Editorial: A Titanic collision looms; carbon tax on the docket

By:  Angelo Lynn

A Titanic collision looms

Climate change was back in the news this week as an international panel of scientists released a report that found — with 95 percent certainty — that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades. More importantly, it warns that sea levels could potentially rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if carbon emissions continue to accellerate. Storms, as demonstrated in recent years, are predicted to be more fierce and more frequent.

The report, the fifth of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since it was founded in 1988, is significant because it puts to rest claims of skeptics that human activity has little bearing on climate change. The group’s summaries, which are published every five or six years, are used by nations around the world as “the definitive assessment of the risks of climate change,” according to a recent report in the New York Times.

Of particular concern is a new estimate that temperatures could increase from a low of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit to above 5 degrees, with a higher probability of seeing more than a 5-degree increase if carbon dioxide levels double by the end of the century. The study reported that the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased by 41 percent since the Industrial Revolution (start of the 20th century). Scientists said temperatures would likely increase more at the poles, possibly as much as 10 degrees F, leading to widespread melting of land ice and extreme heat waves.

If, on the other hand, countries were successful in limiting the increase of carbon dioxide to the most optimistic levels, increases in the rise of sea levels could be held to as little as 10 inches, just two inches more than was seen in the past century.

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