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World CO2 levels at record high, scientists warn

David Adam, Guardian
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a record high, according to new figures that renew fears that climate change could begin to slide out of control.

Scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii say that CO2 levels in the atmosphere now stand at 387 parts per million (ppm), up almost 40% since the industrial revolution and the highest for at least the last 650,000 years.

The figures, published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on its website, also confirm that carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is accumulating in the atmosphere faster than expected. The annual mean growth rate for 2007 was 2.14ppm – the fourth year in the past six to see an annual rise greater than 2ppm. From 1970 to 2000, the concentration rose by about 1.5ppm each year, but since 2000 the annual rise has leapt to an average 2.1ppm.

Scientists say the shift could indicate that the Earth is losing its natural ability to soak up billions of tons of carbon each year. Climate models assume that about half our future emissions will be re-absorbed by forests and oceans, but the new figures confirm this may be too optimistic. If more of our carbon pollution stays in the atmosphere, it means emissions will have to be cut by more than currently projected to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.
(12 May 2008)

Japan scientists warn Arctic ice melting fast

Teruaki Ueno, Reuters
Arctic ice is melting fast and the area covered by ice sheets in ocean could shrink this summer to the smallest since 1978 when satellite observation first started, Japanese scientists warned in a report.

Ice sheets in the Arctic Ocean shrank to the smallest area on record in late summer in 2007, researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said in a report on the website
(12 May 2008)

World may be heating quickly: scientist

AAP, Sydney Morning Herald
Climate change is happening faster than predicted and the world could be as much as seven degrees hotter by the end of the century, a CSIRO scientist says.

New Australian research showed current policies did not go far enough to manage the risks posed by climate change, according to Dr Roger Jones, a climate risk analyst with CSIRO’s energy transformed flagship.

Global action was needed by 2015 to adequately reduce those risks, he said.

The research, conducted by CSIRO and Victoria University, showed even if severe emissions cuts were implemented from 2030, warming of 2.2 to 4.7 degrees could still happen by 2100.
(7 May 2008)
Related article about Dr. Jones: Kyoto Protocol: First lap in long race against time. (Science Centric)

Contributor Bill Henderson writes:
Dr. Jones speech sounds right out of Climate Code Red’s communications chapter: scientists privately very worried but publically BAU positive.

McCain rips Bush record on warming

Jim Tankersley, Chicago Tribune
John McCain launched a green-tinted courtship of West Coast swing voters on Monday, with a call to action on global warming and an indictment of the Bush administration’s “failed” policies to combat it.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee visited the wind-power technology firm Vestas, near Portland International Airport, to decry melting polar ice, vanishing glaciers, changes in animal migration and “rising temperatures and waters,” all products, he said, of a reliance on fossil fuels that threatens America’s economy and security.

McCain championed nuclear power and warned that China and India must take steps to curb their own rising carbon emissions. “The facts of global warming demand our urgent attention,” McCain said, “particularly in Washington.”

He endorsed a “cap and trade” system …
(13 May 2008)
More coverage and commentary at Gristmill.

National Geographic’s Garcia discusses new index tracking consumer action on climate
(video and transcript)
Monica Trauzzi, OnPoint, E&E TV
Where do U.S. consumers rank compared to the rest of the world in terms of environmentally conscious choices and habits?

During today’s OnPoint, Terry Garcia, executive vice president of mission programs at National Geographic, discusses the “Greendex 2008” that ranks the environmental habits of consumers in 14 countries.

Garcia explains why Chinese consumers are among the most concerned about the effects of global warming and he discusses the factors contributing to the United States’ last place ranking. He also explains the differences between consumer attitudes in developed and developing countries. Garcia addresses how governments should use the information provided in the index to help shape environmental policies.
(12 May 2008)