Truth or Consequences

Tue, 2009-03-10 12:57Mitchell Anderson
Mitchell Anderson's picture

Truth or Consequences

As the masquerade ball of phony scientists talks to itself (and of course the assembled media) in New York this week, a very different conference is happening on the other side of the Atlantic.

Two thousand of the world’s leading climate researchers are gathering at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen to discuss the latest findings about our warming world. Early dispatches are not encouraging regarding how much time we have to get serious about this crisis.

“The sea-level rise may well exceed one metre (3.28 feet) by 2100 if we continue on our path of increasing emissions,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Even for a low emission scenario, the best estimate is about one metre.” (Hear that Bjorn Lomborg?)

That is almost double what the IPCC estimated only two years ago.

“This means that if the emissions of greenhouse gases is not reduced quickly and substantially even the best-case scenario will hit low-lying coastal areas housing one-tenth of humans on the planet hard,” the organizers warned in a statement.

The vast increase in potential sea level rise is partly due to ballooning emissions and partly due to improved understanding of the emerging science – even in the last two years.

There is something else at play as well. This conference is outside of the confines of the IPCC. When so-called skeptics call this process overly politicized, they are right – only in the wrong way.

Researchers have long complained that diplomats and politicians who draft the final wording of their assessments force them to be painfully conservative in their estimates and communications about our warming world.

The conference in Copenhagen is strictly about science and in this context the world’s leading researchers are free to tell it like it is – particularly about the need for massive and rapid reductions of carbon.

We could pass a threshold during the 21st century that can commit the world to metres of sea-level rise,” warned John Church, a researcher at the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research in Hobart. “Short-term emission goals are critical.”

The importance of moving quickly is critical say scientists to avoid committing our world to centuries of devastating temperature increases.

“With stiff reductions in 2050 you can end the temperature curve (rise) quite quickly, but there’s not much you can do to the sea-level rise anymore,” Rahmstorf said. “We are setting in motion processes that will lead to sea levels rising for centuries to come.”

The Copenhagen conference is being held in part to give politicians the minimum amount of wiggle room when they meet for the latest IPCC gathering next month in Turkey. These meetings have been notoriously ineffectual and researchers are worried that the next one may follow the same well-worn path of inaction.

All of which makes the industry-funded costume party in New York all the more heinous. Politicians have a difficult enough time making courageous decisions without a bunch of Big Oil hacks playing dress-up and giving them political cover for ever more delay.

The stakes are high in this planetary game of chicken. Will it be truth or consequences? As the clock runs down, our chances to turn the global emergency around are diminishing by the day.

As one observer wryly noted, “Mother Nature doesn’t do bailouts.”

Previous Comments

Don’t forget ocean acidification! Even if the world wasn’t warming, growing ocean acidification is certainly another benefit of burning fossil-fuels that we could do without.

We have made the ocean 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. That’s the lowest pH for 500 000 years! 

The implications for anything that has a shell are clear dire.

Sea urchins, crustaceans [crabs, lobsters, krill, copepods, barnacles], coccolithophores, corals, molluscs are all threatened if CO2 emissions continue unabated.

As is anything that relies upon them for food, or that is part of their food-web. e.g.: The great whales, fish, penguins, walrus, humans & etc.

Isn’t uncontrolled pollution wonderful!


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i love the mention of bailouts in this article. until our politicians remain deaf and protect only their own interests, global warming warnings will never be heard. if we are to wait until it is too late, no amount of of public funds will bail us out.

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Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it. If these gases persist in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even if such emissions were eliminated today, that does not mean it would immediately stop global warming.

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Stefan Rahmstorf (born February 22, 1960) is a German oceanographer and climatologist. Since 2000, he has been a Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam University.

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Mother Nature doesn’t do bailouts. As the clocks run down, our chances to turn the global emergency around are diminishing by the day. Nature as it is contrary compared to any other loan, once in debt, it can’t be paid. Once betrayed, it never goes back. So what we gonna do if this happens?? Global warming caused by terrible climate change is really on its continuous state of making disasters. How about the economy?? When this happens, we cant ask more for something but to use our save dough. Bucks for emergency is important. Emergency funds come in handy when you have a situation that pops up out of the blue – like they always do – and during emergencies it seems like you don’t have many options.  An emergency credit option is a payday loan, otherwise known as a short-term loan. Life is better if accompanied by emergency funds.

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was founded in 1992 and now has a staff of about 210 people. The historic buildings of the Institute as well as the high-performance computer are located on Potsdam’s Telegraphenberg campus.

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Truth or Consequences was an American quiz show, originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards (1940-57) and later on television by Edwards (1950-54), Jack Bailey (1954-55), Bob Barker (1956-75), Bob Hilton (1975-78) and Larry Anderson (1987-88).

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In just two years, MSNBC host Olbermann (The Worst Person in the World) has become one of the most recognized critics of the George W. Bush administration. This book explains how and why Olbermann’s televised special comments began, then reprints them from September 2005 through July 2007, with postcomment explanations.

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