Friday, March 14, 2008

China’s Carbon Dioxide Emissions Are Greatly Exceeding Predictions

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that from 2004 through CO2 emissions would increase annually by 2.5 to 5% in the region of Asia that includes China, but according to a report in Reuters economics researchers from the US publishing in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management say that the annual rate of increase for China over this time period will be at least 11%. According to the researchers the increase in CO2 emissions from China will greatly exceed all the reductions pledged by the countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol for the years 2008 to 2012. One of the researchers said that "What we're finding…is that the emissions growth rate is surpassing our worst expectations, and that means the goal of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 is going to be much, much harder to achieve."

Much, much harder to achieve may even be an understatement. Perhaps impossible to achieve is more accurate. With all the positive reports about increasing numbers of wind turbines and solar installations being in the news it seems that there is some reason for optimism that atmospheric CO2 levels can kept to a level that does not precipitate catastrophic climate change, but this report on China is quite a reality check.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Climate Scientist Says Arctic Ice Cap May Be Gone this Summer

Predicted dates when the Arctic polar ice cap will disappear during a summer have been getting earlier and earlier. The date can’t get any earlier than the one predicted by Dr. Olav Orheim, head of the Norwegian International Polar Year Secretariat, in an interview with the Chinese news service Xinhua. Orheim says that the ice cap may disappear this very summer. All it would it would take according to Orheim is that the average temperature for Norway this year equal that of last year. He said that in 2000 the ice cap was 7.5 million square kilometers whereas during the warmest weeks of the summer last year it reached a low of 3 million square kilometers.

If Orheim’s prediction comes true perhaps this will be a good thing in that it could be a wake up call just before decisions have to made about what to after the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. As we have seen it is nearly impossible to put a dent in the business-as-usual attitude which pervades the world. Some tangible evidence of a startling change in the climate such as the temporary loss of the Arctic polar ice cap might help trigger a reaction in politicians and the public to finally take climate change seriously.