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942Re: Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst

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  • zvileve
    Dec 14, 2008
      And this is coming from the UK, where at least some decision makers
      have their heads "above water." In North America (and many developing
      countries - at least the ones I am familiar with), it is sad to say
      but it seems that we all have our heads deep in the sand! There is no
      sense of 'imminent danger', no feeling that a complete and utter
      rethink of our relationship with this planet is necessary.

      Unless we get over our addiction to energy consumption, in all it's
      forms (not only transportation related), I fear that Keynes' dictum
      that "in the long run we're all dead" will become a self-fulfilling
      prophesy. What to do? I have no idea. Mankind has always proved itself
      highly adept at exploiting it's local environment, and now our "local
      environment" is the entire planet. For a start, we need to find a way
      to go on a serious *global* birth-control program.

      Happy days....

      Zvi


      --- In WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com, On Behalf Of Robin Chase wrote:
      >
      > On Behalf Of Robin Chase
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Read the below and do what ever is in your power to effect the
      immediate and
      > difficult changes that need to happen in Washington to make us get
      with the
      > program: $5/gas starting Jan 21 plus a cap and trade program put in
      place as
      > quickly as we can.
      >
      > Robin
      >
      >
      >
      <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/09/poznan-copenhagen-global-
      > warming-targets-climate-change>
      >
      > Tue, 09 Dec 2008
      >
      > Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst
      >
      > As ministers and officials gather in Poznan one year ahead of the
      Copenhagen
      > summit on global warming, the second part of a major series looks at the
      > crucial issue of targets
      >
      > * David Adam
      > * The Guardian, Tuesday December 9 2008
      >
      > At a high-level academic conference on global warming at Exeter
      University
      > this summer, climate scientist Kevin Anderson stood before his expert
      > audience and contemplated a strange feeling. He wanted to be wrong.
      Many of
      > those in the room who knew what he was about to say felt the same. His
      > conclusions had already caused a stir in scientific and political
      circles.
      > Even committed green campaigners said the implications left them
      terrified.
      >
      > Anderson, an expert at the Tyndall Centre for
      > <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climatechange>Climate Change
      Research
      > at Manchester University, was about to send the gloomiest dispatch
      yet from
      > the frontline of the war against climate change.
      >
      > Despite the political rhetoric, the scientific warnings, the media
      headlines
      > and the corporate promises, he would say,
      > <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/carbonemissions>carbon
      emissions were
      > soaring way out of control - far above even the bleak scenarios
      considered
      > by last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
      > (IPCC) and the Stern review. The battle against dangerous climate
      change had
      > been lost, and the world needed to prepare for things to get very,
      very bad.
      >
      > "As an academic I wanted to be told that it was a very good piece of
      work
      > and that the conclusions were sound," Anderson said. "But as a human
      being I
      > desperately wanted someone to point out a mistake, and to tell me we
      had got
      > it completely wrong."
      >
      > Nobody did. The cream of the UK climate science community sat in stunned
      > silence as Anderson pointed out that carbon emissions since 2000
      have risen
      > much faster than anyone thought possible, driven mainly by the
      coal-fuelled
      > economic boom in the developing world. So much extra pollution is being
      > pumped out, he said, that most of the climate targets debated by
      politicians
      > and campaigners are fanciful at best, and "dangerously misguided" at
      worst.
      >
      > In the jargon used to count the steady accumulation of carbon
      dioxide in the
      > Earth's thin layer of atmosphere, he said it was "improbable" that
      levels
      > could now be restricted to 650 parts per million
      > (ppm).
      >
      > The CO2 level is currently over 380ppm, up from 280ppm at the time
      of the
      > industrial revolution, and it rises by more than 2ppm each year. The
      > government's official position is that the world should aim to cap
      this rise
      > at 450ppm.
      >
      > The science is fuzzy, but experts say that could offer an even-money
      chance
      > of limiting the eventual temperature rise above pre-industrial times
      to 2C,
      > which the EU defines as dangerous. (We have had 0.7C of that already
      and an
      > estimated extra 0.5C is guaranteed because of emissions to date.)
      >
      > The graphs on the large screens behind Anderson's head at Exeter told a
      > different story. Line after line, representing the fumes that belch from
      > chimneys, exhausts and jet engines, that should have bent in a rapid
      curve
      > towards the ground, were heading for the ceiling instead.
      >
      > At 650ppm, the same fuzzy science says the world would face a
      catastrophic
      > 4C average rise. And even that bleak future, Anderson said, could
      only be
      > achieved if rich countries adopted "draconian emission reductions
      within a
      > decade". Only an unprecedented "planned economic recession" might be
      enough.
      > The current financial woes would not come close.
      >
      > Lost cause
      >
      > Anderson is not the only expert to voice concerns that current
      targets are
      > hopelessly optimistic. Many scientists, politicians and campaigners
      > privately admit that 2C is a lost cause. Ask for projections around the
      > dinner table after a few bottles of wine and more vote for 650ppm than
      > 450ppm as the more likely outcome.
      >
      > Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Environment Department and a
      former head
      > of the IPCC, warned this year that the world needed to prepare for a
      > 4C rise, which would wipe out hundreds of species, bring extreme
      food and
      > water shortages in vulnerable countries and cause floods that would
      displace
      > hundreds of millions of people. Warming would be much more severe
      towards
      > the poles, which could accelerate melting of the Greenland and West
      > Antarctic ice sheets.
      >
      > Watson said: "We must alert everybody that at the moment we're at
      the very
      > top end of the worst case [emissions] scenario. I think we should be
      > striving for 450 [ppm] but I think we should be prepared that 550
      [ppm] is a
      > more likely outcome." Hitting the 450ppm target, he said, would be
      > "unbelievably difficult".
      >
      > A report for the Australian government this autumn suggested that the
      > 450ppm goal is so ambitious that it could wreck attempts to agree a new
      > global deal on global warming at Copenhagen next year. The report, from
      > economist Ross Garnaut and dubbed the Australian Stern review, says
      nations
      > must accept that a greater amount of warming is inevitable, or risk a
      > failure to agree that "would haunt humanity until the end of time".
      >
      > It says developed nations including Britain, the US and Australia, would
      > have to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 5% each year over the next
      decade
      > to hit the 450ppm target. Britain's Climate Change Act 2008, the most
      > ambitious legislation of its kind in the world, calls for reductions of
      > about 3% each year to 2050.
      >
      > Garnaut, a professorial fellow in economics at Melbourne University,
      said:
      > "Achieving the objective of 450ppm would require tighter constraints on
      > emissions than now seem likely in the period to 2020 ... The only
      > alternative would be to impose even tighter constraints on developing
      > countries from 2013, and that does not appear to be realistic at
      this time."
      >
      > The report adds: "The awful arithmetic means that exclusively
      focusing on a
      > 450ppm outcome, at this moment, could end up providing another
      reason for
      > not reaching an international agreement to reduce emissions. In the
      > meantime, the cost of excessive focus on an unlikely goal could
      consign to
      > history any opportunity to lock in an agreement for stabilising at
      550ppm -
      > a more modest, but still difficult, international outcome. An effective
      > agreement around 550ppm would be vastly superior to continuation of
      business
      > as usual."
      >
      > Henry Derwent, former head of the UK's international climate negotiating
      > team and now president of the International Emissions Trading
      Association,
      > said a new climate treaty was unlikely to include a stabilisation goal -
      > either 450ppm or 550ppm.
      >
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