t r u t h o u t | 12.17
Climate Change: Chasm Widens Between Science and Policy
Monday 15 December 2008
by: Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service
Quebec City, Canada - The roof of our house is on fire while the leaders of our family sit comfortably in the living room below preoccupied with "political realities" - that was essentially the message from 1,000 scientists from around the world along with northern indigenous leaders gathered in Quebec City for the International Arctic Change conference that concluded last weekend.
"Climate change and its impacts are accelerating at unexpected rates with global consequences," delegates warned in a statement.
Presenting data from hundreds of studies and research projects detailing the Arctic region's rapid meltdown and cascading ecological impacts, participants urged governments to take "immediate measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions".
By happy coincidence, 190 governments were meeting at the same time in
In chance hallway encounters in
"Climate change will be an overwhelming global tragedy without major reductions now," said one Canadian expert.
Meanwhile, the physics of carbon and climate will not wait for economic recovery or a more felicitous political climate.
In 1992, the global community came together in
Many countries will meet their very modest reduction targets - with notable exceptions like
Emissions of CO2 have been growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the previous decade, despite efforts to curb emissions in a number of Kyoto Protocol signatory countries, reports the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of climate scientists.
"This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO2 emissions and atmospheric accumulation is unprecedented and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change," said Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project, in a statement last September.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today is well ahead of worst-case projections, hence the accelerating meltdown in the
Rather than panicking, governments of Arctic countries seem preoccupied with what they view as an opportunity to exploit the region for its potential energy resources, said Michael Byers, an international law expert at the
Fearing continuing "house arrest" under the current government, MacIver has resigned his position as chair of conference organising at the World Meteorological Organisation.
While governments fail to get it, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 stand at 383 parts per million (ppm) and are climbing at two to three ppm per year. Pre-industrial CO2 levels averaged 270 ppm and some climate experts are calling for the need to return to below 350 ppm to truly stabilise the planet.
Three million years ago, when CO2 was estimated to be 400 ppm, new fossil evidence shows forests dominated the
In a contest between the relentless physics of climate change and continuing political paralysis, our home is doomed to burn to the ground. Many climate activists say that only a grassroots revolution, a global rebellion that overturns the fossil-fuel economic hegemony, will save us now.
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