I have been saying for quite some time that if we don’t act immediately to make deep cuts in CO2 emissions then we are headed towards the unmitigated catastrophe of 1000 ppm (see my August 2007 post, “Are Scientists Overestimating — or Underestimating — Climate Change“). Turns out that’s what Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland believes.
Rowland is one of the world’s foremost authorities on atmospheric chemisty “who shared a Nobel Prize for his work revealing the threat to the ozone layer from CFC’s and similar synthetic chemicals,” as NYT‘s Andy Revkin explained (here). Wednesday, Revkin
asked Dr. Rowland two quick questions. The first: Given the nature of the climate and energy challenges, what is his best guess for the peak concentration of carbon dioxide?
His answer? “1,000 parts per million.”
My second question was, what will that look like?
“I have no idea,” Dr. Rowland said. He was not smiling.
Readers of Climate Progress have an idea, since I have done my best to describe this grim future that scientists rarely model because they can’t believe humanity would be so self-destructive as to let it happen:
At 800 to 1000 ppm, the world faces multiple miseries, including:
- Sea level rise of 80 feet to 250 feet at a rate of 6 inches a decade (or more).
- Desertification of one third the planet and drought over half the planet, plus the loss of all inland glaciers.
- More than 70% of all species going extinct, plus extreme ocean acidification.
For more detail on the likely horror of 1000 ppm, see “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction.”
For why we probably can’t stabilize at 550 ppm or 690 ppm, see “Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return.”
For how we stabilize below 450 ppm, see “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 2: The Solution.”