End of world as we know it

03 Dec, 2012 12:19 PM
The big thaw ... Melting Arctic permafrost. Photo: Supplied
The big thaw ... Melting Arctic permafrost. Photo: Supplied

THE world is on track to see "an unrecognisable planet" that is between 4 and 6 degrees hotter by the end of this century, according to new data on greenhouse gas emissions.

As United Nations climate negotiations enter their second week in Doha, Qatar, an Australian-based international research effort that tracks greenhouse gas output will release its annual findings on Monday, showing emissions climbing too quickly to stave off the effects of dangerous climate change.

The new forecast does not include recent revelations about the effects of thawing permafrost, which is starting to release large amounts of methane from the Arctic. This process makes cutting human emissions of fossil fuels even more urgent, scientists say.

The new data from the Global Carbon Project found greenhouse gas emissions are expected to have risen 2.6 per cent by the end of this year, on top of a 3 per cent rise in 2011. Since 1990, the reference year for the Kyoto Protocol, emissions have increased 54 per cent.

It means that the goal of the Doha talks – to hold global temperature rise to 2 degrees – is almost out of reach. That goal requires that emissions peak now and start falling significantly within eight years.

"Unless we change current emissions trends, this year is set to reach 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels, we are on the way to an unrecognisable planet of 4 to 6 degrees warmer by the end of this century," said the executive director of the Global Carbon Project, Dr Pep Canadell.

"Unless the negotiators in Doha wake up tomorrow and embrace a new green industrial revolution to rapidly change our energy systems, chances to stay below global warming of 2 degrees Celsius are vanishing very fast, if they are not already gone."

Emissions are growing in line with the most extreme climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change that explains the Global Carbon Project's findings.

The trajectory means a temperature range of between 3.5 and 6.2 degrees by the year 2100, with a "most likely" range of between 4.2 and 5 degrees.

Although the climate has changed due to natural influences in the past, human emissions superimposed on top of natural variation is now driving change 20 times faster, according to NASA estimates. Civilisation evolved in a more moderate environment.

The new data is beginning to confirm what scientists had been warning people about for decades, said Andy Pitman, director of the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW.

"There are papers that should come with a warning: 'do not read this if you are depressed', or 'please have a stiff drink handy as you read this'. [This] paper is one such example," Professor Pitman said.

The greenhouse gas emissions path the world is taking "is not a tenable future for the planet – we cannot be that stupid as a species," he said.

Matthew England, a colleague of Professor Pitman and fellow author of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, said: "While the science is clear that emissions reductions are required urgently, each year we are emitting more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is like a smoker ramping up the number of cigarettes smoked each day despite grave warnings to stop smoking altogether – sooner or later this catches up with you."

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3/12/2012 6:13:38 PM

And it was the end of the world as those at the end of the last ice age knew it too. Humanity is by its very nature creative - we deal with things - by adapting. Creatures that cannot become extinct. You can weave your complexities all you wish but its pretty basic bottom-line business.
4/12/2012 8:29:20 AM

Just as well air travel does not add to global warming because another runway at Tullamarine and predicted large increases in passenger numbers could make a difference. Probably just as well that new power station added ever week in China does not add anything either. Perhaps we could stop coal exports to China like we stopped live cattle exports to Indonesia. I am sure that would make a big difference to the world.
4/12/2012 12:01:43 PM

mouse, do some simply research of how long the changes took in the past and you will find it took thousands of years to change not a few hundred. If you have anything to do with farming, you have to be living in a hole to not notice that crops are ripening earlier, some horticultural crops now can't be grown where they have traditionally been grown. There is massive change happening.
Ian Mott
4/12/2012 12:25:38 PM

One of the worlds foremost experts in permafrost recently described this recycling of the thoroughly discredited methane "big fart theory" at "the utmost imbecility". See Notrickzone at http://notrickszone.com/2012/12/0 1/permafrost-far-more-stable-than -claimed-german-expert-calls-dang er-of-it-thawing-out-utter-imbici lity/ But that would never sway Ben Cubby from his climate bedwetting mania.
4/12/2012 5:12:59 PM

Not only does Pott fail to provide a reputable scientific reference (P Gosselin is a US blogger and habitual denialist, with no climate credentials, based in Europe) but Pott even falsifies the quote that he gives. His "expert", geophysicist Georg Delisle, as quoted by Gosselin, stated that claims that the permafrost would be melted by the end of the century was "utter imbecility". Quite a different statement.
5/12/2012 7:42:44 AM

Notrickszone has about as much credibility as my dog. Gosselin attributes statements to 'credible' people/institutions, who then have to deny the false/out of context rationalisation. In the mentime, Gosselin gets his headline and 'journos' report crap.
Ian Mott
5/12/2012 11:22:30 AM

Bg and sico attack the messenger but make no effort to disprove the message. There goes that old climate bedwetter mind block again. Nice story though, bg, but kindly provide an example of where Gosselin has misquoted anyone. There is a lot of material there for you to examine so you have no excuse for failing to substantiate your claim.
Dirty Redneck
5/12/2012 5:58:01 PM

I would love to know how much these clowns get paid to keep spewing out this alarmist crap every day ?
Bushie Bill
6/12/2012 1:42:17 PM

About what the average whingeing farmer reckons he makes out of his farm, Dirts.
Dirty Redneck
6/12/2012 3:52:38 PM

If that was true Bushie then I would see lots of farmers driving around in new Volvos and Mercs, but I dont.
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