Friday, February 22, 2008

The Awful Arithmetic

"We do have to recognise the awful arithmetic; if targets like that 450 [parts per million] are to remain viable, in the end we will have to do significantly more than that."
So said the Australian government's climate advisor, Professor Ross Garnaut, on the government re-stating its commitment to a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

In his just-released progress report that paints a future for Australia that is even more bleak than the IPCC's assessments, he advocates a 90% reduction and, to be fair, the government hasn't ruled that target out (and may be awaiting the final report before changing their stance). Possibly if other nations also commit to a similar goal?

Meanwhile, the longer we dawdle, the worse it gets.

Speaking from a US perspective, Alex Steffen likens the situation to parties committing to get from A to B, when they are being told to get from A to I and, in fact, they need to get from A to Q. (Presumably, the final, awful realisation will be that the essential goal was A-Z !)

The dynamics of climate change is a complex issue and, when faced with the unknown, the common tendency is to do nothing: the status quo has worked in the past; it may or may not be better to stick with it until we know more.

The harsh fact is, we do know more: in this case, the status quo will kill you.



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