Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Staring doom in the face, paralysed with indecision

A two per cent rise in global average temperature will melt the Greenland ice cap, raising sea levels by seven metres and destroying the homes and livelihoods of millions.

"Climate change is worse than was previously thought and we need to act now," Henry Derwent, special climate change adviser to Tony Blair, said at the launch of a scientific book on climate change.

Researcher Rachel Warren from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who contributed to "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change", said carbon dioxide emissions had to peak no later than 2025, and talked of rapidly approaching catastrophe.

The peer-reviewed report adds that to have a chance of preventing the rise, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 should be stabilised at below 400 parts per million (ppm). Currently, it is about 380 parts per million; before the industrial revolution it was about 275ppm.

It says a 'tipping point' could occur would make the problem irreversible and potentially accelerate out of control.

While this notion is not new, what is new is the urgency and imminency of the threat. Previously it was thought to be further down the century.

The book says the biggest obstacles to the take-up of technologies such as renewables and "clean coal" lie in vested interests, cultural barriers and simple lack of awareness. Well, durr.

Tony Blair writes in the foreword, "it is now plain that the emission of greenhouse gases... is causing global warming at a rate that is unsustainable."

Well he knew that already. Tony, don't just stand there, implement the TEQ idea, pioneered at the Tyndall Centre, and bring on the energy police.

Don't listen to your adviser, David King, who commented: "No country is going to turn off a power station which is providing much-desired energy for its population to tackle this problem ."

Demand management is the only possible way to put the brakes on our emissions. Energy police. Now.

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