Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How bad is the global warming crisis? Here's a simple explanation.

Every year, we humans pump 10 billions of CO2 into the atmosphere. The problem is nature (plants and oceans in particular) can only sequester 5 billion tons of CO2 per year. That's why CO2 levels have climbed from a post-industrial age level of 280 parts per million (PPM) to 387 PPM, and it's growing 2PPM each year.

"It's just like water in a bathtub -- unless more water is draining out than flowing in from the tap, eventually the bathtub will overflow," explains MIT researcher John Sterman in a recent TIME feature, "
What the Public Doesn't Get About Climate Change."

When Sterman asked 200 MIT students how much governments had to (force businesses to) cut CO2 emissions, 84 percent of them answered wrong (the answer is 50 percent if you do the math on the numbers at the start of this post). Average Americans don't grasp the severity of our situation either. According to a UN study, 54 percent favor a "wait-and-see" approach to global warming. Even Bill Gates doesn't get it. Referring to global warming in Beijing last year he said, "You know, we have time to work on it." But according to TIMES correspondent Bryan Walsh, "we don’t."

The bathtub is already overflowing.

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