Sunday, June 29, 2008

Planet Heading Toward Climate ‘Tipping Point’

WASHINGTON - Little time remains for brokering a global deal on climate change, and a successful outcome depends on involvement and commitment by both developed and developing countries.

This message was driven home yesterday by renowned economist Sir Nicholas Stern, speaking at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.

Stern stressed that by 2050 — the year often used as a target for reducing global emissions — 8 billion of the global population of 9 billion will be living in developing countries. But at least 70 percent of the greenhouse gases polluting the skies today are attributable to developed countries.

If the two sides cannot overcome current disagreements and work together to stop deforestation, develop new technologies for capturing carbon in the air, and set firm targets for reducing pollution, Stern warned, the “cost of inaction will be huge and entail major risks.”

Two years ago Stern produced a controversial report on the economics of climate change, commissioned by the British government, arguing that if governments failed to invest at least 1 percent of their GDP in mitigating global warming, the end result could be a global decline in GDP of as much as 20 percent.

Yesterday, Stern acknowledged that his earlier report probably underestimated the risks and the rapidity with which global warming is taking place, meaning that governments may need to commit 2 percent of GDP to mitigating climate change.

Stern’s warnings came just a day after two other blunt warnings on the impact of climate change.

On Wednesday, 16 national intelligence agencies acknowledged in a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that global climate change presents a threat to U.S. national security — perhaps the most candid assessment to surface publicly in Washington during the Bush era.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NASA warming scientist: 'This is the last chance'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world's only hope is drastic action.

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the "dangerous level" for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels. He said Earth's atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

"We're toast if we don't get on a very different path," Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences who is sometimes called the godfather of global warming science, told The Associated Press. "This is the last chance."

Hansen brought global warming home to the public in June 1988 during a Washington heat wave, telling a Senate hearing that global warming was already here. To mark the anniversary, he testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming where he was called a prophet, and addressed a luncheon at the National Press Club where he was called a hero by former Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., who headed the 1988 hearing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Agriculture and climate change

Here's a site from reliable folks admonishing more consciousness about how food is produced and delivered.

Monday, June 02, 2008

New Round of Climate Talks Open with Big Agenda, Small Hopes

BONN, Germany: If the devil is in the details, climate change negotiators are about to enter purgatory.
On Monday, some 2,000 delegates from 162 countries and dozens of specialist agencies open a two-week conference, the first to get into the nuts and bolts of a new global warming agreement meant to take effect after 2012.
The meeting builds on a landmark accord reached last December on the Indonesian island of Bali which, for the first time, held out the promise that the United States, China and India will join a coordinated effort to control carbon emissions blamed for the unnatural heating of the Earth.
The Bali conference agreed to conclude a new climate change treaty by December 2009. Another conference four months later in Bangkok adopted a negotiating timetable.
In Bonn, “the real work is now only beginning,” says Yvo de Boer, the U.N.’s top climate change official.
Scientists say the world’s carbon emissions must peak within the next 10 to 15 years and then fall by half by mid-century to avoid potentially catastrophic changes in weather patterns, a rise in sea levels that would threaten coastal cities and the mass extinction of plants and animals.
The new climate change pact will succeed the first phase of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires 37 industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.