Climate on the Brink
Posted on May 30, 2011
In keeping with predictions made by the world’s most sober and clear-eyed climate and energy experts, the rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions is occurring more rapidly than official reports forecast, and a disastrous average global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius appears imminent and unavoidable.
The faster-than-expected increase in greenhouse gas emissions is due to expanding, under-regulated economic activity, which is the one aspect of the climate crisis that humans could do something about. But as long as the international political will to limit pollutive industrial activity and rein in the commercial practices that guarantee it remains nonexistent, the predictions of our most gloomy prophets will continue to be the most reliable ones, as these most recent findings show. —ARK
The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius—which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change”—is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.
Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel—a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.
... The IEA has calculated that if the world is to escape the most damaging effects of global warming, annual energy-related emissions should be no more than 32Gt by 2020. If this year’s emissions rise by as much as they did in 2010, that limit will be exceeded nine years ahead of schedule, making it all but impossible to hold warming to a manageable degree.
Flickr / World Resources
Onlookers applaud the salvaging of the U.N. climate negotiations process in Cancun last December. But pledges made there fall short of what the scientific consensus says is needed.