A whole new world

This is really alarming. A scientist is saying the world as we know it may well end due to global warming far faster than any of us imagine. Is Jim Hansen a liberal socialist moonbat repeating alarmist cliches? You decide; his title is Director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and he’s Bush’s top climate modeller. (Don’t ask me what a “climate modeller” does all day.) His words are remarkable, considering his high title. Here’s how he starts.

A satellite study of the Greenland ice cap shows that it is melting far faster than scientists had feared – twice as much ice is going into the sea as it was five years ago. The implications for rising sea levels – and climate change – could be dramatic.

Yet, a few weeks ago, when I – a Nasa climate scientist – tried to talk to the media about these issues following a lecture I had given calling for prompt reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases, the Nasa public affairs team – staffed by political appointees from the Bush administration – tried to stop me doing so. I was not happy with that, and I ignored the restrictions. The first line of Nasa’s mission is to understand and protect the planet.

Got that? He’s a Nasa official, and the Bush people tried to gag him? Hansen goes on to paint a surreal picture of what’s in store for the planet based on current trends and world history. Here’s his scary conclusion.

How far can it go? The last time the world was three degrees warmer than today – which is what we expect later this century – sea levels were 25m higher. So that is what we can look forward to if we don’t act soon. None of the current climate and ice models predict this. But I prefer the evidence from the Earth’s history and my own eyes. I think sea-level rise is going to be the big issue soon, more even than warming itself.

It’s hard to say what the world will be like if this happens. It would be another planet. You could imagine great armadas of icebergs breaking off Greenland and melting as they float south. And, of course, huge areas being flooded.

How long have we got? We have to stabilise emissions of carbon dioxide within a decade, or temperatures will warm by more than one degree. That will be warmer than it has been for half a million years, and many things could become unstoppable. If we are to stop that, we cannot wait for new technologies like capturing emissions from burning coal. We have to act with what we have. This decade, that means focusing on energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy that do not burn carbon. We don’t have much time left.

I usually don’t often write about this sort of thing, as I can’t speak with much knowledge about it. But if there’s even a modicum of truth to what this guy is saying, our planet could be in danger unprecedented since the end of the last ice age. A decade is a very short amount of time; the debate on this topic has been going on for longer than that. Sounds like it’s time to finally take an issue Bush will barely even acknowledge with a new degree of seriousness.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

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February 17, 2006 @ 11:33 am | Comment

Interesting – only one comment about this and nearly 60 on the kid playing with the bottle. Read into that what you will.

Global warming is one of the issues on which the US and the PRC are both equally and hugely culpable. I’ve never been to the US, but I did live in China and I saw with my own eyes how much pollution there is in the cities. Indeed – I felt it with my eyes – it stung.

If the cities are that bad, imagine what’s going on behind the scenes. Action needs to be taken immediately.

February 17, 2006 @ 1:29 pm | Comment

Well, that sounds like a pretty good argument for nukes.

I’m glad the Bush administration is ready to take bravely step forward and protect the american people from this bad news.

February 17, 2006 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

Al Gore, the rightful President of the US, has a great documentary on global warming – I saw the speech/presentation – very powerful, also funny (he uses Simpsons animation to make some of his points). Paramount picked it up and will be releasing in the US towards the end of May…

February 18, 2006 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Al Gore is no longer the rightful President. Al Gore was President from 2001 to 2005. Today the rightful President is John Kerrry.

February 18, 2006 @ 1:34 am | Comment

Do politicians refuse to take action because they recon that:

a) There’s nothing wrong
b) There’s nothing that they can do if there is
c) They’re going to die before it becomes a problem, so they might as well sit back and enjoy the good times

It seems like a combination of all three, an “I’m alright, Jack” attitude coupled with moronic stupidity and arrogance.

I don’t like to “bash” the US, but it is still the primary problem. Petrol prices are too low, there are few (if any) restrictions on large cars, inadequate public transport, etc. The CCP’s obsession with breakneck growth is making the Chinese situation dangerous, but the US should lead by example. American people need to lead more sustainable lives. It isn’t about trying it’s about HAVING to. Else most of us will die and those that survive will have to live in a very nasty world.

February 18, 2006 @ 4:09 am | Comment

Economists have shown that the cost from stopping global warming are more than the damage that will be caused by it. So why not take the cheaper option? Especially in light of the fact that there is not a 1 to 1 relationship between greenhouse gases and global warming. Many, many scientists believe it is due to greater energy coming from the Sun, which has cycles. Imagine we cause global recession to stop global warming and then…the planet keeps warming, or does not get cooler. Go fight some windmills instead.

February 18, 2006 @ 8:46 am | Comment

Sod global warming, what about all of the lung desase caused by burning focil fuels.

It may or may not chew up our coastlines tommorrow, but it is choking us today.

February 18, 2006 @ 9:35 am | Comment

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