Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

350 or 450ppm? Neither, Actually!

Posted by feww on June 18, 2008

Submitted by Dione, CASF Member

What would the future be like for my daughter?

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about science books
Don’t know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love her

What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I know that one and one is two

What a wonderful world this would be

[From a Herman’s Hermits song, Wonderful World, lyrics by Cooke/Alpert/Adler. Lyrics may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!]

Creating A Sustainable Future (CASF) received an emotional email from a young mother, “Kay,” who wishes to remain anonymous. Kay has a 6-year-old daughter and lives with her family in NW United States. Kay says she is not high on science, “in all probability the Herman’s Hermits famous song, ‘don’t know much about history, biology, science books, geography, trigonometry, algebra, and slide rule’ was written about me!”

She says her knowledge of climatology is even poorer than her French(!) “But I do know that I love my daughter and husband and ‘what a wonderful world this would be’ if we could rein in the greenhouse gases, and reverse the global warming.”

“I have read a number of articles about CO2 pollution in the atmosphere including a few written by the famed NASA scientist, Dr J. Hansen … but he is a government scientist …”

She wants to know the safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere and asks which of the 350, 450, or higher levels of CO2 pollution would be a “safe” level, and whether our reply could be put simply so that a “layperson” could understand the answer.

Hi, Kay – thanks for visiting our blog and email!

The CASF members believe even the lower atmospheric CO2 levels of 350ppm CO2 are unsafe! Here are the reasons why. Our findings put as simply as we could:

  1. Our climate models show that when the atmospheric CO2 levels leaped over the 330ppmv “threshold” in the mid 1970s it triggered a positive feedback loop, which is now impacting the climate. [The atmospheric CO2 inventory has risen by about 17 percent since then.]
  2. The “acid test,” if you’ll excuse the pun, of the accuracy of our models lies in the future, namely how much worse the environmental impacts will be in the 2008-2010 period. If the impacts of CO2 pollution worsened significantly, by a factor of 20% or more, by 2010 (we have a system for quantifying the adverse effects, see Index of Human Impact on Nature for an introduction), as we expect them to do so, then we know our models are accurate.
  3. The catch? By 2010 it would be too late to do anything to slow down the runaway positive feedback system [other than say a prayer for the dead!]
  4. While the preindustrial levels of 260-270ppm were [and they probably still would be ] “safe,” the longer term environmental impacts of CO2 at levels of about 290-300ppm, even if those levels were achievable [assume some miraculous means were introduced to wipe the slate clean,] in the current climatic state are uncertain!
  5. Based on the above, we recommend an immediate shift to zero-emissions, the benefits of which, although by no means immediate, would far outweigh the ultimate cost of playing Russian roulette with climate change.

We hope the above helps. Feel free to visit us anytime!

Best wishes
Dione, FEWW Moderators and rest of CASF Team

Related Links:

dione

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