Time to wake up?

Recently, a series of articles in Nature [1-3] described new perspectives about the climate crisis. The problem shows when you have to predict a scenario. Usually, researchers make descriptions and simulations about the outcome of the climate status using computational calculations, and they are able to simulate even thousand of years. They can simulate the development of the increase in the Earth’s temperature, CO2 concentration, and so on.

Well, the issue is: researchers had considered that a specific amount of CO2 could be accepted as reasonable in the atmosphere. Raising this concentration, we would expect the global warming to increase rapidly and then, we would see global changes. That amount was considered as 550 p.p.m. Then, researchers started to discuss about whether 550 p.p.m. would be too high. And the consequence was to determine the limit in 450 p.p.m. That was the dominant idea. Until now. In this articles in Nature [1-2], data and facts are provided to question that number. Obviously, these facts are not new. But we have here a comprehensive view about the situation. Briefly, new simulations allow us to evaluate the evolution of the climate status if a 450 p.p.m. of CO2 is achieved. The problem is that several simulations predict a dark outcome: the CO2 levels would keep high thousands of years. If you ask to someone: “How many years do you think the CO2 levels will keep high?”, the people would think, at most, 100 or 200 years. The main view is, if we stop emitting CO2 production, the levels will start to decrease, in a linear fashion. But the predictions tell us the opposite: even in 3000 years, CO2 levels will be high. Also global temperatures stay high.

More extreme scenarios, for example, 1000 p.p.m of CO2, are discouraging [2]. It seems that a limit of 350 p.p.m. is needed, according to some researchers [1]. A new global movement called 350.org, has been created, and the next October 24 has been claimed as the International Day of Climate Action. You can see a video here:

Of note, we are now above the 350 p.p.m. limit. A paper published in this issue of Nature [3], describes the perspectives of greenhouse-gas emissions if we want to keep the climate under a 2 ºC limit of increase in the temperature. It is likely that, under the actual scenario, we will raise the global warming above the “2 ºC” limit.

The question is: considering that, according to the simulations, it seems obvious that it is too late to keep the CO2 concentration under a safe amount, how are we going to proceed? We need to put a great effort in the study of technologies to avoid a risk to the human kind. For example, important cities should be relocated, we will need research about food technologies, water recovering and recycling, and technologies to build environments, houses and devices to live in safe and comfortable conditions.

When still some people are denying the existence of global warming and the need of stop the raising of CO2 concentrations, it is too late? Do we need to finally wake up? I strongly suggest to read these articles and to visit 350.org to more info.


[1] Monastersky, R. A burden beyond bearing. Nature, 2009; 458:1091-1094.

[2] Schneider, S. The worst-case scenario. Nature, 2009; 458:1104-1105.

[3] Meinshausen, M. et al. Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2 ºC. Nature, 2009; 458:1104-1105.

Do you like the post? Spread the word.


1 Response to “Time to wake up?”

  1. 1 juanu May 22, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Something that hasn’t been mentioned much, but it’s also going to be a problem with the increasing CO2 concentration, is the issue of ocean acidification.
    I’m planning to write a little about it, but to summarize you have to think that if we are putting all that CO2 in the atmosphere, it has to go somewhere. It was found that the uptake of CO2 by the oceans had an effect on keeping the atmospheric CO2 at “low” levels (at least lower than it should be with all the anthropogenic input).
    Unfortunately, this is changing the chemistry of the oceans, lowering the pH. This could have several effects for different organisms in the oceans, for example, corals and diatoms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Featured Posts

astuscience’s Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.


Listed on


Add to Technorati Favorites
Pablo Andrés Astudillo on Labmeeting

RSS Peer Review on Science Blogs

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Science News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Cell

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS PLOS Biology

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Nature News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
Life Science Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory


May 2009
« Apr   Jun »

RSS PHD Comics

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

%d bloggers like this: