Thursday, October 29

UP TO SIX DEGREES OF WARMING

If global warming continues at the current rate, we could be facing extinction. So what exactly is going to happen as the Earth heats up? Here is a degree-by-degree guide as stated by Mark Lynas in his non-fiction book "Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet" 

1 °C Increase Ice-free sea absorbs more heat and accelerates global warming; fresh water lost from a third of the world's surface; low-lying coastlines flooded
Chance of avoiding one degree of global warming: zero.

2 °C Increase Europeans dying of heatstroke; forests ravaged by fire; stressed plants beginning to emit carbon rather than absorbing it; a third of all species face extinction
Chance of avoiding two degrees of global warming: 93%, but only if emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced by 60% over the next 10 years.

3 °C Increase Carbon release from vegetation and soils, speeds global warming; death of the Amazon rainforest; super-hurricanes hit coastal cities; starvation in Africa
Chance of avoiding three degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches two degrees and triggers carbon-cycle feedbacks from soils and plants.

4 °C Increase Runaway thaw of permafrost makes global warming unstoppable; much of Britain made uninhabitable by severe flooding; Mediterranean region abandoned
Chance of avoiding four degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches three degrees and triggers a runaway thaw of permafrost.

5 °C Increase Methane from ocean floor accelerates global warming; ice gone from both poles; humans migrate in search of food and try vainly to live like animals off the land
Chance of avoiding five degrees of global warming: negligible if the rise reaches four degrees and releases trapped methane from the sea bed.

6 °C Increase Life on Earth ends with apocalyptic storms, flash floods, hydrogen sulphide gas and methane fireballs racing across the globe with the power of atomic bombs; only fungi survive
Chance of avoiding six degrees of global warming: zero if the rise passes five degrees, by which time all feedbacks will be running out of control

SOURCE:Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, by Mark Lynas (2007/08)

Wednesday, October 7

SIX KEY MESSAGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE

KEY MESSAGE 1:
CLIMATIC TRENDS
Recent observations show that greenhouse gas emissions and many aspects of the climate are changing near the upper boundary of the IPCC range of projections. Many key climate indicators are already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which contemporary society and economy have developed and thrived. These indicators include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, global ocean temperature, Arctic sea ice extent, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. With unabated emissions, many trends in climate will likely accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.

KEY MESSAGE 2:
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL DISRUPTION
The research community provides much information to support discussions on “dangerous climate change”. Recent observations show that societies and ecosystems are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities, ecosystem services and biodiversity particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2oC will be difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and are likely to cause major societal and environmental disruptions through the rest of the century and beyond.

KEY MESSAGE 3:
LONG-TERM STRATEGY: GLOBAL TARGETS AND TIMETABLES
Rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid “dangerous climate change” regardless of how it is defined. Weaker targets for 2020 increase the risk of serious impacts, including the crossing of tipping points, and make the task of meeting 2050 targets more difficult and costly. Setting a credible long-term price for carbon and the adoption of policies that promote energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies are central to effective mitigation.

KEY MESSAGE 4:
EQUITY DIMENSIONS
Climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world. An effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and equitable mitigation strategies are needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable. Tackling climate change should be seen as integral to the broader goals of enhancing socioeconomic development and equity throughout the world.

KEY MESSAGE 5:
INACTION IS INEXCUSABLE
Society already has many tools and approaches – economic, technological, behavioural, and managerial – to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. If these tools are not vigorously and widely implemented, adaptation to the unavoidable climate change and the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies will not be achieved. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to achieve effective and rapid adaptation and mitigation. These include job growth in the sustainable energy sector; reductions in the health, social, economic and environmental costs of climate change; and the repair of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services.

KEY MESSAGE 6:
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
If the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge is to be achieved, then a number of significant constraints must be overcome and critical opportunities seized. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; reducing activities that increase greenhouse gas emissions and reduce resilience (e.g. subsidies); and enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society. Linking climate change with broader sustainable consumption and production concerns, human rights issues and democratic values is crucial for shifting societies towards more sustainable development pathways.

Source: http://climatecongress.ku.dk