Tipping Point
1/24/2005

LONDON
- Global warming is approaching the point of no return, after which
widespread drought, crop failure and rising sea levels will be
irreversible, an international climate change task force warned Monday.

It called on the Group of 8 leading industrial nations to cut carbon
emissions, double their research spending on technology and work with
India and China to build on the Kyoto Protocol for cuttings emissions
of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” blamed for global
warming.

The independent report was made by the Institute for Public Policy
Research in Britain, the Center for American Progress in the United
States and the Australia Institute.

http://www.ippr.org.uk/publications/index.php?book=462

http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=306503

http://www.tai.org.au/

“An ecological time bomb is ticking away,” said Stephen Byers, who
was co-chairman of the task force with U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe,
R-Maine.

“World leaders need to recognize that climate change is the single
most important long-term issue that the planet faces.”

Byers is a close confidant of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and
the report was timed to coincide with Blair’s commitment to advance
international climate change policy during Britain’s presidency of the
G-8 this year.

U.S. cooperation seen as vital

Byers said it is vital that Blair secure U.S. cooperation in
tackling climate change. President Bush has rejected the Kyoto accord,
arguing that the carbon emission cuts it demands would damage the U.S.
economy and that it leaves out emerging polluters like China and India.

“What we have got to do then is get the Americans as part of the G-8
to engage in international concerted effort to tackle global warming,”
Byers said. “If they refuse to do that then other countries will be
reluctant to take any steps.”

According to the report, urgent action is needed to stop the global
average temperature rising by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees
Fahrenheit) above the level of the year 1750 — the approximate start of
the Industrial Revolution, when mankind first started significantly
adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Beyond such a rise, “the risks to human societies and ecosystems
grow significantly,” the report said, adding that there would be a
danger of “abrupt, accelerated, or runaway climate change.” It warned
of “climatic tipping points” such as the Greenland and West Antarctic
ice sheets melting and the Gulf Stream shutting down.

Warmer and warmer, year by year

No accurate temperature readings were available for 1750, the report
said, but since 1860 the global average temperature has risen by 0.8
percent to 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).

The report said a 2-degree Celsius rise in the average temperature
could be avoided by keeping the concentration of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere below 400 parts per million. Current concentrations of 379
parts per million “are likely to rise above 400 parts per million in
coming decades and could rise far higher under a business-as-usual
scenario,” it said.

The task force urged G-8 countries to agree to generate a quarter of
their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and shift agricultural
subsidies from food crops to biofuels.

The task force of senior politicians, scientists and business
figures was formed last March. Its chief scientific adviser was Dr.
Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change.

Blair welcomes comments

The British government welcomed the report, which mirrors many of
the suggestions already floated by Blair in the leadup to Britain’s G-8
presidency.

Blair has acknowledged the importance of U.S. cooperation, but
concedes Washington is unlikely to sign on for the Kyoto Protocol and
is instead pursuing international commitment to developing new
environmentally friendly technology.

Meeting the Climate Challenge [Complete Report as PDF]

Title: Scientists Grapple with Climate as Crisis Grows
Publication: Reuters
Author: Jeremy Lovell
January 31, 2005

EXETER, England (Reuters) - Scientists will step into a feud between
Washington and its allies over global warming at a British-sponsored
meeting this week.

The conference comes just days after an international report
described the climate crisis as a time bomb and a conservation group
warned of disastrous warming in the Arctic.

Scientists from 30 nations as varied as Australia, India and Japan
will meet in Exeter, England, from Feb. 1-3 to try to define what
constitutes "dangerous" levels of warming. But they will not make any
recommendations to policymakers.

"The purpose is to have a debate of the scientific facts. We will
collect the best information we have to give to the politicians ... but
don't expect to make any recommendations," conference chairman Dennis
Tirpak said ahead of the meeting.

It is far short of the fanfare with which British Prime Minister
Tony Blair announced the conference last September, promising an
agenda-setting meeting for his presidency of the Group of Eight (G8)
rich nations.

The Kyoto protocol, the U.N. plan for reining in emissions of
greenhouse gases from cars, factories and power plants, will enter into
force on Feb. 16 with backing from almost all rich nations except the
United States.

President Bush pulled out in 2001, arguing Kyoto was too costly and
wrongly excluded poor nations.

Last week a panel of experts, the International Climate Change
Taskforce, urged Washington to join other nations in a drive to avert
the "ecological time bomb" of global warming.

On Sunday the WWF environmental group warned that catastrophic
climate change could kick in within 20 years unless greenhouse gas
emissions are cut sharply.

It said entire species such as polar bears could be pushed toward extinction
this century as a result.

PURE SCIENCE

Blair's former environment minister Michael Meacher, a regular
critic of the government on green issues, regretted the lack of
recommendations.

"It is a bit of a weakness. They should draw it all together and
present the politicians with best and worst case scenarios -- pointing
out that even under the best case there are some pretty dire
consequences. That leaves no wriggle room," he said.

Blair returned to the attack in a speech last week at the World Economic Forum.

"It may be true to say that the evidence is still disputed. It would
be wrong to say that the evidence of danger is not clearly and
persuasively advocated by a very large number of entirely independent
and compelling voices," he said.

"We must send a clear message that ... we are united in moving in
the direction of greenhouse gas reductions. This isn't an issue that is
going away."

Washington has rejected caps on emissions set by Kyoto.

Some scientists have said two degrees centigrade of warming is
already expected -- with a major contributor being human activities
like burning fossil fuels to generate electricity which produces vast
quantities of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

They have also warned that above two degrees the warming might start
pushing the planet into the unknown as ice caps melt, sea levels rise
and weather patterns change at accelerating rates, putting millions of
people at risk.

Greenpeace chief Stephen Tindale said he did not worry that the
meeting had no political content. "If it demonstrates that the
consensus spans both sides of the Atlantic, that would remove Bush's
fig leaf," he said.

Title: Gases Could Raise Temperature 19.8 Degrees – Study
Publication: Reuters
By: Patricia Reaney
Date: January 26, 2005

LONDON (Reuters) - Greenhouse gas emissions could cause global
temperatures to rise by up to 19.8 degrees Fahrenheit, according to
first results from the world's largest climate modeling experiment.

The top end of the predictions, which range from 3.6 F-19.8 F, is
double estimates produced so far and could make the world dramatically
different in the future.

"Our experiment shows that increased levels of greenhouse gases
could have a much greater impact on climate than previously thought,"
said David Stainforth, the project's chief scientist, from Oxford
University.

Without significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, scientists
estimate the Earth's temperature and sea level will rise, leading to
increased flooding and drastic climate changes.

The temperature range predicted is based on assumptions of carbon
dioxide levels double those found before the Industrial Revolution.
Scientists estimate these levels will be reached by the middle of this
century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.

"This is really just the beginning of the process to try and
understand the uncertainty and predictions of climate change,"
Stainforth added.

PROCESSING POWER

From Uruguay to Uzbekistan and Sierra Leone to Singapore, 95,000 people
from 150 countries are taking part in the www.climateprediction.net
experiment to explore the possible impact of global warming.

By downloading free software from www.climateprediction.net
on their personal computers, participants run their own unique
version of Britain's Met Office climate model.

While their computer is idle, the program runs a climate simulation
over days or weeks and automatically reports the results to Oxford
University and other collaborating institutions around the world.

Together, the volunteers have simulated more than 4 million model
years, donated 8,000 years of computer time and exceeded the processing
power of the world's largest supercomputers. The first results of the
continuing experiment are reported in the latest edition of the science
journal Nature.

"... it is entirely possible that even current levels of greenhouse
gases, if stable and maintained for a long period of time, could lead
to dangerous climate change," Stainforth told reporters.

The Kyoto protocol, the main U.N. scheme to reduce greenhouse gases,
aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 5.2 percent below 1990
levels by 2008-12.

"The danger zone is not something we are going to reach in the
middle of this century. We are in it now," said Dr Myles Allen of the
Met Office.

www.Climateprediction.net was conceived
more than five years ago and launched in 2003.
It is funded by Britain's Natural Environment Research Council.