Sunday, November 26, 2006

A few quick climate change facts

I spoke at a conference yesterday and a salient thread of concern arose: that despite the evidence presented, there were still a few who were unsure as to whether climate change was taking place. So here are a few quick summary pointers to assist.

The starting point is that there is now world-wide unanimous agreement within the scientific community that not only are greenhouse gases rising to unprecedented levels but also that they are happening at unprecedented speeds. There is a direct correlation between rise in temperature and rise in CO2 emissions (see CO2 emissions and temperature graph above). CO2 emissions have risen exponentially since the beginning of industrialisation in the 1850's. It was an era which saw (and continues apace) rapid expansion and use of fossil fuels and gas: man-made greenhouse gases. The scientific community, notoriously cautious in their findings, tell us for our CO2 emissions (and therefore the temperature) to rise much more would be catastrophic for our planet. We are already witnessing the destruction and loss of many natural habitats, and many millions of people will continue to be adversely affected.

* A recently published book that effectively charts in words, graphs, maps and photography the impact of climate change globally is Paul Brown's Global Warning.
* The global economic costs of addressing climate change have been examined at length in the Stern Review. He presents the economic argument to act now, not later.
* George Monbiot's book Heat gives a brilliant analysis of the facts, figures and myths of climate change.

Most governments are of the opinion that the debate is now over. They now recognise that the window of opportunity to put in place effective solutions is very small - between the next 4 and 10 years. Much action is already being explored and implemented from individual and local level to national and international, and so much more is yet to come. My blog touches upon some of the solutions and indicators of what is happening out there in a world that must and is moving rapidly towards a lower carbon economy.

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