Invisible Deadline- (climate forcing)

Week 5 was definitely one where it payed to go to all three sustainable development lectures. You see, after the first lecture with Richard Moles you would question whether or not climate change is as big a threat as it is hyped up to be, aswell as the extent to which we are contributing to the problem. He outlined the natural factors that influence the global climate which included solar output variations over hundreds of years, major volcanic eruptions, carbon stores in rocks, plate tectonics. The question you could have asked yourself at this point was; are we being self-important in making a big deal about a process that is purely natural? If the mammoths and sabre toothed tigers had to deal with it, why shouldn’t we have to?

In the next lecture we learned  the grim reality. According to climate research scientists, additional amounts of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.) are resulting in global warming beyond which could be attributed to natural causes. Of course this is old news, but it is the scale of the issue and how it appears to be so mismanaged that makes it so worrying.  The most recent UN climate change negotiations held in Cancun saw  a goal  put in place to limit global temperature increases to, at most, 2 C. The scientific consensus on this figure is that up to this level of increase, there shouldn’t be any runaway impacts. However at the same conference in Cancun, the emissions reductions pledged by individual countries would actually result in a global temperature rise of 3-4 C. This is a typical outcome of these major summits. Many countries are unwilling to cooperate fully as they feel they are getting a raw deal. This is particularly true of America who feel developing countries need to come on board.

So who will make the necessary changes, and will they be made on time? You could use the school metaphor to explain our global predicament. It is like the person who leaves their homework to the very last minute to do. Of course this doesn’t matter so long as it gets done,but imagine if the teacher brought forward the deadline and you were left to face the implications. You see, as of yet we are still procrastinating in taking the appropriate measures, and when we finally do feel the need to implement drastic change it may be too late. Many feel we may  be lucky to stablise Co2 at 550 ppm(parts per million).That is 100 ppm above the “safe level”. There is a deadline with regards to the action we must take, but will we be diligent students and carry out the necessary measures or will we leave it too late and face the punishment. If I was a gambling man, and I am occasionaly, I’d be leaning towards the latter scenario at the moment unfortunately.


Lecture Notes



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