Friday, November 7, 2014

More dire warnings on Climate Change

Time again for Science Friday.

I wish I had better news on climate change. But I don't.

Neither does the UN. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offered the fourth and final volume of its study on climate. The findings state that climate change is "almost certainly" the logical result of human activity. More dire than that is the fact that in order to have a modicum of a chance at stabilizing this change in temperatures, humanity will have to cut its carbon emissions to zero by the end of this century.

"Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the report's launch in Copenhagen.

This all comes on the heels of a NASA report that labeled the past calendar year as the warmest one on record.  Evidence in addition to rising temperatures includes loss of polar ice, a rise in the acidity of ocean water, along with rising sea levels.  In light of all of this, it is no wonder then that only the smallest percentage of scientists have any doubt that climate change is actually happening and that humans are the cause of it. You wouldn't know that by listening to right wing politicians or their media but there is only minor controversy over the matter in the scientific community. In fact, you could really say that there is none. The data on climate change is real.

Still don't believe it? Check out the work of photographer Camille Seaman. She has visually documented the results of rising temperatures in the Arctic and the consequences for the fishermen and villagers of the area. Sigh. To say nothing of the polar bears and other wildlife and their right to live.

There is hope according to the IPCC. Between the reduction of CO2 emissions, an investment in renewable energy, and new technology that (we hope) can suck greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, we might just be able to hit that end-of-the-century mark for turning things around. It is mostly a matter of what we use to generate power.

Big problems lurk with those solutions, however. Not the least of them is the all the finger pointing when it comes to climate. The industrialized world points to the developing world, citing the fuel sources burned. The developing world claims industrialized nations have "a historical responsibility" to help. There is a bit of truth to that. Wealthier nations have the means to take action while poorer, developing countries have fewer options available to them.

And everybody points there finger at China. Not without good reason, either.

Sadly, this all carries the reek of "Not my problem. Somebody else has to do it." It's going to take a solution on a global scale and it will require heavy involvement from national governments.

It's the developing world that will face the harshest consequences of climate change. Sounds like a good place to start.

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