8 Years to Save the Planet from Global Warming

The third UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report was released Friday and came with some good news and bad for environmental groups. First the good --delegates resisted pressure to tone down the report, which says there is still time to avoid the worst effects of global warming if we take drastic action in reducing our dependace on greenhouse gas producing fossil fuels. Deforestation will also have to be significantly reduced. Possibly the most reassuring part for some is that the measures are only expected to represent a moderate cost.

During a week of talks in Bangkok, Chinese delegates pushed for changes. In a call to limit concentrations of greenhouse gases to between 445 parts per million and 650 parts per million, they asked that the lower number be removed. The U.S. had made some of the same objections before the meeting, but were said to seem content letting China take the lead. French delegate Michel Petit told reporters there was compromise on all of the big issues and "nothing important was removed during the process." A big change from what some delegates were saying last time around.

Proposed measures

  • Development and use of biofuels
  • Using renewable energy
  • Increases in energy efficiency

For the most part environmental groups like National Environmental Trust and National Wildlife Federation are calling the report good news, but groups such as Friends of the Earth are expressing concerns about recommendations to expand the use of nuclear power and biofuels, saying nuclear has too many negatives such as cost, security threat and disposal and biofuels can't be expanded without increasing deforestation.

One thing that all agree on, action needs to be taken now to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 2015 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees F (over pre-industrial levels) and causing widespread devastation.

"The longer we wait, the more we will pay to fix this problem. The solutions are here. What we need is the leadership to make it happen," says Daniel Lashof, science director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "The cost of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies pales in comparison to the sweeping impacts on our health and our economy if we continue to do nothing."

2 comments
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