- Measuring the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is difficult (CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas), and it was not really possible to measure its concentration in the atmosphere with any accuracy until the 1950's.
- In 1960, there were 315 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in the atmosphere.
- In 2012, there are 390 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing almost exponentially.
- There is no question that the Earth is warming rapidly. The ten warmest years on record have all occurred in the last fifteen years.
- Humans have only been around for about 200,000 years.
- Based on reliable ice-core sampling, there has NEVER been a time, in the last 800,000 years, when the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has ever been greater than 300 ppm.
- Scientists affirm, based on an examination of the real world practicality of achieving California's AB 32 goals (reducing CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020), that a reduction in CO2 emissions of this magnitude is technically achievable - and would make a difference.
- What is lacking is not our ability to stop the ever-escalating emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, but the political will to act.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
#139 / Kolbert
I heard Elizabeth Kolbert speak last Monday night in Mountain View. Kolbert is a science writer for The New Yorker, and has particularly focused on climate change issues. That is what she talked about on Monday. Kolbert was speaking as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), which has recently partnered with other conservation organizations to preserve the CEMEX property on the Santa Cruz County North Coast.
Having regularly read Kolbert's articles in The New Yorker, I was prepared to be impressed. And I was. Here are a few of the facts and observations I gleaned from Kolbert's talk:
Kolbert's latest book is called Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. She believes that the physical changes that humans are making to the planet will be discoverable and obvious millions of years in the future, and that we have (without knowing it) in fact used our creative powers to establish what amounts to a new "geologic age," the Anthropocene. Global warming changes are only one aspect of this wholesale alteration of the natural world (on which our lives ultimately depend).