As the world burns

As the world burns: scientists project earth will warm at least three times as fast as previously believed – From 60 Second Science

The International Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body tasked with sussing out the severity of forthcoming climate change, has predicted that the Earth will warm 1-4 degrees C by 2100.

Now the International Energy Agency, spurred by unexpectedly rapid emissions growth in China and India, estimates that we are on a collision course with 3 degrees of warming by 2030.

Three degrees C of warming (or 5.4 degrees F) by 2030 would be disastrous.

One area of specific concern is sea-level rises. If the Greenland ice sheet and western Antarctica go, that means a 40 foot rise in sea levels.

“In my view that would make it not just difficult, but impossible to adapt successfully, some of my colleagues would say catastrophic,” said Dr. Oppenheimer. “If they say that it’s possible that melting could occur in centuries leading to meters of change, that’s a headline.”

As current droughts in the American South, Southwest, and Australia illustrate, the pressure warmer weather puts on fresh water supplies may prove to be an even more immediate issue.

Then there’s ocean acidification, which is mentioned less often but is potentially just as devastating — imagine an ocean rendered so acidic by its absorption of atmospheric CO2 that organisms with certain calcium carbonate in their shells, including ones that are already vital to the process of sequestering the carbon already in the atmosphere, are no longer able to survive.

Not to mention increasingly devastating examples of the supertyphoon that just slammed into the low-lying country of Bangladesh.

Besides unexpectedly strong economic growth in China and India, the main culprit in these scenarios is the dirtiest fossil fuel of all — coal.


Comments are disabled for this post