‘New danger zone’ for Earth: UN
The world has entered a “new danger zone” with levels of Earth-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere never experienced by humankind, the United Nations (U.N.) climate chief warned on Monday.
When it breached the CO2 threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm) last week, the world “crossed a historic threshold and entered a new danger zone”, Christiana Figueres said in a statement urging policy action.
The level measured by U.S. monitors has not existed on Earth in three to five million years — a time when temperatures were several degrees warmer and the sea level was 20 to 40 meters higher than today, experts say. Before the Industrial Revolution, when man first started pumping carbon into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, CO2 levels were about 280 ppm — rising steadily since records began in the 1950s.
The 400 ppm symbolic threshold had been expected to be breached for some time, but campaigners say it should nevertheless serve as a wake-up call in efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions through fossil fuel use.
Negotiators under the auspices of the U.N. are seeking by 2015 to develop a new, global climate treaty to take effect by 2020. Nations are simultaneously attempting to find short-term solutions pre-2020 to closing the growing gap between agreed carbon emission targets and the actual curbs required to contain warming.
The U.N. is targeting a maximum temperature rise of two degrees Celsius on pre-industrial levels for manageable climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which informs policy makers, has said CO2 must be limited to 400 ppm for a temperature rise of 2-2.4 degree Celsius . Climate negotiations have been making poor progress and the yearly rise has led many to conclude that warming of three or four degree Celsuis is probable by century’s end. — AFP
(Source: “The Hindu” , May 14th 2013)