Urgency On The Climate Stressed At UN Conference

United Nations Says Delays Harm Efforts On Climate Change
Following the release of a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Cristina Figueres cautioned that delaying action to address energy sector emissions, the international community “will see a spike in temperature increase of between 3.6 and 5.3 degree Celsius.”

The UNFCCC is conducting a round of meetings in Bonn this week. And urgency has been a consistent theme.

“Rapid and widespread adoption could act as a bridge to further action, buying  precious time while international climate negotiations continue,” warned IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol.

Gains made by the US and Europe were offset by the 3.8 percent increase in China’s CO2 emissions, while Japan’s emissions rose by 5.8 per cent, according to the IEA.

IEA Offers Solutions That May Be Revenue Neutral
The IEA report offers four potential solutions that could be achieved without a negative economic impact.

According to an IEA release, the use of targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport accounted for nearly half the emissions reduction in 2020. The IEA also recommends implementing a “partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies.”

Despite Rise In Greenhouse Gases, Temperature Rise Slowing
Interestingly, despite an increase in the production of greenhouse gases, the increase of the surface temperature has been slower in the last 15 years than it was in the previous 20 years. This fact has some scientists at a loss for a reason, reports the New York Times.

Gap Shows Scientists Limited Knowledge Of The Environment
Justin Gillis says the seeming contradiction highlights the limit of scientists knowledge of the climate and, in particular, of the oceans.

He contends the real question is if the surface is not warming as quickly as it had in previous decades, where is the heat generated by greenhouse gases going?

Gillis argues the prime suspect is the deep ocean, but notes that “our measurements there are not good enough to confirm it absolutely, but a growing body of research suggests this may be an important part of the answer. Exactly why the ocean would have started to draw down extra heat in recent years is a mystery, and one we badly need to understand. But the main ideas have to do with possible shifts in winds and currents that are causing surface heat to be pulled down faster than before.”

The Morality Of Developing Mars
In the scientific community there appears to be a version of the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Call it the “if an experiment is feasible, it must be desirable.”

A column in The European puts forward a counterargument concerning the ethics of conducting scientific experiments in the hopes of establishing a habitable environment on Mars.

“Despite the dangers of biochemical experiments, and despite the well-known reservations many people hold against genetic technology, there is no ethical taboo which would categorically rule out certain sets of experiments. Ethical concerns and considerations bubble to the surface pretty regularly, but science has so far avoided a comprehensive and sustained public discussion about the ethical implications of free-range genetic experiments on Mars,” writes Jorg Friedrich.

He concludes by noting that once “man’s footprints” are made, they cannot be unmade and that humans “cannot foresee the unintended consequences of developments that were kick-started in the name of scientific progress.”

 

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