UNCSD SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES
Association of Small Island States Delegations RIO+20 Briefing
June 20-22 2012
SIDS CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS, ADAPTATION, AND MITIGATION
Dr. Tom Goreau (Jamaica)
Coordinator, UNCDS SIDS Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies
Since I briefed AOSIS delegations in Rio 20 years ago about the unique vulnerability of SIDS to climate change impacts we have only moved backwards. Most of our corals have died from heat stroke, almost all of our shorelines are eroding, and the causes of the destruction to our major resources, the massive release of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, has greatly increased, making future impacts far greater, and ensuring they will affect us sooner. SIDS have been pressured into accepting CO2 targets that are a suicide pact and death sentence because they guarantee extinction of our natural resources. Our corals can take NO MORE warming: the safe target for SIDS is around 270 ppm, the equilibrium sea level for TODAY’S CO2 is 23 meters (75 feet) above today’s level.
Innovative technologies developed in Jamaica, Maldives, and Marshall Islands that SIDS could use NOW to adapt to climate change, save our coral reefs, fisheries, and shorelines remain unused. They are being used by Indonesia, the world’s largest small island nation, and received the 2012 UNDP Equator Award for Community-Based Development and the 2012 UNDP Special Award for Marine and Coastal Zone Management. Yet SIDS are not using their own technologies for their own benefit due to failure of policy, funding, and will.
Ancient Brazilian Amazonian Indian technologies that could be used immediately to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere, provide our sustainable energy needs, and greatly increase the fertility of soils to make agriculture and forestry far more productive, remain not only unused but entirely outside the orbit of UNFCCC. The ONLY proven and cost-effective solutions are being ignored.
It is time for SIDS to take the lead in proactively proposing global solutions to these problems before we are overwhelmed. Instead we have been tricked into responding to a never-ending stream of deceptive proposals by the fossil fuel consuming and producing countries to ensure no real change in the business as usual to which SIDS will be the first and worst victims.
CLIMATE SENSITIVITY: IPCC PROJECTIONS VS PAST CHANGES
From T. Goreau: AOSIS delegates’ briefing at 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit
CHANGES IPCC PROJECTIONS ICE CORE DATA
CO2 (PPM) 350 100
TEMPERATURE (C) 1-4 5-10
SEA LEVEL (M) 0.1-0.5 100-150
RATIO OF REAL OBSERVED CLIMATE SENSITIVITY TO IPCC PROJECTIONS
TEMPERATURE/CO2 8.75-17.50 TIMES HIGHER
SEA LEVEL/TEMPERATURE 120-200 TIMES HIGHER
SEA LEVEL/CO2 1050-3500 TIMES HIGHER
IPCC seriously underestimates climate sensitivity to co2 increase (goreau, 1990, balancing atmospheric co2, AMBIO, 19:230-236)
Cause of errors: 1) GHG emissions have increased nearly 40% over the IPCC 1990 worst case scenario, 2) inability to model most climate positive feedback mechanisms, 3) IPCC projections are for a flawed politically-motivated mandate to assess changes over time periods that are on wrong time scale, so that they miss more than 90% of the climate response. They are designed to inevitably give an irrelevant answer that underestimates long term impacts and prevents scientifically-sound policy.
These serious errors will guarantee extinction of coral reefs and flooding of all low lying coasts unless scientifically sound projections are used to target the safe levels of co2!
“If you don’t stop global warming here and now in Rio de Janeiro now we will lose most of our corals in the next 20 years”: T. Goreau briefing to AOSIS delegates at UNCED in 1992. We failed to act in our long term interests, and lost most of our corals!
Thomas J. Goreau
Climate change in Jamaica
PROPOSAL FOR A WORLD HERITAGE SITE
March 4 2012
The ancient Sea Level Notch at Discovery Bay, Jamaica is 125,000 years old, and is 7 meters above modern sea levels. The sea is visible through the gap. The large rocks on the right are blocks of limestone that fell off the cliffs at that time (this can be shown by the fact that marine fossils grew on them after they fell into the water). 2009 Photo by T. Goreau showing Tracey Edwards, a marine science student at the University of the West Indies, for scale.
This incredible site shows clearly what we are headed for: when sea level and temperature come to equilibrium with the PRESENT level of CO2, this site will be deep underwater. This location should be made a World Heritage Site by the Jamaican Government.
After T. J. Goreau, 1965
A geological cross section of the central North Coast of Jamaica. The solid blue line shows today’s sea level, the dashed blue line 7 meters higher (25 feet) is England was a tropical swamp with crocodiles and hippopotamuses. At that time modern humans had recently evolved, and had not yet spread out of Africa. The lower part of the fossil reefs has all the corals intact, in position of growth. Above them is thin red layer of clay washed in by large waves, and above it all of the corals were smashed to pieces by huge waves from hurricanes or tsunamis, and lie on their sides. Jamaica has not undergone significant geological uplift or sinking in this time period, the same ancient sea level can be found at sites all around Jamaica, and on many other stable oceanic islands around the world. Older sea level notches, dating from before the Ice Ages, can be seen much higher up on the cliff. If all the Antarctic Ice were to melt due to uncontrolled increases in CO2, global sea level would rise around 70-100 meters. That is where we are headed, in the long run, if we don’t reduce greenhouse gas concentrations to safe levels immediately the sea level from 125,000 years ago, the last time global temperatures were 1 degree C warmer than today, and a significant part of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice caps had melted. At the same time London,