I have included this graph in a previous article, but make no apologies for having it again. It’s the best thing I know for explaining climate change risks. It comes from one of last year’s major reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and shows how the predicted rise in global temperature against the concentration of greenhouse gases (ghg) in the atmosphere. For each concentration there are three estimates: optimistic, average and pessimistic (the highest)
On the day I’m writing this, the G8 meeting in Japan has just finished. The G8 leaders seem to be pleased that they have agreed a ‘vision’ of reducing the ghg emissions of G8 countries 50% by 2050. Gordon Brown said this was ‘major progress’. The previous summit talked of ‘seriously considering’ reductions so there has been progress of a sort I suppose. But it’s been pointed out that the current rhetoric from the G8 is actually very similar to that back in 1992 at the Earth Summit (remember that anyone?). And in the real world, emissions keep on rising.
The UK has a tougher target of 60% reduction by 2050. This was on the basis that, if part of a successful global agreement, the CO2 concentration would stabilise at 550 ppm, or a total ghg conc of around 700 ppm. The graph shows that this at this concentration, the global temperature rise will be between 3 and 6 deg C. This will cause a global catastrophe on a biblical scale, and quite likely death to billions. The same world leaders, or at least the EU ones, have agreed we must limit the global temperature rise to 2 deg C to avoid catastrophe on this scale. They don’t seem to realise that their present vision of ghg reductions pretty well guarantees the nightmare vision of global disaster will actually happen.
The USA’s best known climate scientist has recently said that we must aim for a CO2 conc of 350 ppm (or a ghg conc of 440 ppm). The graph shows that gives a 50/50 chance of limiting to 2 deg C. The present CO2 conc is 386 ppm and rising 2 ppm per year. So not only must we move to a zero carbon as fast as we can, we should also be urgently figuring out how to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
If you want to discuss any of the subjects raised, I am very happy to talk to groups of people. My email address is email@example.com. I will also try and reply to emails from individuals, either directly or in a future article.
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