Less Time Than Thought, More Dramatic Carbon Cuts Required

No time for dilly-dallying – we need to cut carbon emissions dramatically starting yesterday. Drive less, live close to work or work out of your home, hybrids and compact fluorescent light bulbs rock, but ultimately we need to do many more dramatic changes if the atmosphere is to be sustained. New study below reports need to cut carbon emissions 70% by 2030 [more] to avoid the worst aspects of dangerous climate change.

“Greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced far more quickly than was previously thought, says a climate change research institute. A report by the Tyndall Centre said a UK government target of a 60% cut in emissions by 2050 is insufficient and needs to be 70% by 2030. But it requires a major programme of action within the next four years…”

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8 Responses

  1. Anthony says:

    This is only my opinion and please challenge if you can.I think James Lovelock is right:??? It's too late now:even if we stopped 100% emitting co2 right now the planet would continue to heat up at least another 100 years!
    Where did I get that from? I read that in the Ecologist magazine and,yes, i am assuming they know what they are talking about! If it's balderdash feel free to challenge!
    The other point here is that by 2030 or so we will have been forced to reduce our emissions hugely by the downslope of the bell curve of peak oil. In other words we'll be probably producing 20% of current oil production by 2030 : The oilage will be dead!!!
    This climate change and peakoil problem is so mind boggling as to be almost impossible for our leaders to get a grips with :We are dealing with the not so distant end of our high energy tech civilisation! I sympathise with our leaders I'd probable be in an alternate cold then steaming FUNK about this:It makes the decline and fall of the Roman Empire look like pussy cat stuff in comparison!

  2. Almuth Ernsting says:

    In response to Anthony's post:
    1.Yes, the planet would continue to warm for many decades to come even if all CO2 emissions were to stop. But the warming would slow down – there is only so much warming that 382ppm of CO2 will cause. Also, without new emissions, we will save the oceans from becoming acidic, and most of marine life from being wiped out.
    2. If warming from 382 ppm of CO2 seems bad, remember that we are on course for 1000 pppm of CO2 with 'business as usual' this century. The harm from this is incalculable, and surely we have a moral duty not to increase harm and suffering! We can always make it worse – but then again, we can prevent some of the worst.
    3. Peak oil will not by itself reduce emissions. It could produce a major economic crash, but unless society chooses to protect the climate it may well engender to switch back to coal, including diesel made from coal – with far higher CO2 emissions than oil.

  3. Sanjay says:

    The running out of oil due to “Peakoil” itself won't reduce our emissions of Carbon.
    Use of Coal and the new introductions of coal fired power stations are waiting in the wing to take over.
    The planet has enough coal reserves to last us around 160 years.
    Furthermorem there will be other forms of Carbon emitting fuels that will also take their place – it's the capitalist market driven system that will ensure nothing gets in its way. (To be fair the same system has given us unprecedented lifestyles here in the West).
    So in my opinion Carbon emissions are most likely to continue unabated with or without peakoil.
    The political systems we operate cannot handle the concept of changing society so drastically to allow the environment to cope with our existence.
    As a result the Carbon experiment is likely to continue to its end point and if the political systems decide to take on the challenge it will be at a late stage in the game.
    Jared Diamond in his book Collapse identifies complex societies (like ours) and environmental change as two common attributes in previous civilisations that have collapsed.
    Our society must be one of the most complex that has inhabited the earth. Just think of our food supply chain or our energy supply.
    In the UK a few years ago lorry blockades (protesting high fuel taxation) brought basic amenities to a halt.
    A simple interruption to the transport infrastructure of a few days and and our society staggered to its knees.
    Environmental change will test our society to its limits and how we react and adapt will be the key question.
    I like the previous comment agree with Lovelock that by the end of this century there will only be a few breeding pairs of humans on this planet and they will most likely be living at the Poles where it will be the warmest.
    I don't feel depressed about this because our society deserves to be obliterated by Gaia – we live in total conflict with the planet's system that supports us.
    When mankind recovers again (we're taling several hundres thousands of years) our civilisation will have played a big part in the understanding that the first rule of existence on this planet is to devise a society that complements the earth's system (Gaia) not one that operates in contradiction to it.

  4. PeterW says:

    Our leaders can't come to grips with climate change because they're complete idiots. There are so many things that can be done. I liked reading Lovelock's book but I don't think the man has ever heard the word conservation.

    Plane travel could easily be reduced by 95% and it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. Do we really need people flying all over the world on business trips and vacations?

    Commuting to work is a large emitter. I try to bicycle to work as often as possible (54km round trip). I'm no super athlete and you know what I feel great doing it. There are many people who could do the same thing. I also try to work at home as often as I can. People can also move closer to their work.

    Food is another culprit. Try to buy as much food as possible locally. It's that simple. Or even better grown your own.

    Stop buying crap you don't need. Plasma TVs and SUVs are good examples of crap. McDonald's toys would fall into that category as well.

    Insulate your homes, plant trees for shade in the summer.

    If governments were really serious they could implement a tax shift. CO2 should be taxed, consumption should be taxed , people shouldn't be taxed.

    There are a million and one things people can do if they just get off their fat behinds and start doing it. We may not save ourselves but it's damn well worth a try.
    Sorry for spew.:-)

  5. Stephen C says:

    I'm glad the blogs posted here promote a Personal Responsibility to global warming. (Especially PeterW) That is what I found missing in An Inconvenient Truth.
    Sure, we here in America are advised to write our Congressional representative. We should all take mass transit. And, everyone should buy a Prius (never mind the energy and resources to build millions of new vehicles). Replace your light bulbs, pronto. These are reasonable and necessary steps. But as the world population grows and “developing peoples” are given more technologies (which means more consumption), improved public policies alone will not get us where we need to go. This is a brilliant and heartfelt film, but I posit that even the vice president does not understand the level of personal commitment required from each of us to stem and turn-around climate change.
    We can hope that the paralyzing political gridlock will end in Washington. But why wait. Effective change will only come from the individual actions of a multitude of us when we become, in Wendell Berry's term, good stewards of the Earth again and send the appropriate signals to the economy.
    Stewardship means turning increasingly to our local and regional economies for much of what we need. And, it means becoming more aware of the impacts of each of our purchases and decisions on the global commons. Consider the lessons revealed in Bill McKibben's essay in the August 2006 National Geographic. Hoping to significantly lower his carbon footprint and build community, he undertook last Winter to survive on food grown in his county in Vermont. There would be no fresh vegetables trucked in from Florida or California. Growing and transporting a single calorie of iceberg lettuce from California to the East takes 36 calories of energy! Bill understands that the availability of cheap fossil fuels has led to a lifestyle of convenience and consumption. But with some shifts in diet, visits to the farmer's market and some canning at harvest, he, in his own words, “didn't simply survive; I thrived.”
    As regards just this issue of food production and consumption in relation to greenhouse gasses, can we go deeper? Should we not also consider the climate impacts of the types of food we consume? It is well understood that more than half the harvested agricultural acreage in the United States is used to grow livestock feed. Corn is a preferred feed and an average cow consumes 25 pounds daily. It takes 1.2 gallons of oil to make the fertilizer used for each bushel of that corn. At that rate, a 1200 pound cow in her short lifetime will consume, in effect, 284 gallons of oil. (see for instance: earthsave.org/environment/foodchoices.htm. Author: Boyan). But when you eat beans, for example, you use 1/27 the amount of fossil fuel to produce a calorie of energy as you do when you eat beef.
    The inefficiency in such an approach is also reflected in land use: the standard American, meat oriented diet with food for a year requires 3 1⁄4 acres of land. Supplying one lacto-ovo-vegetarian with food for a year requires 1⁄2 acre (1/6 acre for a Vegan). Now, if tropical rainforest is cleared for grazing using fire, 75 kg of CO2 is created to eventually produce beef for one hamburger. In that eventuality, eating one pound of hamburger does the same damage as driving your car for more than three weeks! (Boyan)
    Can we go deeper? There are far worse greenhouse gasses than CO2. Methane has a heat trapping effect measured at 23-25 times that of CO2. Methane emissions are causing nearly half of the planet’s human-induced warming. And it is estimated that as much as a fifth of global methane emissions come from cattle. In the U.S., closer to 30% of national methane release comes from internal digestion of cows and emanations from large lagoons of untreated animal waste (http://www.epa.gov/methane/sources.html#where). Because global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years, this shift in the world's culinary preferences is putting enormous stress on the atmosphere (to say nothing of impacts to: water extraction; water pollution; lost acreage and wild animals). (see for instance EarthSave Report on vegetarianism as tool against climate change Author: Mohr)
    Clearly, here is a lifestyle choice around diet that can shift greenhouse gas emissions much more quickly than the shifts in infrastructure and transportation away from the fossil fuel burning and CO2 release. As an added bonus, methane is cycled out of the atmosphere in eight years, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century (Mohr).
    In their classic tome, The Universe Story, Thomas Berry and Brain Swimme describe an aspect of the worldview common to all indigenous peoples: the understanding that there is a sacrificial dimension to life. This is about belonging to the whole and protecting the whole – a much more rooted feeling than in our modern world comprised of individual economic actors. As McKibben sagely notes: “we need to change as dramatically as our light bulbs.”…………………..So, questions to Mr. Gore (and us all): will technology and public policy alone save the planet? What personal sacrifice will you make in this noble effort?

  6. sushil_yadav says:

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.
    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.
    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment
    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
    Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.
    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.
    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.
    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.
    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.
    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.
    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.
    Emotion ends.
    Man becomes machine.
    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.
    A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.
    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.
    To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

  7. very right! Cutting down carbon dioxide emissions is just one of the things we absolutely have to do now – we that ist mankind.
    There might be justified doubt about whether or not our energy-ascetism will really undo the harm we already inflicted on the planet, but as long as we are not sure, we must act as if the worst hypothesis is reality. In other words: a few real scientists describing a link between human activity and a climate deterioriation are enough reason to suspend whatever we can – fossile fuel burning, mining, deforestation.

  8. Patricia says:

    I think it's impossible now to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Too many people buy cars and they do not think about ecology but about their comfort only.

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