400 PPM CO2 = FORESTED, ICE-FREE ARCTIC, 24 M HIGHER SEAS

[Permalink]

16 december 2008

CLIMATE CHANGE: Chasm Widens Between Science and Policy
Analysis by Stephen Leahy

QUEBEC CITY, Canada, Dec 15 (IPS)

[following is an excerpt. Read the complete article in IPS

"Three million years ago, when CO2 was estimated to be 400 ppm, new fossil evidence shows forests dominated the Arctic instead the ice, snow and permafrost. Sea levels were 24 meters higher than today, according to the new study by the U.S. Geological Survey."

.................

Emissions of CO2 have been growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the previous decade, despite efforts to curb emissions in a number of Kyoto Protocol signatory countries, reports the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of climate scientists.

"This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO2 emissions and atmospheric accumulation is unprecedented and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change," said Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project, in a statement last September.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today is well ahead of worst-case projections, hence the accelerating meltdown in the Arctic.

Rather than panicking, governments of Arctic countries seem preoccupied with what they view as an opportunity to exploit the region for its potential energy resources, said Michael Byers, an international law expert at the University of British Columbia in Canada. "National governments don't get it. We need to keep oil and gas where it is, in the ground," Byers told IPS in Quebec City.

Canada's federal government led by Stephen Harper certainly doesn't get it. In an assessment of performance on climate change released in Poznan by an international coalition of environmental groups, Canada ranked last amongst developed countries and was second only to Saudi Arabia of the 57 largest greenhouse-gas emitters regarding their performance in fighting climate change.

During the Poznan climate talks, Canada was frequently cited for delaying and obstructing agreement during the negotiations. Copying the George W. Bush administration's contempt for science, the Harper government refused to allow Canada's leading government scientist on climate, Don MacIver, to go Poznan, even though he was scheduled to speak and his travel costs were paid for.

Fearing continuing "house arrest" under the current government, MacIver has resigned his position as chair of conference organising at the World Meteorological Organisation.

While governments fail to get it, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 stand at 383 parts per million (ppm) and are climbing at two to three ppm per year. Pre-industrial CO2 levels averaged 270 ppm and some climate experts are calling for the need to return to below 350 ppm to truly stabilise the planet.

Three million years ago, when CO2 was estimated to be 400 ppm, new fossil evidence shows forests dominated the Arctic instead the ice, snow and permafrost. Sea levels were 24 meters higher than today, according to the new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

In a contest between the relentless physics of climate change and continuing political paralysis, our home is doomed to burn to the ground. Many climate activists say that only a grassroots revolution, a global rebellion that overturns the fossil-fuel economic hegemony, will save us now.


>>> Back to list