January 19, 2011
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20003
Dear President Barack Obama & President Hu Jintao:
It is time to publicly acknowledge that the continued burning of fossil fuels threatens the survival of civilization. The science is incontrovertible on this fact, yet the response from government is business as usual. Our two nations dominate world carbon emissions.
No civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support systems, nor will ours.
It is with a deepening sense of dread over the fate of future generations that we call on you to acknowledge the severity of the global climate emergency by placing climate stabilization at the top of your policy agendas.
According to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, 2010 tied with 2005 as the hottest year in recorded history. Last year was also the wettest on record in terms of global average precipitation, according to the Global Historical Climatology Network, with devastating impacts felt across the globe. Estimates by the World Health Organization are that the Earth's warming climate contributes to more than 150,000 deaths each year. Here's what else we're facing:
- Crop-withering heat waves
- A melting Greenland ice sheet that threatens to raise sea level 23 feet
- Fires transforming carbon-storing tropical rainforests into carbon emitters
- Ocean acidification imperiling the base of the seafood chain
- Melting glaciers in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau threatening the dry season irrigation water supplies - and food security - of hundreds of millions of people
- Ever-deadlier storms creating growing numbers of climate refugees
- Scientists predicting 1/5 of living species being driven toward extinction by mid-century
This is just the beginning. Nature tells us time is running out, but we can't see the clock. As we blindly reach critical climate "tipping points," things promise to get worse, much worse. Central to the solution is a wartime-like mobilization by the governments of the United States and China to cut carbon emissions 80 percent (based on 2006 levels) by 2020. This is required if we are to reduce carbon emissions to 350 parts per million in the atmosphere, the level top climate scientists say is safe for humanity.
There is no more important measure of presidential leadership than living up to the expectations of our children to protect their future. Every day our respective governments fail to act, their future grows more perilous. We await your response.
Lester Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute
Rev. Sally G. Bingham, President, The Regeneration Project & Interfaith Power & Light
Brent Blackwelder, President Emeritus, Friends of the Earth
David Blittersdorf, President/CEO, AllEarth Renewables, Inc.
Jan Blittersdorf, President/CEO, NRG Systems, Inc.
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
Lisa Daniels, Executive Director, Windustry
Brock Evans, President, Endangered Species Coalition
Ross Gelbspan, Author
Daryl Hannah, Actor & Activist
Paul Hawken, Author
Randy Hayes, Executive Director, Foundation Earth & Founder, Rainforest Action Network
Courtney Hight, Co-Director, Energy Action Coalition
Julia Butterfly Hill, Co-Founder, The Engage Network*
Chuck Kutscher, Former Chair, American Solar Energy Society & Principal Engineer, National
Renewable Energy Laboratory*
Eric Lombardi, Executive Director, Eco-Cycle
Bill McKibben, Founder, 350.org
Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth
Phil Radford, Executive Director, Greenpeace
Kieran Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological Diversity
Rebecca Tarbotton, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network
Mike Tidwell, Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
James A. Walker, Former President, American Wind Energy Association
Tom Weis, President, Climate Crisis Solutions
*Institutional affiliation listed for identification purposes only