Scientists See an Inevitable Tipping Point
A rise in the planet’s atmospheric temperature of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit is the tipping point at which the world will be locked into a near future of drought, food and water shortages, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and world-wide flooding that will harm populations and economies, according to a significant body of scientific research.
As diplomats and policy makers gather in Lima,Peru to draft an agreement designed to halt the rise of greenhouse gases, climate scientists warn it may be impossible to prevent global temperatures from passing the tipping point because of the amount of greenhouse gas already in the atmosphere and the emissions expected to continue before any deal is implemented. Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton professor of geosciences and international affairs and a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said although he is encouraged by recent U.S. climate agreement with China, large scale transformations in the ecosystem have already taken place. The goal now, he said, is to prevent a 4 to 10 degree rise that would make the planet increasingly uninhabitable for humans. Even if future emissions are curtailed enough to head off worse-case scenarios, scientists say, a relentlessly warming world will be increasingly unpleasant. Read the New York Times story by Coral Davenport.