Tag Archive | "Kyoto Protocol"

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Déjà Vu – 400 PPM 2.2 Million Years Ago

Posted on 26 May 2013 by Jerry

We have achieved a 400 parts per million (PPM) concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.  The May 9, 2013 measurement of carbon dioxide by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed we passed that milestone.  This is not the first time this has happened.  Ice cores show the Earth achieved this concentration about 2,200,000 years ago in the Pliocene period.  That was a time when there was no ice in the Arctic and the average summer temperatures in the Arctic were above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scientists around the world have watched with increasing dread as concentrations of carbon dioxide have climbed from 280 PPM before the industrial revolution, to 316 PPM when they started scientific monitoring in the 1960’s, to 400 PPM now.  They have sounded an alarm as the major nations in the world are failing to tangibly act to slow the climate change.

According to a new report issued by Globe International written with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics a few countries have made tangible progress, more have passed legislation as if they are going to do something and others, the greatest contributors to the problem, have not done anything.  They have stayed in place doing very little or have even reversed course.

The report entitled “The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study” (see link below) cites legislative efforts in 33 countries to support progress on climate change.  Click on a specific country on the world map to see what they have done.  While the report is positive about the collective steps being taken, critics point out the steps taken are not sufficient to prevent the world’s average temperature from rising by more than 3.6° Fahrenheit (2° Centigrade).  This has been the target the U.N. and others have set as a formal goal for approximately two decades.

In addition, critics have observed that sometimes there is a difference between legislating promises and actually meeting them.  They point to Canada’s recent withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol when it became clear they would not achieve their legislatively defined goals.  As a counter argument, advocates point to the Climate Change Act adopted by the U.K.   This is binding legislation representing an example of enlightened leadership from one of the world’s most developed countries.

The concern is we may be passing the tipping point and headed for an average temperature rise somewhere between 7.2° and 12.6° Fahrenheit (4° and 7° Celsius).  The scientific community and the World Bank view this level as creating “cataclysmic changes” in climate that would have severe worldwide consequences.

In the press release about the World Bank’s recent report “Turn Down the Heat” (see the link below) Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank Group President, is quoted as saying  “We need a global response equal to the scale of the climate problem, a response that puts us on a new path of climate smart development and shared prosperity.  But time is very short.”

Adding support for the urgency of the task is a report on the coal power plants planned for the next few years (see link below).  The world continues to add to the global climate change problem as it experiences growth of power demand and consumption.  In addition, the April 26, 2013 issue of Nature magazine reports a recent study looking at reservoirs of fresh water internationally as documenting a startling shrinkage of fresh water.  An example is that the water levels of great lakes Huron and Michigan have dropped to their lowest level since monitoring began in 1860.

Everywhere we look we see reinforcement of the reality of climate change.  Governments at all levels are reluctant to change the status quo.  No one, especially in the developed world, wants to be an outlier proposing significant changes before everyone else does.   We are overwhelmed by the timidity of our elected officials and their fear of the political consequences they will face from the business community that wants no change.  The way to accomplish our objectives is by electing enlightened and educated representatives who appeal to the best in us as opposed to those who elicit our darkest, most ignorant emotional responses.

Use the following links for more information:

http://researchmatters.noaa.gov/news/pages/carbondioxideatmaunaloareaches400ppm.aspx (ignore the log-in pop up screen)

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ice-free-arctic-in-pliocene-last-time-co2-levels-above-400ppm

http://www.nature.com/news/global-carbon-dioxide-levels-near-worrisome-milestone-1.12900

http://www.globeinternational.org/index.php/legislation-policy/studies/climate?html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20983931

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsid=40714#.uzf25pwmqll

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16151310

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents  (on the left margin select “Original Print pdf” to read the legislation)

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2012/11/18/new-report-examines-risks-of-degree-hotter-world-by-end-of-century

http://www.wri.org/publication/global-coal-risk-assessment (select Downloads – Full Text)

 

 

 

 

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Doha Climate Conference: Success or Failure?

Posted on 29 December 2012 by Jerry

Conservative pundits from the Heritage Foundation declared the 2012 U.N. Climate Conference in Doha, Qatar a failure.  Supporters point to expanded commitments at a conference that was only expected to be a planning session for a “Big Deal” in 2015.  Was Doha a success or Failure?  You decide.

Detractors cited failure to hit Kyoto Protocol defined emissions objectives, lack of international support (U.S. refusing to ratify and exceptions for developing nations such as China and India) and an unworkable Kyoto structure that placed all emissions targets on a few dozen countries.  They called for the U.S. government to “more accurately determine the severity of climate change and verify U.N. claims.”  They continued saying the U.S. should work “through informal arrangements….undertaking appropriate steps toward a cost-effective reduction in warming.”

In an expansion of the definition of “beggar-thy-neighbor” which is an economics phrase describing how one country gains advantage at the expense of other countries, they said we should not try to mitigate global warming by “going it alone”.  Their suggestion was it was “Better to remove unnecessary regulations on fossil fuels and block any attempts to implement a carbon tax.”  In other words, we should act like global warming is not yet proven, slow our efforts to informal discussions with others and drill baby drill.

Advocates of climate change declared the meeting a success citing the following agreements accomplished at the Doha conference:

  • Attending countries altered the structure of future negotiations from two tracks (one each for developed and developing countries) to just one negotiating forum ostensibly limiting future exceptions for developing nations.
  • The EU and some other countries extended the Kyoto Protocol which was set to expire at the end of 2012, until 2020 and the EU, Australia, and Norway increased their carbon cutting targets. The Kyoto Protocol is the only existing treaty that requires emission cuts.
  • Developed nations gave recognition to poor countries for the “loss and damage” they face from the ravages of climate change.  This first ever concession opens the way for developed nations which have arguably caused climate change to possibly one day compensate poor countries for efforts they must take to repair the “loss and damage” incurred.
  • Attendees at the conference set out a schedule of necessary steps to be taken between now and 2015 as a work plan to prepare for negotiation of the “Big Deal” in Paris.

In the shadow of U.S. economic stresses, political gridlock, and inaction, the world owes a debt of gratitude to the EU, Australia, Norway and other nations for continuing the fight to control global warming.  We can only hope the US finally provides leadership in 2015 (the second Obama term) for the world’s efforts to limit rising temperatures.

On a related topic, scientists are afraid the world has passed the opportunity to limit the climate change temperature rise to only + 2°.  Accordingly the World Bank sponsored a report entitled “Turn Down the Heat” which was prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics. The report states the world is on a path to a + 4° temperature rise by the end of the century and predicts additional dire consequences.

Use the following links to obtain more information:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/26/schaefer-us-should-chill-out-on-climate-conference/?utm_source=rss_fee/d&utm_medium=rss  

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/14/doha-climate-conference-success

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/08/doha-climate-change-deal-nations 

http://search.worldbank.org/all?qterm=turn%20down%20the%20heat  Select first entry “Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century” and read.

Scroll down farther and select 5th entry, “Turn Down the Heat Executive Summary English”, and read.

 

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Climate Change Awaits Obama & Democratic Congress Reelection

Posted on 20 March 2012 by Jerry

The most recent world climate change summit in Durban, South Africa failed. The summit once again postponed meaningful agreement on an extension of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol where developed nations are legally required to meet emission reduction targets.  With political gridlock in the United States and economic woes in the European Union, there was no major power capable of assuming world leadership on climate change. None of three roadblocks was overcome; the U.S. continues to refuse to sign the Protocol, the Protocol still imposes no mandates on the developing nations of China, India, Brazil and South Africa, and poorer nations continue to believe their financial needs are being neglected by the major economic powers.  For this reason, the only agreement that was reached was to negotiate a new worldwide protocol by 2015.  Meanwhile opportunity and time passes

In 2009, at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, world leaders agreed to an objective of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (~three and a half degrees Fahrenheit).  The Copenhagen Accord, which Barack Obama personally helped negotiate, lacked any enforcement mechanism to insure movement toward the objective.  Unfortunately, in the years since 2009, carbon-dioxide emissions have continued to rise and world energy efficiency has declined.  Many climate change scientists believe we are rapidly approaching a day when the 2° objective is no longer attainable. See http://scim.ag/modelclimate.

The prevalent approach today to climate modeling is to combine multiple model outcomes to get a better picture of possible future developments.  The attached two charts were developed by merging 19 general climate circulation models to predict differences in vegetation loss between an increase in temperature of two Kelvins (one Kelvin is equivalent to one degree Celsius) and five Kelvins. For the many scientists who are afraid we have waited too long to achieve a 2° limit on temperature rise, five Kelvins, or five degrees Celsius, is what they believe is still attainable. As you can begin to see in these charts, which go out of their way to not be sensational, a five degree temperature rise takes us to much more noticeable levels of lost vegetation in the higher latitudes around the globe.

The Durbin agreement to negotiate a new protocol by 2015 has only one key element, the upcoming presidential elections in the United States.  This represents an international “Hail Mary” pass that assumes the reelection of Barack Obama as President, continued Democratic Party control of the U.S. Senate, and the Democratic Party reacquisition of control in the House of Representatives.  It is only under this scenario that the United States will have the freedom to assume much needed global leadership of the world’s efforts to limit climate change.  For this reason, all citizens of the U.S. who believe we are running out of time must act to accomplish these election objectives.  Besides giving assistance and votes to Barack Obama, we must insure sufficient funds and effort to return control of the House of Representatives to the Democratic Party.

Use the following links for more information on the present status of worldwide efforts to control global warming;

http://www.nature.com/news/durban-maps-path-to-climate-treaty-1.9635

http://scim.ag/modelclimate

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2011/11/two-degrees-of-disaster.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15992519

http://www.nature.com/news/watching-the-players-at-the-climate-poker-table-1.9640

http://www.dccc.org

 

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