Monday, July 27, 2015

James Hansen Spells Out Climate Danger of the ‘Hyper-Anthropocene’ Age - by Joe Romm

James Hansen testifies in 1981 (Credit: AP / Dennis Cook) Click to Enlarge.
James Hansen and 16 leading climate experts have written a must-read discussion paper on what humanity risks if it can’t keep total global warming below 2°C (3.6°F).  The greatest risk they identify is “that multi-meter sea level rise would become practically unavoidable.”

This is warning everyone should heed — not just because Hansen’s co-authors include some of the world’s top sea-level rise experts, such as Eric Rignot and Isabella Velicogna, but also given Hansen’s prescience on climate change dating back more than three decades.

In 1981, Hansen led a team of NASA scientists in a seminal article in Science, “Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.”

They warned:  “Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones, erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.”

Wow.  A 35-year-old peer-reviewed climate warning that is 100 percent dead on.  Is there anyone else on the planet who can has been right for so long about climate change?

Hansen and co-authors deftly dismiss those ill-informed Pollyannas who use Orwellian terms like “good Anthropocene.”  They explain that we are far past “the era in which humans have contributed to global climate change,” which probably began a thousand years ago, and are now in “a fundamentally different phase, a Hyper-Anthropocene … initiated by explosive 20th century growth of fossil fuel use.”

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature). (Credit: Science & Click to Enlarge.
The “Hyper-Anthropocene” is a very good term to describe the unprecedented acceleration in global warming that humanity has set in motion with the explosive growth of fossil fuels and carbon pollution, as the recent science makes clear:

The fact that warming as high as 2°C should be avoided at all costs is not news to people who pay attention to climate science, though it may be news to people who only follow the popular media.  Indeed, 70 leading climate experts made that point crystal clear in a May report to the world’s leading governments that received embarrassingly little coverage from the mainstream media.

James Hansen Spells Out Climate Danger of the ‘Hyper-Anthropocene’ Age

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