tagged w/ Global climate change; The Economist; 450 ppm tipping point; Grist
The Arctic’s glaciers, including those of Greenland’s vast ice cap, are retreating. The land is thawing: the area covered by snow in June is roughly a fifth less than in the 1960s. The permafrost is shrinking. Alien plants, birds, fish and animals are creeping north: Atlantic mackerel, haddock and cod are coming up in Arctic nets. Some Arctic species will probably die out.
Perhaps not since the 19th-century clearance of America’s forests has the world seen such a spectacular environmental change. It is a stunning illustration of global warming, the cause of the melt. It also contains grave warnings of its dangers. The world would be mad to ignore them.
http://www.economist.com/node/21556921?fsrc=nlw%7Chig%7C6-14-2012%7C2119602%7C37562981%7CThe Arctic’s glaciers, including those of Greenland’s vast ice cap, are... more
THE ECONOMIST has long accepted the scientific consensus that the world is warming and that this warming is being caused by carbon-dioxide emissions from human activity. Climate scientists generally believe that avoiding potentially catastrophic warming will require massive cuts in emissions. The world has generally failed to agree on such cuts, and The Economist now believes "a dash to stay under 2°C [of average temperature increase] is no longer plausible."
Some scientists and activists believe that a concentration of over 350 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could lead to feedback loops (the release of methane from Arctic permafrost, for example) that could make warming almost impossible to stop. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes the right number is 450 ppm. Achieving that target, as David Roberts of the environmental news website Grist explained last year, is a "gobsmackingly gargantuan challenge":
It turns out, to get on a trajectory to hit 450 ppm, we’re going to need to turn off most of our fossil fuel energy, end deforestation, and build about 11.5 new terawatts of clean energy capacity by 2033 (30 years out from the 2003 baseline).
Mr Roberts goes on to highlight a series of remarkable charts and graphs from Saul Griffith, an inventor. Mr Griffith estimates that, in order to meet the 450 ppm target, the world will have to build 100 square metres of photovoltaic solar cells (with 15% efficiency and good siting, naturally) every second for the next 25 years. Also, one 100m diameter wind turbine every five minutes and one 3-gigawatt nuclear plant every week. The list goes on. You can see why The Economist is pessimistic about avoiding 2°C of warming.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/02/climate-change-and-air-travel?fsrc=nlw%7Cnewe%7C2-13-2012%7Cnew_on_the_economistTHE ECONOMIST has long accepted the scientific consensus that the world is warming and... more