The news just gets grimmer. It feels like “Groundhog Day” to read that, once again, carbon dioxide levels reached record levels in the atmosphere last year : 395 parts per million. This amidst news that we are heading for a catastrophe in this century.
That’s no exaggeration. If you’re going to read a single news item about climate change this month, I’d urge you to read Peter McMartin’s column in The Vancouver Sun (link to follow). It’s a real wake-up call for its clear portrayal of humankind’s plight.
He notes the scientific consensus that a global increase of 2 degrees Celsius is the point when our ability to alter our climate fate will become gravely imperiled. But until very recently, nobody could offer a clear handle on when that 2 degree C jump would take place; we’ve seen gradual increases worldwide that have us up about 0.8 degrees C since the start of the Industrial Rotisserie.
Now a team of European scientists, led by Malte Meinshausen, a climatologist with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact in Germany, has developed a model that incorporates hundreds of factors never before analyzed together. Then the team ran that data through a thousand different scenarios.
They found that if we continue to consume fossil fuels at current levels, we have eleven to fifteen years left to stop those global temperature increases from moving past the 2 degree C limit.
We are not slowing down our emissions of CO2, we are increasing them, as noted above. Scientists commenting on the new report note what should now be obvious: We cannot build pipelines, such as the Keystone XL or Northern Gateway, or expand coal mines and the ports through which the carbon rich fuel is shipped, and maintain any hope of keeping within a sane carbon budget.
Will we restrain ourselves? Not on our present course. Another worldwide record was set last year: coal burning reached a new, all-time high.
Here’s the link to McMartin’s column in the Vancouver Sun.