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Released today, an international report states that we have 10 years - no more - to avert a disasterous and irreversible change in our climate (BBC, The Independent). What's notable about the report is it puts a date, for the first time, on when we will reach the point of no return. And it's far sooner than you might think.

The paper assesses that the "tipping point" where we reach the point of no return and we no longer have any ability to correct the changes we've made is where the temperature rises by 2C, caused by 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere (prior to the industrial revolution, it was 280ppm). We're at 379 and adding 2ppm each year - and that rate is only increasing. The report even suggests that past this tipping point, we may create a runaway effect. Put simply, once you reach that point, the ice caps melt, putting yet more CO2 into the atmosphere, effects such as ending the Gulf Stream and widespread crop failure occur, and even the forests which now act as carbon sinks begin to instead put carbon into the atmosphere.
It's a frightening prospect, and while the current administration works to push the position that climate change is not even happening, science is becoming so certain that it is able to put a timescale on the problem.
"There is an ecological timebomb ticking away," said Stephen Byers, the former transport secretary, who co-chaired the task force that produced the report with the US Republican senator Olympia Snowe. It was assembled by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK, the Centre for American Progress in the US, and The Australia Institute.The group's chief scientific adviser is Dr Rakendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report urges all the G8 countries to agree to generate a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and to double their research spending on low-carbon energy technologies by 2010. It also calls on the G8 to form a climate group with leading developing nations such as India and China, which have big and growing CO2 emissions.

"What this underscores is that it's what we invest in now and in the next 20 years that will deliver a stable climate, not what we do in the middle of the century or later," said Tom Burke, a former government adviser on green issues who now advises business.

The time to act is now. Write to your representative and tell them so.

Originally posted to Expat Briton on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 01:14 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great minds think alike... (none)
  •  Beaten to it. (3.20)
    By only a minute. Please go to this diary and recommend. Credit where credit's due, he/she got there first.
  •  For the next "This Week in Fascism" (none)
         I am sure everyone has an opinion on the report by Dr Rajendra Pachauri concerning the need to do something immediatley or face uncontrollable climate change. There were at least 6 Diaries on this Monday morning.
    • Take Action: Countdown to global catastrophe by S. Basaman which concentrated on the lack of RWCM coverage.
    • Bush Appointee: Cut Pollution ASAP or Adios to Humanity by Plan9 which got little attention
    • Bush's Leading Climate Expert: Global Warming at Critical Moment by G factor that was almost totally missed
    • Want to see a real crisis? Global Warming heating up by Virginia Dem which got a whole lot of attention
    • 10 Years to Armageddon. by Expat Briton which was missed due to Virginia's popular diary
    • Want to see a real crisis? A partial counterpoint by Yertle, who is an actual climatologist, presented an excellent method of framing the issue that uses both divergent viewpoints and still provides an effective call for action. I recommend both Yertle's and Virginia's. I will hold my commentary till we see if we get a reaction from the Republicans.

    This Week in Fascism is now on Thursday and due out at 20:00 PST.

    "It's about the accountability, stupid." Thomas Davis 2005

    by Tomtech on Thu Jan 27, 2005 at 05:02:29 PM PST

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