can’t see the forest

US Scientists: Sea Level Will Rise More Quickly than Expected

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Polar Bears Stranded on Iceberg - WWFWhile the last report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February 2007 predicted that ice sheet forcing could result in sea level rises of up to 40 cm before the year 2100—among other potentially threatening effects worldwide—a group of American scientists has published a half-densely sourced scientific paper, half-impassioned plea critical of the IPCC materials’ methodology. These scientists say that sea levels could climb by as much as several metres before the end of the current century, and are generally critical of what they view as unreasonable conservatism in the IPCC report.

Melting ice is already wreaking ecological havoc at the Arctic, and the authors of the new study write that the effects of this unbalance could already be manifesting globally. The UK’s The Independent reports:

Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.

They also implicitly criticise the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.

Instead of sea levels rising by about 40 centimetres, as the IPCC predicts in one of its computer forecasts, the true rise might be as great as several metres by 2100. That is why, they say, planet Earth today is in “imminent peril”.

In a densely referenced scientific paper published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A some of the world’s leading climate researchers describe in detail why they believe that humanity can no longer afford to ignore the “gravest threat” of climate change.

“Recent greenhouse gas emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures,” the scientists say. Only intense efforts to curb man-made emissions of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases can keep the climate within or near the range of the past one million years, they add.

The researchers were led by James Hansen, the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was the first scientist to warn the US Congress about global warming.

The other scientists were Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha and Gary Russell, also of the Goddard Institute, David Lea of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Mark Siddall of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York. . .

. . .

Their study looked back over more than 400,000 years of climate records from deep ice cores and found evidence to suggest that rapid climate change over a period of centuries, or even decades, have in the past occurred once the world began to heat up and ice sheets started melting. It is not possible to assess the dangerous level of man-made greenhouse gases.

“However, it is much lower than has commonly been assumed. If we have not already passed the dangerous level, the energy infrastructure in place ensures that we will pass it within several decades,” the scientists say in their findings.

“We conclude that a feasible strategy for planetary rescue almost surely requires a means of extracting [greenhouse gases] from the air.”

The U.S. and China contribute the lion’s share of anthropogenic greenhouse gases; the U.S. consumes about 25% of the world’s raw resources while accounting for only about 5% of the Earth’s population. Fuel prices in the U.S. are slowly and steadily mounting, causing an escalation of the cost of related goods and services. Fossil fuel consumption by automobiles is the largest source of man-made greenhouse gases. Currently the U.S. is involved in a brutal, perpetual, and unilateral occupation of Iraq, its aim generally accepted to be the establishment of domination over that region’s fossil fuel resources.


7 Responses

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  1. QB said, on 6/19/07 at 5:25 pm

    Good to see you back. We are not doing enough to slow down quick climate change. It was so disturbing to come to know that Bush regime with GM and big oil companies blocked the way for electric cars which were so environment friendly.

    Its sad that we all have to face the consequences of big corporation greed and its control on US government.

  2. Curtis said, on 6/19/07 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks QB, sincerely appreciated.

    I am developing something of a morbid fascination with the psychology of climate change—which is essentially just a species of the psychology of change. When I was young I can remember my mom telling me that she didn’t trust people who are afraid of or who don’t like pets, because she thought that such a characteristic spoke volumes about a deeper subtext of one’s personality. In a way, I have the same feeling towards those who discount or mock warnings about what human industry is doing to the environment.

    Asking people to change their lifestyles because of anything other than an immediate (as in today) threat is really. . .well, it’s just amazing to me how difficult that seems to be. That the intense and perpetual industrial activities that fuel the world economy are going to negatively and severely impact the ecology of the planet could not be more of a common sense matter to me, but many—and in my country, I would say even the majority—treat the issue as if it’s untrustworthy esoteric rambling from the fringes of science, and the reason for this is clear: people don’t like to be told they’re irresponsible and ignorant, and this is the clarion call being more or less politely but also urgently offered up by an overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists. So, aside from the issue itself, which is of incredible importance, the psychology behind the popular reaction to global warming is fascinating and frightening to me.

    Your last sentence really hits the nail on the head…climate change is, in a key sense, an extremely inequitable issue because the majority of the damage is being done by a small minority of the population, mostly in the US and also in China, which is quickly overtaking the US in carbon emissions. Of course, most of those carbon emissions come from products destined for the US…

  3. Liesbeth Kiki said, on 10/21/07 at 1:22 pm

    when they say it’s ove. Liesbeth Kiki.

  4. Ardwych said, on 10/27/07 at 12:21 pm

    Yes, it is indeed a question of psychology. Just like most living organisms and particularly like all the great apes avarice is a phenomenon that can hardly go unnoticed. And because some people are more ‘successful at avarice’ than others those who miss out or who are driven by motives other than acquisitiveness we see an industry of breast-beating and predictions of doom. We’ll all be doomed, said Hanrahan.
    And, of course, it’s an industry that, if it can gain critical compassion-mass, will sustain itself through its fundamental ‘worthiness’. Nice ploy.
    And at the top of your blog here you exploit the heart-strings of the compassion-susceptible with the polar bear photo! Haha! Damned by your own blindnesss.
    Do you realise that there’s now a number of risible links out of google pointing to you as another one who’s taken a cheap shot (pun!) at the terrors of aGW by portraying the bears-at-play on a wave-etched berg that simple analysis can tell has nothing to do with Rising Peril? BTW, they survived; they swam to shore..
    In my mind there are just far too many informed men of goodwill outside the realm of the certainty of the doom-sayers. There’s just too much conflicting evidence to reach a conviction that aGW’s under way. Indeed it even tilts Nature’s way.
    The Cautionary Approach? The management guru Peter Drucker left us with this epigram: ‘There’s nothing so useless as doing something well that doesn’t need to be done.’
    China, India and Russia are agog.

  5. Curtis said, on 10/28/07 at 2:19 pm

    Ignorance must really be bliss, given the voracity with which you’ve defended it here.

    If I were afraid of “risible links,” I would have turned comments off to block diatribes like this.

    I am agog. Thanks for your thoughts.

    It might also interest you to know that Peter Drucker was profoundly critical of macroeconomic theory, and was a proponent of “planned abandonment,” a philosophy of the renewal of objectives when the old objectives become destructive or otherwise no longer make sense. You would probably learn much from a sober reading of The Post-Capitalist Society.

  6. Ardwych said, on 11/1/07 at 6:01 am

    voracity – noun 1. excessive desire to eat 2. extreme gluttony
    di·a·tribe – noun. A bitter, abusive denunciation.
    ad hominem : [(ad hom-uh-nem, ad hom-uh-nuhm)] A Latin expression meaning “to the man.” An ad hominem argument is one that relies on personal attacks rather than reason or substance.
    Would you care to rephrase your comment, Curtis?

    BTW, I’ve read plenty of Drucker, quite soberly. In response to the hypothesis you present here all I can say in reply is – ‘..or not’.

  7. Curtis said, on 11/8/07 at 6:25 pm

    No, I wouldn’t. But thank you for asking; that was quite considerate. I do apologize for the hasty response, and at least one of your criticisms I find marginally valid. But you will need to descend from the alabaster pedestal from which you issue your decrees if you are to engage in meaningful dialog; for one instance among many, it is customarily considered quite rude and condescending to address someone by his first name without having proffered your own. I am sure that our disgusting brand of anti-corporate, socialist drivel moves you to such indiscretions independent of your own responsibility, so, of course, no fault could reasonably be assigned you.

    The term ‘voracity’ was meant figuratively.

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