One day into the Cancun climate conference, what will emerge by December 10 is anybody's guess. It could be anything ranging from not much to a substantial setting of the stage for a comprehensive climate treaty at the next conference, which will take place in Capetown this time next year. In that light, a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society ought to be required reading during the conference's break times in the next few days. It's a grim, but uncertain story, a world in which the average temperature might rise by 4°C (7°F) within 50 years. Through Tuesday, the society is opening up its entire digital archives, so you can download articles from the special issue for free here.
The 11 special issue articles speculate on the impacts if average temperatures rose what probably seems like no big deal to the CEOs of companies hoping to farm corn for ethanol production just south of the Arctic Circle. For everybody else, it could be a very big deal. As Damian Carrington at The Guardian reports:
|A hellish vision of a world warmed by 4C within a lifetime has been set out by an international team of scientists, who say the agonisingly slow progress of the global climate change talks that restart in Mexico today makes the so-called safe limit of 2C impossible to keep. A 4C rise in the planet's temperature would see severe droughts across the world and millions of migrants seeking refuge as their food supplies collapse.
"There is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global surface temperature at below 2C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary," said Kevin Anderson, from the University of Manchester, who with colleague Alice Bows contributed research to a special collection of Royal Society journal papers published tomorrow. "Moreover, the impacts associated with 2C have been revised upwards so that 2C now represents the threshold [of] extremely dangerous climate change."
The new analysis by Anderson and Bows takes account of the non-binding pledges made by countries in the Copenhagen Accord, the compromise document that emerged from the last major UN climate summit, and the slight dip in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the economic recession. The scientists' modelling is based on actual tonnes of emissions, not percentage reductions, and separates the predicted emissions of rich and fast-industrialising nations such as China. "2010 represents a political tipping point," said Anderson, but added in the report: "This paper is not intended as a message of futility, but rather a bare and perhaps brutal assessment of where our 'rose-tinted' and well-intentioned approach to climate change has brought us. Real hope and opportunity, if it is to arise at all, will do so from a raw and dispassionate assessment of the scale of the challenge faced by the global community."
A rise of 4C could be seen as soon as 2060 in a worst case scenario, according to research in the same journal, led by the Met Office's Richard Betts ...
FishOutofWater has a more comprehensive look here. boatsie has a diary from Cancun here.
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At Daily Kos on this date in 2005:
|Little by little, over the last year or so, we've begun to learn the extent of the Bush administration's War on TerrorTM as waged by the CIA. I'm not referring to something they'd put on their website. I'm talking about "extraordinary rendition", the practice of transferring terrorism suspects to interrogation camps, often in countries where torture is legal.
Recently, the extent of the CIA's rendition program has become clearer, as a number of European countries have reported that they suspect the CIA has been using their airports - without permission - for their rendition flights