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February 13, 2006

Past the "tipping point" on global warming?

-- by Thomas Leavitt

According to an article in the UK Independent, a "critical rise in world temperatures is now unavoidable". They base this conclusion on a paper presented at a recent UK Gov't conference on climate change, which "reviewed a dozen studies of the probability of exceeding the 2 degrees threshold at different CO2 equivalent levels." The conclusion was that, only if the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stayed below 400ppm, would there be a "very high chance" that global temperatures would not rise by at least 2 degrees (which would be enough to precipitate all sorts of nasty consequences, such as the Greenland ice sheet melting, sea levels rising by several meters, and a massive decline in agricultural output). The problem is, we've already exceeded that level... using the latest data available (from 2004), the Independent had a scientist calculate the then current level of greehouse gases in the atmosphere: 426 ppm.

If you're wondering how the Independent translates going from no longer having a "very high probability of avoiding" to "unavoidable" (me too), I presume that this has something to do with it:

The scientist who chaired the Exeter conference [where the above referenced paper was presented], Dennis Tirpak, head of the climate change unit of the OECD in Paris [em. mine, TL], was even more direct. He said: "This means we will hit 2 degrees [as a global mean temperature rise]."

Of course, the polar bears already have a problem. ... and the Bush Administration would prefer that federal employees not talk about it in an "uncoordinated" fashion. See this interview with James Hansen for more details.

UPDATE: A reader sent me this wonderful investigative report on Australia's "Greenhouse Mafia", and government/private sector censorship/self-censorship on climate change issues. If you read through it, towards the end there's an exchange with Kevin Hennessy, a scientist at a research institute, that is truly Kafkaesque in its absurdity. In fact, the entire report reads like something out of Kafka, bureaucrats and politicians posturing shamelessly, making self-righteous statements that are totally at odds with reality. ... and, as an American, I have no doubt that our government functions in exactly the same fashion.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at February 13, 2006 11:13 AM

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Comments

This place will cool down quickly enough for the next lifeform.

Posted by: Michael Miller at February 13, 2006 1:18 PM

This sucks, cause it's been known for decades that this would happen. When I was in college for renewable energy it was the topic of discussion.
But no, the oil companies said it can't happen "our store" bought studies said NO it's all hype from the tree huggers.
Well CONS this is your issue now, right along with me and my child and his child and so on so forth.
Enjoy while you can, cause your kids are in for it also.

Posted by: scrugun at February 13, 2006 1:51 PM

Minnesota is 15 or so degrees warmer this winter than normal. Sure, there are normal fluctuations but this is unprecedented.

Believe it or not, a lot of people are unhappy about this. The ice isn't thick enough to drive cars on the lakes or put out fishhouses, and that's the big winter sport here.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 14, 2006 6:51 AM

What I don't get about this whole 'global warming' debate is how people who have children constantly deny the dire consequences of climate change - often they even deny that there is such a thing as GLOBAL WARMING. Should put all those evolutionary 'scientists' to shame .. I mean - aren't you supposed to be concerned about your kids' future? Thank God I have remained childless.

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at February 15, 2006 1:30 PM

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