Climate change: Only 10 years to act
NEW figures show urgent action must be taken to avoid climate change becoming unstoppable within ten years, a leading environmentalist warned yesterday.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at a record high after a significant rise, according to the figures.
Data from the United States shows that levels are now at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average.
The figures are seen as a benchmark for climate scientists around the globe and have been interpreted as the worst news yet about mankind's ability to change the climate.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been analysing samples of air taken from all over the world, including America's Rocky Mountains.
The chief analyst for NOAA said the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago.
The precise level of in the atmosphere is of global concern because climate scientists fear certain thresholds may be "tipping points" that trigger sudden changes.
The latest analysis of air samples shows that 2005 saw a rise of 2.6ppm, one of the largest increases on record.
Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: " levels are inexorably rising in the Earth's atmosphere. The scientific projections tell us we should be very alarmed about that fact.
"Once levels cross a certain threshold, climate change may become unstoppable and lead to catastrophic impacts on the environment and on the economy."
The danger level of in the environment was believed to be 400ppm, which would be reached in ten years according to current estimates, he said.
"It is alarming, and as countries continue to exploit and burn fossil fuels and continue to destroy forests, the concentration is going to continue to rise.
"The attempts by government and business to reduce emissions have lacked ambition and there hasn't been the effort put in that is needed."
Efforts to tackle emissions needed to be stepped up "as a matter of some urgency", Mr Juniper said.
Dr Pieter Tans, the chief analyst for NOAA, warned that the latest data confirmed a worrying trend, with average increases in recent years standing at double the rate of those only 30 years ago.
"We don't see any sign of a decrease. In fact, we're seeing the opposite - the rate of increase is accelerating," he said.
Professor Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientific adviser, said the new data highlighted the importance of taking urgent action.
"We're over 380ppm," he said. "That's higher than we've been for over a million years, possibly 30 million years. Mankind is changing the climate."
Shiona Baird, a Green MSP, said: "These figures are grim indeed and the Scottish Executive's failure to take serious action verges on criminal negligence."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North