Over the last week, the green media has been buzzing with controversy; with dozens of stories saying what I’ve been writing here for months; namely that our climate change problems have been vastly underrestimated, and that we’re heading for catastrophic global warming that will wipe out entire countries and create millions — or possibly billions — of climate refugees.
One reason why this particular issue has been gaining currency has been new research — empirical research — that supports the view that we’re heading for a disaster of biblical proportions. One one hand, we’re not moving to clean technologies with enough haste.
And, on the other hand, we’ve underestimated the pace of climate change, and the tipping points that will hasten our doom. Keep in mind that the story below is just one of a handful of stories making the rounds, quoting Nobel Prize-winning scientists and acknowledged experts. These stories are pointing to a new – and frightful – future for our children unless we change course in the next five years.
This short clip is paraphrased from an article in The Guardian*. I encourage you to read the original.
One of the world’s leading climate scientists says that recent studies indicate that world leaders need to radically rethink their emission targets to combat global warming because they have grossly underestimated the problem.
Dr. James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, is calling for a sharp reduction in CO2 limits that go well beyond the popular targets suggested by politicians – and even most environmentalists. Hansen says the EU target of 550 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric CO2 – the planet’s most ambitious – needs to be slashed to 350 ppm. Hansen’s warning comes from a study that examines historical evidence culled from oceanic core samples.
“If you leave [the CO2 percentage in the atmosphere] at 450 ppm for long enough it will probably melt all the [glacial] ice – that’s a sea rise of 75 metres. So we have found that the target we have all been aiming for is a disaster – a guaranteed disaster,” says Hansen. With limits as high as 550 ppm, the world will warm by 6°C (almost 11°F) by 2050, and the changes to our planet will be irrevocable. If governments, businesses, and consumers fail to get behind new targets, Hansen believes, the sea level will rise by two meters (6.6 feet) before the next century.
But Hansen isn’t simply a purveyor of doom. He suggests that by imposing a moratorium on coal-fired power plants, and embracing energy efficiency, clean technologies, and the solutions offered by the burgeoning renewable energy industry, we can get to the promised land.