We recently reported that changes in the Arctic could halt the Gulf Stream--maybe changing our climate permanently. Now climatologists are warning us that the world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter.
We have only about 10 years left to control greenhouse gas emissions, and if we don't (and it doesn't look like we will), the world will reach thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests.
In Scientific American, Nina Chestney quotes climate researcher Will Steffen as saying, "This is the critical decade. If we don't get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines." So the situation is urgent, but despite this, a treaty forcing the world's biggest polluters, such as the US and China, to curb their emissions will only be agreed on by 2015, and enter into force in 2020.
Chestney quotes researcher Anthony Giddens as saying, "We have enormous inertia within the world economy and should make much more effort to close down coal-fired power stations."
One of the most worrying and unknown potential tipping points is the huge permafrost in Siberia, which stores tons of carbon. If it melts, it will turn into the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Chestney quotes Steffen as saying, "There is about 1,600 billion tons of carbon there--about twice the amount in the atmosphere today--and the northern high latitudes are experiencing the most severe temperature change of any part of the planet."
It's not just a coincidence that unknowncountry.com is one of the most popular websites around--and for over a decade now, we've fought HARD to keep it that way! Now we want to deliver a small warning to all our readers and listeners: We're at a tipping point too, and if we don't get more support from you, it could soon be "the end" for us. So if you really DO love us, subscribe today!
And if you subscribe, you'll get 10% off tickets to our Dreamland Festival in May, where you'll be able to meet your favorite Dreamland hosts (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show) and hear them talk about the amazing things they've learned during the past year (like ghosts?)