Climate science is way out in front of climate policy. Commitments at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris pale in comparison to those from the Kyoto Protocol with its beginnings in the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The cheap and unambiguous solution of removing CO2 directly from the sky has been discredited by the perceived debate. Previously assumed stable ice sheets are disintegrating. It is warmer than any time in the last 120,000 years. The Gulf Stream appears to be shutting down.
The climate agreement delivered earlier this month in Paris is a genuine triumph of international diplomacy. It is a tribute to how France was able to bring a fractious world together. And it is testament to how assiduous and painstaking science can defeat the unremitting programme of misinformation that is perpetuated by powerful vested interests. It is the twenty-first century's equivalent to the victory of heliocentrism over the inquisition. Yet it risks being total fantasy.
We knew it was going to be a record breaker. We knew that atmospheric greenhouse gasses in the range of 400 parts per million CO2 and 485 parts per million CO2e, when combined with one of the top three strongest El Ninos in the Pacific, would result in new all-time global record high temperatures. But what we didn’t know was how substantial the jump would ultimately be.
Mere mention of the Paris climate talks is enough to make James Hansen grumpy. The former Nasa scientist, considered the father of global awareness of climate change, is a soft-spoken, almost diffident Iowan. But when he talks about the gathering of nearly 200 nations, his demeanor changes.
Ahead of the U.N. climate change summit in Paris, France, more than 180 nations pledged to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but many climate justice groups say far more needs to be done to keep global warming in check. We speak with one of the world’s leading climate scientists who has come to the Paris talks with a shocking message: The climate crisis is more severe than even many scientists have acknowledged. Kevin Anderson is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester in Britain.
LE BOURGET, France — Any deal at the COP21 summit that cuts greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid potentially dangerous levels of global warming is going to have to rope in two big polluting industries — shipping and aviation.
Both ships and planes are regulated by separate United Nations organizations, and aren’t formally part of the U.N.-led climate talks. The two industries are economic powerhouses, making some countries reluctant to enact expensive regulations.
James Hansen is fretting about the Paris climate talks, and for good reason.
You might recall that Hansen was the NASA scientist that boldly warned the United States Congress about the perils of rising global temperatures as early as 1988.
And you might remember that officials with the U.S. administration of George W. Bush instructed the world's most famous climate change scientist not to talk about how fossil fuel burning could have a dangerous effect on climate in 2004.
Another ominous milestone fades away in the smog behind us…
By mid November of 2015, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory had again risen above 400 parts per million. Over the past two weeks, these levels maintained. And even though we may see a few days during which CO2 levels drop below that key threshold during late November and, perhaps, early December, those days could well be the last.