Doubling the safe limit for global warming may avoid climate catastrophe

September 2nd, 2008 - 1:53 pm ICT by ANI  

Edinburgh, September 2 (ANI): A new study has suggested that as a result of unprecedented temperature rise, the world should be prepared for doubling the safe limit for global warming to 4 degrees Celsius, to avoid a potential climate catastrophe.

According to a report in the Scotsman, the study has been done by scientists at the Tyndall Centre, a leading organistation for climate change research at the University of Manchester in the UK.

Internationally, it has long been agreed governments should be aiming to keep a global temperature rise below 2C, to avoid climate change spiralling out of control.

But, the new study determines that it is improbable that global warming will be kept below 4C double the rise considered safe to avoid climate catastrophe.

It warns that carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will almost certainly stabilize at levels of at least 650 parts per million (ppm), which is roughly equivalent to a four-degree temperature increase.

Given the reluctance, at virtually all levels, to openly engage with the unprecedented scale of both current emissions and their associated growth rates, even an optimistic interpretation of the current framing of climate change implies that stabilisation much below 650ppm is improbable, according to the authors of the study paper.

The authors said that even stabilising levels at 650ppm will require industrialised nations to begin to make draconian emission reductions within a decade.

They argue that planned economic recession would be needed to keep climate change at this level, unless a way can be found for economic growth to go hand in hand with unprecedented rates of reductions in carbon emissions.

Dr Alice Bows, one of the report authors, said that the study is incredibly worrying.

We are certainly not on track for a two-degree temperature increase at the moment. We are much more on track for a three to four-degree temperature increase and we need to be thinking about what that actually means, she said.

According to the 2006 Stern review on the economics of climate change, a four-degree temperature rise could lead to up to 300 million more people being affected by coastal flooding each year, a 30 to 50 per cent reduction in water availability in Southern Africa, and up to 50 per cent of animal and plant species facing extinction.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Scotland, said that an increase of more than two degrees could mean a tipping point is reached.

Thats when you get to a runaway situation. The big systems of the world start to go wrong when you get beyond two degrees, he said. (ANI)

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