Deadly Climate Change Now Inevitable
UPDATE: RealClimate is at odds with Flannery's findings that in terms of carbon equivalency we are past 450ppm. The main thrust of my comments stand: we are perilously close if not past dangerous levels of emissions now, and clearly warming is occurring more rapidly than generally predicted.
“Strong worldwide economic growth has accelerated the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere to a dangerous threshold [ark] scientists had not expected for another decade… the level of climate-changing gases in the atmosphere has already reached critical levels.” I would like to formally congratulate the fossil fuel industries, their “skeptic” apologists, President Bush and the rest of the ruling oil oligarchy, and every opulent consumer gorging themselves upon natural resources accessed by liquidating the habitat they depend upon for life. Because of our unfailing defense of wasteful, excessive energy use; and refusal to change personally and societally, the Earth is now guaranteed to undergo deadly climate change [ark | more/ark].
By the reckoning of acclaimed author and scientist Tim Flannery, human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have now passed 455 parts per million in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent [search] (based upon warming potential of 30 greenhouse gases). This exceeds the generally accepted level of GHGs where deadly climate change [search] is assured. The resulting two degrees celsius of warming is widely considered the point where ecosystem collapse, agricultural failure and extreme weather become inevitable, permanent and deadly.
Anyone with ecological intuition knows this to be true As I sit here in Northern Wisconsin, the last few days have been nearly 90 degrees F (32 C) — some 30 degrees F above average. There has been much coverage today regarding how climate change induced lack of seasonality will result in changes in clothing fashion [ark]. Perhaps we should also think how an absence of seasonal regularity will impact our ability to grow food, have dependable but not excessive water supplies, and impact other aspects of ecosystem functionality.
Humanity is in for a nasty ride as the ecological fabric of being is deeply frayed. Yet the Earth and her humanity possess amazing regenerative and adaptive capabilities. We must trust in our ability to define and implement sufficient policies to pull back from the brink of destruction; starting with rigorous policies to reduce human population, end use of coal and other fossil fuels, preserve and restore ancient terrestrial ecosystems, and return to the land for a life of rich voluntary simplicity.
Yes, deadly climate change is now inevitable. No, we must not give up. There is still hope however slim that complex life and society can survive. Good luck weathering the storm.