Cut all CO2 emissions?
It came in July, courtesy of the chief climate adviser to the German government. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chair of an advisory council known by its German acronym WBGU,
is a physicist whose specialty, fittingly, is chaos theory. Speaking to an invitation-only conference at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Institute, Schellnhuber divulged the findings of a study so new he had not yet briefed Chancellor Angela Merkel about it. The study has now been published. If its conclusions are correct–and Schellnhuber ranks among the world’s half-dozen most eminent climate scientists–it has monumental implications for the pivotal meeting in December in Copenhagen, where world leaders will try to agree on reversing global warming.
Schellnhuber and his WBGU colleagues go a giant step beyond the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body whose scientific reports are constrained because the world’s governments must approve their contents. The IPCC says that rich industrial countries must cut emissions 25 to 40 percent by 2020 (from 1990 levels) if the world is to have a fair chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. By contrast, the WBGU study says the United States must cut emissions 100 percent by 2020--i.e., quit carbon entirely within ten years. Germany, Italy and other industrial nations must do the same by 2025 to 2030. China only has until 2035, and the world as a whole must be carbon-free by 2050. The study adds that big polluters can delay their day of reckoning by “buying” emissions rights from developing countries, a step the study estimates would extend some countries’ deadlines by a decade or so.
I hope the esteemed members of the WBGU will forgive my audacity, but here’s my advice:
Put down the crack pipe, Hans.
As scientists, you and your WBGU buddies ought to know that
exhale CO2. Yes, the biologists are the ones who say so, and I know chaos theory physicists aren’t best friends with biologists, but really.
For “the world as a whole must be carbon-free by 2050”, it would mean the extermination of all forms of organic life on the planet, and even then you would have the carbon generated by their rotting process.
Friends don’t let friends stay on crack. Put down the pipe, guys.
Either that, or get a better translator.