11 February 2008

Climate change and dead canaries

Last December, as the UN climate conference was basking in hot sunshine (with frequent gusts of hot air blown from the mouths of government and industry delegates), NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally reviewed data that Arctic sea ice could melt entirely by the summer of 2040 and found that, in fact, this process could happen by the summer of 2012.

"The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming. Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines" said Zwally, who as a teenager hauled coal.

The reason such predictions can be so wrong is that climate change is not a linear process, but is subject to a whole series of feedback loops and tipping points. A lot of scary evidence for this is presented in a new report from Friends of the Earth Australia, entitled Climate Code Red

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