The last part of the Fourth Assessment report (AR4) of the IPCC was released Friday in Valencia, Spain.
The main news is that the situation is worse than forecast during the writing of the report. Mankind thus have to act quick and in a massive way if it wants to avoid global warming and can’t wait for the end of Kyoto in 2012.
In this article, you will be able to get the latest data and statements on this very bad news.
As Elisabeth Rosenthal and James Kanter from the International Herad Tribune note :
“The sense of urgency when you put these pieces together is new and striking,” said Martin Parry, a British climate expert who was co-chairman of the delegation that wrote the second report.
This report’s summary was the first to acknowledge that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could result in a substantive sea level rise over centuries rather than millennia.
“Many of my colleagues would consider that kind of melt a catastrophe” so rapid that mankind would not be able to adapt, said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University who contributed to the IPCC.
Delegations from hundreds of nations will be meeting in Bali, Indonesia in two weeks to start hammering out a global climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the current climate change treaty. The first phase of the Kyoto Treaty expires in 2012.
“It’s extremely clear and is very explicit that the cost of inaction will be huge compared to the cost of action,” said Jeffrey Sachs, head of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “We can’t afford to wait for some perfect accord to replace Kyoto, for some grand agreement. We can’t afford to spend years bickering about it. We need to start acting now.”
He said that delegates in Bali should take action immediately where they do agree, for example, by public financing for demonstration projects on new technologies like “carbon capture,” a “promising but not proved” system that pumps emissions underground instead of releasing them into the sky. He said the energy ministers should start a global fund to help poor countries avoid deforestation, which causes emissions to increase because growing plants absorb carbon in the atmosphere.
Although the scientific data is not new, this was the first time it had been looked at together in its entirety, leading the scientists to new emphasis and more sweeping conclusions.
However, the data from the IPCC takes five years to be put together. And since the writing of this report, the situation worsened in an important way.
Indeed, the chairman of the IPCC, Mr. Rajendra Pachauri, stated that new actions can not wait until 2012 but that Mankind have to act NOW.
To him : “What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”
This worsening of the situation is largely due to the increase use of coal-fired plants to generate the energy in the two gigantic countries that are India and China. So cleaning up those plants or shifting toward cleaner solutions have to be done as soon as possible.
I wrote last month an article on the clean alternatives to coal. The basis of this mix of alternatives is energy conservation ( ie. doing more with less energy), renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, wrote a tribune in the International Herald Tribune and his various statements are very frightening :
You have heard how the famous Larsen ice shelf collapsed and disappeared five years ago. A giant slab of ice 87-kilometers long – the size of some small countries – vanished in less than three weeks. What if this “Larsen effect” were to repeat itself on a vastly greater scale?
At the Chilean research base on King George Island, scientists told me that the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet is at risk. Like Larsen, it is a continuous sheath of floating ice, comprising nearly one-fifth of the continent.
If it broke up, sea levels could rise by six meters. Think of the effect on the coastlines and cities: New York, Mumbai and Shanghai, not to mention small island nations. It may not happen for 100 years – or it could happen in 10. We simply do not know. But when it happens, it could occur quickly, almost overnight.
It sounds like the script of a disaster movie. But this is science, not science-fiction.
To read the full articles and much more, please find the links below. We are in dire straights but the situation can be reversed if all of us change our ways toward a greener future.
Further reading from the International Herald Tribune :
- Alarming UN report on climate change is too rosy, many say ;
- UN report describes risks of inaction on climate change ;
- Ban calls climate change ‘defining challenge of our age’ ;
- Tribune from Mr. Ban Ki Moon : At the tipping point.
Other source :
- Blog do Planeta [Brazil] : Até os cientistas estão assustados.