Just finished reading this lucid summation of where we stand with the science and politics of climate change.
A few illustrative quotes:
If you understand how compound interest works, you can understand the urgency of facing the issue today.
Because more CO2 remains in the atmosphere, and because CO2 in the atmosphere generates atmospheric heat,more atmospheric heat is being generated.
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, accounts for 85 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. As you may remember from high school biology, CO2 is absorbed by plant life as an essential part of photosynthesis. Also, CO2 dissolves in water, which is why the ocean absorbs a lot of it, over time. But after plants and the ocean have absorbed all they can absorb, the remaining CO2 remains in the atmosphere, for about 100 years. We have been generating a CO2 surplus since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
This is why the average CO2 count rises every year. (Within a single year, the CO2 count rises and falls according to the weather or the seasons.) Even if we cut back on the essentials of modern society – thermal power plants and motorized transportation -the CO2 count will continue its compound growth.
The United States emits, on a per capita basis, greenhouse gases at about twice the rate of any other major economy. So, from the vantage point of the rest of the world, C02 cutbacks imposed on Americans might offer the biggest bang for the buck, with comparatively minor hardship. It’s hard to see how we can ask for China’s forbearance without demonstrating our willingness to make concessions at home.