Growth has already pushed Earth past tipping point, new study says

A soon-to-be-released UN report says runaway economic growth has pushed greenhouse-gas emissions to dangerous levels much faster than previously estimated and, instead of reaching the threshold within a decade, it was actually crossed two years ago.

The findings will highlight the perils of giving economic growth priority over efforts to curtail global warming.

The final report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change will show that growing economies herald growing greenhouse gas emissions and the result has been a growing threat of global warming, says scientist and Australian of the Year conservationist Tim Flannery.

''We thought we'd be at that threshold within about a decade,'' Flannery told ABC. ''We thought we had that much time, but the new data indicates that in about mid-2005, we crossed that threshold.''

Flannery’s comments came just days after Canada and the U.S. both advocated a voluntary approach to limit greenhouse gases instead of strict international agreements to curb emissions. Neither President Bush nor Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to cap emissions because they fear it would stifle economic growth.

They are right, of course, but that’s exactly what must happen.

As Flannery has observed: ''We've had growing economies everywhere. We're still basing that economic activity on fossil fuels. You know, the metabolism of that economy is now on a collision course with our planet, clearly.”

The IPCC's Synthesis Report (also known as the Fourth Assessment Report) will be released on November 7, 2007. The Report brings together the core information of the previous three volumes released earlier this year, to create “the most policy-relevant scientific document on climate change for the years to come.”

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What tipping point? What threshhold? Which IPCC report?

This (and the linked story) contain so little information that it isn’t worth repeating. There is plenty of reason to be concerned, but neither you nor your source have made it possible to learn any of it with this story.

Ten seconds with Google provided this somewhat better report:

The specific IPCC report (including which working group is responsible) is not metioned, but we do learn that Flannery is not speaking for IPCC, and that the threshhold of which he speaks is a CO2 equivalent concentration (mangled by the AP into a CO2 concentration) and is in no sense a tipping point.

We have enough troubles without this kind of journalism. If you have no idea what is going on, please refrain from pretending to report it.

This a story about the soon-to-be released. To quote: 

“The UN climate change report to be released next month will show that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have already reached dangerous levels, Australia’s pre-eminent conservationist said on Tuesday.”

I agree though, the story we linked to doesn’t have much guts, so I’ve changed it to the AP one that has come out.  

Also added a bit more about the IPCC 4th assessment report, that Flannery is talking about. I’ve seen it as well and there’s some pretty darn scary conclusions made in the report. 

Well then fug it. I’m buying that Hummer and turning up my thermostat in winter and down in summer.

Since we’re all going die anyway, might as well go out fat and happy.

That’s the one off-shoot you see when presented with these hard realities – some people go into survival mode. 

But I think the majority stay optimistic and will push government/industry to shift relatively quickly away from the over-reliance on fossil fuels.

The sky is falling.
The Sky is falling.
The Sky is falling.

There are in fact no viable alternatives to a significant reliance on fossil fuels. With the exception of nuclear all of the proposed alternative options would require duplication in scale and volume of a backup energy source. No wind - no power from turbines. No sun light - no power from solar cells. Ethanol - no net energy gain and decreased food supply. Hydro electric - no water falls no power.

The gross misrepresentations of the real and truthfully presented data are purposeful. The exaggerations are preposterous. These false flags are not mere red herrings they are Red Sperm Whales.

So do nothing is your answer? So how is global warming a red herring exactly? Please don’t get into the conspiracy stuff, it just makes deniers look silly. 

OK, if there is no alternative to reliance on fossil fuels …
Ever hear of Peak Oil?

NO, better start learning.
The next ASPO conference is in Houston, and it certainly includes some optimists for balance:

Also, if you have any descendents likely to see the year 2080, you can tell them that they’ll have no viable alternative to the use of fossil fuels, but Sorry, there won’t be any oil or natural gas left at any reasonable prices for them, so they’d better accept a very low-energy life-style, i.e, like Old-Order Amish, and you hope they like farming with no tractors. And sorry, Fischer-Tropsch is expensive, and so are shale and tar sands, and if we actually burn all the coal … well, I’m glad I won’t be around.

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That’s not survival mode, that’s selfishness mode: saying “Apres moi, le deluge” and making it even worse for your children.

that gye who whote ill rether go down fat and happy you are a fucking pig why would you wright that you selfish PRICK!!!!! we still have a change of fighting this off you ass hole!!!! just think of all those animals who are sufering by our mistakes and the polar beears how could you think that you deserve to die!!!!! if you think that way!!!!

Show some hard data that CO2 is in any way the problem. NO ONE has submitted ANY actual measurements of the rise of percentage of CO2 to oxygen in our atmosphere.

Just because you use CAPITALS don’t make it so…

Check out figure 2.3a in the IPCC AR4 Summary for Policy Makers… CO2 measurements going up (with an isotope fingerprint that tells us its from burning fossil fuels) and O2 measurements going down… page 10 here: Next.

Please tell me you’re kidding. I can only assume that you have never read anything at all on the subject or were in a coma until this morning. Just google atmospheric CO2 and you’ll be inundated with measurements.

This has been a heated topic for many,and I am sure it will remain so. I recently graduated college and in Geography this is an interesting topic, because most all the scientists that teach will deny global warming. I am not try to start a fight, but will provide my justifications.

Over the life of the earth we have seen literally dozens of ice ages (which can be proven through sedimentary desposit, and land formations). Obviously the natural conclusion of an ice age is the warming of the earth, which continues this cyclical pattern. The last noted ice age, which is referred to as the “little Ice Age” occured in the 1500s. This is referenced by nordic villages being completely destroyed as well as Japanese villages on the other side of the earth.

We cannot pretend to assume we know the patterns the earth moves through yet, but i can say that we do need to be aware of our pollution. Most of these “measurements” of gas content on the earth are ficticious at best because it is almost impossible to get an accurate reading of what the earth was previously at as a basis of comparisson. Not to mention scientist are just starting to get their brains around the methods needed to just estimate the levels of gas. Therefore, precies prediction claims are impossible for anyone.

There is much more scientific support to this notion, but my post is already way too long. In conclusion dont believe all that you hear, question what everyone tells you so you can find the truth for yourself!

“There is much more scientific support to this notion…” No there isn’t, not in any peer-reviewed scientific journals. Don’t believe anything you read on the denialist sites, which are practicing PR, not science.

A lot of people are misconstruing what i was trying to say. I am not saying that we are not increasing emmissions of CO2 gases, which is detrimental to the earth. Obviously we are, with the increase in industrialized nations and increase in auto sales. All i am saying is that it is ignorant to try and say we fully understand how the world works. However, what i am saying is that there are worse problems and they are not associated with CO2 emmissions but are natural.

Most people assume that the largest green house gas on the planet is CO2, it is not. The largest green house gas by far is water vapor. This is obviously do to the abundance of water found on this planet, and there is nothing that humanly can be done to stop this. We can do something about CO2, and should!

The largest pollution problem associated with our natural water sources is not petrolium and all its biproducts, but it is an abundance of nutrients. With the large amount of farming done to support and industrialized society; large amounts of fertilization occur on the landscape. When it rains this creates run off into local streams, rivers, and lakes. When this happens algal blooms occur which create “dead spots” which destroys all natural life in the area. Which helps to further destroy the wetlands, and they are the greatest source of natural filtration on the planet.

I am not denying global warming, but saying we dont know enough about it. It could have very natural cause that amplify the effects we are seeing from global warming (thus making it seem more like an epidemic). Not to mention the methods of measurement we used 40+ years ago had to great a margine of error (typically +/- 2 degrees)to start panics. We need to do something about saving our planet otherwise we will destroy our planet, but i dont think it is as emminant as people believe.

“…Most people assume that the largest green house gas on the planet is CO2, it is not. The largest green house gas by far is water vapor. This is obviously do to the abundance of water found on this planet, and there is nothing that humanly can be done to stop this. We can do something about CO2, and should!…”

In fact, when we produce CO2 which causes heating, the heat makes more water evaporate which causes more heating; they are related. Go read this guy’s explanation of how water vapour amplifies the effect of CO2.

As for your judgment that global warming is not the most serious problem; I think you are wrong. Yes, there are other pollution problems we also need to deal with; but global warming, which we are causing, is going to affect all of us, and the longer we put off acting to cut GHG emissions, the worse it will get.

Jon G, do you really think that the climatologists would have left water vapour out of their calculations? Coincidentally, Ross Gelbspan’s most recent post addresses this very issue. Check it out at:

I am not arguing that CO2 is not an issue or that climatoligists left it out of their calculations. But I just want you to look at it on the right scale.
Total Greenhouse Gases
Oxygen = 95%
CO2 = 3.68%
Methane = .360%
N2O = .072%

There are many others but they become negligable in their trace amounts. The important thing to remember is that all these gases occur naturally (ie CO2 is thrown into the air during volcano erruptions, forest fires, etc). When i said scale i meant what percentage of each gas is produced by man? Humans increase the amount of occuring CO2 in nature by 3.225%. Which equates to about a total increase of .117%. I am still not saying we shouldnt do emmissions control and try and make the world cleaner for ourselves and our children. I just dont think the problem is on the scale some people make it out to be. AGAIN I THINK IT IS A PROBLEM!! but i think it is something we can do about in our lifetime because there is still time to fix it, unlike what a lot of people are saying

These figures were obtained from:

The percentages that you are quoting may be accurate, but your interpretation is naive. The complex interaction and balance of these elements is not a simple result of tallying up how much there is of each. Methane is far more detrimental than CO2 on a molecule-by-molecule basis.

All of the recent news has suggested that, in terms of scale, we should probably leaning towards the more severe senarios. In fact, in the area of arctic ice pack melt and the Greenland glacier situations, scientists have been shocked to find things occurring much faster and more dramatically than they had predicted.

Again you are missing my point. I know full well that methane is far more dangerour to the environment, as well the complex interaction of these elements is not entirely know to ANYONE!

I am simply not convinced that Global Warming is the entirety of the answer to the various global situations. There are still many questions that the global warming theory doesnt answer for me to fully embrace it. I do not currenlty know why this is threatening you so much that you are attacking me on this issue. Plain and simple, I just need my questions answered more throughly before i welcome them (and i have researched them a good bit). There are just many things right now that science cannot tell us.

If you are looking for answers, here’s a good place to start:

Have fun.

Jon G said:

“Total Greenhouse Gases
Oxygen = 95%
CO2 = 3.68%
Methane = .360%
N2O = .072%”

Where do you get the idea that oxygen is a greenhouse gas? It is not. These numbers do not come from the site you listed (first one, I can’t get into the second one).

You should do some reading on AGW and greenhouse gas theory before making such nonsensical statements that you have made throughout this thread.

Ian Forrester

The above link is an excellent read on the importance of CO2 and dynamic nature of water vapor. As to why its of much less concern due to its residency time and the fact its concentration in the atmosphere is temperature related (making water vapor more a feedback). Its a good read to clear up concerns.

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I’m always surprised when I hear this line from someone who has chosen to ignore the evidence of the largest scientific collaboration in history, and has instead chosen to take the word of some geography profs who feel that a PhD and a sense of glacial history gives them carte blanche to comment outside their field of expertise.

Can I suggest that if you’re keen on “find(ing) the truth for yourself” that you consult any reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journal published any time in the last 15 years.

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Jon G said: “This is referenced by nordic villages being completely destroyed as well as Japanese villages on the other side of the earth”. Just where did you find the evidence to back up these claims?

Ian Forrester

It is something that was discussed in several of the various geography textbooks and classes that i took in college.

If you are depending on geography textbooks for information, I think you really need to do some basic reading in current reports to get up to speed on the present state of scholarship in this area.

Well this is a matter of historical record, so on this accound it makes no sense not to head a historical geography textbook. The facts of this matter wont change, so why wouldnt i trust it when it comes to a past event?

You are away off base with these statements. The Little Ice Age saw a drop of approximately 0.2C. How would this destroy whole villages? If you are referring to the Norse settlements in Greenland then I think you will find that there are other explanations as to why the Norse left. The villages were not destroyed and can still be seen today.

Ian Forrester

I am not referencing the Norse Settlements in greenland at all. And that minimal temperature drop you are talking about was only in parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

” is most thoroughly documented in Europe and North America. In the mid-17th century, glaciers in the Swiss Alps advanced, gradually engulfing farms and crushing entire villages.” This can be found on wikipedias website, which is what i am talking about. A .2C decline in weather wouldnt lead to glacial expansion in this manor.

No villages in the alps were engulfed by glaciers. There is documented evidence that there was large scale destruction by floods. Floods are always associated with the advance and retreat of glaciers.

Are you just being sloppy (I don’t buy the “just a typo” error in a previous comment)?

Science is about accuracy and precision and you will get nowhere in science by being sloppy. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and urge you to be more accurate in your reading, interpretation and writing. I hope that you are not trying to deliberately mislead people.

Ian Forrester

It’s a bit weird. I went to Wiki and found that Jon got that info from the “Little Ice Age” entry, which includes the statement “In the mid-17th century, glaciers in the Swiss Alps advanced, gradually engulfing farms and crushing entire villages.” Bizarre.

It just didn’t seem reasonable so I did some further digging and all I could find was this statement: “1600-10: Advances by Chamonix glaciers accompanied by massive floods entirely destroyed three villages–Bonnenuit, Le Chatelard and La Bonneville–and severely damaged a fourth, La Rosiere. Oldest village (Le Chatelard) dated from 1200s ”

I found that at:

I take that to mean that it was the flooding that caused the damage not the glaciers themselves. Flooding and collapse of glaciers onto villages well below are well documented but glaciers encroaching onto villages is not reasonable.

I’m not sure whether Jon G is really confused or whether he is deliberately out to misinform.

Ian Forrester

I am beginning to think that “Jon G” is putting us on. Sort of like people who make up outrageous problem & send them in to Dear Abbie to see if she takes it seriously.

I agree that adding floods into the mix makes more sense re: destruction of villages. I have this images in my mind of killer glaciers swallowing up little Swiss chalets, like the Killer Cat rampaging through a Monty Python animation…