that any benefits of warming would be at lower temperatures than previously forecast and that damages from larger temperature rises would be bigger.
-- Risks or "large-scale singularities", such as rising sea levels over centuries; contributions to sea level rise from Antarctica and Greenland could be larger than projected by ice sheet models.
Governments have a wide range of tools -- higher taxes on emissions, regulations, tradeable permits and research. An effective carbon price could help cuts.
Emissions of greenhouse gases would have to peak by 2015 to limit global temperature rises to 2.0 to 2.4 Celsius over pre-industrial times, the strictest goal assessed. The costs of fighting warming will range from less than 0.12 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) per year for the most stringent scenarios until 2030 to less than 0.06 percent for a less tough goal. In the most costly case, that means a loss of GDP by 2030 of less than 3 percent. Reuters, 11-17-07
The crowd of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs making big bets on a global revolution in green technology added one more big name Monday: Al Gore.
The former Democratic vice president and recent Nobel Peace Prize winner announced he is joining the prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner in the firm's effort to finance global warming solutions. ...
"I think the expertise that became concentrated here with the development of computing, chip technology, Internet technology and biotech ventures ... those skills turn out to be very applicable to the analysis and the development of early stage ventures in green tech and clean tech," Gore said Monday in an interview with The Chronicle.
California's passage of the nation's first economy-wide limits on greenhouse gases also will make the state a testing ground to see which technologies - biofuels, hybrids, solar power plants, green building techniques - will prove most viable and cost effective, Gore said.
"We are calling out to all the innovators and technologists and inventors to send us the best ideas they have," he said.
Gore isn't the only one making the bet. Kleiner Perkins, best known for early investments that spawned Internet and biotech giants such as Google and Genentech, plans next year to spend one-third of its $600 million investment fund on green technology startups. Gore's role will be to advise the firm on which companies and technologies look most promising. ...
The idea behind the 59-year-old Gore becoming a Bay Area venture capitalist grew out of talks that began 11/2 years ago with John Doerr, a Kleiner Perkins partner and major Democratic donor who is a close friend of the former vice president.
In 2004, Gore co-founded Generation Investment Management, a global equities firm dedicated to investing in socially and ecologically sustainable companies, with Goldman Sachs executive David Blood. The firm, which Gore chairs, has $1.5 billion in investments. Gore, Doerr and Blood became convinced that Generation could forge an alliance with Kleiner Perkins that would benefit both firms. ... San Francisco Chronicle, 11-13-07
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