MC(f): Hallo, everyone! Welcome to “Humanity's Leap to the Golden Era: Washington, D.C., Climate Change Conference.” We are in the magnificent Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks away from Capitol Hill. We are so glad that you can join us here where it's autumn, a time of abundance and magnificent fall colors!
MC(m): We are delighted to have you with us today. In addition to our guests here in Washington, D.C., we are being joined by countless viewers from all around the world. This event is being broadcast live, globally on Supreme Master Television through 14 free-to-air satellites and dozens of cable channels on every continent. Supreme Master Television is also available online. So, let's begin with some uplifting music! Our first group, The Applaudir Music Septet, is from Washington, D.C., USA. This eclectic and talented group of musicians performs a wide variety of high caliber classical compositions.
MC(f): This afternoon, they will be performing Beethoven's Septet, first movement. Please give a warm applause to Applaudir Music Septet.
MC(f): Thank you, Applaudir Music Septet. I feel energized already! This group, which consists of people from several different nationalities, reminds me of the United States. This generous and noble country is a veritable symbol of freedom and opportunity called the “Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.” The United States of America has willingly opened its doors to people from every culture, language, religion and status.
MC(m): Yes! It is a nation of many notable accomplishments. Let's have a look at some of them in the following video.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: I am very grateful to courageous leaders in the world for stepping out of their boundary and to speak out for the sake of everyone. Even if the public does not appreciate their goodwill, Heaven will take note. And they will have a great reward hereafter. It is of course very difficult to be in the position of authority.
To be a leader is to be endowed with bravery, compassion and nobility. That's why you are a leader. It's not easy, of course, to be in the position of “leader.” That's why leaders are few. You see, in a nation, there's only one king, one queen, some princesses, some princes, one president, one prime minister. Very few leaders, compared to the multitude of this world. But fewer even still are brave leaders, courageous leaders, righteous leaders and wise leaders. To such wise and courageous ones, we offer full support and respect. We pray that Heaven give them more strength, more wisdom to carry out their noble duty.
Because as I told you, leaders are few. And fewer still are those who are wise and courageous. Being a leader, we must know what is good for our subjects and what is not. And what is good, we have to encourage them to do, facilitate them to do. And what is bad, we have to stop, to protect them. That is the true meaning of “a leader.”
MC(m): May Heaven continue to bless the United States and all nations of the world.
MC(f): Here in prestigious and historical Washington, D.C., we have many distinguished guests who have graced us with their presence this afternoon. We would like to introduce some of them to you.
MC(m): Please join us in welcoming Ambassador De Brum, from the Marshall Islands; Ambassador Kross, from the Republic of Suriname; and Ambassador Williams from St. Kitts-Nevis. We would also like to welcome distinguished diplomats representing more than 25 additional countries throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
We are truly grateful for your presence at this event. Although he could not be here today, we received a personal greeting from another distinguished person: the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. This respected leader from Korea is very concerned about climate change, and has stressed that a unified world effort is the only way to resolve it. He sent the following message, "To Master (Supreme Master Ching Hai) and all in attendance and viewers, with thanks for your kind understanding, and our best wishes for a successful event."
MC(f): We thank Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and all other leaders of the United Nations who are working so diligently to halt global warming.
MC(m): Now, let's find out more about the current climate change situation by watching the following video.
Floods, Hunger, Deforestation, Arctic Ice Melting, What can we do?
MC(f): Pictures are worth a thousand words. Our first guest speaker will give us more insight into the current situation. Dr. Stephen Schneider is a Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University, a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, and the Founder and Editor of the interdisciplinary journal, “Climate Change.” He's also contributed to all four of the reports of the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Please give a warm welcome to Dr. Stephen Schneider. Dr. Stephen SchneiderStanford University Professor of Environmental Biology and Global ChangeUN IPCC lead scientist - Nobel Peace Prize 2007Founder and Editor of Climate Change Journal
Dr. Schneider (m): Thank you all of you for coming. It's my task today to try, in a short time, to sketch out a large number of aspects of the climate change issue. And let me begin by saying, before we try to figure out how to fix it, we got to make sure something's broken. I'm asked all the time, whether talking to congress or members of parliament or ministers or media, and also just talking to plain folks, “Well, is the science of global warming settled?”
Very standard question. And I always like to try it out on my audiences and see where they are, so we know where we're going to be. I was in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago and asked them, and maybe 70% of people, when I said - not every detail but the basic ideas - raised their hands. And I tried it in Oklahoma and maybe only 7% raised their hands - had the same information.
So, people have different perceptions. So with this group, how many here think that the science of global warming is largely a settled and well-understood affair? Okay, a fair number. And the reason for that is, whenever we're talking about a complex issue like climate change, or whether you're talking about healthcare, or delivery of services for sustainable development, there is no single answer. There is a large number of possibilities. And in climate system science, there are components that are well established, where we really do have settled science. I'll give you a few examples. There are components where we've narrowed it down to two or three possibilities, where we have competing explanations.
And there are components that are speculative. And, unfortunately, out there in the very confusing public debate, there are interests that deliberately grab a serious well-established piece of information, and state it as the only thing - end of the world, certainty. And then somebody else from, say an enterprise institute, who says, “But carbon dioxide, that's a fertilizer of green plants. It's good for you!” It's true. It is a fertilizer of green plants, and that also includes weeds and it also acidifies the ocean. And they forget to tell you that. So you get a parade of “end of the world” and “good for you” extremes, which in my view are the two lowest-probability outcomes.
What real scientists do is they separate out into multi possible outcomes, a wide range of possibilities, and then we assign confidence to these. So what we do is called “risk analysis.” What can happen, multiplied times the probability - that's a scientist's job. Whether or not you want to take those risks with the planetary life support system, and whether you care more about protecting sustainability, or you care more about protecting short-term return on investment.
So with that frame, let me move quickly through the program and try to show you some examples of Wellestablished science. So, in the first slide it points out that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is a group of about hundreds of scientists from around the world which writes reports and these reports get reviewed by literally thousands of reviewers, and every one of those comments has to be justified. And I've been a lead author in this four times.
So what has the IPCC concluded? Well, they said that the Earth's warmed up 0.75° C, 1.4° Fahrenheit, since 1850. This is not speculative. This is established beyond doubt. And that's consistent not just with the thermometers of the world but the rising sea levels as the oceans warm, the melting glaciers, and the fact that plants are blooming earlier a couple of weeks in the spring - those that are changing - and that birds come back on migration. There's a large amount of evidence. The rate of increase according to our theory should increase with time. That has also happened. And that doesn't prove it, but that's strong circumstantial evidence, and humans are part of the story.
And the IPCC concluded, based on that and other things that we call “fingerprints,” that human activity is responsible for most of the warming since the 1970s. This is evidence. Somebody said to me at a talk the other day, “I don't believe in global warming.” So I simply said, “Well, do you believe in evidence?” “Yes.” I said, “Do you believe in the preponderance of evidence?” That means half of American prudence is based upon civil trials with their standard of evidence as preponderance, meaning more than even. The vast preponderance is determined by those people who actually do the research is that it's warming and that humans are responsible for most of the last 50 years when we use the atmosphere as a free sewer to dump our tailpipe and smokestack wastes or the emissions that come from land clearing. That is very well established.
What else do we know? Well, it's not just the science part itself, it's also what it means. That 0.75 degree C was predicted literally 30 years ago. I have a new book out called “Science as a Contact Sport” just this week, and I tell the story about how 30 years ago this issue was discussed in many hearings. I first testified to then Congressman Albert Gore Jr.'s hearing in 1981 during the Reagan administration on these issues. Nobody can say we didn't know. We knew very well 35 years ago, in almost the same terms of the debate now.
And what the book is about is why we failed to accomplish the mission. In any case, one of the predictions was that there would be longer and warmer summers. That's a prescription for increased forest fires. There's been about a factor of 4 to 5 increase in forest fires in the US West. Now, can we say that's all due to global warming? No, because people have moved where they don't belong and that creates more fires. And we fought fires allowing the fuel to build up. So, like all complicated systems' analysis, there are multiple explanations, but global warming is one of the main ones.
So, again, you have to look at these and try to figure out how to solve them by multiple solutions. Greenland and the Arctic are melting as we saw on the video, faster than predicted. We're performing an experiment on a laboratory and that laboratory is Earth. And we and all the other living things are along for the ride; and that's where value judgments and political action takes place. So, there's been also an observed increase in the strongest hurricanes, and in drought and flood incidents.
So, what else do we know? So warming is, of global mean, past one or two degrees. This is something that becomes in the range that we can expect at a minimum. We have built into the pipeline at least one and probably two more degrees warming, because of the inertia of the system.
As a result of that, we're going to have to learn to adapt to that that we cannot prevent. And most of the work that's been done in the scientific community suggests that beyond one or two degrees, it gets very difficult to adapt. In fact, if you're a coral reef, it's already getting difficult to adapt. So, it depends what the system is and where: some systems can go beyond two, some can't even get to two, and the more and more we keep adding, the more the number of thresholds that we're going to cross where adaptation is no longer possible. So, a major component in the Copenhagen meeting will be trying to get strategies to help us adapt.
But remember, while we have to adapt to what we can't prevent, we have to prevent what we can't adapt to. So adaptation is actually the other side of the coin and it tells you you need to mitigate. And you need to mitigate down to one or two degrees, which means a dramatic change from the current way of producing our energy systems. That can't happen in a decade, but it certainly can happen in a few decades, and this decade cannot be wasted like the last 30 years arguing about it. We've got to move forward.
Well, here is the picture of the unequivocal - that's the warming of the last century and a half. And what's interesting about that is, if you look at the very right end, you'll notice that since 1998 there hasn't been much warming. If you look from 1992 to 2002, it warmed up so fast… What we're looking at is a natural variability superimposed on a multi-decadal trend. The multi-decadal trend is due to human activities predominantly. The short-term fluctuation's due to nature. The biggest problem is the tipping points. How many degrees warming before the melt water in Greenland that goes down, will lead to the point that it actually moves towards an irreversible, can't-stop-it melt, with something like four to five meters of sea level rise? Unfortunately, nobody knows where that tipping point is, only that it exists.
My own personal view?
Twenty-five percent chance if we warm it another degree; 60% chance, two degrees; 90% chance, three degrees. Sounds like I'm an optimist, right? We have a whole bunch of degrees to go. I wouldn't rule out, at 1-5%, it's already too late. So, are we crazy? We're talking about the planetary life support system, and there are people who want to be 95% certain before acting on the grounds that it isn't proved! Well, even if there were a 5% chance that walking into a room with somebody coughing where you wanted to get your dinner, you're going to get the swine flu, you'd skip dinner. We hedge all the time on low probability outcomes when they're highly consequential. And it's a false frame to say that it isn't proved because every single detail is not in.
What can we do? Well, our lifestyle matters. We have to be energy efficient at home. We have to make certain we are good consumers of products: that we read the labels that we buy, the energy star; that we try to get the hybrid and the plug-in cars; we use less imported food stuffs; and for me, personally, I've also reduced my meat consumption. I've lost weight and feel much better. Making significant difference matters. So, the advocacy of this organization, like eating (NFT: He means SMCHIA) fruits and vegetables, that's in line with the advocacy of helping local jobs and reducing our carbon footprint.
So, if you can solve more than one problem at once, well, those then get high priority. And we have to do two acts of good governance if you want to deal with something like climate or food: you have to, A, reduce our footprint on the planetary commons; but B, you have to help the people doing it into a new line of work and into something more sustainable. That calls for two acts of good governance - not just protecting the commons but being fair. So, we've got to do both; we can, but we have to work at it and we have to find cooperative solutions or there'll be no hope.
What we should be talking about with the numbers is how many tens of billions of dollars are each of the principal players going to pay to help us invent our way out of the problem and help the developing countries leapfrog over the polluting Victorian industrial revolution. We need deployment of clean technology. We need sensible rules for energy efficiency. We need a “polluter pays” market-based thing. Every single one of those: efficiency, invention, and market-based and adaptation, is a necessary condition. None by itself is sufficient.
So, let's conclude then:
adaptation planning, performance standards for buildings, public private partnerships, price on carbon. And remember, just as I said when you have to deal with the agriculture workers, you also have to deal with the coal miners. We cannot just say, “No, you can't do this, goodbye, too bad.” We have to work to help them transition to sustainable work. The bottom line? This is not just about us. This is our legacy to our children, grandchildren, and all the other living things on this Earth.
Remember the plants and animals and our children had very little to do with creating this problem. We created it. We have to teach them to solve the problem well. They have to join with us to do it and we have to ask them. What do they want - a legacy of wealth and infrastructure, or a legacy of biotic impoverishment, reduced diversity in culture and nature, just to be richer? I'll bet from what the students I've met, they are much less interested in being mega wealthy than they are in having a planet that works. Thank you very much.
MC(m): Our deep appreciation, Dr. Schneider, for sharing with us the urgency of the climate change crisis and the steps we need to take to avoid the final tipping point.
Dr. Richard Dittman (m): It's a nice review of the scientific results of studies and I thought that was very good. I think we have to save the habitat and get to a sustainable lifestyle. I think all human beings have a duty to fellow human beings and to our habitat and to other species, and I think the idea of not being cruel and exploitative, I share those kind of values.
Mr. Williams (m): We've studied the pyramid (food pyramid) of how each time you go up a ladder from the biomass that is produced by our autotrophs to the next level, all the way to the top, we lose energy, and so, the eating of animals is very bad. We should go to more a vegetarian diet. Our culture has been raised on these animals but it has gotten our ecosystem out of order.
Supreme Master TV(m): What was your impression of today's conference on climate change?
DiViNCi (m): It was beautiful. It was inspirational, it was necessary. The urgency was conveyed in just the right tone. I can't really imagine any one person feeling anything but inspired leaving.
That's why our world has a lot of troubles. And everybody tries hard to make peace on Earth, to talk and talk and talk, and a lot of champagne pouring into all the talk, and a lot of beef and pork, a lot of pigs and cows.
But it's not always helpful, because people do not take care of the problem from the root.