Heading for +2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) Carbon Use Must Peak by 2015 Scientists Warn

Carbon overload - have to stop expanding
Carbon overload – have to stop expanding

By Stephen Leahy

“We shouldn’t forget that a 2-degree C global mean warming would take us far beyond the natural temperature variations that life on Earth has experienced since we humans have been around.”

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 30 (IPS)

Climate scientists are calling for a phase-out of fossil fuels because humans are now pumping so much carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere that the ‘2-degree-C climate balloon’ will burst otherwise, new studies show.

That 2-degree C climate balloon has a maximum capacity of less than 1,400 gigatonnes of CO2 total emissions from the year 2000 to 2050, Malte Meinshausen and colleagues report in the current issue of Nature. The European Union and others consider a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees C as dangerous and potentially catastrophic. Temperatures are already 0.8 C warmer than the pre-industrial period.

UPDATE Nov 2009 Prospect of a four-degree Celsius rise in global average temperatures in 50 years is alarming – but not alarmist, climate scientists now believe. Four Degrees of Devastation

The reality is that global emissions for the last seven years amounted to almost 250 gigatonnes of these long-lived greenhouse gases, meaning that the current and growing rates of fossil fuel emissions would burst the balloon in about 20 years – or less. Even if emissions are held to 1,400 gigatonnes maximum for the next 40 years, there is still a 50-percent probability of exceeding 2 degrees C, said Meinshausen, lead author of the study and climate researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Indigenous peoples from around the world also called for a phase-out of fossil fuels at the conclusion of the first Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change in Anchorage, Alaska, that concluded last week.

“That call is well-supported by the evidence in this study,” Meinshausen told IPS.

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