Think of all those gifts the planet has given you. That quick dip in the river on a hot day. A clear starry night. The wonderland of colour on a snorkelling trip to the Barrier Reef. A perfect tomato.

And now the world’s top scientists have a issued a grim warning. They’ve said if we don’t act now, we can no longer take for granted that our children will enjoy these things. They’ve said that if global warming goes unchecked, the world will experience catastrophes “as frightening as a science fiction movie.” But worse because they’ll be real.

Of course there will be fiercer storms, more droughts and an even greater stress on water supplies. But that’s only just the beginning. Worse still, we’ll experience the spread of hunger and disease and the extinction of 20-30% of the world’s plant and animal species. The elderly and the poor will be hit the hardest, and in Australia we will lose things that are dear to us – our beautiful reef and our ability to farm successfully. These effects, scientists say may be “abrupt and irreversible”. Unless…

This is our fate unless…Unless we peak our carbon emissions by 2010 and reduce them to at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. Unless we reduce our emissions by 85% in the next four decades. Unless we wake up to ourselves and do something drastic now. “Today the time for doubt has passed,” said Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel winning panel of scientists. “Slowing or even reversing the existing trends of global warming is the defining challenge of our ages. If there is no action before 2012, that’s too late.”

And yet our posturing pollies offer us nothing but chit chat. Non-binding targets, Kyoto if, buts and whats and renewable energy targets that won’t even cover the growth of emissions by our coal industry.

Oh yes, says Howard we will lead the world on climate change. And we are. Reports released last week have made that abundantly clear – not only are we the world’ worst carbon emitters but our coal mines are some of the dirtiest, most inefficient. Yet crowned in this dubious glory, both our major parties march on unabashedly with policies that will see our emissions continue to increase.

Today, Greenpeace will come together with other climate change groups the Australian Conservation Foundation and the WWF to demand an end to this walk of shame. They will issue a joint call to both major political parties for a pre-election commitment to ensure our greenhouse gas pollution does not continue to rise after 2010, and that it will fall significantly by 2020. And fingers crossed they pay attention because the time to save our planet is nigh.