Wednesday, 6 December 2006


2007 is likely to be the hottest year ever in the UK. European ski resorts are experiencing the hottest winters in 1300 years. The global temperature has risen by 0.8 C since the Industrial Revolution and we are already committed to another 0.6 C rise because of all the CO2 we have already put into the atmosphere. 0.8 + 0.6 = 1.4 C.

'Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change' was the title of an Exeter Conference held last Feb. 2005 and attended by scientists and politicians from around the world. This conference decided on a safe threshold of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which should not be exceeded if we are to avoid reaching the dangerous level of +2 C. The safe threshold for CO2 in the atmosphere was 400 parts per million. The present level of CO2 in the atmosphere is currently 380 ppm and this is rising annually by approx. 2 ppm - which gives us less than 10 years to stabilise CO2 at this safe level.

In January 2005 the International Climate Change Taskforce produced a report which described the consequences of raising temperatures above 2 C as "abrupt, accelerated or Runaway Climate Change" - this is when powerful 'positive feedbacks' like the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the dieback of the Amazon Rainforests could take place and we would no longer be able to influence the warming of the planet which would increase ever more rapidly: 2 C leads to 3 C leads to 4 C and so on. The upper limit predicted for this century is based on 'business as usual' and it is 5.8 C. The last time the global temperature was 5.8 C was 225 million years ago and it triggered the largest of the five mass extinctions in earth's history where 95% of live on earth became extinct. It is not the planet we should be trying to save as the planet will survive, it is all life on earth that we need to save! As more and more positive feedbacks come into play this nightmare scenario is looking ever more likely. But WE STILL HAVE TIME! We have a very small window in which to change the way we live and keep the global temperature rise below 2 C - what else in our lives could be more important than this?

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