Global warming is accelerating. The Arctic summer sea ice is expected to melt entirely within the next five years, - decades earlier than predicted in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report. Scientists judge the risks to humanity of dangerous global warming to be high. The Great Barrier Reef faces devastation. Extreme weather events, such as storm surges adding to rising sea levels and threatening coastal cities, will become increasingly frequent. There is a real danger that we have reached or will soon reach critical tipping points and the future will be taken out of our hands. The melting Arctic sea ice could be the first such tipping point. Beyond 2ºC of warming, seemingly inevitable unless greenhouse gas reduction targets are tightened, we risk huge human and societal costs and perhaps even the effective end of industrial civilisation. We need to cease our assault on our own life support system, and that of millions of species. Global warming is only one of many symptoms of that assault. Peak oil, global warming and long term sustainability pressures all require that we reduce energy needs and switch to alternative energy sources. Many credible studies show that Australia can quickly and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and by increasing our investment in solar, wind and other renewable sources. The need for action is extremely urgent and our window of opportunity for avoiding severe impacts is rapidly closing. Yet the obstacles to change are not technical or economic, they are political and social. We know democratic societies have responded successfully to dire and immediate threats, as was demonstrated in World War II. This is a last call for an effective response to global warming.
The 200 conference delegates, contained some familiar names including:
Climate scientists: Prof Barry Brook, Prof Ian Enting, Prof Janette Lindesay, Prof Graeme Pearman, Dr Barrie Pittock, Prof Will Steffen;
Earth and prehistory scientists: Dr Geoff Davies, Dr David Denham, Dr Andrew Glikson (conference convener), Dr Geoffrey Hope, Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Dr Bradley Opdyke;