April 15, 2008

Dr. Ritterman has been an outspoken opponent of Chevron’s plans to expand their refining capacity to process dirtier grades of crude oil in Richmond. The letter below seeks to rally the decision-makers in Richmond to stand together against a plan that will lead to an increase in environmental contamination and the emission of greenhouse gases:

Dear city leaders,

The city is facing an enormous decision concerning whether or not to approve Chevron’s proposed expansion.

There is no debate about the fact that Green House Gases will increase significantly as a result of this project. There is debate about the best plan for mitigation and there is debate about what the level of crude slate allowable should be.

Everything we have believed about climate change has now been proven to be hopelessly out of date. The problem is that we have not come to terms with the new information about climate change. And the new information is terribly frightening. I urge you to become familiar with it.

Simply stated, the melting of the north pole ice came “100 years ahead of schedule.” We are in an emergency now. The current level of CO2 is 383 ppm. James Hansen, the world’s leading expert on climate change now says that we have gone too far and need to lower CO2 concentration to between 300 and 350 ppm if we are to prevent a disaster. What he means by a disaster is a 5 meter rise in sea level. Much of the world’s population would not survive and most ecosystems would not either. This disaster would result in tremendous species loss and an end to the world as we know it. It is simply a future we can not allow to happen.

In order to prevent this, we need to lower CO2 emissions to zero and even find ways to sequester CO2 out of the atmosphere. We are facing a planetary emergency like no other emergency we have ever faced.

We cannot allow Chevron to increase its Green House Gas emissions if we want to prevent disaster. No one in government anywhere is taking the necessary leadership. It is imperative that we in Richmond, say no increase in Green House Gases is permissable. Mitigation is not an answer. We already need to mitigate the serious overshoot of atmospheric CO2 that already exists. We simply cannot allow any more to be produced.

It is imperative that we follow James Hansen’s leadership. Mr. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science, and one of the world’s leading climate scientists had the following to say:

“We have to figure out how to live without fossil fuels someday…Why not sooner?”

We need our leaders to stand up for the planet and for a sustainable future and say no to more green house gas emissions. Richmond can model the kind of leadership we need on an international level.

I urge you all to read “Climate Code Red; the case for a sustainability emergency.” I would be happy to discuss this at greater length with each of you. Failure is not an option we can afford to entertain and time is not on our side.

You can download “Climate Code Red” at this link: http://www.climatecodered.net/

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey Ritterman, M. D.