News & Media Opinion Pieces Now it’s a Climate Emergency!

Now it’s a Climate Emergency!

Now it’s a Climate Emergency!

There is so much bad news on the environmental consequences of climate change that it is difficult to remain positive. Martin Williams sets a good example in positivity in his article below
This mornng I was approached by two young ladies from Jehovah’s Kingdom who told me that armageddon was approaching because of global warming. When I said ‘”I agree” they were stunned and had no more to say. If I had read Martin William’s article I would have been more positive. I feel a retrospective guilt!
This article will appear on the blog so please let us have your views

Now it’s a Climate Emergency!
by Martin Williams

The trouble with climate change is it’s just so big and blurry. Most people know it’s an issue, but find the science too overwhelming to take more than a passing interest. They just assume that governments will do what’s needed to deal with it. But the more I’ve looked into it, the more I’ve come to realise that we simply don’t have the systems in place to cope with such an unprecedented problem using politics-as-usual.

Much of the information governments receive is from lobbyists – a situation to which doctors can easily relate! Vested interests are telling them not to rush into anything, that “clean coal” and carbon trading will be the answer if we just wait, or that other countries must act first. Many of these interests, like the coal and mining industries, have engendered a sense of obligation by helping to fund successful election campaigns. They are being listened to all too closely.
But now the situation has reached a new level of urgency, and I believe that we doctors, because we are scientifically literate and capable communicators with the respect of the community, have a unique opportunity and responsibility to relay this new urgency in any way we can.

Two recent, startling developments have changed the climate change story forever.

First, the IPCC reported last year that atmospheric greenhouse gas levels had already passed the critical 450ppm threshold of dangerous climate change – more than a decade earlier than predicted – a level that imperils us with runaway climate warming.

Second, scientists were stunned in September 2007 when the arctic ice cap receeded by 23% more than ever before. The arctic is now expected to be ice-free as soon as 2013 – more than a century earlier than IPCC predictions.

Once the arctic ice goes, climate warming is poised to cycle out of control. Greenland’s massive ice sheets will undergo accelerated and probably irreversible melting. The permafrost will give up ever more methane as it thaws, potentially doubling the greenhouse gases already emitted into the atmosphere by humans. Heat, drought and deglaciation will cause a global food and water crisis.

The result for humanity is literally unimaginable, and threatens our very survival.

Many leading climate scientists are now calling for a sustainability emergency, with drastic action on a war-time scale to halt human carbon emissions and try to reverse some of the damage. The key is to try to curb Uncontrolled or Runaway Warming.

Inertia in our information, political & economic systems means this crucial information has been slow to get out and even slower to be acted on. Such a complex and unprecedented problem has literally paralysed us.

Now a growing chorus is calling for Australia to show bold international leadership in this emergency. We need radical and urgent planet-saving action, starting with a rapid transition to a zero carbon economy, using energy efficiency and currently available renewables like wind and solar. Australia cannot afford to wait for others to act anymore. Time has run out.

If you haven’t been following the issue as closely as me, this may all sound very far-fetched. Don’t take my word for it – do your own research. A good starting point is the recent Friends of the Earth publication Climate Code Red, available on PDF at

We mustn’t lose heart. Humanity in crisis is capable of phenomenal things. Look at World War II. The carbon challenge is at least as large, only it’s much harder to see or comprehend. We all need to take ownership of this collective problem. Only we can solve it.

Martin Williams, DEA member and General Practitioner in Hampton, Victoria.