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Global Warming

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After decades of irresponsible consumption and unfounded optimism in the resiliency of the planet, the chickens are finally come home to roost. According the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming is speeding up and the fall-out will be worse than the most pessimistic climate scientists even suspected.

In 1995, a panel of 500 scientists agreed that the Earth’s temperature will rise between one and 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Now, after re-evaluating the data, the same experts are saying that the increase will be between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees – and that’s with world-wide controls in place. Without those controls, we’re actually on pace for a disastrous 12 degree increase.

Even a one degree increase in global temperatures is enough to thin glaciers and the alpine snowpack, dangerously raise water levels in the world’s oceans and waterways, dry out soil, endanger fragile arctic species, and lead to more catastrophic weather events on par with the 1998 ice storm in Eastern Canada.

A six degree increase would make the planet warmer than it’s been in a long time, submerging coastlines and swamping lowlands around the world – the human cost, as well as the cost of property would be enormous. While there are a few scientists out there who are still in global warming denial, there’s no denying that the increase in temperature has occurred in direct proportion to the increase in carbon dioxide levels. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, concentrations were 280 parts per million. Today concentrations are 360 ppm and climbing – the highest they’ve been in 450,000 years, which is only as far back as ice core sampling can go.

It’s an ironic revelation at a time when SUV sales are breaking all records and B.C. businesses are switching from relatively clean-burning fuels such as natural gas to oil and even diesel in order to save a few dollars.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, we will have to reduce greenhouse gas emission by at least 50 per cent to stabilize the planet. That may seem like a lot, but according to DSF executive director Jim Fulton and Climate Change Project Director Gerry Scott, low carbon technology already exists – in fact, a lot of the technology is already three decades old.

Because people tend to get defensive about their own actions, stick their fingers in their ears and hum loudly until the science guy stops talking Armageddon, the DSF has made it clear that we are all equally at fault here (although some transgressors are clearly more equally at fault than others). A universal solution is required for a universal problem.

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