Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Boiling Point

The graph above shows the rate of carbon emissions nearly doubling from a decade earlier despite climate negotiations and studies over the last decade that document tremendous climate changes from these carbon emissions. The summary of these changes has been produced as a video produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Globaia and funded by the UN Foundation for the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen about 40 percent in the last century. The oceans have absorbed 97 percent of the additional heat from those emissions, raising the levels of the oceans as well as making them more acidic, which is the only reason global temperatures have not risen much faster. However, the oceans will not continue to soak up all the extra heat forever.

Various studies have shown the flaws in current climate modeling that demonstrate that the planet is heating up far faster than the original models predicted, as the arctic ice measurements have shown. A new model in development, RASM, has the potential to greatly alter current global climate models.It provides a better understanding of what's actually happening to planetary systems as they absorb this carbon.

With the conclusion of discussions in Warsaw at COP19, it's now evident that there is an almost complete lack of consensus dividing the poorer countries and the large polluting countries of the north. Warsaw was supposed to be the “Finance COP” to provide promised money promised to poor countries in Copenhagen in 2009, but failed to produce these dollars. Countries like Germany, Switzerland and others in Europe only managed to scrape together promises of 110 million dollars into the Green Climate Fund. Developing countries wanted a guarantee of 70 billion a year by 2016 but were blocked by the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and others. The groundwork for loss and damages was laid in a last-minute political brokerage in Warsaw.

Climate scientists knew about climate change very significantly by the mid-'80s. It became a major political issue by the time of the Earth Summit in 1992. We're now 21 years later, and we’ve done absolutely nothing about it but watch emissions rise, day in, day out, year in, year out. This has created the tragic trajectory that calls for a radical response. With large-scale impacts of climate change becoming discernable from the background of natural variability, concern is rising over the global community’s failure to control emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) captures this pivotal moment in history, when noting that "The current state of affairs is unacceptable … energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs” and emission trends are “perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet”. In a similar vein PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), the UK Government chief scientist and a growing body of academics and researchers are allying current emission trends with 4°C to 6°C futures.

Although the IPCC reports appear to be fueling the consensus for future climate agreements around the "low emissions" scenario, it is now evident that these emissions goals are too generous and will result in runaway climate change much faster than anyone had anticipated. So, because of growing global concern and especially panic from the poorer southern countries, a group has decided to stage a conference to explore far deeper carbon reduction than has been on the table in COP19. The Tyndall Centre Radical Emission Reduction Conference will take place on Dec. 10 and 11, and discuss how to implement radical carbon reduction scenarios.

Naomi Klein, author of 'The Shock Doctrine' and 'No Logo', will be the keynote speaker. Based on her article in the New Statesman and the research underpinning her forthcoming book, Naomi Klein argues that the “revolutionary nature of climate science” demands a paradigm shift in our response to climate change.

This portends a grassroots movement which would also drive future climate change agreements and commitments into far deeper carbon reductions than have been currently proposed. Even with the possibility of restructuring economic policies and imposing "wartime mobilization" with these measures, due to the inaction on the part of governments worldwide.

Resource: Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report