Similarly Gavin Gatenby who is known to be behind the Nick Possum column in the Sydney City Hub and online here had a cracking lead letter in Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald 8th Jan 08 about squandered motorway funds called
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2008 7:14 PMSubject: RE: [chipstop] Boreal forests absorbing less CO2 as world warms, study findsDave says........another article on global warming.
Science puts a number on survivalBill McKibben
January 2, 2008The past month might have been the most important yet in the two-decade history of the fight against global warming. Al Gore received the Nobel prize; international negotiators made real progress on a treaty in Bali and the US worked up the nerve to raise petrol mileage standards for cars.
But what may turn out to be the most crucial development went largely unnoticed. It happened at an academic conclave in San Francisco. A NASA scientist named James Hansen offered a simple, straightforward and mind-blowing bottom line for the planet: 350, as in parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is a number that may make what happened in Bali seem quaint and nearly irrelevant. It is the number that may define our future.
To understand what it means, you need a little background.
Twenty years ago Hansen kicked off this issue by testifying before the US Congress that the planet was warming and that people were the cause. At the time we could only guess how much warming it would take to put us in real danger. Since the pre-Industrial Revolution concentration of carbon in the atmosphere was roughly 275 parts per million, scientists and policy makers focused on what would happen if that number doubled - 550 was a crude and mythical red line, but politicians and economists set about trying to see if we could stop short of that point. The answer was: not easily, but it could be done.
However, in the past five years scientists began to worry that the planet was reacting more quickly than they had expected to the relatively small temperature increases we have already seen. The rapid melt of most glacial systems, for instance, convinced many that 450 parts per million was a more prudent target. That is what the European Union and many big environmental groups have been proposing in recent years, and the economic modelling makes clear that achieving it is possible, though the chances diminish with every new coal-fired power plant.
But the data just keep getting worse. The news this (northern) autumn that Arctic sea ice was melting at an off-the-charts pace, and data from Greenland suggesting that its giant ice sheet was starting to slide into the ocean, make even 450 look too high. Consider: we are already at 383 parts per million, and it is knocking the planet off kilter in substantial ways.
So, what does that mean? Hansen says it means we have gone too far.
"The evidence indicates we've aimed too high - that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is no more than 350 ppm," he said after his presentation.
The last time the Earth warmed two or three degrees - which is what 450 parts per million implies - sea levels rose by tens of metres, something that would shake the foundations of the human enterprise should it happen again.
And we are already past 350. Does that mean we are doomed? Not quite. Not any more than your doctor telling you that your cholesterol is far too high means the game is over. Much as the way your body will thin its blood if you give up fried chips, so the Earth naturally gets rid of some of its carbon dioxide each year. We just need to stop putting more in and, over time, the number will fall, perhaps fast enough to avert the worst damage.
That "just" hides the biggest political and economic task we have ever faced: weaning ourselves from coal, gas and oil. The difference between 550 and 350 is that the weaning has to happen now, and everywhere. No more passing the buck. The gentle measures bandied about at Bali do not come close. Hansen called for an immediate ban on new coal-fired power plants that do not capture carbon, the phasing out of old coal-fired generators, and a tax on carbon high enough to make sure that we leave tar sands and oil shale in the ground. To use the medical analogy: we are not talking statins to reduce your cholesterol; we are talking huge changes in every aspect of your daily life.
Perhaps too huge. The problems of global equity alone may be too much: the Chinese are not going to stop burning coal unless we give them another way to raise people out of poverty. And we simply might have waited too long.
But at least we are homing in on the right number. Three hundred and fifty is the number every person needs to know.
The Washington PostSubject: [chipstop] Boreal forests absorbing less CO2 as world warms, study findsLooks like we can now start to blame forests for the increasing C02 levels.Jill------------From this journalist's report it didn't cross their minds that we might be wise to stop logging and increase the forested areas. No mention of that option - presumably to them it's not an option. No mention either of the climate benefits of increased tropical forests - in the Sahel, for example, as reported recently.There are also different climate effects of forests of different ages and at different latitudes and of different compositions. However, too much micro-analysis can also lead to a reductionist approach of treating forests and the trees in them as no more than tools to enable destruction elsewhere to continue - that is, to avoid facing up to the need to change - really change, not just prop up the existing damaging systems.Keith Thomas
Nature and Society Forum-----------------------------------------------------------------
Trees absorbing less CO2 as world warms, study finds
· Shorter winters weaken forest 'carbon sinks'
· Data analysis reverses scientists' expectationsThe ability of forests to soak up man-made carbon dioxide is weakening, according to an analysis of two decades of data from more than 30 sites in the frozen north.
- The Guardian,
- Thursday January 3 2008