James Hansen's New Climate Warning


Cross-posted on The Huffington Post

NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, has
published a paper with a warning that the long-term increase in temperature, which may be between 3 and 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees F), brings us "dangerously close" to climate tipping points:
The Earth’s history provides a sobering perspective on prospects for climate change. The Earth’s climate is sensitive to changes in climate forcings, human-made forcings now overwhelm natural climate forcings, and the climate system is dangerously close to tipping points that could have disastrous consequences.
Hansen, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist whose work was previously censored edited by the Bush Administration goes on to say:
A climate tipping point refers to a situation in which moderate additional climate forcing may produce large effects, such as loss of all Arctic sea ice and destabilization of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Large climate changes, overall, are inherently deleterious, as civilization developed during a period of climate stability and constructed extensive infrastructure based on current climate patterns and shorelines. Life on Earth will adapt to changing climate, but many species will be casualties if climate change is much more rapid than natural rates.
Which, I suppose, is another way to say: One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. Ecclesiastes 1:4

Earth abideth with or without us...

The report, co-written with Mikiko Sato, is not all bad news. The authors mention that "except for carbon dioxide, human-made forcings are increasing more slowly than in the scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." *

Except for carbon dioxide.

Hansen advises that a "focused effort" toward an "absolute reduction in non-C02 impact, combined with a slow-down of C02 emissions and limiting coal use to plants that capture emissions could help to contain additional warming.

What it will take to achieve an absolute reduction is another matter and one that needs to be addressed sooner, rather than later, before it is too late to avert the tipping points Hansen warns of in his new report.

* The IPCC has not responded as yet.