Climate Change Strategies Not Working Quickly Enough: UCI's Steve Davis and Fellow Scientists

UC Irvine Earth system scientist Steven J. Davis has an inconvenient truth he'd like to share: we have to make "a fundamental and disruptive overhaul of the global energy system" to eradicate harmful carbon dioxide emissions right now. A paper in tomorrow's Environmental Research Letters by Davis and fellow researchers respects earlier calls for stabilizing dangerous CO2 emissions over time but notes nothing has been done to slow or maintain emissions that are "growing faster than ever."

Davis and his paper collaborators Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Long Cao of China's Zhejiang University and Martin Hoffert of New York University examined the "wedge" approach to tackling climate change outlined in a 2004 study by Princeton scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow.

Steve Davis
The Princeton pair claimed CO2 could be stopped by dividing the task into seven huge but manageable "slices" using existing technologies, including doubling the number of nuclear reactors worldwide and increasing automobile fuel efficiency from an average 30 mpg to 60 mpg. Pacala and Socolow estimated if all seven wedges were implemented, 1 billion tons of carbon a year would be avoided after 50 years.

"We have enormous respect for that earlier work," says Davis in a UCI release. "But almost a decade after wedges made a solution to climate change seem doable, we now know that holding emissions steady, difficult as it would be, is literally a half-measure--and one that we have yet to take. Our emissions are not being held constant or even slowing; they're growing faster than ever."

Davis and his co-authors figure as many as 31 wedges could be required to stabilize the  Earth's climate to safe CO2 levels and sharp reductions in total emissions must begin sooner rather than later. Current technologies cannot sustain the amount of power being used worldwide now, let alone enough affordable, carbon-free energy to keep up with demand, they add.

"We urgently need policies and programs that support the research, development, demonstration and commercialization of new energy," the Davis team concludes.

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If we have more CO2 than ever it’s because the world’s oceans are warming. 95% of the world’s CO2 in vented from the ocean. When ocean’s warm more CO2 is vented; when oceans cool CO2 is absorbed. Due to the mass of the world’s oceans it takes decades for the oceans to either warm or cool. CO2 levels FOLLOW the natural warming of the earth.

The data shows higher CO2 levels before the Industrial Revolution.

The Great Global Warming Swindle 3 9(third 9 minute video)


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