Archive for Monday, December 14, 2009

Advocates push 350 as climate goal

December 14, 2009

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Danish people try out bicycles being set up to produce electricity Sunday in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark. It isn’t easy getting Italy’s city dwellers onto bicycles to ride to work, “like here in Copenhagen,’’ said an Italian environmental official during the climate summit.

Danish people try out bicycles being set up to produce electricity Sunday in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark. It isn’t easy getting Italy’s city dwellers onto bicycles to ride to work, “like here in Copenhagen,’’ said an Italian environmental official during the climate summit.

— As police cracked down on climate protesters, church bells tolled 350 times Sunday to impress on the U.N. global warming conference a number that is gaining a following, but is also awash in contradictions.

Conference negotiators went behind closed doors in talks to pin down an elusive new pact on climate, talks in which the figure 350 looms as a goal for true believers, but one that appears impossible based on progress so far.

It refers to 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the highest concentration that some leading scientists say the world can handle without sparking dangerous climate effects.

“It’s the most important number in the world,” said Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental activist group 350.org. “It’s the line between habitability on this planet and a really, really desolate future.”

Not everyone buys into that. But an entire environmental group has sprung up around the number, pushing 350 as a goal, sporting it on T-shirts and flags waved by throngs of protesters that marched to the conference center over the weekend. About 100 nations at the U.N. climate summit have signed on to the idea of heading for 350.

Actually, the world has lived with more than 350 for a while.

The last time the Earth had 350 ppm of carbon dioxide in the air was a generation ago, in the fall of 1989. This year CO2 pushed over the 390 level. When scientists started measuring carbon dioxide in 1958 it was 315.

Since the atmosphere passed the 350 level, ice sheets have been melting and other dramatic changes have been happening.

Prominent scientists — notably NASA’s James Hansen, one of the earliest to warn about global warming, and Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — have said 350 is the only safe level of carbon dioxide in the air.

Still, many economists, political leaders, and even some scientists believe that the worst effects of global warming can be avoided even with less stringent actions.

But there is general agreement among negotiators and climate scientists that continued global warming will lead to dramatic changes that mean more widespread drought in some regions, greater flooding along coastlines, stronger storms and the loss of species.

On Sunday, hundreds of churches around the world had signed up to ring bells at 3:50 p.m. in their respective time zones.

“It was an incredibly powerful moment and to know that there are bells ringing all over Europe, up to Greenland, down into the south Pacific and every corner of the planet,” McKibben said moments after the bells stopped ringing in Copenhagen.

As they tolled, more than 40 government environment chiefs and other high-level negotiators were meeting at the Danish Foreign Ministry. They were trying to bridge the gap between their positions in informal talks before the second and last week of negotiations gets under way.

The week will end with the arrival of President Barack Obama and more than 100 other national leaders for the final hours of negotiation.

Sharp divisions remain between rich and poor countries on greenhouse emissions cuts and financing for developing nations to deal with climate change and shift to cleaner energy.

“I think there was recognition around the table of the urgency of what we need to achieve in the coming days,” Britain’s Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said after Sunday’s talks. “I think there needs to be more movement from everyone, more imagination, and I think we will all be striving for that.”

Comments

jmadison 5 years, 8 months ago

How much carbon was put in the atmosphere from these attendees who flew to this conference? Have they ever heard of video conferencing? I guess they couldn't stuff their briefcases with cash, if they did not attend in person.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

Changes of the magnitude required from this meeting could not be achieved via videoconference.

"I guess they couldn't stuff their briefcases with cash,"

Sorry, jmadison, that dog won't hunt, either. If the outcome of this meeting is determined by cash, it'll be the cash of the corporate deniers that does it, and it'll mean that no meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases will be forthcoming.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 8 months ago

America, get ready for an unprecedented hand-over of national treasure.

As NPR reported this morning, the ten$ of billion$ the US and Europe are already planning on forfeiting to foreign dictators, warlords and monarchs will be woefully inadequate. Surrendering hundred$ of billion$ in the name of enviornmental alarmism is much more realistic.

Time to get back on the private jets and get the heck out of Copenhagen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"This is a classic “do as we say, not as we do” liberal moment."

No, it's just an unavoidable fact of living and functioning in a carbon-intensive world. But unlike you, Tom, most of those going to Copenhagen are actively working to create a different reality, rather than just entrenching themselves in willful ignorance as you and other deniers do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"the ten$ of billion$ the US and Europe are already planning on forfeiting to foreign dictators, warlords and monarchs will be woefully inadequate."

And almost all of those folks are in power to a very large extent because they have been propped up by the extractive economy that's created the impending climatic disaster.

labmonkey 5 years, 8 months ago

In earth's geological past, there were ice ages with over 4500 ppb CO2 in the atmospoere....the 350 number is a crock of boohickey.

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

The most important number will always be 42.

labmonkey 5 years, 8 months ago

"Tom, most of those going to Copenhagen are actively working to create a different reality, rather than just entrenching themselves in willful ignorance as you and other deniers do."

Most of the people in Copenhagen are in a state of willful ignorance. The science is hazy at best that man is causing warming. Oceans realease more CO2 than man ever could.

kenos 5 years, 8 months ago

Notice how this article deliberately misinforms us by saying: "When scientists started measuring carbon dioxide in 1958." Actually, scientists have been measuring carbon dioxide for thousands of years through ice core samples. These ice core samples show fluctuations in carbon dioxide not at all caused by our industrial activity. Since 1958 carbon dioxide levels have gone up due largely to warming of the oceans. Study the gas laws if you don't understand this.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"These ice core samples show fluctuations in carbon dioxide not at all caused by our industrial activity."

So what? What's important is what's causing fluctuations right now, when nearly 7 billion people are living on this planet, and despite your claims to the contrary, our industrial (and other) activity is most certainly increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and in the oceans.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

"...our industrial (and other) activity is most certainly increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and in the oceans." Such faith in the Goreacle is amusing.......

labmonkey 5 years, 8 months ago

Bozo-

After reading your last post, how are you any different than a religious zealot...a wingnut as liberals like to call conservatives? All you want is to control other's lives through government and UN mandates using faith. How is this any different than basing a policy on what "God" mandated in the bible? Both are scary propositions, but one has much more of a chance of coming to fruition.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

With straw men like that to argue with, why do even bother posting, labmonkey?

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