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Climate action plan urgent

In 2007, the year before the previous presidential election, conservation focused scientists published a call for “100 days of climate action.” Modelled after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 100 days of action following the opening of the 73rd Congress, in 1933, to stem the Depression and its high unemployment, the scientists called on the future national leader “to create and implement a climate action plan adequate to the emergency ahead.”
As David Orr then phrased it, we know from the laws of physics what a hotter world means. It means more heat waves and droughts that cripple food production, more and larger storms and bigger hurricanes that wreak destruction on homes, communities and landscapes. It means losing many things Nature once did for us, more and nastier pests and more human deaths from climate-driven weather events.
By 2030, all of these could claim the lives of 100 million people, a recent study published in Climate Vulnerability Monitor found.
An assessment a few years ago spanning four continents highlighted the consequences for plant and animal species. It found that, through climate disturbance alone, a quarter of all living organisms will be lost over the coming four decades. As the Guardian described the looming prospect, the world could “soon begin to revert to the Bible’s fourth day of creation [when] ‘the moving creature that has life’” is largely missing from it.
Forestry and U.S. Geological Survey scientists at the University of Arizona recently, noting widespread tree die-offs during the 2000-03 drought in the Southwest, warned of severe climate threats to forests. Since a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, their research found, it “acts like a sponge during droughts, sucking up any available moisture from the ground surface, including from plants.” In mid and low elevations, already now, they concluded, trees are being pushed to the limit.
This summer, more than 1,600 organizational leaders and citizens sent a petition to the major parties’ presidential candidates. Farmers and farm union leaders, mayors and church leaders, musicians, actors, climate scientists and others called on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to “openly inform the American public of [their] positions on climate disruption, and to commit to holding a national summit within their first 100 days in office to identify solutions.”
The journal Science reviewed the Democratic and Republican candidates’ official platforms on energy and climate matters.
The Democratic platform emphasizes the need to improve energy efficiency, develop sources such as solar and wind power, and protect sensitive ecosystems. The president acknowledges that “global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation [and] we commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes [it].”
The Republican platform, in contrast, in order to “take advantage of all our American God-given [fossil-fuel] resources,” would open public lands more widely to development and also denies the severity of threat to the living world, and to humanity itself, from unmitigated climate change.