Studying the climate

December 2nd, 2002 § One comment

Another article from the New York Times describing the Bush administration’s plan to study global warming for another 10 years before doing anything about it, then explaining the likely consequences of this plan:

Under what is considered a best-case model, global annual emissions of carbon dioxide will have to start declining by 2020 to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million. Even at that level, there would probably be substantial losses…including a global die-off of coral reefs.

Societies have probably already missed that turning point, scientists say, and the longer societies wait to act, the higher the eventual greenhouse plateau and the greater the consequences.

If emissions do not start declining until 2033, carbon dioxide concentrations will plateau at 550 parts per million—more than double preindustrial concentrations. That level raises the likelihood of more calamitous consequences, including intensified storm and drought cycles, wider extinction of species and perhaps the eventual freeing of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which could raise sea levels a century or two from now 15 feet or more, inundating coasts where most human settlements are concentrated.

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