Wednesday, October 10, 2007

455 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent is HERE

Have we gone past the point of no return already?

Have been tipped over the tipping point?

Are we irreversabley doomed to die in a rapidly heating world?

Today's news from the Austrailian scientist Tim Flannery suggests we have.

The fact we have reached the magic 455 parts per million CO2 equivalent already when it was expected to take 10 years does show the extent of the problem. With no real prospect of things improving any time soon it might be time to consider some of the more drastic solutions. Switching lights off and recycling jam jars may no longer be enough.

The reason? Predictable but knowing this answer brings us no closer to a solution.

Flannery said global economic expansion, particularly in China and India, was a major factor behind the unexpected acceleration in greenhouse gas levels.


His conclusions appear to me to be entirely correct.

"That 200 gigatonnes of carbon pollutant, the standing stock that's in the atmosphere, is there courtesy of the industrial revolution, and we're the beneficiaries of that and most of the world missed out," he said.

"So I see that as a historic debt that we owe the world. And I can't imagine a better way of paying it back than trying to help the poorest people on the planet."


Full article below.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Hit Danger Mark - Scientist [PlanetArk]

SYDNEY - The global economic boom has accelerated greenhouse gas emissions to a dangerous threshold not expected for a decade and could potentially cause irreversible climate change, said one of Australia's leading scientists.

Tim Flannery, a world recognised climate change scientist and Australian of the Year in 2007, said a UN international climate change report due in November will show that greenhouse gases have already reached a dangerous level.

Flannery said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will show that greenhouse gas in the atmosphere in mid-2005 had reached about 455 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent -- a level not expected for another 10 years.

"We thought we'd be at that threshold within about a decade," Flannery told Australian television late on Monday.

"We thought we had that much time. But the new data indicates that in about mid-2005 we crossed that threshold," he said.

"What the report establishes is that the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is already above the threshold that could potentially cause dangerous climate change."

Flannery, from Macquarie University and author of the climate change book "The Weather Makers", said he had seen the raw data which will be in the IPCC Synthesis Report.

He said the measurement of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere included not just carbon dioxide, but also nitrous oxide, methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). All these gases were measured and then equated into potentially one gas to reach a general level.

"They're all having an impact. Probably 75 percent is carbon dioxide but the rest is that mixed bag of other gases," he said.


COLLISION COURSE

Flannery said global economic expansion, particularly in China and India, was a major factor behind the unexpected acceleration in greenhouse gas levels.

"We're still basing that economic activity on fossil fuels. You know, the metabolism of that economy is now on a collision course, clearly, with the metabolism of our planet," he said.

The report adds an urgency to international climate change talks on the Indonesian island of Bali in December, as reducing greenhouse gas emissions may no longer be enough to prevent dangerous climate change, he said.

UN environment ministers meet in December in Bali to start talks on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol on curbing climate change that expires in 2012.

"We can reduce emissions as strongly as we like -- unless we can draw some of the standing stock of pollutant out of the air and into the tropical forests, we'll still face unacceptable levels of risk in 40 years time," he said.

Flannery suggested the developed world could buy "climate security" by paying villages in countries like Papua New Guinea not to log forests and to regrow forests.

"That 200 gigatonnes of carbon pollutant, the standing stock that's in the atmosphere, is there courtesy of the industrial revolution, and we're the beneficiaries of that and most of the world missed out," he said.

"So I see that as a historic debt that we owe the world. And I can't imagine a better way of paying it back than trying to help the poorest people on the planet."



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1 comment:

EconomicDemocracy said...

You're doing a good thing
by posting about this article...so I dont' mean to criticize you by pointing this out by as you may already be aware, although I use the phrase
too sometimes, in reality there is no simple yes or no answer
to "have we reached the tipping point" since there are various
feedback mechanisms...some
may kick in and others not yet
strong enough. Are we doomed?
to what? it depends on the question. The terrible
thing is the "skeptics" have
messed up the whole debate
so either you don't sound urgen
enough or they want to say,
"well if we're doomed then there's no point in trying anything, much less anything
expensive"

That's nonsense of course..even
if we're doomed to X we have not be doomed to reaching Y...here X and Y are various future Earths..X may be bad..but Y will be worse if Y is a planet with even WORSE
emissions levels

this point must be hammed home. Kind of like the financial advisors saying all the time that "it's important to save early for retirement" but also adding "But it's never too late to start" same with smoking. Namely the key fact to hammer in is, "late" really IS better than "never" as far as making large cuts..we need to make sure the public understands this.

Something even more important to hammer in, I fear few environmentalists or bloggers even think much about which is our economic system is based on perpetual exponential growth, forever and ever. Not only is
that a recipe for always growing
emissions which catch up with whatever efficiency and conservation you might have been lucky to implement last year or last decade, but it's also an economic system that enters into crisis when it stops growing. IT's like a cancer cell, and unlike a healhty body which grows and reaches a health steady-state total size.

some work on the monetary
system (e.g. google for The Ecology of Money which is free online and cheap in harcopy and only 80 pages) talk about some elements.

it goes beyond the monetary system..that needs to change to avoid built-in need for perpetual growth, but also corporate economics, our capitalist economy, and the communist one in xUSSR and the
hybrid one in today's China all three systems are based on perpetual growth (and control over the economic decision making and the mass media by a small elite rather than from the bottom up by grassroots groups)..until we change that or at least start VOICING the need to change it, you can forget about emissions flattening out much less decreasing.

-ED
http://economicdemocracy.org