Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Suicidal Planet

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The Suicidal Planet

How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe

by Mayer Hillman

The Suicidal Planet by Mayer Hillman X
The Suicidal Planet by Mayer Hillman
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  • Published:
    Apr 2007, 304 pages

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According to The Suicidal Planet:

  • On a per capita basis the USA contributes 5-times the global average of carbon emissions. The European Community's per capita contribution is half that of the USA. China's per capita contribution is less than 1/5 of the USA. At the bottom of the league table are countries like Afghanistan that contribute less than 500th of the USA's levels on a per capita basis.

  • If everybody consumed as much as individuals in the USA, we would need 5 planets from which to provide the resources and deal with the waste.

  • Global temperatures rose by 1.1°F in the last century, with two-thirds of this in the past 40 years. Alaska has seen an average temperature increase of 4°F since 1950.

  • The US National Assessment suggests that US temperatures could increase by 3°F to 9°F in the next hundred years.

  • Just 1°F of additional global warming could see droughts across the western states; and deserts reemerging across the High Plains in Wyoming, eastern Montana, northern Texas, much of Oklahoma, and in particular in Nebraska which has areas of stabilized sand dunes.

  • An increase of 2°F could see major water shortages in California and in other states dependent on the snowpack (which would decline by 70%) for their water supply. There would also be a substantial increase in heatwaves and wild-fires.

  • An increase of 3°F would trigger the destabilization of the Greenland ice sheet which, if it melted fully (over an extended period of time in the conventional view, but possibly much faster), would flood much of Florida and the east coast, including New York and Boston. More intense hurricanes would cause massive storm surges.

About the authors: Mayer Hillman is a senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute in London, and a long-time proponent of carbon rationing. Tina Fawcett is a senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University and has recently completed her doctorate (at University College London) on household energy use, carbon emissions and personal carbon allowances. Sudhir Chella Rajan is a senior fellow at the Tellus Institute in Boston, where he leads the Global Politics and Institutions Program.

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This article relates to The Suicidal Planet. It first ran in the May 10, 2007 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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