Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another bad positive feedback loop on Climate Change


As a report puts carbon dioxide at 395 part per million (ppm), prospects for future reductions seem dim.

Expiry of emissions pact in 2012 bedevils talks - Yahoo! News BONN, Germany – Climate negotiators are exploring "constructive and creative" solutions so that wealthy countries keep trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even when binding commitments expire next year, the U.N. climate chief said Monday. Another report by the U.S. government monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, recorded carbon levels in May of 395 parts per million, compared with 290 at the beginning of the industrial revolution 150 years ago. Scientists believe atmospheric concentration of carbon is trapping the Earth's heat and causing it to gradually warm.

This is not good news, and not surprising either. Many put the limit of carbon dioxide at 350ppm (see 350.org) but it’s not catching on. The US, which has put 30% of the manmade carbon dioxide into our atmosphere since the industrial revolution, doesn’t want to move on limiting carbon dioxide until countries like China, which has put about 7% of the carbon dioxide since then, ante up. Though in truth, there are lots of reasons why we won’t stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere including notions of fairness, doubts about the issue of Climate Change, push back from the inconveniences changes would put on us, and a major political party in our country that doesn’t even believe in the science of Climate Change. Here’s some on that:

U.S. EPA delays rollout of CO2 rule on power plants - AlertNet WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure from Republicans and big utilities, said on Monday it had extended a deadline by two months on draft rules that would for the first time limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA said it had moved the date for proposing the rule from July 26 to Sept. 30 after listening to businesses and states that will have to implement the regulation. (June 13, 2011) AlertNet - A Thomson Reuters Foundation Service - AlertNet.

So, instead of considering ways of rapidly changing our collective behavior towards the constant creep of carbon dioxide towards new highs, we argue and point fingers—which, of course, will have no effect on the physics of Climate Change. This all seems dismal and so most turn away from the issue of Climate Change and that creates one of the other major feedback loops of Climate Change. The more dismal news about our collective inability to combat Climate Change, the more those who don’t believe it fight against it and the more those who do believe it throw up their hands in despair.

That’s too bad because nothing but major change in our human behavior towards Climate Change is going to matter to our climate. All that sound and fury of those fighting against the science of Climate Change will mean worst than nothing. If we don’t start connecting the dots of events that are going on between our extreme weather events and our behavior, we will never get a chance to solve this problem. Maybe we should start connecting the dots:

The most powerful climate video you’ll see all week | Grist “Bill McKibben published a must-read op-ed in The Washington Post last month about the connection between climate change and recent extreme weather events. Now Stephen Thomson has combined McKibben's words with striking footage of the events he writes about. The result is a chilling must-see video:” (June 11, 2011) Grist | Environmental News, Commentary, Advice

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