tagged w/ climate tipping point
Scientists and environmental groups warned that urgent action was still needed to rescue the world from climate change, despite the deal sealed on Sunday morning in Durban after two weeks of talks.
Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: "This empty shell of a plan leaves the planet hurtling towards catastrophic climate change. If Durban is to be a historic stepping stone towards success the world must urgently agree ambitious targets to slash emissions." Although governments managed to find a last-minute deal that should lead to the first legally binding global agreement on climate change covering developed and developing countries, they did not discuss whether their pledges to cut emissions would prevent dangerous levels of global warming.
Under the Durban agreement, governments will now spend four years negotiating how far and how fast each country should cut carbon emissions.
Atkins said the science was clear – the current emissions targets set by developed and developing countries were inadequate, and if they were not strengthened, the poorest would be hurt most. "Millions of the poorest people around the globe are already facing the impacts of climate change – countries like the US who have done most to create this crisis must now take the lead in tackling it," he said.
Other environmental groups and scientists agreed.
"What is positive in Durban is that governments have reopened the door to a legally binding global agreement involving the world's major emitters, a door which many thought had been shut at the Copenhagen conference in 2009," said Bill Hare, director at Climate Action Tracker.
"What remains to be done is to take more ambitious actions to reduce emissions, and until this is done we are still headed to over 3C warming. There are still no new pledges on the table and the process agreed in Durban towards raising the ambition and increasing emission reductions is uncertain in its outcome."
Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics said the current pledges from countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions were not enough to hold global temperatures to 2C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which scientists say climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible.
He said that, according to the United Nations environment programme, countries' current emissions pledges would collectively mean that global annual emissions of greenhouse gases would be about 50bn tonnes in 2020, similar to the total in 2011.
More at the linkScientists and environmental groups warned that urgent action was still needed to... more
Global energy consumption will increase by 53 percent over the next 25 years to a mind-boggling 225,700 terawatt-hours (770 quadrillion BTUs ) as water- and carbon-intensive fossil fuels continue to dominate the world’s economies, despite the global recession and the strong growth in the renewable sector, according to a new annual report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
About half of the projected increase in energy use will occur in China and India, the world’s first- and third-largest energy consumers, respectively. The two developing economies will account for more than 30 percent of the global energy use during the next two decades.
“China alone — which only recently became the world’s top energy consumer — is projected to use 68 percent more energy than the United States by 2035,” said Howard Gruenspecht, the administrator for the EIA, in a press release.
In general, however, the overall projections made in the EIA report only reflect laws and policies as they stood at the beginning of 2011. In other words, the report does not incorporate prospective legislation — in China, for example — that, together with oil-price volatility and the pace of global economic recovery, could significantly affect energy markets.
Coal Production and Consumption
China relies on coal for about 70 percent of its energy generation, consuming 3.15 billion metric tons (3.5 billion tons) of coal last year. Meanwhile, India has been steadily increasing domestic coal production, its major source of energy, reaching over 500 million metric tons (551 million tons) in 2010.
Though future generation from renewables, natural gas, and nuclear power will largely displace coal-fired production, coal will remain the largest source of world electricity through 2035, particularly in developing nations, according to the EIA projections. China alone will account for 76 percent of the projected increase in world coal use.
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WE ARE GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.Global energy consumption will increase by 53 percent over the next 25 years to a... more
CARBON dioxide levels are rising at a faster rate than the worst-case scenario envisaged by United Nations experts, with the planet heading for "catastrophic" and "irreversible" climate change by 2040, a new report claims.
The rise of greenhouse gases will trigger an unprecedented rate of global warming that will result in the loss of the ice-covered polar seas by 2020, much of our coral reefs by 2040 and see a 1.4-metre rise in the sea level by 2100.
The apocalyptic vision has been outlined in a paper by Andrew Brierley of St Andrews University, which is likely to influence the views of UN experts gathering in Copenhagen this December to establish a new protocol that will attempt to halt global warming.
Brierley and his co-author, Michael Kingsford of the James Cook University in Australia, examined the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on ocean habitats and marine organisms.
The scientists compared current carbon dioxide emissions with those forecast in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), the leading body for the assessment of global warming, which was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation.
In 2007, the IPCC predicted a "worst-case scenario" that would see rapid industrialisation cause carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to increase by two parts per million each year. Parts per million (ppm) is a unit of concentration used to measure pollutants.
Brierley said atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration had increased from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm to 385 ppm last year and was now rising at a rate of 2.5 ppm per year.
He described the outlook as "really quite nasty doom-and-gloom situation".
He added: "People have looked at how various economic situations, various developments in India and China might impact on carbon dioxide admissions and in 2007 they made a series of forecasts and if you take the worst-case scenario, carbon dioxide would be going up by two parts per million.
"This really august body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said these are the worst-case scenarios for carbon dioxide increase and we are above that already. That's the thing that really frightens me."
In their paper, Brierley and Kingsford said that a carbon dioxide level of 450 ppm was the critical threshold beyond which catastrophic and irreversible change might occur.
Reaching that level would mean a global mean temperature rise of 2C above pre-industrial values. At present rates this threshold will be passed by 2040.
The authors added: "By 2040, some particularly sensitive marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and ice-covered polar seas could already have been lost and other unexpected consequences may arise."
Brierley said: "You can say no Arctic sea ice by 2020 – really, really soon. Certainly no summer sea ice in the Arctic by 2020."CARBON dioxide levels are rising at a faster rate than the worst-case scenario... more
Are politicians even thinking of this while they continue to water down emissions targets?
In the year 1750, over 98 percent of coral reefs (magenta dots) grew in optimal conditions with aragonite saturation greater than 3.5 (blue colors). Such water is rapidly disappearing and will be gone in several decades if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue. Atmospheric CO2 levels are 280 ppm and 550 ppm for years 1750 and 2050, respectively.
As a child I never would have thought that the Great Barrier Reef of all places would have the possibility of becoming extinct. I truly do hope this report is wrong, but based on the fact that we humans will more than likely do nothing but continue to argue about this instead of really doing something, I'm beginning to think it is right. And yes, we can do something about it.In the year 1750, over 98 percent of coral reefs (magenta dots) grew in optimal... more