Posts Tagged ‘science’

The synthesis report from this year’s Copenhagen conference on climate change gives dire warning of the consequences of inaction about global warming. The report contains the most comprehensive update to climate science since the IPCC AR4 report. The report emphasizes six key messages, each of which is given its own chapter. Find the pdf of the report here

Recent observations show that greenhouse gas emissions and many aspects of the climate are changing near the upper boundary of the IPCC range of projections. Many key climate indicators are already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which contemporary society and economy have developed and thrived. These indicators include global mean surface temperature, sea level rise, global ocean temperature, Arctic sea ice extent, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. With unabated emissions, many trends in climate will likely accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.

The research community provides much information to support discussions on “dangerous climate change”. Recent observations show that societies and ecosystems are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities, ecosystem services and biodiversity particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2C will be difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and are likely to cause major societal and environmental disruptions through the rest of the century and beyond.

Rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid “dangerous climate change” regardless of how it is defined. Weaker targets for 2020 increase the risk of serious impacts, including the crossing of tipping points, and make the task of meeting 2050 targets more difficult and costly. Setting a credible long-term price for carbon and the adoption of policies that promote energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies are central to effective mitigation.

Climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world. An effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and equitable mitigation strategies are needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable. Tackling climate change should be seen as integral to the broader goals of enhancing socioeconomic development and equity throughout the world.

Society already has many tools and approaches – economic, technological, behavioural, and managerial – to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. If these tools are not vigorously and widely implemented, adaptation to the unavoidable climate change and the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies will not be achieved. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to achieve effective and rapid adaptation and mitigation. These include job growth in the sustainable energy sector; reductions in the health, social, economic and environmental costs of climate change; and the repair of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services.

If the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge is to be achieved, a number of significant constraints must be overcome and critical opportunities seized. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; reducing activities that increase greenhouse gas emissions and reduce resilience (e.g., subsidies); and enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society. Linking climate change with broader sustainable consumption and production concerns, human rights issues and democratic values is crucial for shifting societies towards more sustainable development pathways.

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that human activitity is a significant contributing factor to the observed changes we have seen in global temps over the last century according to a newly published study in EoS link to article. the entire results can be found published as a book here


Despite the concerted efforts of industries connected with fossil fuel production and a handful of right wing Internet bloggers to create the impression that there is serious debate within the scientific community as to whether the Nobel Prize winning IPCC report and its supposed consensus are indeed as probable as they proclaim, contending that the IPCC is a biased political process which seeks to crush the plethora of dissenting voices, this paper by Doran and Zimmerman empirically confirms the perspective advanced by Naomi Oraskes in 2004 that within scientists working on peer reviewed material surrounding climate science there is virtually no support for the position that humans are not significantly contributing to the observed changes in climate.

Recent polls looking at public opinion on the matter suggests that 58% of the general public would concur with the statement, again highlighting the large discrepancy between the position on the matter of those actively engaged in the subject and laypeople. Indeed the paper’s conclusion is that

It seems that the debate on the  role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long- term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate

While the science must continue to be advanced and refined, the chief challenge which this paper suggests faces the scientific establishment surrounding Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) is to win the media war in conveying a clear understanding of the science and likely effects of ACC in the face of a dedicated smear campaign run largely run by the fossil fuel industry and right wing think tanks who oppose ecological reform on the basis that it threatens profit margins.

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