No More Decades to Squander

Both Carbon Trading and Emissions Are GrowTen years have been squandered in terms of addressing climate change. Robert Watson, the former chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, notes world leaders have wasted a decade [ark] arguing about whether climate change is occurring when they should have been formulating and implementing urgent, immediate and sufficient policy actions. This glacial pace continues as international negotiations continue to crawl along [ark].
The United States has been the greatest climate obstructionist [search], followed closely in sheer criminal neglect by China and India. Europe's activities have largely been token, with a carbon market generating windfall profits for utilities but showing little immediate potential to actually reduce emissions [ark]. The U.S., China and India's citizens in particular must demand commitments to timely mandatory emission cut targets, or there is exactly zero percent chance the climate crisis will be solved. We have run out of decades to squander.

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11 Responses

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Actually, we ran out when the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere reached 350 ppm, about 35 ppm ago…

  2. Sue says:

    There are, I suspect, a multitude of reasons for the inaction on not only climate issues, but other resource issues — no government has given any serious attention to the issues raised by Limits to Growth report that first came out more than 30 years ago, and has been updated twice in that time. However, I would hazard a guess that one factor is ideological. Much political–and other forms of–energy have gone into destroying previously existing “planned economies” (which admittedly were coupled with undesirable totalitarian governments), thus “proving” to the world that planned economies are misguided and doomed. It's a bit hard for leaders to then turn back to the people and say, gosh we were wrong, it really is necessary for governments to engage in economic planning and control for environmental (and other) reasons. In the United States it's the legacy of Ronald Reagan, in China and India it's trying to disassociate current leadership from past policies that stultified standards of living. Certainly not an excuse, but it makes sense within certain dominant political mindsets. It would certainly help explain why European nations have been somewhat better — they were never as caught up in that particular form of political polarization, having always had socialist parties that were part of the mainstream of political life.

  3. R. Gates says:

    Despite the many good intentions of a dedicated minority – greed always prevails. Politics is always ultimately about money and power, and with the climate change issue it is still the same. Mother nature will simply have to take matters into her own hands and teach the naked apes a very hard lesson.

  4. Dear David R. Benson, Sue and R. Gates,
    Your comments are spot on, I believe.
    From my humble perspective, the family of humanity appears not to have much time in which to make necessary changes in its conspicuous over-consumption lifestyles, in the unsustainable overproduction practices of its big-business enterprises, and its overpopulation activities. Humankind may not be able to protect life as we know it and preserve the integrity of Earth much longer.
    If we project the anticipated growth of unbridled per-capita consumption, rampantly expanding economic globalization, and 70-75 million newborns annually, then human civilization and life as we know could be put at risk soon.
    According to my admittedly simple estimations, if humankind keeps doing just as it is doing now, without doing whatsoever is necessary to begin modifying the business-as-usual course of our gigantic global political economy, Earth could sustain life as we know it for a relatively short period of time.
    The widely shared and consensually validated perspective adopted by so many of our leaders that humanity is proceeding along a benign path to the future by having underdeveloped nations "leap-frog" through a

  5. R.Gates says:

    Steve,
    The carbon dioxide and heating already in the system guarantee that “something wicked this way comes”.
    Few people knew this yet, but the largest inrease EVER of methane is currently being recorded in the atmosphere over the northern hemisphere. Last summer's very warm temperature and permafrost melting is indication that the dreaded positive feedback loop of methane being released from warming leading to more methane being released, and on and on is well underway. This gas is 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
    Spend time with your family and cheerish each moment…something wicked this way comes…

  6. zephyr says:

    R. Gates wrote:
    “…..Few people knew this yet, but the largest increase EVER of methane is currently being recorded in the atmosphere over the northern hemisphere…..”
    Does anyone know of a more current reference than the following to atmospheric methane concentration?
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html
    Is there a venue out there, similar to AIRMAP New England:
    http://airmap.unh.edu/data/data.html'site=AIRMAPTF
    that documents methane levels on a Real-Time basis?
    Thanks very much.

  7. David B. Benson says:

    My understanding from following Real Climate is that methane concentrations, while too high, have stopped rising.
    Unlike CO2 concentrations.
    Welcome to the Anthropocene, which even Dante could not imagine…

  8. zephyr says:

    Thank you, David.
    A study cited under the [b]Atmospheric Concentrations[/b] header on this page:
    http://www.epa.gov/methane/scientific.html
    indicates that atmospheric methane “has been at a steady state of 1751 ppbv between 1999 and 2002.”
    While that's good news, I find it a bit confusing given recent documentation of accelerating permafrost thaw in northern regions of the Asian, European and North American continents.
    As for CO2 concentrations the news is not good as we know. I've been watching AIRMAP New England for five years now and over the last year or so it is rare to see a CO2 reading below 390 ppmv. Readings of over 400 ppmv are becoming more the case with each month that goes by.
    These (and several other) readings are taken every 15 minutes around the clock, 365 days a year, by the way.

  9. R. Gates says:

    Most the data on the web right now is at least a year or two old (which is very old ocnsidering how quickly things are happening with the climate). Last years record melt in the arctic “shocked” every climate scientist. Climate change was not supposed to happen that fast – but is.
    Methane had leveled for a few years…but actually, while methane levels had stop rising from about 2004-2006, the very latest data show that in fact they have started to go up once more in 2007-2008, continuing the startling rise we've been seeing the past few decades.
    For real time methane data, at many stations around the world, go to:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/iadv/
    For example, currently over Barrow Alaska, Methane is approaching 1950 parts per billion, most likely due to the extreme melt last year n the artic as methane poured out of the thawing bogs and tundra at record levels, and is now in the atmosphere.
    Is this is the dreaded positivie feedback mechanism that has been feared for so long? Possibly…at 22 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide as a greenhouse gas, methane has the power to transform the climate far more quickly than most can imagine, and if scientists are being “shocked” by the rapid change, think what the ecosystems are going through…

  10. zephyr says:

    R. Gates wrote:
    For real time methane data, at many stations around the world, go to:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/iadv/
    ***
    THANK YOU.

  11. J Boehm says:

    From what I understand, all of the oil and gas that was sequestered within the earth (before the car came along)was at some stage and in some form (gas, solid, or liquid)around above the earth BEFORE humans came along. What we appear to be doing, is recreating an environment that was around BEFORE man came onto the scene. My question is: “Should we be doing this?” If we are releasing all this 'stuff' back onto the surface of the earth, are we opening a type of Pandora's box?

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