Tuesday, June 19, 2007

10 Years to Save Civilization

It's a title that would scream hyperbole if it wasn't true.

Today, six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.

That warming stems from a new report headed by James Hansen, one of the world's leading experts and voices for climate change science. Based on the results of the study titled Climate Change and Trace Gases, Hansen is predicting that the nations of the world have a slim 10 year window to put in place the radical changes needed to avert catastrophic global warming.

In an email to the UK's Independent Hansen said, "In my opinion, among our papers this one probably does the best job of making clear that the Earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of our control."

The reason for the alarm focuses on the impact of what is termed an "albedo flip". It layman's terms it's simple. Right now the Earth has what amounts to two continent sized mirrors - the ice sheets of Antarctica and the north polar ice cap - that are reflecting heat back into space and minimizing warming. Once those start to shrink, the heat that used to be bounced off the planet will be absorbed by open waters and exposed rock, causing a runaway warming effect that will lead to the rapid collapse of the world's remaining ice sheets.

If that happens, sea levels are expected to rise not by 40 cm, as predicted by the UN consensus, but by several meters within the next century.

The complete report is posted online through the NASA website.


CEW said...

And consider the impact of polar air masses on the upper Great Lakes of North America...

Great Lakes--Lower Levels Raising Concern

Tim Colman, Good Nature said...

why do you suppose this story gets in the Independent and not NYT, etc...?

If the media is this far gone-- how can we possibly shift in time? I wonder because 10 years -- you might as well say Go to the beach -- there is too much inertia built into the system right now to change that fast in 10 years.

I will read his report and see what they recommend. Thanks.


Lis Bastian said...

Hi, I'm working full time on climate change (trained with Al Gore etc) but what I don't understand is how James Hansen and everyone else can keep saying that we have 10 years to the tipping point. I thought "the era of procrastination" was coming to an end! He first said this in December 2005 ... that means we have 8 1/2 years .... I don't understand why everyone else isn't as frantic as I am about this. We write a blog in Australia called A Year In A Day where we're trying to get 365 people to subscribe to say that we want the action of A Year In A Day - we're doing one new personal and one political action every day