“Bailing out the Planet” Dr. David Pearson @ ICLEI WC 2009

[This continues highlights from last weeks ICLEI World Congress, for further coverage see here.]
Dr. David Pearson, Prof. of Earth Science at Laurentian University and Chair of the Ontario expert panel of climate change adaptation, gave a succinct and disturbing overview of the most up to date science on climate change. He's a sharp, concise speaker, low on jargon and high on information. I'd say it's essential listening for just about anyone (MP3 posted here, slides here.) . His conclusion:

"Without the imposition of regulations, we won't be here talking like this in 50 years. What we will be talking about is how to deal with hundreds of millions of environmental refugees, how to develop the kinds of immigration policy that will accomodate the types of international adaptation that will be necessary."

More highlights from the talk after the jump:

*The response to the economic collapse is a good dry run for the type of effort that we are going to need to respond to climate change over the next 10 to 15 years.

*Need to bend the track of emissions using existing technology to stabilize by a 2020 peak. Beyond 2050 we need new innovation.

*The Need for Regulation. If we are going to meet the extent of the change that we are talking about it will not happen voluntarily. There needs to policy and regulation that imposing these regulations. We know from experience that regulation works – even if people don't like it. See the impact sulfur emission regulations had on the INCO ltd. Operations in Sudburry, Canada for example.

Leading edge cities need to work with national governments and encourage them to impose the types of changes that you are undertaking voluntarily.

*Climate change is part of all the problems that we are facing, not a distinct unit.

*The Limits Local adaptation is now necessary and inevitable to allow people to continue to live in the communities that they live in now. But by 2080 all the scenarios predict changes in temperature that are beyond what we can adapt to.

*We hit the limits of adaptation in the 2040s or 2060s, depending on what we do in the next 10 years or so.

*We are inevitably facing a rise of about half a meter that will displace 3 or 4 million people from the nile Delta. That is going to happen somehwere in the 2050s and will result in a dramatic loss of crop lands, fish protean from disturned lagoon fisheries, and flooding of coastal cities. How will immigration policy respond to this global need for people to relocate? What do people do when they can no longer live where they are used to living?
Sea level rise is accelerating.

*Most of sea level rise that we will face in the next half century has nothing to do with melting of ice, it has to do with the expanding of water. 1Km of water at 20c expands by 20cm once you warm it to 21c. Sea level with continue to rise slowly over centuries as the mixing column deepens. There is not much unertainty about the expansion properties of water, it is the rates of mixing that we don't know know about. Deeper mixing of warm water could result in deep ocean methane releases.

*IPCC and EU goals do not take into account the jumps that will be produced by natural abrupt co2 releases from abrupt releases of gas from melting permafrost or sea bed methane deposits (calthrates).

Editorial Cartoonist
Roy Blumenthal was cartooning the highlights of the ICLEI conference. You can see his reaction to Pearson's talk on his flickr page.


4 Responses to "“Bailing out the Planet” Dr. David Pearson @ ICLEI WC 2009"

Manu Fernández said... 7 July 2009 at 07:21

I have just discovered you blog and I find it so useful and with lots of common interests with what I am researching in mine. Included in my RSS reader.



Roy Blumenthal said... 20 July 2009 at 08:59

Hiya OpenAlex!

Really cool to spot my name on your blog post! And I really love your summary of David Pearson's talk.

If you'd like to use my graphic on your site, you're more than welcome. Everything I do is relased under a Creative Commons 'Attribution, Share-Alike' license.


Alex Aylett said... 22 July 2009 at 05:10

Thanks Roy --
I thought you cartoon commentaries were great summaries of the conference. I hope our paths cross again sometime.

As you can see from my Comix links at the bottom of the page, I've got a thing for cartooning. Plus, I think that many people are tired of reading about Climate Change. Cartoons can get at a lot of the same issues, but reach people on another (maybe more personal) level.

keep it up - and let me know next time you are dealing with these kinds of issues. I'd love to repost some of your drawing.

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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

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