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Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say

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Global warming is said to be bringing temperatures last seen during an interglacial era, when sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today4928.jpg

 A coal-fired power station. ‘Massive CO2 extraction’ costing trillions is needed in order to avoid runaway temperature rises, says a new paper. Photograph: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

 

The global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, requiring daunting technological advances that will cost the coming generations hundreds of trillions of dollars, according to the scientist widely credited with bringing climate change to the public’s attention.

A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.

This rate of warming is bringing Earth in line with temperatures last seen in the Eemian period, an interglacial era ending 115,000 years ago when there was much less ice and the sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today.

In order to meet targets set at last year’s Paris climate accord to avoid runaway climate change, “massive CO2 extraction” costing an eye-watering $104tn to $570tn will be required over the coming century with “large risks and uncertain feasibility” as to its success, the paper states.

“There’s a misconception that we’ve begun to address the climate problem,” said Hansen, who brought climate change into the public arena through his testimony to the US congress in the 1980s. “This misapprehension is based on the Paris climate deal where governments clapped themselves on the back but when you look at the science it doesn’t compute, it’s not true.

“Even with optimistic assumptions (future emissions reduction) will cost hundreds of trillions of dollars. It’s potentially putting young people in charge of a situation that is beyond their control. It’s not clear they will be able to take such actions.”

The paper, submitted as a discussion paper to the Earth System Dynamics journal, is a departure from the usual scientific process as it has yet to be peer reviewed and has been launched to support a legal case waged by a group of young people against the US government.

Last year, 21 youths aged between 8 and 19 years old filed a constitutional lawsuit against the Obama administration for failing to do enough to slow climate change. Hansen and his granddaughter are parties to legal challenge, which was filed in Oregon and asserts that the government has violated young people’s rights to life, liberty and property.

Hansen, who has become increasingly outspoken on climate change since retiring from Nasa in 2013, said he recognized some scientists might object to publicizing the paper so soon but that “we are running out of time on this climate issue.”

The courts need to step in to force governments to act on climate change because they are largely free of the corrupting influence of special interests, Hansen said. He repeated his call for a global tax to be placed upon carbon emissions and said that fossil fuel companies should be forced to pay for emissions extraction in the same way the tobacco industry has been sued over the health impact of cigarettes.

“The science is crystal clear, we have to phase out emissions over the next few decades,” Hansen said. “That won’t happen without substantial actions by Congress and the executive branch and that’s not happening so we need the courts to apply pressure, as they did with civil rights.”

Several recent studies have cast doubt over whether the world will stay with an aspirational target set in Paris of a 1.5C limit on the average global temperature rise. This guardrail, and even the 2C limit agreed by 195 nations, appears dependent on as-yet undeveloped technology that would remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Under this scenario, huge emissions cuts would be supplemented by a widespread conversion to biofuels that would be burned for energy. The emissions from this energy would then be buried underground. Some sort of futuristic technology that sucks CO2 directly from the atmosphere may also be required.

Hansen said this is a “dubious” proposition because it requires a vast change in land use at a time where a growing global population will require more food. There are also major doubts whether technology to capture CO2 and lock it underground, often touted as a panacea by the fossil fuel industry, will be developed in time to help avoid the dangerous sea level rise, drought, heatwaves and disease spurred by warming temperatures.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that carbon dioxide levels will not drop below the symbolic 400 parts per million (ppm) mark in our lifetimes – the highest concentration of CO2 since the Pliocene era 3m years ago.

The environment of this time, where sea levels were around 65ft higher than today and trees were able to grow near the north pole due to a lack of ice, is a “bellwether for what future climate might be like,” according to Bruce Bauer, a scientist with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

Michael Mann, a prominent climatologist at Penn State University, agreed that CO2 removal will be required if the world was to avoid 1.5C warming although the 2C limit “could likely be achieved without negative emissions, but it would require urgent action, as I have argued myself is necessary.”.

Mann added that Hansen’s paper is “interesting” but tackles a huge range of topics and is unconventional in its use as a tool to support a legal case.

“Along with the paper being publicized prior to peer review, this will certainly raise eyebrows about whether or not this breaches the firewall many feel should exist wherein policy agenda should not influence the way that science is done,” Mann told the Guardian via email.

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       2 “Who is this who is obscuring my counsel
      And speaking without knowledge?
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       4 Where were you when I founded the earth?
      Tell me, if you think you understand.
       5 Who set its measurements, in case you know,
      Or who stretched a measuring line across it?
       6 Into what were its pedestals sunk,
      Or who laid its cornerstone,
       7 When the morning stars joyfully cried out together, And all the sons of God began shouting in applause?
       8 And who barricaded the sea behind doors
      When it burst out from the womb,
       9 When I clothed it with clouds And wrapped it in thick gloom,
      10 When I established my limit for it And put its bars and doors in place,
      11 And I said, ‘You may come this far, and no farther;
      Here is where your proud waves will stop’?
      12 Have you ever commanded the morning Or made the dawn know its place,
      13 To take hold of the ends of the earth And to shake the wicked out of it?
      14 It is transformed like clay under a seal, And its features stand out like those of a garment.
      15 But the light of the wicked is held back from them,
      And their uplifted arm is broken.
      16 Have you gone down to the sources of the sea
      Or explored the deep waters?
      17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
      18 Have you understood the vast expanse of the earth?
      Tell me, if you know all of this.
      19 In which direction does the light reside?
      And where is the place of darkness,
      20 That you should take it to its territory
      And understand the paths to its home?
      21 Do you know this because you were already born
      And the number of your years is great?
      22 Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
      23 Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
      For the day of battle and war?
      24 From what direction is light dispersed,
      And from where does the east wind blow on the earth?
      25 Who has cut a channel for the flood
      And made a path for the thunderous storm cloud,
      26 To make it rain where no man lives, On the wilderness where there are no humans,
      27 To satisfy devastated wastelands
      And cause the grass to sprout?
      28 Does the rain have a father, Or who fathered the dewdrops?
      29 From whose womb did the ice emerge,
      And who gave birth to the frost of heaven
      30 When the waters are covered as if with stone,
      And the surface of the deep waters is frozen solid?
      31 Can you tie the ropes of the Kiʹmah constellation Or untie the cords of the Keʹsil constellation?
      32 Can you lead out a constellation in its season Or guide the Ash constellation along with its sons?
      33 Do you know the laws governing the heavens, Or can you impose their authority on the earth?
      34 Can you raise your voice to the clouds
      To cause a flood of water to cover you?
      35 Can you send out lightning bolts?
      Will they come and say to you, ‘Here we are!’
      36 Who put wisdom within the clouds
      Or gave understanding to the sky phenomenon?
      37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds,
      Or who can tip over the water jars of heaven
      38 When the dust pours into a mass
      And the clods of earth stick together?
      39 Can you hunt prey for a lion
      Or satisfy the appetites of young lions
      40 When they crouch in their lairs Or lie in ambush in their dens?
      41 Who prepares food for the raven
      When its young cry to God for help
      And wander about because there is nothing to eat?

    • By Bible Speaks
      THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT GOD WILL DO AMAZING THINGS ON THE EARTH.
      People will no longer feel pain, grow old, or die.—Revelation 21:4
      “The lame will leap like the deer.”—Isaiah 35:6
      “The eyes of the blind will be opened.”—Isaiah 35:5
      The dead will be brought back to life.—John 5:28, 29
      No one will get sick.—Isaiah 33:24
      Everyone on earth will have plenty to eat.—Psalm 72:16.                          The Bible does more than that. It tells us what we need to know in order to be truly happy and enjoy life right now. Think for a moment about the things that make you worry. These may include money or family matters, bad health, or the death of someone you love. The Bible can help you to cope with these problems, and it can comfort you by answering such questions as these:
      Why do we suffer?
      How can we cope with our problems?
      Can our family be happy?
      What happens to us when we die?
      Will we ever see our dead loved ones again?
      Why can we be confident that God will do everything that he has promised? Go to JW.Org to learn these answers. 

    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      (CNN) We're all doomed. Unless we can figure out how to get the heck off this planet.
      Don't believe it? Then ask noted theoretical scientist and astronomer Stephen Hawking. He says humanity won't survive another 1,000 years on Earth because of, you know, the usual suspects -- climate change, nukes, robots.
      Hawking, speaking earlier this week at Oxford University Union, says our best chance for survival as a species is to leave the only home we've ever known and establish colonies on other planets.
      "Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years," Hawking said in the speech, according to the Christian Science Monitor. "By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race."
      And the pace of space exploration seems to be ramping up. NASA is busy searching for "goldilocks" -- exoplanets that might be able sustain human life. Meanwhile, Space X CEO Elon Musk has already laid out his plans to colonize Marswithin the next century.
      Despite all of his gloom and doom, Hawking did end with some positive notes, according to British newspaper The Independent.
       
      "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, wonder about what makes the universe exist," he said. "Be curious. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up."
       
      http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/17/health/hawking-humanity-trnd/index.html
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