Monday, August 16, 2010

Welcome to the last ditch

That's the last line of one of Gwynne Dyer's latest columns:
Before the current recession, global emissions of greenhouse gases were growing at almost 3 percent per year, and they will certainly return to that level when the recession ends. To come in under +2 degrees C of warming, we need to be reducing global emissions by at least 2 percent by 2012: a total cut of around 5 percent each year, assuming that economies grow at the same rate as before.

That would be hard to do, but not impossible. However, as the years pass and the emissions continue to grow, it gets harder and harder to turn the juggernaut around in time. On the most optimistic timetable, there might be US climate legislation in 2013, and a global climate deal in 2014, and we really start reducing emissions by 2015.

By then, we would need to be cutting emissions by 5 or 6 percent a year, instead of growing them at 3 percent a year, if we still want to come in under +2 degrees C. That’s impossible. No economy can change the sources of its energy at the rate of 8 or 9 percent a year. So we are going to blow right through the point of no return.
He also points out that what we're seeing in Russia at the moment--an economically and politically weakened state casting about trying to deal with an unprecedented natural disaster--is something we ought to get used to. You could add Pakistan to the list.

Fun fact: In 2007 a new law took effect which basically gutted Russia's national forest fire corps as a gift to logging companies.

Dyer believes that geoengineering is the next step--out of necessity, not efficacy. I don't think we'll even get that much.

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