A Faustian climate bargain

Our weather systems are changing as the world warms. Satoru Kikuchi/flickr
Andrew Glikson, The Conversation

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate science advisor of the German Government, mamkes the point even the least-informed should be able to understand.

“Our body temperature is about 37 degrees. If you increase it by two degrees, 39, you have fever. If you add four degrees, it is 41 – you are dead, more or less.”

When in the early 80s “economic rationalism” assumed an overarching value in western societies, a rhetoric question arose: what is the price of the Earth?

The question is no longer rhetoric. The spectacle of people haggling over dollars vis-à-vis the future of the Earth’s atmosphere-ocean system is a Faustian bargain not dreamt by science fiction writers. It hardly conceals the increasing extraction of every available carbon source from the ground, including coal, oil, oil shale, tar sand, gas and coal seam gas.

Global emission reduction targets, ranging from 40% relative to 1990 by Germany, to 5% relative to 2000 in Australia, would still allow mean global temperatures to rise by three or four degrees Celsius later in the century.

This will drive a major shift in climate zones, disrupt river flow, raise sea levels on the scale of meters and lead to heat waves, fires and storms.

Read the full story at The Conversation …