23 January 2011

Rethinking a "safe climate": have we already gone too far?

It is hard to argue that anything above the Holocene maximum (of around 0.5 degrees above the pre-industrial temperature) can preserve a safe climate, and that we have already gone too far.  The notion that 1.5C is a safe target is out the window, and even 1 degree looks like an unacceptably high risk.
  • NASA climate chief James Hansen says:
  • At current temperatures, no "cushion" left to avoid dangerous climate change
  • "... even small global warming above the level of the Holocene begins to generate a disproportionate warming on the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets."
by David Spratt, 23 January 2011

As global temperatures rise to be 0.8 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial level, is the planet already entering a zone of dangerous climate change?

With Arctic sea-ice in a "death spiral", Greenland in 2010 melting at an unprecedented rate, a seemingly extraordinary number of extreme climate events in the last year from the Russian fires to the Pakistan floods, and 18 countries setting new temperature records, have we already gone too far for a safe climate?

19 January 2011

Emergency response needed for more than floods

First published in Crikey on 19 January 2011.

With the military on the job and perhaps the post-1945 Marshall Plan on her mind, Queensland premier Anna Bligh has designated recovery from the floods “a reconstruction task of postwar proportions.”

The words are deliberate: ‘”I want people to understand how big it is, and how long it might take,” because the machinery of government needs to be reshaped. The premier goes on to “hope and pray that mother nature is leaving us alone to get on with the job of cleaning up and recovering from this event”.

Yes, but … we also need to leave Mother Nature alone, and stop loading the atmosphere with carbon emissions, so that more extreme climate events which are part-and-parcel of a warming planet do not tumble down upon us with increasing frequency, as they have around the globe in the last year.

That will require action and a commitment of resources at a scale far beyond the failures that have so far constituted Australia’s climate policy.

01 January 2011

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