04 July 2009

155 Days to Copenhagen - A 2 Degree Threshold? Why 47 Signatories Have It All Wrong

Kate Sheppard reported on the 1st of July at Stop Global Warming.org and on The Grist that a coalition of 47 environmental, scientific and religious groups have written to President Obama asking him to "pursue a goal of keeping global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius in upcoming international meetings."

Here's what the letter actually says: "Failure to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius will have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable nations and communities and will dramatically increase the need for adaptation in the future."

And here's what these 47 groups fail to grasp. Reaching anywhere near a 2 degree C global average temperature increase will be a death sentence for Life on Earth. We do NOT want to get anywhere near +2 degrees.

And here's why. Right now, we have about 0.8 degrees C of warming and we already have serious carbon feedbacks (methane release from thawing permafrost and destabilizing methane hydrates in the oceans, plus meltdown of the Arctic Ocean summer ice).

Once you get positive carbon feedbacks, you risk runaway global heating. So at +0.8 degrees, we're already gambling with extinction. And that's without the at least 0.6 degrees of warming in the pipe.

350 is a boondoggle and 2 degrees is insanity. The only target we and President Obama should be focusing on, aiming at and working for — because our children's lives depend on it — is ZERO. Zero greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible.

Why water down that message with dangerous talk of 2 degree thresholds?

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?