Closer to home, Mount Rainier’s glaciers have retreated, too.
The Copenhagen Diagnosis is out (23MB download here), authored by 26 researchers, one of whom is Eric J. Steig, professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. The report updates the last IPCC assessment in 2007, with the general tone being that, even then, the speed of climate change was underestimated.
In just one instance, the area of the Arctic’s summer sea-ice that melted between 2007 and 2009 was about 40 percent more than the IPCC model average. Earlier, the models were off by as much as 80 percent: Over the past 15 years, the sea level has risen more than five centimeters, almost most double 2001 IPCC projections. At the time, various people dismissed those as “doomsday” predictions.
UW News quotes Steig as saying the Copenhagen Diagnosis “articulates a much clearer picture of what has to happen if the world wants to keep future warming within the reasonable threshold of 2 degrees Celsius that most scientists believe is prudent.”
Steig also says if you’ve been paying attention to research results since 2007, you may not be all that surprised. However, if you’ve been told repeatedly that climate change has stopped, or pointed toward the effects of solar forcing, you might be taken aback. So that is really what the “diagnosis” does, is survey the climate change field and bring everyone up to date.
It’s disquieting to read, then, that despite all the rhetoric around climate change, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in 2008 grew by 40 percent from 1990. That, too, was unanticipated. UW professor Edward Miles emphasizes to UW News that while the IPCC has consistently led with non-worst-case climate change forecasts, the growth in fossil fuel emissions since 2005 does exceed the worst-case scenarios of the IPCC.
The report concludes that to keep the sea level rising three to six feet, as ice caps and sheets reach a tipping point, we need to reduce CO2 emissions by…well, that‘s not going to happen. And I have bulletproof models of past political action to back me up on that. Maybe look into this option instead.