Saturday, November 19, 2011

Limiting Global Warming - The Cancun Agreements

At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Cancun in 2010, an agreed-upon shared goal should be to limit the global rise in temperature to just 2o centigrade above preindustrial levels. It’s not going to be easy, according to the authors of a paper in Nature Climate Change this month. The authors analyzed 193 different scenarios of future changes in CO2 concentrations in the literature and looked at how they might affect climate change. They found that achieving the target of less than a 2o increase in global temperature will require that CO2 emissions peak in this decade and then begin to decline by 2020.

So far, most countries aren’t taking the necessary actions to reduce their emissions enough (if at all). Unless something changes soon, CO2 emissions will continue to rise beyond 2020 and by the end of this century the global temperature increase will exceed 2o. How high it could go after that, and how global warming will affect life on Earth is anybody’s guess at this point. Climate models are just not good enough yet to predict Earth’s climate accurately into the next century.

Let’s hope there is not a “tipping point” in global warming….

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