It was a nice planet, while it lasted

November 10, 2008 at 12:37 am | Posted in Climate Change | 3 Comments

Wow, that Hope high didn’t last long, did it?

The good news: We can avoid multimeter sea level rise, the loss of the inland glaciers that provide water to a billion people, rapid expansion of the subtropical deserts, and mass extinctions — each of which is all-but inevitable on our current path of unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions.

The not-so-good news: We will probably need an ultimate target of 350 ppm (or lower) for atmospheric carbon dioxide — if you accept the analysis of ten leading climate scientists from around the world.

For the uninitiated, 350 parts per million refers to the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. It’s widely  regarded as the maximum our planet can take before it begins to do serious damage for itself. Unfortunately, we’ve already shot way past that number, it’s increasing by around 2 parts every year and even holding the number steady at 450 ppm (where major ecological damage would be guaranteed) is considered politically ambitious:

More not-so-good news: That kind of emission reduction isn’t going to happen, not even under President Obama, not even close. Heck, I doubt it would happen under a President Hansen. We just are not going to see 350 ppm this century.

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  2. […] report (PDF) by ten of the world’s leading climate scientists (very briefly discussed here) has been causing a fair amount of worried hand-wringing on the environmental blogs, partly because […]

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