Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Five Degrees difference changes our landscape

New York Under Ice - global warming effects

It is estimated that the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will almost certainly lead to a 2 Degree rise in global temperatures. It has been suggested that because the consequences of a 2 Degree rise are already certain, it would be better to invest in preparing for the consequences of more extreme weather events and rising sea levels rather than reducing emissions.

However, if mankind does not change it’s appetite for fossil fuels then average temperatures will rise by more than 2 Degrees. As Bill McKibben of 350.org said, there are different degrees of hell. The consequences of a 3 Degree rise are much more severe than 2 Degrees, and 4 Degrees is even worse.

For those who say that the world has survived greater variations in average temperature, they are right. Over the last 5 billion years temperatures have been more extreme and the world has kept turning. But is has a devastating impact on mankind and all biodiversity.

The last time the global average temperatures were 5 Degrees different from today was during the last ice age, when temperatures were much cooler. As a result, New York was under 15 meters of ice. The impact of a similar rise in global average temperatures would be different but just as catastrophic.