November 29, 2010

Global Temps Could Rise 4 Degrees Celsius By 2060

Current methods being used to combat global warming simply aren't working, according to a series of papers published by the UK-based scientific academy The Royal Society.

In fact, according to Telegraph Environmental Correspondent Louise Gray, researchers from Oxford University, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and other prestigious academic institutions claim that global temperatures could rise by more than 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next 50 years.

Unless worldwide emissions are drastically reduced by 2020, they say, severe flooding and droughts could result. In one of the papers, Tyndall Centre Director Kevin Anderson said that the only way to successfully reduce carbon emissions enough to prevent the drastic increase in temperatures is to halt economic growth in the world's wealthiest nations for the next 20 years.

"This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less 'carbon intensive' goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars," Gray said, adding that Anderson "admitted it 'would not be easy' to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods" and that "politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last 'time of crisis' in the 1930s and 40s."

According to Gray, that would include limits on electricity use, including having people "turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models," not to mention "using public transport and wearing a sweater rather than turning on the heating."

"The concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face," Anderson told the Telegraph on Monday. "I am not saying we have to go back to living in caves"¦ Our emissions were a lot less ten years ago and we got by okay then."

Anderson's paper appears, alongside others, in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.  In a related study, Oxford University's Mark New noted that if global temperatures did spike by 4 degrees Celsius by 2060, it would "require an annual investment of $270 billion just to contain rising sea levels," and "would disrupt food and water supplies in many parts of the globe."

The papers were published as officials from the UN converged on Cancun, Mexico, for a 12 day summit to discuss global warming. During a previous meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009, the UN panelists had agreed on a 2 degree Celsius (3.7 degree Fahrenheit) ceiling for global climate increase, but little progress has been made towards that goal since then.

According to Arthur Max of the Associated Press (AP), the Copenhagen accord "was meant to describe a path toward slashing greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, when scientists say they should be half of today's levels." However, conflicts between the world's richest and poorest nations and the lack of a how-to plan for reducing emissions meant that little progress was made.

In Cancun, however, Max says that the nearly 200 nations hope "to conclude agreements that will clear the way to mobilize billions of dollars for developing countries and give them green technology to help them shift from fossil fuels affecting climate change."


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