Warming exceeds grimmest climate models
Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated — beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.
As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before.
And it’s not just the frozen parts of the world that have felt the heat in the dozen years leading up to next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen:
_ The world’s oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.
_Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa.
_Species now in trouble because of changing climate include, not just the lumbering polar bear which has become a symbol of global warming, but also fragile butterflies, colorful frogs and entire stands of North American pine forests.
_Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997.
Even the gloomiest climate models back in the 1990s didn’t forecast results quite this bad so fast.
“The latest science is telling us we are in more trouble than we thought,” Janos Pasztor, climate adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
And here’s why: Since an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution was signed in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, the level of carbon dioxide in the air has increased 6.5 percent. Officials from across the world will convene in Copenhagen next month to seek a follow-up pact, one that President Barack Obama says “has immediate operational effect … an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution.”
The last effort didn’t quite get the anticipated results.