There's a new phenomenon sweeping through the halls of climate science - realism. After nearly two decades of constantly understating the problem, of seeing successive projections unexpectedly overtaken by events - and with the ever-important Copenhagen summit just a couple of months away - they're really sharpening their pencils and you're not going to like their results.
Memo to Steve and Mike - these numbers are going to make Tar Sands shills about as welcome as having Nosferatu in to babysit your kids.
Here's the bottom line. Even if every nation fully met its ultimate carbon emissions reduction targets the earth will warm at least 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit or about 3.5 degrees Celsius. Another way of looking at it is that this forecast is almost double the estimated maximum permissible heating if civilization as we know it is to survive. From the Washington Post:
The United Nations Environment Programme report, "Climate Change Science Compendium 2009", breaks from the past. It's not a consensus-based report like the previous IPCC reports that have consistently understated the problem. The denialists and lobbyists aren't going to be allowed to sabotage this report, it's simply too important.
Achim Steiner, UNEP's executive director, told reporters at the National Press Club on Thursday that the report aims to update the IPCC's 2007 findings to reflect both new physical evidence and a more sophisticated understanding of how Earth systems work.
"With every day that passes, the underlying trends that science has provided is . . . of such a dramatic nature that shying away from a major agreement in Copenhagen will probably be unforgivable if you look back in history at this moment," Steiner said. He noted that since 2000 alone, the average rate of melting at 30 glaciers in nine mountain ranges has doubled compared with the rate during the previous two decades.
"These are not things that are in dispute in terms of data," he said. "They are actually physically measurable."
...activists such as 350.org director Bill McKibben said politicians worldwide are not taking aggressive enough steps to address climate change.
"Here's where we are: The political system is not producing at the moment a result which has anything to do with what the science is telling us," said McKibben, whose group aims to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, well below the 450 ppm target that leaders of the Group of 20 major nations have embraced.
What makes me so damn mad about this is that Harper, Ignatieff and Layton; the people who ought to be getting Canadians specific, reliable information about this issue, what each of our regions can expect by way of change and what we can do to prepare for it, stand mute and wilfully keep us in the dark. I'm sorry to say this but each of these guys is betraying the people of Canada.