Friday, June 27, 2008

World on fire

Trouble, from pole to pole:
Dr Bradley Opdyke, a paleoceanographer from the Australia National University (ANU) believes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could partially collapse within 20 years, resulting in a dramatic jump in sea levels....

"Satellite images have revealed there's already melt-water beneath some of the ice sheets" he says. "If the WAIS collapses, sea levels will rise between four and six metres."

McCulloch believes the collapse of the WAIS can be averted if the world community becomes "open minded" in its search for alternatives to fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the planet:
(CNN) -- The North Pole may be briefly ice-free by September as global warming melts away Arctic sea ice, according to scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Scientists say it's a 50-50 bet that the thin Arctic sea ice will completely melt away at the geographic North Pole.

"We kind of have an informal betting pool going around in our center and that betting pool is 'does the North Pole melt out this summer?' and it may well," said the center's senior research scientist Mark Serreze.
Oh, and Nicholas Stern has revised his estimates of the cost of global warming.
The author of an influential British government report arguing the world needed to spend just 1% of its wealth tackling climate change has warned that the cost of averting disaster has now doubled.

Lord Stern of Brentford made headlines in 2006 with a report that said countries needed to spend 1% of their GDP to stop greenhouse gases rising to dangerous levels. Failure to do this would lead to damage costing much more, the report warned - at least 5% and perhaps more than 20% of global GDP.

But speaking yesterday in London, Stern said evidence that climate change was happening faster than had been previously thought meant that emissions needed to be reduced even more sharply.

This meant the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would have to be kept below 500 parts per million, said Stern. In 2006, he set a figure of 450-550ppm. "I now think the appropriate thing would be in the middle of that range," he said. "To get below 500ppm ... would cost around 2% of GDP."
It's worth pointing out that to a lot of people Stern's prescriptions are woefully inadequate. Hansen thinks that 500ppm would probably be a disaster.

But hey, the tar sands make Albertans rich, so it's all worth it, right?

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