major climate change conference coming up in Bali next week

13 years ago | Nov 29, 2007
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Nailbiter. The upcoming climate change conference coming up in Bali next week is especially important (CSMonitor). On the heels of the four recent IPCC reports, it is even more imperative that world governments - especially the industrialized world - agree to take steps to majorly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The generally agreed target is that by 2050 we need to reduce emissions 80% from 1990 levels, in order to keep the average global temperature from increasing 4-7 degrees Fahrenheit during the 21st century. However, we can only reach that ambitious target if we take significant steps this decade. In part, the urgency is because of the carbon load the atmosphere is already carrying - CO2 lasts in the earth's atmosphere for around 100 years. Because of the carbon we have already added to the atmosphere, the global temperature will inevitably increase already; there's not much we can do about it. Recently, though, scientists have also discovered an extremely unsettling phenomenon that means climate change will probably happen even more quickly than they had projected - the earth's natural carbon sinks of oceans and plant life (forests, etc.) are losing their ability to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere. They are becoming saturated with all the CO2 they can handle.... thus, there will be even more CO2 in the atmosphere, which will warm it even further.  (I could even go on and talk about feedback loops and tipping points, but I have probably already made my point...) So - yep. Bali's pretty important. The goal is for policymakers to come up with a new version of the Kyoto Protocol - and this time, to get the biggest emitters (among them the U.S.) to sign and implement it within the next two years. Given the holiday season, a workable climate accord would be a really NICE present.