The executive director of the Australian National University’s climate change institute spoke at a conference in London Monday, March 26, 2012, where he unleashed a grim view of where Earth stands in the global warming debate. According to scientific research, the Earth is on the verge of reaching what they term as “tipping points”– that is, certain points that once passed are beyond repair. While scientists can’t agree on these numbers for anything, the general consensus is that if emissions from man-made activities continue to increase at the current rate until the year 2100, the Earth’s average temperature will rise six degrees.
Even more dire is the prediction of scientists that the Earth is reaching a threshold for these effects in which the result will be unrepairable. This includes polar ice sheets melting completely and further loss of rainforests. Some of the so-called “tipping points” have already been reached. The director cited the West Antarctic ice sheet as one example. It is shrinking at an alarming rate and the Greenland ice sheet has also shrunk by 48 cubic miles every year since the previous decade. Higher temperatures mean a drier climate, and scientists warn that even the most luscious rainforests are in danger of experiencing massive amounts of tree deaths if temperatures continue to rise.
The comments are targeted at governments to enact change, quicker. Currently, some of the world’s biggest contributors to greenhouse emissions, including the United States and China, are still trying to agree on a new global climate treaty. Best possible scenarios predict an agreement may be reached by 2015, but it’s provisions would not go into effect until 2020 or beyond. Scientists caution that this might be too little too late. What do you think?