Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Emissions Targets Not Good Enough" - Top NASA Scientist

A top climate scientist from NASA has said that the targets set by the European Union (amongst the more ambitious ones currently being aimed for) are insufficient to forestall catastrophic climate change. Dr James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York called for far more stringent targets:

Hansen says the EU target of 550 parts per million of C02 - the most stringent in the world - should be slashed to 350ppm. He argues the cut is needed if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed". A final version of the paper Hansen co-authored with eight other climate scientists, is posted today on the Archive website. Instead of using theoretical models to estimate the sensitivity of the climate, his team turned to evidence from the Earth's history, which they say gives a much more accurate picture.

Debate has ensued upon this, with Leo Hickman at the Guardian somewhat unfairly linking it to James Lovelock's recent "we're all stuffed so we might as well eat, drink and be merry" type arguments. Hansen and the other scientists are hardly arguing from that viewpoint, after all, but merely presenting the science and suggesting the scale of the challenge and the appropriate targets.

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