Mary Wood, a law professor at University of Oregon, spoke at a public forum attended by about 25 people at Doubletree Hotel in Boise on Thursday afternoon August 21st. She was introduced by Leif Elgethun of Leavitt & Associates, who hosted the event organized for Idaho Green LEEDers and the general public. Audio (MP3 to stream or download) of the entire talk has been made available courtesy of grassroots media outlet Boise Community Radio.
You can download a Word document copy of the entire speech HERE.
Part One includes the introduction and the first 40 minutes of the talk, focusing on the imminent peril we face on Earth and the speakers’ views on whether a government should be allowed discretion not to regulate in the public interest.
Part Two highlights solutions, centered around 3 core principles outlined by the speaker. She claims we must face the problem of carbon emissions in two to three years or it may be too late. This segment lasts around 30 minutes.
Part Three is the Question-Answer session with attendees. The speaker does a fairly consistent job repeating the questions for the sake of the recording.
While the Idaho Business Review recently praised Green LEEDers, it isn’t difficult to locate hateful, even violent critics of Mary Wood and other researchers who are offering hard-hitting analysis of our planet’s woes. However, true skeptics are encouraged to feed your healthy minds by looking up Mary Wood’s sources, which are listed exhaustively in the text version of her speech.
I took the liberty of checking on her recommended book list in the Boise Public Library catalog. Here are the results:
- Lester Brown Plan B 3.0 (1 copy)
- Ross Gelbspan Boiling Point (3 copies)
- Paul Hawken & others Natural Capitalism (2 copies)
- Jay Inslee Apollo’s Fire (not available)
- Mark Lynas Six Degrees (8 copies)
- Fred Pearce With Speed and Violence (7 copies)
- James Speth The Bridge at the Edge of the World (not available)
People are stunned climate change is so bad and so urgent, she says. We must begin slashing carbon emissions soon or it will be a different world because the science shows we are in imminent peril.
Wood cites scientists who describe an irrevocable two degree Celsius temperature rise as being just at the threshold of irreversible runaway heating. What we do in the next two to three years will define our future. The US has historically produced nearly 30% of the world’s emissions. This unprecedented problem requires us to overhaul our lifestyles before we reach the tipping point.
70 million tons of carbon are being pumped into Earth’s atmosphere every day. And yet, Wood says atmospheric defense is limited only by our imaginations. Buying local food, riding the bus and saying no to bottled water are only small changes. She says people need to understand carbon math and in order for that to happen, we need a new generation of victory speakers. Mary Wood says we need to talk to strangers every day.
During WWII new agencies and commissions sprung up but not now, she continued. The government should address such a broad threat to society. Taxpayer money and resource authority are caught up in government. Yet there is a deep gulf between what we should be doing and what we have done. Americans have lost the sense that government should act.
In Massachusetts Vs. EPA the Environmental Protection Agency claimed discretion to regulate atmospheric conditions, or not. The public, Mary Wood says, needs a new frame for government’s responsibility toward climate accountability. An obligation to protect us is the core of government’s responsibility.
We must think of the atmosphere as public property. No other trustee actually pays third parties to come in and destroy the trust! Stewardship has struck a chord with every major religion in the world. Mary Wood concludes the first half of her talk by adding that failure to protect natural inheritance amounts to generation theft.
In Part Two of the audio, Mary Wood explains three principles she sees for what we can do.
- Nature, not politics must define our necessary action. This is a matter of carbon math. There are currently 383 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. We have no assurance of our security. A meeting of climate scientists a year and a half ago determined that arctic ice melt is accelerating far beyond what was accounted for in previous models, and shortly after the threshold prediction was revised. 350 is nature’s climate imperative.
- Trustees must act on prescriptions. We must level out emissions by 2010, reduce emissions by 4% per year thereafter and we must be 80% below 2008 numbers by 2050. Ultimately industry will have to carbon-free.
- Nations and states must take responsibility for reducing carbon emissions. As co-tenant trustees all industrialized nations must carry out 4% reduction in carbon emissions per year or they will leave behind an “orphan share.”
Mary Wood’s conclusion is that we can do this. Oregon is claiming they have leveled out their carbon emissions in 2008. This is no time to have passive law makers. A moratorium on coal plants is urgent. And we have to protect carbon sinks such as forests and wetlands.
The United Nations Climate Change Synthesis Report identified 7 sectors that will have the greatest impact: Agriculture, Buildings, Energy, Forests, Industry, Transport and Waste.
For information about how to contact Mary Wood, CLICK HERE.