This is a crucial time
or people to rethink how we meet our needs today to helpto ensure a desirable uture or ollowing generations. Local government ocials must play theirpart in reinventing our institutions to help communities and residents stay healthy and whole.This is because we have entered an era where human generated pressures on the natural worldare unprecedented and threaten our current way o lie. A ew examples include depletion o nonrenewable resources – 65% o U.S. oil is gone and the world is at or past peak oil; insucientdrinking water or two thirds o the world’s population; consumption o land and loss o topsoil atunsustainable rates; projected loss o 90% o the world’s sheries by 2048; extinction o a distinctspecies o plant or animal, on average, every 20 minutes (qualiying the present period as one o the six great periods o mass extinction in the history o Earth
); and the presence o 250 persistenttoxic chemicals not known beore 1945, many o which are now ound in human tissues.Global climate change is considered the most serious threat acing the world today. Dueto human activities, our atmosphere contains 2 percent more carbon dioxide, one o the maingreenhouse gases that keeps heat rom escaping the earth’s surace, than at the start o theindustrial era.
Carbon dioxide is one o the main greenhouse gases that keeps heat rom escapingthe earth’s surace. We put 70 million tons o it into the atmosphere every 24 hours.
Global warming,one measure o climate change, reveals a rise in the average global temperatures substantiallyhigher than at any time in the last 1,000 years.
“Climate change threatens the basic elements o lie or people around the world – access to water, ood production, health, and use o land andthe environment.”
Sir Nicholas Stern, the ormer chie economist o the World Bank, released a report warningthat not ghting global warming now could bring on a worldwide depression, shrinking the globaleconomy by 20%. The report states that i we continue with the status quo rather than taking actionto address global climate change, up to 200 million people could become reugees as their homesare hit by drought or food.
Stern ound that the cost o action to cut emissions is manageableand that the economics show it is urgent to cut emissions now. “Mitigation – taking strongaction to reduce emissions – must be viewed as an investment,” the report states.
Local governments have a key role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions byincreasing energy eciency and reducing ossil uel use.
Some approaches include phasingout coal plants, expanding renewable energy sources and public transit, and implementing neweciency standards or vehicles and buildings. Local governments can also pass policies thatprotect natural resources, which are climate-sensitive public goods.
Levin, Donald, A.,The Real BioDiversity Crisis, American Scientist, January-February 2002
Oreskes, Naomi, Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientic Consensus on Climate Change, Science December 2004: Vol. 06. no. 5702, p. 1686
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Summary orPolicy Makers, February 2007. With input rom 2,500 o the world’s leading scientists, economists and risk experts, is the most comprehensiveevaluation o climate change. http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2eb07.pd Also see Union o Concerned Scientists, Global Warming FAQs www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/global-warming-aq.html
Gore, Al, Transcript: Finding Solutions to the Climate Crisis, New York University School o Law, September 18, 2006
Stern Review: The Economics o Climate Change, Executive Summary, p. vi, October 0, 2006.
David Suzuki Foundation, Climate Change: Impacts and Solutions http://www.davidsuzuki.org/Climate_Change/Science/