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Tipping Point

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  1. -01 Climate Change's Exponential Increase (New York Times)
      "More than a 2-degree increase should be unimaginable. Yet to stop at 2 degrees, global emissions have to peak in 2016. The Carbon Tracker organization has examined fossil-fuel investments around the world (including 1,200 new coal plants) and determined that they would lead to a 6-degree world. A recent World Bank report indicates the bank cannot fulfill its development mission in a 4-degree world. Given what we know about planetary biology, 2 degrees seems nightmarish as it is."

      "So what to do? The first thing is to recognize both the climate and biodiversity agenda as deadly important, of utmost urgency and fundamental to the future of humanity. The second is to find ways to keep temperature increase below 1.5 degrees." 03-14

  2. -Beyond the Worst Case Scenario (Scientific American)
      "The IPCC has declared man-made climate change 'unequivocal.' The hard part: trying to stop it." 05-09

  3. -Carbon-Negative Biochar and the Tipping Point (
      "As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere climbs to 400 parts per million and beyond, and the impacts of climate change become more unmistakable and destructive — rapid melting of Arctic Ocean ice, a rising incidence of extreme weather events — the case for extracting carbon from the atmosphere becomes increasingly compelling. Reducing the world’s emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases — the focus of virtually all public discussion and government policy on climate at the moment — remains vital, but as a practical matter that effort only affects how quickly the 400 ppm figure will increase. Turning biomass into biochar and burying it underground effectively withdraws CO2 from the atmosphere; if done at sufficient scale and in combination with aggressive reductions in annual greenhouse gas emissions, biochar thus could help reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2."

      "Johannes Lehmann, a professor of agricultural science at Cornell University and one of the world’s top experts on biochar, has calculated that if biochar were added to 10 percent of global cropland, the effect would be to sequester 29 billion tons of CO2 equivalent — roughly equal to humanity’s annual greenhouse gas emissions." 01-14

  4. -Climate Change Leaders Convey Urgency (CNN News)
      "Four top environmental scientists raised the stakes Sunday in their fight to reverse climate change and save the planet. Climate and energy scientists James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel and Tom Wigley have released an open letter calling on world leaders to support development of safer nuclear power systems."

      "Embracing nuclear is the only way, the scientists believe, to reverse the looming threat of climate change which they blame on fossil fuels. Depending who you ask, they're either abandoning -- or leading -- traditional environmentalists who for a half-century have rejected clean-burning nuclear power as too expensive or too dangerous. Opponents cite disasters at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile island."

      "The fear is that time is running out. Without nuclear, the scientists believe global energy consumption will overtake the planet's ability to reverse the buildup of carbon dioxide pollution from burning oil, coal and other fossil fuels." 01-14

  5. -Climate Scientists Call for More Nuclear (
      "How precarious has our climate predicament become? Bad enough that four prominent climate scientists --- including one very prominent activist --- are now publicly calling on major environmental advocacy organizations to embrace nuclear power. Yes, nuclear power." 11-13

  6. -Editorial: Our Threatened Oceans (Awesome Library)
      "We have reason for great concern that our oceans are going through a rapid change that may create severe problems for ourselves and disaster for our children and grandchildren. Here are some of the problems...." 01-06

  7. -Growth in CO2 Rates in the Air Since 1958 (
      "The carbon dioxide data (red curve), measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started by C. David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Keeling, 1976]. NOAA started its own CO2 measurements in May of 1974, and they have run in parallel with those made by Scripps since then [Thoning, 1989]. The black curve represents the seasonally corrected data."

      The chart shows that CO2 was around 310 parts per million in 1958 and is 392 in 2011. 05-11

  8. -How Much Carbon Is Too Much? (Scientific American)
      "To avoid catastrophic climate change, the world will need to emit less than one trillion metric tons of carbon between now and 2050, according to two new papers published in Nature today. In other words, there is only room in the atmosphere to burn or vent less than one quarter of known oil, natural gas and coal reserves."

      Editor's Note: One alternative is to "pull carbon from the air and store it in the soil. See biochar. 05-09

  9. -Record-High CO2 Levels a Bad Sign for Climate (
      "CO2 emissions from energy production in 2010 were the highest in history following a recessionary dip the year before, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a stark announcement Monday. Existing and planned power plants mean the bulk of energy-related CO2 emissions projected for 2020 are already 'locked in.' "

      "World leaders have agreed to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius or less above pre-industrial levels to prevent catastrophic climate change, which could include heat waves, rising sea levels, extreme weather and droughts, among other impacts."

      "We need to keep the concentration of atmospheric GHGs below 450 parts per million in order to achieve this. To put this in perspective, we reached 393 ppm in April. Maintaining an energy pathway to the 450 Scenario would require us to essentially keep emissions levels flat over the next decade." 06-11

  10. -Scientist Predicts 2036 May Be Point of No Return for Disaster (MSNBC News)
      " 'If the world keeps burning fossil fuels at the current rate, it will cross a threshold into environmental ruin by 2036,' Mann wrote in Scientific American earlier this week." 03-14

  11. -Scientists Urgently Warn About Climate Change (Think
      "Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise again this year, putting the world on a path toward dangerous climate change and making the internationally-accepted warming target of 2 degrees Celsius nearly 'unachievable,' say researchers." 11-13

  12. -Special Report: Climate Change (Scientific American)
      "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just completed its fourth assessment of the science of climate change, its impacts and possible solutions. The panel of 2,500 scientists and other experts declared manmade warming 'unequivocal' and wrote that it could lead to climate changes that are 'abrupt and irreversible.' " 05-09

  13. -Study: Climate Change May Be Catastrophic (Washington Post)
      "Because of the impact of warming on cloud cover, the researchers calculated, average global temperatures could rise a full 7 degrees by the end of the century. This 'would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous,' the study’s lead author, Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales in Australia, told the Guardian newspaper. He said such a temperature increase 'would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics.' It would also guarantee the melting of so much polar ice that sea levels would rise dramatically, with dire implications for coastal cities around the world." 01-14

  14. -Tipping Point: Over 500 Gigatons of Carbon Dioxide Before 2050 (
      Provides simple charts on the projected consequences of climate change. 02-14

  15. -U.N. Report Warns of Climate Change (
      "A new report on climate change warns the impact of rising temperatures on crop yields, water supplies and sea levels may push our planet over the edge." 03-14

  16. -Undersea Methane May Speed Climate Change (USA Today)
      "It lurks beneath the sea."

      "No, not The Blob, but something perhaps far more sinister: methane, a potent greenhouse gas 30 times better than carbon dioxide at trapping atmospheric heat."

      "Research released Thursday finds that underground methane appears to be seeping through the Arctic Ocean floor and into the Earth's atmosphere, thanks to a weakening of the protective layer of permafrost at the bottom of the ocean. Once released into the atmosphere, methane could wreak havoc with the world's climate.” 03-10

  17. Carbon Emissions Need to Go "Negative" by 2050 (
      "A chapter by climate scientist W. L. Hare concludes that in order to avoid a catastrophic climate tipping point, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to peak before 2020 and drop 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, with further reductions beyond that date. Emissions of carbon dioxide would actually need to ‘go negative’—with more being absorbed than emitted—during the second half of this century. Hare’s research finds that even a warming of 2 degrees Celsius poses unacceptable risks to key natural and human systems, including significant loss of species, major reductions in food-production capacity in developing countries, severe water stress for hundreds of millions of people, and significant sea-level rise and coastal flooding." 01-09

  18. Gauging Climate Change (
      "There are many units by which to measure the impact of climate change: degrees of increasing temperature, feet of rising sea level, dollars needed to adapt to a warming world. But a group of scientists in California have put forth an intriguing new unit of measurement: kilometers per year." 12-08

  19. Global Warming Nears "Dangerous Levels" (MSNBC News)
      "Global temperatures are dangerously close to the highest ever estimated to have occurred in the past million years, scientists reported Monday." 09-06

  20. How Climate Change Has Disrupted the Polar Vortex (New Zealand Herald)
      "When the variable nature of global warming became apparent, scientists started calling it climate change. Now they are starting to call it 'climate weirding', which is an alarming step indeed."

      "The ice and snow storms currently affecting half of the US are attributed to the polar vortex, a prevailing wind pattern that circles the Arctic, flowing from west to east all the way around the Earth. It normally keeps extremely cold air bottled up toward the North Pole." 02-14

  21. Is It Too Late to Stop Global Warming? (ABC News)
      "A prime example: decayed vegetation in the Arctic, which contains massive amounts of carbon, used to be protected by the perpetual cold. As the climate warms — sped along by human beings burning fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide — scientists say the vegetation will dry out and break down, releasing even more carbon dioxide."

      " 'Humans are putting about 6 or 7 billion metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere a year, and we're standing on 200 billion tons here," says [biologist Walter] Oechel. 'Any significant portion comes out, that's worse than current human injection into the atmosphere. And once that runaway release occurs, there would be no way to stop it.' " 03-06

  22. Poll: Americans Not Concerned About Climate Change (
      "The results of a Gallup survey reveal just how little climate change raises Americans’ anxiety levels. The research firm called 513 Americans last week and asked them how much they worry about 15 problems facing the nation. When it came to climate change, half said 'a little' or 'not at all.' "

      "Only a quarter said they worried about climate change “a great deal,” which puts the issue second from the bottom in the list of Americans’ concerns, above only race relations. Even drug use has Americans more worried than climate change."

      Editor's Note: Amazing. 03-14

  23. Runaway Climate Change (
      "The phrase 'runaway climate change' is used to describe a situation in which positive feedbacks result in rapid climate change.[7] It is most commonly used in mass media and popular science literature and by environmental organizations,[8][9] is occasionally used in the social sciences.[10] It is particularly used in the popular media and by environmentalists with reference to concerns about rapid global warming.[7][8] Some astronomers use the similar expression runaway greenhouse effect to describe a situation where the climate deviates catastrophically and permanently from the original state - as happened on Venus.[11][12]. 11-09

  24. Scientists: Arctic Ice Loss Triggering Global Warming (BBC News)
      " 'September 2005 will set a new record minimum in the amount of Arctic sea ice cover,' said Mark Serreze, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Boulder, Colorado.' "

      "The current rate of shrinkage they calculate at 8% per decade; at this rate there may be no ice at all during the summer of 2060."

      " 'These dark areas absorb a lot of the Sun's energy, much more than the ice, and what happens then is that the oceans start to warm up, and it becomes very difficult for ice to form during the following autumn and winter.' "

      " 'It looks like this is exactly what we're seeing - a positive feedback effect, a "tipping-point".' "

      "The idea behind tipping-points is that at some stage the rate of global warming would accelerate, as rising temperatures break down natural restraints or trigger environmental changes which release further amounts of greenhouse gases."

      "The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a four-year study involving hundreds of scientists, projected an additional temperature rise of 4-7C by 2100." 9-05

  25. Warming Debate Shifts to "Tipping Point" (MSNBC News)
      "Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend."

      "There are three specific events that these scientists describe as especially worrisome and potentially imminent, although the time frames are a matter of dispute: widespread coral bleaching that could damage the world's fisheries within three decades; dramatic sea level rise by the end of the century that would take tens of thousands of years to reverse; and, within 200 years, a shutdown of the [Atlantic thermohaline] ocean current that moderates temperatures in northern Europe." 01-06

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