What Does an ASTM Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (Ph. 1 ESA) Include?

The two items that will save any non-residential real estate buyer money are a low interest rate on the mortgage and a thoroughly performed Phase I ESA.  The Phase I ESA for all practical purposes can save more money than shopping interest rates as a Phase I can find that $$$$$$$-eating environmental problem (Recognized Environmental Concern) BEFORE you pay (too much) for the property. Note that a Phase 1 ESA does not substitute for an environmental review record, but may satisfy HUD site contamination and toxic substances review elements in a federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.

The form and content of any Ph. 1 ESA will follow the form and content outlined in ASTM standard E 1527-05

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is meant to identify the potential for contamination of a site by hazardous or toxic materials and to identify other possible environmental constraints on the site.  It is not meant to be a detailed, comprehensive investigation based on quantitative or qualitative analytical data.  No environmental sampling and analysis will be performed under the normal Phase I scope of work.  The results of the Phase I ESA will be used to determine whether or not further study (such as a Phase II ESA) is warranted, based on the background information gathered and the results of the site inspection.  To obtain and develop the information required for the Phase I ESA of the property in a timely and efficient manner, the scope of work shown below is needed, subject to minor additions and deletions, as indicated by the availability, relevancy, and adequacy of the background information, and by best professional field judgment.

Task 1 Off Site Review

A.        Identify the city, county and state where the site is located.

B.        Obtain and review current Federal and State databases of suspected and confirmed contaminated sites within the zip code of the site, or within a minimum of one (1) mile, including the following:

1.    NPL [Superfund], FINDS [EPA’s Facility Index System], CERCLIS, RCRA, Open Dump Site listings, ERNS [Emergency Response Notification System], and the State Priority List, UST Facility Information, and Solid Waste  Facility Information listings.  State and local agencies will be contacted as necessary to determine if environmental monitoring or enforcement activities, investigations or claims are or have occurred on or near the site, and if industrial or waste water discharges to surface waters occur near the site.

2.    Scope of relevant minimum search distances:

  • Federal RCRA Generators List Property/Adjoining Prop.
  • Federal Institutional Control/Engineering Control Registries Property Only
  • Federal Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS) List Property Only
  • State- and Tribal-Equivalent NPL 1 Mile
  • State- and Tribal-Equivalent CERCLIS 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Landfill and/or Solid Waste Disposal Site Lists 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Leaking Storage Tank Lists 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Voluntary Cleanup Sites 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Brownfield Sites 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Registered Storage Tank Lists Property/Adjoining Prop.
  • State and Tribal Institutional & Engineering Control Registries Property Only

C.      1.           Indicate other agencies contacted, the name of the person contacted, and the information obtained.

2.           State the name and address of any listed facility found to be within one mile of the site.  Based on the search, indicate the distance and direction from the site to these facilities.

Task 2 Past Uses of the Site and Surrounding Land

A.        Review title information of the property (provided at Client’s expense), and Sanborn Maps, if available, to obtain information on past uses of the property possibly pertaining to the storage, treatment or disposal of hazardous substances.

B.        Interview the current owners, employees, neighbors, government officials etc., regarding present and previous uses of the property and surrounding area, to a reasonable extent.  Indicate the name of the contact and information obtained.

C.        Examine readily-available historical aerial photographs and/or maps for indications of historical uses of the property, and for any evidence of potential on-site contamination, such as dumping or land filling.

D.        Investigate whether the site or surrounding land within a one (1) mile radius of the site is being or has been used for any of the following purposes:

 1.        Agricultural (may be indicative of pesticide or herbicide used).

 2.        Landfill.

 3.        Tank/drum/equipment storage.

 4.        Industrial/manufacturing facility (type).

 5.        Oil/gas exploration.

 6.        Chemical/petroleum or waste storage/processing/ injection wells.

 7.        Military installations.

 8.        Fill areas.

 9.        Quarries/sand and gravel extraction.

E.         Investigate whether there are or have been any storage tanks on the site and, where possible, what was stored in them.  If possible, determine the age and the capacity of the tanks and whether a suspected release from the tanks has been reported. Determine if any existing tanks are in compliance with applicable tank laws and regulations.

Task 3 Present and Proposed Use of Property/Surrounding Land

A.        Provide a Site Location Map of the area using a USGS Quadrangle Map with the site clearly identified.

B.        Identify any land within one (1) mile of the site that is indicated or proposed as a permitted landfill, hazardous waste, or solid waste facility.  If so, determine potential for environmental impact on the site.

C.        Determine if there is evidence that water wells, in use or abandoned, exist on the property.  Indicate if they are the primary source of drinking water.  Specify the present and proposed method of supplying drinking water.

D.        Determine the present or proposed method of sewage disposal, whether public or private.  Determine if a septic system, abandoned or in use, exists on the site.

E.        Provide a preliminary hydrogeological characterization of the site by reviewing soil survey maps, geological maps, topographical maps, flood plain maps and data, and any other pertinent data available for the property and its vicinity.

Task 4 Walking Inspection of Site’s Property

A.        A qualified Environmental Professional will conduct a walking inspection of the property in order to determine whether any of the following were discovered:

 1.        Discolored or disturbed soil areas.

 2.        Areas of sparse, sick or dead vegetation.

 3.        Drums or storage tanks (note type).

 4.        Discolored or polluted water; unusual or noxious odors.

 5.        Groundwater monitoring wells.

 6.        Floor drains.

 7.        Roads with no apparent outlet or purpose.

 8.        PCB containing transformers within structures or on power poles and lighting ballasts in older buildings.  Other potential PCB containing    material, such as soil near current or former railroad tracks.

 9.        Maintenance practices and hazardous materials handling procedures.

10.       Any storage of significant quantities of potentially hazardous chemicals, including herbicides and/or pesticides.

11.       Potential use of lead based paint.

12.       Potential wetlands and flood plains.

B.        Provide documenting photographs/ written results of interviews with anyone knowledgeable that was contacted during a site visit.

Task 5 Final Report

A.        Review the data developed from the field reconnaissance, agency contacts and records for technical accuracy and corroboration.  Analyze and assemble the data into a final report stating conclusions and recommendations either that no further study of the site be undertaken or that a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment be initiated.

B.        Determine whether there are any unique environmental factors, observations, or aspects of the site history which would justify further investigations.

The report will detail the information obtained from the site research.

It should be noted that a warranty on the environmental condition of the site cannot be provided, nor a guarantee of any kind.  The report provided will represent professional opinion based upon the information disclosed by the Client and available in public records, together with the application of standard scientific field investigation methods.  It must be recognized that at the completion of the Phase I ESA, there may be unresolved issues regarding the possible contamination of the site, or the potential presence of suspect materials.  Based upon preliminary findings of the Phase I study, the Client will be immediately informed by letter of any suspect or unusual conditions which may result in a recommendation for further study.


Free Market Solutions to Climate Change

“Houston, we’ve had a problem”…but for not much longer!

With every election held in America, citizens come together to compete at the ballot box for their chosen candidates and proposals. More insistent and on a far larger scale, the economy and society our representatives are elected to govern cooperate in a spirit of opportunity and enterprise to rapidly forward a better future. Increasingly fierce competition in ideas and projects has ever perfected our union, bringing us solutions to problems once feared intractable. The population explosion, formerly deadly diseases like typhoid, yellow fever and smallpox, clean water, food, public education, a national highway system, air travel, even landing on the moon proved solvable when citizens of good will have come together around a real solution.

This work is not over! There remain externalities that prevent our economy and society from solving some very real and pressing problems. Our next common-sense solution, emerging over this next year, addresses the most challenging problem not only for America, but around the world. For the past 157 years, Houston’s mainstay industry, producing energy from oil and other fossil fuels has not internalized the costs of disposing its waste products into the open atmosphere, clearly causing climate to change the ocean and atmosphere in unprecedented ways. Mounting costs of severely damaging and crazy weather, rising and acidifying seas, melting permafrost, rising extinctions and reduced biodiversity from shifting climate zones, greater competition for fresh water with less snowfall and retreating glaciers, advancing wildfires and diseases, failing crops…are all currently left to public funding sources for clean up or recovery, or simply ignored and punted into an unknown future.

Amid calls for solutions ranging from dire – like geoengineering – to ineffectual – like cap-and-trade, there’s one clear stand-out. It is the carbon fee-and-dividend. It is revenue-neutral, unlike a tax. The substantial and slowly rising fee is charged directly at the source to each company that generates fossil-carbon-based fuels – on the order of a thousand entities in the US – and is directly proportional to the amount of carbon these fuels contain. This means that coal will bear about 1.6 times the carbon fee that natural gas will bear, with gasoline sandwiched somewhere between, and truly cleaner fuels charging less. It is the missing incentive that the free market and its consumers – we –need to make reasonable choices among, and beyond, fossil fuels.

Because a carbon fee is charged at the source – the wellhead, mine or international port of entry – it will inevitably be passed on to the consumers of fuels produced from these natural resources. That’s why the second half of the carbon fee-and-dividend solution becomes so important. A direct dividend is put back into the pockets of consumers on a straight per-capita basis. All of the fees collected during a given period – say a month or a week – will be evenly distributed to all legal residents of our nation at the rate of 1 share per adult, and half-shares per child up to two children total. Those persons who do better than average mitigating against climate change will see their outlays for the increased cost of fossil fuels returned to them, with a small premium for their trouble. Those who do better than average at mitigating fossil fuel use will include most of the people – over 80% – because as the richest quantile will quickly discover, they consume vast amounts of fossil fuel! These dividends become a convenient way for the common person to save and invest in personal solutions that further limit their exposure to carbon fees – say a photo-voltaic solar system, organic and better-tasting locally-grown fruit, a fully-electric vehicle, a more efficient air conditioner, low-e windows or simply better insulation and weather sealing.

This solution works. It uses the free market’s greatest strengths! An upper bound exists at the current price of physically scrubbing carbon and returning it to solid earth reservoirs! The carbon price rises reliably and imperceptibly as a fractional portion of natural market price increases that occur! Anger at rising fossil fuel prices will remain where it does the most good – against unrepentant fossil fuel cabal members! All incentives will align to boost consumer action toward ever-greater fossil fuel independence just as corporate America is kick-started to innovate to meet this increasing consumer demand! Those with the greatest exposure to fossil fuel expenses can reasonably be expected to exert themselves to reduce this liability as quickly as possible!

All the collateral benefits of reduced fossil fuel use will also accrue to the public – lower levels of toxic air pollutants and the health risks these present, healthier foods and the health benefits these represent, gradual retirement of fossil fuel infrastructure and the safety and environmental risks these represent! All without increasing government agency, nor entanglement with government coffers! A carbon fee and its direct dividend distributed to the public are the kind of carbon price signal that is proven most effective at quickly reversing our trend toward ever-greater fossil fuel burning in the most natural – and comfortable – way possible! Even fossil fuel companies, now led by Exxon-Mobil, will gain valuable public permission to operate while consumers transition from sending fossil fuel expenses down a black hole, to receiving a regular dividend! Carbon fee-and-dividend incentivizes forthright action across the US and global marketplace!

If you want to find out more about the carbon-fee-and-dividend proposal, please visit to get answers and to find other people just like you who are discovering that what once seemed impossible to solve in fact has found resolution. It’s a solution we can unite around – people from every sector and strata. And with protection against nonconforming nation-states, we can even unite for a fee-and-dividend across the globe. It’s a simple and elegant solution that properly reflects conservative values of our center-right majority, AND the urgent direct action demanded by the center-left minority to solve our most encompassing and complex issue with greatest clarity.


It is not rocket science.

As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest fuel, they will be burned. Fossil fuels only seem cheap, because the price does not include their full cost to society. Human health costs of pollution are borne by the public, not fossil fuel companies. Growing costs of climate change are also borne directly by the public or by governments, which also means the public.

Fossil fuel prices can be made honest by collecting a rising carbon fee from fossil fuel companies at the domestic sources of oil, gas and coal, i.e., the domestic mines or ports of entry. If the money is distributed 100 percent to the public, an equal amount to each legal resident, it is revenue neutral. Thus it is not a tax and does not make the government bigger. 

A carbon fee makes fossil fuels more expensive, allowing clean energies and energy efficiency to compete. Almost two-thirds of the public, people doing better than average in limiting their fossil fuel use, would receive more in their monthly dividend, transferred electronically to their bank account or debit card, than they pay in increased prices. 

This carbon “fee & dividend” is progressive
. Wealthy people, who travel more and have larger houses, have a large carbon footprint. Given today’s income disparities, this modest change seems beneficial, giving the little guy something to build on, if he uses the dividend wisely. 

By the time the fee reaches $100 per ton of carbon dioxide, it will add $1 per gallon at the pump, but the annual dividend will be about $1500, thus $4500 for a family with two or more children (half shares for children). Incidentally, the fee & dividend will provide a big incentive for illegal immigrants to become legal or go home. 

Economic studies show that fee & dividend spurs the economy, creates millions of jobs, and increases gross domestic product. It modernizes our energy infrastructure, and our manufacturers will have products to sell worldwide. 

A rising carbon fee is the only practical way to phase down global emissions. If the U.S. and China agree to a carbon fee, it can become near global. Participating nations would place a border duty on products from non-participating nations and give fee rebates to domestic manufacturers exporting to the latter nations. 

Citizens Climate Lobby, which now has 265 chapters in the U.S., and I have proposed fee & dividend to numerous politicians. Liberals tend to say “let’s use the fee for social programs or invest it in solar panels.” Bad idea. Let the market choose among technologies and efficiency. Conservatives say “let’s use the fee to reduce taxes,” usually specific taxes rich people abhor. 

Tell both parties “thank you very much, but we have uses for our money.” 

[ed. note:  We sure do – for getting ourselves well out of being trapped using fossil fuels for everything we drive, purchase, even eat!]

(February, 2016)
—James E. Hansen, NASA (retired)


Describe your business in 300 words or less

Planning and Community Development

I have enjoyed two careers, one in Urban Planning and Community Development, which led to the second implementing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in large, medium and small business settings. I currently combine these endeavors as a Senior Planner with Harris County Community Services Department Office of Housing and Community Development in Houston, TX. I am currently preparing maps to guide our agency’s assessment of flood damage to homes resulting from rain event that was declared a federal disaster by the President last week.

GIS Consultant

I also consult my GIS expertise on my own time with local planning consultants. I am descended from a long line of teachers, so easily diagnosing and repairing the skill sets of an agency’s employees who are working daily with their GIS is something of a specialty. I strive to add value in my wake by teaching people to fish, rather than reserving the catch for myself. Examples of this work were creation of maps and data used during the development of Houston’s Light Rail system planning, and helping perform a similar project for the Houston Airport System to study the social and environmental constraints and determinants regarding airport expansion planning.

Environmental Planning Consultant

I have also helped organize a team to perform as an environmental consultant satisfying the statutory requirements of proposed project environmental review at the request of cities outside the county of my employment. This is generally performed under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations and is thus known as HUD Part 58 Environmental Review for proposed projects involving any level of federal funding or federal agency permit(s). An example of a project for which I helped perform and complete the environmental assessment recently was Lake Charles, Louisiana’s proposed National Hurricane Museum and Science Center.

Economy, Knowledge, Tricks and Traditional Whiz-dim

We’ve All Wanted to Publish a Book (& Grow Rich)!


Did you miss last spring’s: APRIL 9-10 – Houston, TX > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp?

How bout before that: DECEMBER 4-6 – Houston, TX > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp?

DON’T MISS(!)  NOVEMBER 4-6 – Houston, TX > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp!

Realtors! Builders! Service Providers! Doctors! Pastors! Teachers!  Dentists! Tax Experts!  CEOs!  Attorneys! Public Office! Artists! Musicians! Journalists! Feeling you need to go?

It’s not too late.

Let me tell you when your next event is coming to here to Houston!

Here are the October and November events scheduled by Black Card Books, the fastest growing book publisher in the world!

OCTOBER 7-9  – Los Angles(Orange County) CA > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
OCTOBER 7-9  – St. Paul, MN > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
OCTOBER 14-16 – Dallas, TX > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
OCTOBER 14-16 – Denver, CO > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
OCTOBER 14-16 – London, UK > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
OCTOBER 18 – Denver, CO > VIP Mastermind (Full Pay Clients Only)
OCTOBER 21-23 – Seattle, WA > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
OCTOBER 28-30 – Charlotte, NC > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
NOVEMBER 4-6 – San Diego, CA > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
NOVEMBER 4-6 – Houston, TX > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
NOVEMBER 11-13 – Philadelphia, PA > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
NOVEMBER 11-13 – Tucson, AZ > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
NOVEMBER 18-20 – Vancouver, BC > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
NOVEMBER 18-20 – Ottawa, ON > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp
NOVEMBER 25-27 – Edmonton, AB > Publish A Book & Grow Rich Bootcamp


Or PM me your name and email address: I can sell you licensed first dibs @ below $25/day per person (for 2 people in VIP front row and second row seating JUST LIKE I bought) to the next 100-person Gerry Robert flagship event, scheduled above. And it’s ALL GOOD! You (and a friend) attend for a total of $97 and the entire method is yours to keep and use as you wish!

Every few months the full weekend seminar returns with everything you need to know: titling, covers, write-it-in-40-hours method, media kit, endorsements– that first day was amazing- with in my opinion moving your book on the 2nd day even more valuable!

Don’t realize how hard it is to successfully publish by any other method? Don’t know if you can pull off a book that pays its own weight? I was in your shoes in April 2016. Now I am AN AUTHOR of an upcoming book and a Licensed Speaker with Gerry Robert promoting the flagship seminar, Publish a Book and Grow Rich!



“Our flagship weekend bootcamp event: We show entrepreneurs how to use a book as a marketing tool. We help you establish a platform that delivers you credibility, authority and publicity which boosts your sales, profits and your profile. We’ve published 300+ authors in the last 25 years — who have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, etc., and are still humble-bragging about it today!
You will learn…

•    It’s not magic – you’re
becoming the author of a full-copyright, good-looking, helpful book (+ more)

•    Practical how-to
steps from a mere dream to your soft- or hardcover ISBN publication

•    Anyone can use them, but be prepared to work and invest IN YOURSELF


Ice Melt Paper Completes Peer Review, Begins Publication March 22, 2016

Earmark some days for the history books. March 22, 2016 was one of those days.


I’m sorry that the news is bad. Improved modeling with a paradigm shift away from inherent ice inertia toward CO2 as primary climate control knob finds that huge amounts of ice now melting are likely to wreck the ocean conveyor belt that keeps climate within bounds, and reticently sooner than even the newest models are predicting. Dr. James E. Hansen et al. published their new scientific paper after completing the peer review process. Now everyone in the world can read it in beginning with the journal ACP. Other respected climate scientists, such as Michael E. Mann (of “hockey stick” fame, infamy to a few), express having a hard time accepting the radical paradigm shift this paper posits, but find they cannot disagree with the conclusions. Indeed if the newer models prove correct they have huge implications including storms strengthened up to 1.5 times over those we’ve experienced, and multi-meter rising seas (potentially 1.7 m already by 2060), things we’d not expected humanity would face quite so quickly. Climate science had always assumed a weakening, but never a near-stop, in surface formation of deep ocean water.


This presents still more immediate and adverse consequences for some disproportionately affected, including hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians who stake their lives on glacier-generated water streams. Such is the reason I originally titled this blog “Houston Climate Justice.” Tremendous questions of equity and equality rush toward us very rapidly now. And something seemingly as simple as ever-rising seas enwraps myriad effects on all nature regarding stronger storms, higher winds, salt water intrusion, lifting aquifers, massive habitat-flooding-wetlands and drainage changes, migrating deserts and pathogens, rapidly oscillating food chains and displaced species that face weakening and extermination, All bets must be considered off approaching 2060, 2080, 2100. And we, which is to say, all of us alive, all who have being, are clearly faced with forcing assertive collective policy action to happen now, and from our perspective maintaining such action forever, if we plan to preserve a humanly supportive planet. We can still do this, but it’s becoming increasingly less certain and it’s certainly getting ever harder to pull off. Please, my friends, begin to run, not walk, toward pricing carbon pollution to drive virtuous market behavior! #CCL #climatechange #sealevelrise #emissionsreduction #carbonfeeandrebate #pricecarbon


Source: (final publication of peer-reviewed paper) (original paper pre-peer review) (easier 19-page excerpt by Dr. Hansen), includes this short note: Planetary energy imbalance induced by meltwater cooling helps provide the energy required by ice heat of fusion.  Ice melt to raise sea level 1 m requires a 10-year Earth energy imbalance 0.9 W/m2 (Table S1, Hansen et al., 2005b). Ed. Note: I must point out that we are within 0.1 W/m2 of this amount of global energy imbalance already, and it is up to you to influence your policy makers to attempt to interrupt global momentum toward and beyond that figure.

About this paper:



Takeaway quote from last 3 paragraphs of the paper:


(Original paper:)


“Our finding of global cooling from ice melt calls into question whether global temperature is the most fundamental metric for global climate in the 21st century. The first order requirement to stabilize climate is to remove Earth’s energy imbalance, which is now about +0.6 W/m2, more energy coming in than going out. If other forcings are unchanged, removing this imbalance requires reducing atmospheric CO2 from ~400 ppm to ~350 ppm (Hansen et al., 2008, 2013a).

The message that the climate science delivers to policymakers, instead of defining a safe ‘guardrail’, is that fossil fuel CO2 emissions must be reduced as rapidly as practical. Hansen et al. (2013a) conclude that this implies a need for a rising carbon fee or tax, an approach that has the potential to be near-global, as opposed to national caps or goals for emission reductions. Although a carbon fee is the sine qua non for phasing out emissions, the urgency of slowing emissions also implies other needs including widespread technical cooperation in clean energy technologies (Hansen et al., 2013a).

The task of achieving a reduction of atmospheric CO2 is formidable, but not impossible. Rapid transition to abundant affordable carbon-free electricity is the core requirement, as that would also permit production of net-zero-carbon liquid fuels from electricity. The rate at which CO2 emissions must be reduced is about 6%/year to reach 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 by about 2100, under the assumption that improved agricultural and forestry practices could sequester 100 GtC (Hansen et al., 2013a). The amount of CO2 fossil fuel emissions taken up by the ocean, soil and biosphere has continued to increase (Fig. S23), thus providing hope that it may be possible to sequester more than 100 GtC. Improved understanding of the carbon cycle and non-CO2 forcings are needed, but it is clear that the essential requirement is to begin to phase down fossil fuel CO2 emissions rapidly. It is also clear that continued high emissions are likely to lock-in continued global energy imbalance, ocean warming, ice sheet disintegration, and large sea level rise, which young people and future generations would not be able to avoid. Given the inertia of the climate and energy systems, and the grave threat posed by continued high emissions, the matter is urgent and calls for emergency cooperation among nations.” (p. 43-44, Hansen et. al. “Icemelt” draft discussion paper. 2015.)


(Paper after peer review complete:)

“The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992) states the following:

The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Dangerous’ is not further defined by the UNFCCC. Our present paper has several implications with regard to the concerns that the UNFCCC is meant to address.

First, our conclusions suggest that a target of limiting global warming to 2°C, which has sometimes been discussed, does not provide safety. We cannot be certain that multi-meter sea level rise will occur if we allow global warming of 2 C. However, we know the warming would remain present for many centuries, if we allow it to occur (Solomon et al., 2010), a period exceeding the ice sheet response time implied by paleoclimate data. Sea level reached 6–9 m in the Eemian, a time that we have concluded was probably no more than a few tenths of a degree warmer than today. We observe accelerating mass losses from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and we have identified amplifying feedbacks that will increase the rates of change. We also observe changes occurring in the North Atlantic and Southern oceans, changes that we can attribute to ongoing warming and ice melt, which imply that this human-driven climate change seems poised to affect these most powerful overturning ocean circulation systems, systems that we know have had huge effects on the planetary environment in the past. We conclude that, in the common meaning of the word danger, 2°C global warming is dangerous.

Second, our study suggests that global surface air temperature, although an important diagnostic, is a flawed metric of planetary ‘health’, because faster ice melt has a cooling effect for a substantial period. Earth’s energy imbalance is in some sense a more fundamental climate diagnostic. Stabilizing climate, to first order, requires restoring planetary energy balance. The UNFCCC never mentions temperature – instead it mentions stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level to avoid danger. It has been shown that the dominant climate forcing, CO2, must be reduced to no more than 350 ppm to restore planetary energy balance (Hansen et al., 2008) and keep climate near the Holocene level, if other forcings remain unchanged. Rapid phasedown of fossil fuel emissions is the crucial need, because of the millennial timescale of this carbon in the climate system. Improved understanding of the carbon cycle is needed to determine the most effective complementary actions. It may be feasible to restore planetary energy balance via improved agricultural and forestry practices and other actions to draw down atmospheric CO2 amount, if fossil fuel emissions are rapidly phased out.

Third, not only do we see evidence of changes beginning to happen in the climate system, as discussed above, but we have also associated these changes with amplifying feedback processes. We understand that in a system that is out of equilibrium, a system in which the equilibrium is difficult to restore rapidly, a system in which major components such as the ocean and ice sheets have great inertia but are beginning to change, the existence of such amplifying feedbacks presents a situation of great concern. There is a possibility, a real danger, that we will hand young people and future generations a climate system that is practically out of their control.

We conclude that the message our climate science delivers to society, policymakers, and the public alike is this: we have a global emergency. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions should be reduced as rapidly as practical.” (