Archive by date | September 2009

4 Degrees and Beyond: Adaptation to what?

If we are trying to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less but 4 degrees is possible even within some of our lifetimes, which world do we prepare for? Talks at today’s session on adaptation took on the problem of the multiple futures that decision-makers have to face. Mark Stafford-Smith of CSIRO in Australia talked specifically about long-term decisions – such as planting and managing forests – where the best option depends on which way the climate goes later this century. If you expect strong mitigation that holds down warming, then you try to preserve today’s forests and nurse them through, protecting them from fire and other threats.  Read more

4 Degrees and Beyond: To flee the sea, or not to flee?

Immersing yourself in the impacts of extreme climate change can give rise to a certain amount of gallows humor. Conversation among my dinner companions last night turned to whether this week’s 4 Degrees and Beyond conference or March’s Copenhagen Climate Congress provided “more apocalypse for your conference fee”. The far more serious question, of course, is how much upheaval and human suffering would come with the substantial warming that delegates here are contemplating. Some interesting talks today looked at the facets of sea level rise and population displacement.  Read more

4 Degrees and Beyond: How soon is it coming?

Unless major breakthroughs in policy, industry and individual behavior turn around our emissions trajectory pronto, this century could well see average global temperatures 4 degrees Celsius or more above their pre-industrial baseline. That’s the starting point for the 4 Degrees and Beyond conference in Oxford this week. Here, 130 scientists and policy experts are taking a detailed look at a world warmed by twice the amount that’s usually considered dangerous.  Read more

Google Earth launches climate change tours

A newly launched series of Google Earth tours will map out the projected impacts of climate change worldwide and look at mitigation and adaptation options. Here’s a brief intro, narrated in the light Tennessee drawl of Al Gore:  … Read more

Sizing up carbon capture and storage

“0031321.jpg”Considered by some a silver bullet and by others a hopeless dream, the idea that we can simply capture our carbon dioxide emissions and store them safely away is nothing if not compelling. After all, it lends an air of practicality to the notion that human ingenuity can somehow continue the unabated use of fossil fuels over the coming decades without dangerously warming the climate.  Read more

ICESat’s eye on runaway glaciers

ICESat's eye on runaway glaciers

Many glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are speeding up their slide into the sea. But this type of ice loss – known as dynamic thinning – is so ill-understood and difficult to predict that the IPCC, in their 2007 assessment report, threw up their hands and refused to guess how much it would contribute to future sea level rise.  Read more