Archive for Monday, November 23, 2009

Effects of global warming have worsened since Kyoto

November 23, 2009


— Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated — beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.

As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before.

And it’s not just the frozen parts of the world that have felt the heat in the dozen years leading up to next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen:

• The world’s oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.

• Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa.

• Species now in trouble because of changing climate include not just the lumbering polar bear, which has become a symbol of global warming, but also fragile butterflies, colorful frogs and entire stands of North American pine forests.

• Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997.

Emissions increase

Even the gloomiest climate models back in the 1990s didn’t forecast results quite this bad so fast.

“The latest science is telling us we are in more trouble than we thought,” said Janos Pasztor, climate adviser to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

And here’s why: Since an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution was signed in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, the level of carbon dioxide in the air has increased 6.5 percent. Officials from across the world will convene in Copenhagen next month to seek a follow-up pact, one that President Barack Obama says “has immediate operational effect … an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution.”

The last effort didn’t quite get the anticipated results.

From 1997 to 2008, world carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased 31 percent; U.S. emissions of this greenhouse gas rose 3.7 percent. Emissions from China, now the biggest producer of this pollution, have more than doubled in that time period. When the U.S. Senate balked at the accord and President George W. Bush withdrew from it, that meant that the top three carbon polluters — the U.S., China and India — were not part of the pact’s emission reductions. Developing countries were not covered by the Kyoto Protocol and that is a major issue in Copenhagen.

Effects of gases

And the effects of greenhouse gases are more powerful and happening sooner than predicted, scientists said.

“Back in 1997, the impacts (of climate change) were underestimated; the rate of change has been faster,” said Virginia Burkett, chief scientist for global change research at the U.S. Geological Survey.

That last part alarms former Vice President Al Gore, who helped broker a last-minute deal in Kyoto.

“By far the most serious differences that we’ve had is an acceleration of the crisis itself,” Gore said in an interview this month with The Associated Press.

In 1997, global warming was an issue for climate scientists, environmentalists and policy wonks. Now biologists, lawyers, economists, engineers, insurance analysts, risk managers, disaster professionals, commodity traders, nutritionists, ethicists and even psychologists are working on global warming.

“We’ve come from a time in 1997 where this was some abstract problem working its way around scientific circles to now when the problem is in everyone’s face,” said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate scientist.

The changes in the last 12 years that have the scientists most alarmed are happening in the Arctic with melting summer sea ice and around the world with the loss of key land-based ice masses. It’s all happening far faster than predicted.

Back in 1997 “nobody in their wildest expectations,” would have forecast the dramatic sudden loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic that started about five years ago, Weaver said. From 1993 to 1997, sea ice would shrink on average in the summer to about 2.7 million square miles. The average for the last five years is less than 2 million square miles. What’s been lost is the size of Alaska.


gr 6 years ago

That's funny.

I just heard that the last decade has been cooler.

With all this global warming happening and polar bears forgetting how to swim, one would expect the equator to be blazingly hot. Is that so? How much has it increased in temperature?

Why cannot butterflies fly further north and not have to fly so far south in the winter? Why isn't there a burst of new life where there hasn't been before?

"Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer" Do you really expect us to believe that butterflies can't stand a 0.4 degree of warmer weather? They've existed for billions of years, through dramatic temperature swings, but can't stand 0.4 degrees of imaginary man made warming? Sounds like fear mongering to me.

I've heard that thousands of new species are being found in the oceans so it hasn't hurt ocean life. It's created it! Assuming global warming even exists.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"I just heard that"

You've certainly "heard" a lot, recently. On Fox News, by chance?

Rmoen 6 years ago

This is a horrible piece of propoganda. Every 'fact' is questionable. Articles like this make it clear that the United States needs our own objective, transparent 'Climate Truth Commission' to think through global warming.

For twenty years I believed in man-made global warming theory, but the evidence has changed. During that period we've had ten years of warming then ten years of little or no warming. I blame my confusion on the United Nations for getting ahead of their facts. When they claimed CO2 drives global warming, they were more concerned about politics and funding than science. One only needs to look at their track record: UN forecasts do not fit what actually happened.

-- Robert Moen,

gr 6 years ago

"You've certainly “heard” a lot, recently."

Would you prefer I take the alarmist stance and say, It's an absolute fact!

Or are you suggesting that there are various degrees of credibility with the news media? What about ANY news media? How do YOU determine what is accurate?

monkeyhawk 6 years ago

“ Any group with such a single-minded view (whether they are believers in global warming, global warming rejectionists, liberals, conservatives, whatever) bears close watching and a certain amount of skepticism. ” — George Rebovich

Al Gore says this is settled. Why doesn't everyone just submit?

(Too bad about the timing of those hacked e-mails.)

"Some emails also refer to efforts by scientists who believe man is causing global warming to exclude contrary views from important scientific publications.

"This is horrible," said Pat Michaels, a climate scientist at the Cato Institute in Washington who is mentioned negatively in the emails. "This is what everyone feared. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone who does not view global warming as an end-of-the-world issue to publish papers. This isn't questionable practice, this is unethical."

Chris Golledge 6 years ago

Just a thought on the stolen email archive.

The thieves have not released the entire archive. Instead, they have released selections that they believe will be damaging. Think about all the emails you have written or exchanged where you work for more than a decade. Do you think it might be possible for someone to paint you in a bad light by if they filtered and selected sections out of context?

So, here we are; lots of people are passing judgment on others when the only information they have has been stolen, taken out of context, and possibly edited for content. Kudos to you all.

Regarding the quote, "Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone who does not view global warming as an end-of-the-world issue to publish papers."
Maybe that is because as the general understanding of the issues grows, the assumptions that you have to make to reach an alternative conclusion have become increasingly tenuous. There are still huge rewards for bucking the consensus if you can deliver the goods. So far, no one has.

bendover61 6 years ago

When I was in school they brainwashed me with global cooling and the next ice age. I'm not believing the global warming panic, I'm waiting for the next ice age.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Pat Michaels, a climate scientist at the Cato Institute in Washington"

Why does an organization whose sole purpose is to promote the corporate/capitalist agenda need a "climate scientist?"

gr 6 years ago

"61 megabytes of confidential files "

Wow, cg, think all 61 megabytes are taken out of context?

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