WP: Global Warming Tipping Point

Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend.

This “tipping point” scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers in the United States and abroad, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. While scientists remain uncertain when such a point might occur, many say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible.

There are three specific events that these scientists describe as especially worrisome and potentially imminent, although the time frames are a matter of dispute: widespread coral bleaching that could damage the world’s fisheries within three decades; dramatic sea level rise by the end of the century that would take tens of thousands of years to reverse; and, within 200 years, a shutdown of the ocean current that moderates temperatures in northern Europe.

The debate has been intensifying because Earth is warming much faster than some researchers had predicted. James E. Hansen, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, last week confirmed that 2005 was the warmest year on record, surpassing 1998. Earth’s average temperature has risen nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, he noted, and another increase of about 4 degrees over the next century would “imply changes that constitute practically a different planet.”

“It’s not something you can adapt to,” Hansen said in an interview. “We can’t let it go on another 10 years like this. We’ve got to do something.”


“It’s not something you can adapt to”

So much for Darwin.

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. “They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public,” he said.

Not sure how serious you were about this, but evolution can’t act on a scale of a hundred years, at least not in a way that would preserve more than a couple of percent of our current biodiversity.


“It’s not something you can adapt to”

Emphasis on “you”.

So much for Darwin.

Darwin’s betting on the cockroaches.

The cockroaches would drown. I am betting on some badass fish thing out there…or maybe a sponge.

Ok, here is my plan. We reach this “tipping point” as fast as possible, and only THEN can we convince people that global warming exists and is a real threat. Yeah, it’ll be too late, but think of the egg on their faces ;)

Well, if we maximize our profits now by squeezing every inflated dollar out of fossil fuels until we reach maximum production capacity - and that will really make our $ per unit profit soar!! - then hey, the grandkids will figure something out, right?

OK OK how about this then:

“It’s not something you can adapt to”

So much for the single most adaptable species the world has ever seen.

200 years? Weren’t scientists just saying last summer that the currents could change within the next decade or three, giving Britain the same climate as Siberia?

Everybody gives different numbers, which is part of the problem. But, assuming for a moment that global warming is a fact, it would be very hard to pinpoint when certain threshholds would be reached. Climate is a tricky beast, with way too many variables. The articles says WITHIN 200 years, so I guess 30 years would still count.

Regardless, if something happens to the Gulf stream most of western Europe will definitely be feeling it. As someone who enjoys winters without -40 degree temperatures up here in the moderately cold north the thought alone is pretty damn scary.

I for one look forward to a climate akin to Alaska, we will at least have cause to whinge about the weather.

Not until the last geothermal vent is extinguished.

All I can say about global warming is that seeing rain and positive temperatures in January, in Canada, is weird as hell.

I agree. I’ve been very uneasy lately, walking to school in a sweater. Apparently this warm weather has been explained (and shown to be the result of something other than global warming) but it’s still very surreal.

All I can say is, I love the environment and stuff, but if everything I’ve ever known has to die so that I don’t have to shovel or wear big puffy jackets, it was nice knowing you.

As it happens this winter in Europe is one of the coldest in recent memory, with temperatures repeatedly dropping below -10°C even where I live, and reaching -35°C elsewhere. I hear that several hundred homeless in Poland have already died of the frost. So, global warming -> teh bullshit. Or else it’s strangely slow in coming.

Isn’t that why they stopped calling it “global warming” in favour of “Climate Change”?

To help Polish homeless guys understand the difference between global warming and european warming?

I take it you missed the point where global warming mucks with the ocean currents which are what’s responsible for moderating european winters since the climate is more moderate than northernly position would otherwise predict?