According to an article in the UK Independent, a “critical rise in world temperatures is now unavoidable”. They base this conclusion on a paper presented at a recent UK Gov’t conference on climate change, which “reviewed a dozen studies of the probability of exceeding the 2 degrees threshold at different CO2 equivalent levels.” The conclusion was that, only if the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stayed below 400ppm, would there be a “very high chance” that global temperatures would not rise by at least 2 degrees (which would be enough to precipitate all sorts of nasty consequences, such as the Greenland ice sheet melting, sea levels rising by several meters, and a massive decline in agricultural output). The problem is, we’ve already exceeded that level… using the latest data available (from 2004), the Independent had a scientist calculate the then current level of greehouse gases in the atmosphere: 426 ppm.
If you’re wondering how the Independent translates going from no longer having a “very high probability of avoiding” to “unavoidable” (me too), I presume that this has something to do with it:
The scientist who chaired the Exeter conference [where the above referenced paper was presented], Dennis Tirpak, head of the climate change unit of the OECD in Paris [em. mine, TL], was even more direct. He said: “This means we will hit 2 degrees [as a global mean temperature rise].”
Of course, the polar bears already have a problem. … and the Bush Administration would prefer that federal employees not talk about it in an “uncoordinated” fashion. See this interview with James Hansen for more details.
UPDATE: A reader sent me this wonderful investigative report on Australia’s “Greenhouse Mafia”, and government/private sector censorship/self-censorship on climate change issues. If you read through it, towards the end there’s an exchange with Kevin Hennessy, a scientist at a research institute, that is truly Kafkaesque in its absurdity. In fact, the entire report reads like something out of Kafka, bureaucrats and politicians posturing shamelessly, making self-righteous statements that are totally at odds with reality. … and, as an American, I have no doubt that our government functions in exactly the same fashion.