Friday, March 28, 2008

NY Times Calls For Radical Change

The official proposals to deal with global warming all rely on technological fixes, but there seems to be widespread realization that this is not enough and that we will also need to change our way of life. Witness the editorial in today's NY Times that says:

"There is nothing to be done about a collapsing polar ice sheet except to witness it. It may be too late to stop the warming decay at the boundaries of Antarctic ice, yet there is everything to be done. Humans can radically change the way they live and do business, knowing that it is the one chance to find a possible limit to radical change in the natural world around us."

Friday, March 07, 2008

Frightening Facts About Climate Change

Here are some frightening facts culled from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report by Joseph Romm, editor of the Climate Progress blog:

To stabilize CO2 levels at 450 ppm, cumulative emissions during this century should be reduced to about 490 billion tons of carbon (GtC). This would lead to average global temperatures 3.6 degrees farenheit than they are now.

To stabilize CO2 levels at 1000 ppm, cumulative emissions should to about 1100 GtC. This would lead to average global temperatures 18 to 25 degrees farenheit than they are now - and up to 50% more than that in the continental United States.

Current emissions are 8 billion tons per year, and they are expected to increase to 11 tons per year by 2020. Even with a significant government effort that keeps emissions from growing much higher than the level in 2020, we will reach 1100 GtC.

Currently, summer temperatures in the US typically go up to 100 degrees. Imagine the effect on humans, biodiversity, and crops if summer temperatures typically went up to 130 degrees.

And this is not the worst case. It assumes government action to keep emissions from growing significantly after 2020. If the climate deniers prevent us from acting, CO2 levels will be much, much higher.

Even more frightening, these temperature predictions are based on current models of how natural feedback increases warming (for example, as melting arctic ice reflects less sun, increasing warming). Yet warming has been happening more rapidly than the current models predict, indicating that natural feedback probably increases warming more rapidly than they predict.

The good news is that the European Union is supporting a plan that would cut emissions rapidly enough to hold temperature change down to 3.6 degrees farenheit. The bad news is that the rest of the world does not seem willing to accept these limits. They seem to be willing to sacrifice the well-being of our children and of all future generations for a few more decades of economic growth, until climate change causes the world economy to crash.

See Joseph Romm's blog post at the bottom of the page at: