I started this as a reply to groundviews' this post, but soon realized that it was going to be a bit too long for a comment. Hence a post of it's own. The said article is credited to Mr. Lalith Gunaratne, whom I have no idea of, or whether he's a member of the groundviews team. Yet, since this was posted on their blog, I thought that I must add my two cents even if they don't take any notice.
First, I'd like to see the source(s) of stats they have provided. Not questioning the integrity of groundviews and/or Mr. Gunaratne, but stats without sources are just numbers - nothing else.
Second, let us assume that they are true, and take them one by one.
1. Emission of CO2 have increased by 70% during the last 20 years.
This statement is very misleading. Very. It says that the emission of CO2 has increased, not the actual amount of CO2 remaining in the atmosphere, but bar the vigilant reader, that fact goes unnoticed by everyone. Impressive way of using stats to prove a point which they might not actually prove. Everyone knows that the plants absorb CO2, and while they may not be able to absorb all the excessively emitted CO2, they would have done some of the excessive CO2 they claim to have been emitted.
2. In fact, we are knocking on the doors of a Climate Catastrophe, if our planet’s temperature rises more than 2 degrees Celsius and the atmospheric carbon levels move towards 400 parts per million (ppm), when it should remain below 350.
Words like catastrophe adds to weight of the article, and switch on the 'alarming' red light in reader's head, but they doesn't prove anything. These Global Warming pundits like to use so many such words, catastrophe, calamity, disaster, just to name a few.
Let me dissect that sentence again.
In fact, we are knocking on the doors of a Climate Catastrophe, if our planet’s temperature rises more than 2 degrees Celsius.
First, where did this 2 degrees limit came from? How exactly did you know it is 2 degrees, then, what exactly is going to happen. This kind of a sentence reminds the user those horrific scenes from The Day After Tomorrow, but it doesn't say anything. Common reader or listener is left to make up his own assumptions instead of giving real information. Why? Because nobody knows. In reality, nobody knows what really is going to happen if the global temperature is increased by such and such amount, because there is no way of knowing. All the climate models that are created, everywhere in the world, assumes a lot of things and make guesses. Yes, they are all guesses. And when the variables of the system which is going to be guessed are far too many, and when they too varies rapidly the outcome of the guess tends to be far from the truth more often than not. Climate is the most complex and dynamic system on this planet, and that's why weather reports can not usually be made more than one week in advance, irrespective of how sophisticated the equipment are. And you say you can tell what is going to happen in another hundred years if the temperature is increased by some figure you think is critical? An educated guess is still a guess.
In fact, we are knocking on the doors of a Climate Catastrophe, if the atmospheric carbon levels move towards 400 parts per million (ppm), when it should remain below 350.
Where did those two figures come from?
Again, those are just guesses made and nobody knows for sure what really is gonna happen. Why exactly is it that 350 is OK while 400 is not? Nobody knows how much the atmospheric CO2 levels contribute to the rise of temperature, and how much of that CO2 is a product of human activities.
Secondly, for the sake of argument let's say that 2 degree limit is true. Is it likely for the temperature to increase beyond that limit in near future? Let me pull up some data. I use the official NASA web site data, hence we can be satisfied with the credibility I assume.
Here you can find the climate simulations made using data available from 1880 to 2003.
Here are some valuable information about surface temperature of earth.
Using the first of the two links, here I have created a graph of world surface air temperature from 1880 to 2003. Now, before going LOOK, IT IS INCREASING, stop to analyse the data for a moment. There is no argument that the temperature is in fact increasing since about the start of the previous century. But how much? The temperature increment from the mean for that period is 0.5 degrees! An increment of half a degree for 120 years! Let's take the last twenty or so years where they claim the climate change is heading towards a catastrophe. The increment is a bit over 0.2 degrees, and going by that figure there are about another 200 years to go before the doomsday, which they claim will come when the figure reach 2 degrees! Not so catastrophic now, is it?
It should also be noted that this graph is made taking into consideration all the possible causes of temperature rise such as land use, solar irradiance, volcanic aerosols, tropospheric aerosols and such. This is NOT due to just greenhouse gases, which all these environmentalists scream about. Thus, the effect of greenhouse gases on temperature is definitely smaller than what's shown in the graph though no one can tell for sure how much it is. This graph is more or less the worst case scenario, if you can call it worse in the first place.
Let's move through this article a bit more. The points Playing the Winning Game and Taming the Reptile within us are totally irrelevant. The Winning Game is very good to be taught in 7th grade of school, and the Taming the Reptile is perhaps for a psychology discussion, but neither of those prove anything about Global Warming. They are both inspirational, and food for thought, but among all that mumble jumble the fact that they are all relevant to this discussion only if Global Warming is real, is very cleverly hidden. Yes we need to tame the reptile, yes we need to work together to achieve this common goal, but what if the common goal is just a bit of imagination?
Yes, I agree, solar power is very good if we can put it into good use. But is it enough? Not even remotely. The limitations and drawbacks are far too many. You get it for only half the day, and even then out of that how many hours can you get sufficient light? In tropical counties, you get more rain than sunshine, and solar panels are not just an option. Also they are huge, the surface area needed is too big to supply sufficient power even to a small town, let alone a city or a country.
Having said all that, I do not say that we should not care about our environment a bit and let ourselves loose on mother nature doing what we see fit. My argument is that we should rather identify our priorities and work accordingly. Making plans for what's going to happen in another hundreds, if not thousands years time is not a priority as I see it. But instead, many a thousand environmentalists, philanthropists, NGOs, governments as well as many other organizations put too much emphasis and importance, not to mention billions of dollars, on something at best a theory unproven.
Why not spend all those billions of dollars on far more urgent, immediate needs of our fellow human beings, and even the other species? How many millions of people die every year of hunger? Because not having enough water to drink while we dip ourselves in huge pools just to relax? How many people are there in this world suffering from not having something appropriate to wear? Not having shelter? How many men, women and children die each year of completely treatable deceases because they cannot afford just one vaccine? How many wild species die each year because their natural habitats are being taken by humans?
Why don't we address those problems? Why don't we spend those billions of dollars on those needs. Why can't we feed the hungry, provide them with water to drink, with clothing and shelter? Simply, why don't we make their lives better? Why don't we provide those people with homes to stay and lands for farms so they don't have to take those wild species' homes? Let us preserve the wilderness we have, and make life better for all those animals and our fellow human beings. That is money well spent.
The world has constantly changed ever since it begun it's trip around the sun, it is today and it will in the years to come. Species came and went, some stayed. It will be the case in years to come too and we are only being ridiculously arrogant if we think that we can change that. Mother nature is far bigger and stronger than we think, and it is foolish of us to think that we can affect it, change it and control it, leading it to a catastrophe in near future. Life, and nature, is something far beyond our control and life will not so easily be affected because we made the planet a bit warmer.
As Michael Crichton once put, life, will find a way...