While the politicos posture, scientists just delivered sobering news. A new study predicts up to 30 feet of sea level rise, drowning Florida and trillions of dollars of coastal property over the next several hundred years, if the Copenhagen target of 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise is met.
Nine metres of sea level rise is higher than anything predicted so far because the new study takes into account the potential that the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets start to melt as the Earth warms. This did not factor into the most recent assessment of the state of climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. It forecast a sea-level rise of up to 59cm by 2100, and between 4-6m in the next few hundred years, if average global temperatures stabilised around 2C.
"Everybody's known that the IPCC's last numbers were underestimates because they didn't include all the factors that can accelerate ice sheet melting," said Robert Kopp of Princeton University, who led the latest study. "If the future models are limited, you want to look at other approaches to get at the question of sea-level rise one approach is to turn to the past record of sea-level rise."
His results, published in the journal Nature, showed that sea levels around the world during the last interglacial were between 6.6m and 9m higher than today. "During this period when temperatures were 2-3C above pre-industrial levels, global sea level looks like it was very likely at least 6.6m higher than today, which implies significant melting of the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets."
Back to the mess in Copenhagen
By locking out the NGOs the large powerful countries will deprive small, poor countries of representation.
The People Are Locked Out
The hundreds of members of Friends of the Earth International, the largest global grassroots environmental federation in the world, were barred from entering the Bella conference center today, because United Nations officials believed some were planning to participate in an effort to help demonstrators into the center. The protesters outside — calling for a treaty commensurate to the scale of the climate crisis — were beaten and pepper sprayed by police as they pushed toward the conference. Representatives of indigenous peoples, whose voice is heard but influence is limited, were blocked in their attempt to join with the protesters.
The 22,000 members of every non-governmental organization (NGOs) will be effectively locked out for the rest of the conference, with only 1000 allowed in on Thursday and 90 on Friday. "Their absence in the crucial final days of the conference will be a blow to poor nations who rely on NGO assistance to get their voices heard, the NGOs say, and it will keep out non-governmental experts who could quickly analyze any proposed deals, leaving the world hearing only the claims of politicians."
Reporters are steaming...after they thaw out.
Seth's toes are finally warm. In his security photo he is grinning like a child -- and with reason. He's finally in.
"You have no idea how important water and a bathroom is until you don't have it," he said after waiting 7 hours and 20 minutes to enter the Copenhagen climate talks.
With U.N. security letting in only those cleared last week, hundreds of accredited delegates, journalists and NGO representatives were left to stand for hours in near-freezing temperatures before being let through. "It was crazy," AP's Seth Borenstein said. "You couldn't leave the line. You couldn't go to the bathroom, you couldn't eat. Then snowflakes started falling. One woman even said, 'if lightning strikes me, would they take me out of line?'"
With 40,000 people registered and Bella Center's capacity only 15,000, the U.N. introduced a new quota system and ordered NGOs to cut down their numbers. Police shut down the Bella Center's subway stop in a bid to ease the congestion. The situation can only get worse as more than 100 heads of state and government, including President Obama, show up this week with their entourages.
And young people were taught a lesson by police.
Youth activists were beaten by police this morning in Copenhagen after they marched out of the Bella Center, shouting "Reclaim power!" and "Climate justice now!"
During the second week of the COP15 talks in Copenhagen, the number of activists allowed to attend the talks has been drastically reduced. By Friday, when President Obama arrives, the number of nongovernmental "observers," the UN group to which most of the activists belong, will be reduced to just 90.
A mix of frustrated indigenous, youth, and environmental activists walked out of the talks this morning at about 11 a.m. local time. Once outside, the marchers attempted to join a second group of activists organized by the anti-corporate network Climate Justice Action. But before the two groups could join, they met a line of police.
The quote of the day goes to strongman Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
"If the climate was a bank they would already have saved it."
Thomas Larsen, a commenter to Climate Progress gives a local perspective on the mess in Denmark. The Danish government is trying to stop progress.
So you think it is bad how the U.N. and the Danes handled accreditation for the conference? Well, the really bad news is that the Danish government hosting this conference has been running the country even worse during the last 8 years. When they came in power they virtually shut down all financial incentives for investing in alternative energy and scaled back environmental protection because it did not fit their ideology. Now, just look at how thousands of people in the street are detained by the police so they cannot express their legal concerns and opinions in a country that prides itself for freedom of speech.
Sorry for my rant. As a Dane I’m just sad to see how things have turned in last years although I still love my county. Maybe things have take a turn for the worse before it gets better.
McArthur fellow Dr. Benjamin Santer presented an open letter to the scientific community at the American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco, calling climate scientists to action.
These remarks reflect the personal opinions of B.D. Santer. They do not represent the official views of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory or the U.S. Department of Energy.
We live in extraordinary scientific and political times.
Over the course of less than a dozen generations, humanity has transitioned from a passive bystander to an active agent of change in the climate system. We are now aware of this fundamental change in our role in the world. We can no longer plead ignorance.
As climate scientists, this is what we know with great confidence:
* We know that human activities have changed the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
* We know that these changes in the composition of the atmosphere have had profound effects on Earth’s climate.
* We know that the human "fingerprint" on climate will become ever more visible over the next few decades, and will impact many aspects of our lives.
* We know that we are at a crossroads in human history. The decisions our political leaders reach in Copenhagen – or fail to reach – will shape the world inherited by future generations.
Our political leadership must have access to the best-available scientific information. Without this information, they will be unable to reach wise decisions on how to respond to the problem of human-caused climate change.
The clearest, most complete assessment of the science is contained in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the Synthesis and Assessment Products of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, and in the scientific assessments of the U.S. National Academy and the Science Academies of other nations. These assessments all underscore the reality of a "discernible human influence" on global climate.
As scientists, we must be free to contribute to such assessments. We must be free to follow the science wherever it leads us, without fear of interference when we "speak truth to power".
Sadly, climate scientists now see and feel interference from political and economic interests. This interference is pervasive. Powerful forces are using a criminal act – the theft of over a thousand emails from the U.K.’s Climatic Research Unit – to advance their own agendas.
These "forces of unreason" seek to constrain our ability to speak truth to power. They seek to skew and distort what we know about the nature and causes of climate change. Having failed to undermine climate science itself, they seek to destroy the reputations of individual climate scientists. They seek to destroy men like Phil Jones and Mike Mann, who have devoted their entire careers to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and understanding.
We must not let this stand.
We no longer have the luxury of remaining silent on these issues. We all have voices. We need to use them.
Benjamin D. Santer
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow
San Ramon, California
December 14, 2009*
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