Greenhouse Gases Have Already
Reached Dangerous Tipping Point
Climate change, or global warming, is the greatest environmental threat we've ever faced. How we respond to this crisis will greatly impact both current and future generations and all other species.
The global carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere has exceeded 400 parts per million (NOAA). (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report) This level is considered a tipping point.
"There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed. Ecosystems as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra, for example, may be approaching thresholds of dramatic change through warming and drying. Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations. Climate feedback systems and environmental cumulative effects are building across Earth systems demonstrating behaviours we cannot anticipate.
"The potential for runaway greenhouse warming is real and has never been more present. The most dangerous climate changes may still be avoided if we transform our hydrocarbon based energy systems and if we initiate rational and adequately financed adaptation programmes to forestall disasters and migrations at unprecedented scales. The tools are available, but they must be applied immediately and aggressively. (UNEP).
Global temperatures are now the highest in 4,000 years.
Open Letter Regarding Climate Change From Concerned Members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences"
"We are certain beyond a reasonable doubt, however, that the problem of human-caused climate change is real, serious, and immediate, and that this problem poses significant risks: to our ability to thrive and build a better future, to national security, to human health and food production, and to the interconnected web of living systems… From studies of changes in temperature and sea level over the last million years, we know that the climate system has tipping points. Our proximity to these tipping points is uncertain. We know, however, that rapid warming of the planet increases the risk of crossing climatic points of no return, possibly setting in motion large-scale ocean circulation changes, the loss of major ice sheets, and species extinctions." (responsiblescientists.org)
Report from National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration:
In 2015, CO2 levels reached a new record.
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet." Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist
On a positive note, research indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn (International Energy Agency).
Report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
" In 2012, there were 905 natural catastrophes worldwide—and 93 percent of these events were weather-related disasters". (Worldwatch) "Climate disasters are. . . up from around 50 percent from two decades ago. These disasters take a heavier human toll and come with a higher price tag. In the last decade, 2.4 billion people were affected by climate related disasters, compared to 1.7 billion in the previous decade. The cost of responding to disasters has risen tenfold between 1992 and 2008". (OCHA)
"Destructive sudden heavy rains, intense tropical storms, repeated flooding and droughts are likely to increase, as will the vulnerability of local communities in the absence of strong concerted action." (OCHA)
"Climate change is not just a distant future threat. It is the main driver behind rising humanitarian needs and we are seeing its impact. The number of people affected and the damages inflicted by extreme weather has been unprecedented." (OCHA)
"Unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth." (350.org)